Kyoto is a city that is so full of sights that no matter how many times you visit you won't get tired, but some people might want to see a different side of Kyoto. Here are some spots to check out that are a little bit far away from the standard Kyoto sightseeing spots.
1. Kifune Shrine
Kifune Shrine is at the very north of the sightseeing area within the city of Kyoto, and it deifies the kami (deity) that governs the source of life, water. It's surrounded by the verdant nature on the riverside of the Kibune River, and it is famous as a power spot that produces good energy. Other than the kami Takaokamino Kami, the kami of water, the kami Iwanagahime no Mikoto that is famous for being the kami of relationships is also deified here. This has made the shrine very popular among women who are praying for a good marriage. One of the shrine's famous characteristics is the water fortune (200 JPY for 1). If you take the blank piece of paper and soak it in the holy water on the grounds, your fortune will appear! Please try this wonderful fortune that can only be had from the kami of water.
Kouzanji is a temple in the Toganoo area surrounded by lush nature in the north-western part of the city of Kyoto. It is an ancient temple that was built in 774, and was restored by a monk named Myoe of the Kegon sect of Buddhism in 1206. It is now registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also famous for having what is considered Japan's oldest manga, the national treasure Chouju-giga.
A particularly recommended site is the Sekisui-in, the place where Myoe lived. This building is also a national treasure, and the isolation of the view from there is quite mysterious. Kouzanji is known as a great place to see the autumn foliage, but it is actually a place where you can enjoy all four seasons thanks to the cherry blossoms in the spring and the lush mountains in the summer. Why not take a refreshing break in the clean mountain air away from the bustle of Kyoto?
Uji is a city made famous thanks to being one of the settings in Genji Monogatari, the oldest novel written by a woman. Byoudo-in was built by a person that is said to be the model for that novel's main character in 1052 as a holiday house, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Around the grounds are many cultural assets that allow you to understand the elegant lifestyles of noble lords during the Heian era (794-1185). A particularly lovely site is the Hououdo, a building topped with phoenixes spreading their wings. Hououdo is a beautiful building built by Fujiwara no Yorimichi in the year 1000 during the regency government era of the Heian period, and it is commemorated on the current 10 yen coin. The gorgeous building that shows off the showiness of the time period is reflected in the water of the lake in front of it, creating a must-see scene. Entrance fee is 600 JPY for an adult for entrance to the grounds and the Byoudo-in museum Hoshokan.
4. Iwashimizu Hachimangu
Iwashimizu Hachimangu is one of Japan's three biggest Hachimangu shrines, and is also known by the name Yawata no Hachimansan. It was built in the beginning of the Heian period in the year 859, and has been known ever since then as a shrine to ward off bad luck and invite good fortune, and even today every year about 1,100,000 people visit. The current main building was repaired in 1634 by the third shogun of the Edo Bakumatsu, Tokugawa Iemitsu. The main building is called Hachiman Dukuri and it is made of two buildings connected together. It is a very important building because it is the oldest building remaining in that style. In February 2016, 10 buildings were designated as national treasures. It will continue to be a spot gathering attention even today.
5. Suzumushidera (Kegonji)
Kegonji, in Arashiyama, is also known by the name Suzumushidera thanks to the bell crickets that cry throughout the year ("suzu" means bell). It's a small temple but the grounds are beautiful all year round, and coupled with the sound of the bell crickets, it attracts a lot of visitors. Among the sights on the grounds, the popular Koufuku Jizo-san that is said to grant only one of your wishes is particularly popular. He's different from other jizo in that he's wearing straw sandals. It says that when he grants your wish it walks to you. When you pray, make sure you give him your name and address so he won't get lost on his way to you.
Entrance fee is 500 JPY for adults and includes a tea cake.
There are, of course, plenty of places in the Kyoto suburbs and outskirts that aren't listed here. It's great to go to the standard sightseeing places, but definitely make your way out of the city too. You'll make some new discoveries.