Kyoto is popular with foreign tourists, but of course it's also a very popular sightseeing city with Japanese people. Where do Japanese people go when they visit Kyoto? Here are some areas popular with domestic travelers.
1. Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a shrine in Kyoto's Fushimi-ku. While it's become very famous among foreign travelers lately, it is also an extremely popular spot with Japanese people as well. The reason most people visit is the beautiful sight of thousands of bright red torii gates lined up. While most all shrines have torii gates, none have more than Fushimi Inari Taisha. The entire mountain is a shrine, so the path up to the summit takes a little bit of a hike. If you visit this shrine, you don't just experience traditional Japanese culture, but also a bit of an exercise surrounded by nature, so definitely visit on a nice day.
It isn't much of a stretch to say that Kiyomizudera is Kyoto's most famous temple. The most important sight is the impressive main temple that juts out from a high elevation and is often called the "stage of Kiyomizu". That impressive sight seems to make everyone that sees it a little emotional. You can enjoy the view from different angles, such as looking down from the stage or looking at the stage from the side. In the spring it blooms beautifully with cherry blossoms, in the summer it is filled with powerful greenery, in the fall the trees become painted a fiery red, and in the winter everything becomes blanketed in sparkly white snow, so no matter what season you visit in it will be a lovely sight. If you continue north from Kiyomizudera you'll hit the preserved districts of Sanneizaka or Sannenzaka, a pair of lanes that have beautifully preserved Kyoto's ancient architecture and atmosphere. You can go here to buy souvenirs and eat a delicious meal, so please enjoy both the temple and the town.
3. The areas of Arashiyama and Sagano
The popular scenic areas of Arashiyama and Sagano is a little ways away from the center of Kyoto, off towards the west. There are a huge number of views here, like the splendid Togetsukyo Bridge that spans the Oi River as well as Tenryuji, a temple that boasts the oldest Japanese garden with a pond, the famous power spot Nonomiya Shrine, and the Sagano Chikurin bamboo ticket that spans quietly like a tunnel. The area is full of nature, so you can enjoy the sights all year round, from spring cherry blossoms to autumn foliage before everything is blanketed in white. Arashiyama Monkey Park, where you can interact with wild monkeys, is also a popular spot. Please experience for yourself why Japanese people love this area so much.
4. Kyoto Tower
Japanese people love city landmarks. One of Kyoto's most famous landmarks is Kyoto Tower, a tower that stands right in front of JR Kyoto Station. It's only about 131m tall so it's not that high, but since Kyoto is a city of short buildings, it stands out even from far away. It's lit up at night, so you can enjoy its sparkling visage. The lights are usually white, but a few times during the year they make the lights different colors like blue, pink, purple, and red, so when you visit please check the tower to see what colors it shines during your trip. This is a large bathhouse that opens at 7:00 am below the tower on the 3rd floor of its basement that is also very popular with tourists and locals alike.
5. Toei Kyoto Studio Park
Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park that is attached to a location where movies and dramas about historical time periods featuring samurai are filmed. It recreates the town and lifestyle of those periods. Outside of experiencing history first-hand by walking through the town, there are also shows where samurai and ninja appear throughout the park, so it's very popular with tourists from both within and outside of Japan. If you're lucky, you might even be able to see a real film shoot.
You can't make a mistake in your trip plans if you go to places popular with Japanese people, so on your first trip to Kyoto definitely check some of these places out!