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Departing from Kyoto Station! A Sightseeing Course Around Kyoto Featuring 5 World Heritage Sites in 1 Day

2016.09.30

Writer name : KAMIOKA

Since you've come all the way to Kyoto, you want to be able to enjoy it fully, but there are places you must see in the short time you have there! If this sounds like you, it's recommended that you use the buses, trains, and subways available in Kyoto for your convenience. You can use the 1-day train ticket on this model course leaving from Kyoto Station so you can see up to 5 different world heritage sites in one day.

Things you should buy before departure

It's recommended that you buy the Kyoto Sightseeing One-Day Pass, which lets you ride the subways, city buses, and Kyoto buses all you want for the one day. (Some areas are not eligible.) It's very convenient to be able to ride with just this one card.
When you buy it, you get a guide map with coupons and discount cards in it, so it's even more of a deal!

You can download the guide maps (accurate as of March 19th, 2016) below. They're generally in Japanese, but some parts are also in English, Chinese, and Korean.

Kyoto guide map (front): http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/cmsfiles/contents/0000028/28378/0606.pdf
Kyoto guide map (railways): http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/cmsfiles/contents/0000028/28378/0318ura.pdf

Start: Depart from Kyoto Station, heading to Kinkakuji

If you don't know where to go first, head to Kinkakuji!
There are many people who have seen this building in photos, but are surprised by how beautiful it is in person.
Do you have your camera? Start your day sightseeing at Kyoto's famous golden temple, Kinkakuji!

How to get there:
1. Take city bus 101 Nijojo - Kitano Tenmangu - Kinkakuji from Kyoto Station Bus Terminal B2 bus stop. Alight at Kinkakuji-michi.
2. Take city bus 205 Kinkakuji - Kitaoji from bus stop B3. Alight at Kinkakuji-michi.

1. Kinkakuji (About 30 - 40 minutes away from Kyoto Station)

Official name: Rokuonji
Kinkakuji (a World Heritage and Cultural site) was built in 1398, and is a garden and buildings surrounding the golden tower. It's said that this is where Sukhavati (Amitabha's Pure Land) is in the material world. On nice days you can see the backwards Kinkaku reflected in the water, and it's a great time for a photo. Kinkakuji in the winter after a snowfall is also particularly gorgeous. The contrast of the white and the gold will catch your eye.

Time necessary (estimate):
30 minutes


1. Kinkakuji (About 30 - 40 minutes away from Kyoto Station)


Rinzaishu Shoukokujiha Official Homepage (Japanese only)

2. Ryoanji (about 10 minutes from Kinkakuji by bus)

Ryoanji (another World Heritage and Cultural site) was built in 1450. This temple is home to a traditional, white-soil dry garden surrounded by a wall on 3 sides that was designed so that no matter what angle you look at it from, 1 of the 15 rocks placed in it is hidden.
The reason it was designed like that is because in Asia, the number 15 is said to be perfect. Since one of the rocks is hidden, it signifies imperfection. This design is meant for the viewer to discover what they are lacking inside of themselves, and how they can continue living without forgetting the gratitude they should have.
Actually, it's said that if you look at the garden not from the hall but from the abbot's chamber, you can see all of the rocks. Please look for it.
Also, the moss garden next to the rock garden is great for experiencing the Japanese philosophy of wabisabi (quiet simplicity and subdued refinement). The space lets you sit and reflect in silence for as long as you'd like, and if you go on a rainy day, you can enjoy a different view.

How to get there:
Once you leave Kinkakuji, on the right there's the Kinkakuji-mae bus stop on Kagamiishi-dori, and from there you can take city bus 59 heading to Yamagoenakacho. Alight at Ryoanji-mae.

Time necessary (estimate):
40 minutes


2. Ryoanji (about 10 minutes from Kinkakuji by bus)


Official Homepage

3. Ginkakuji (about 50 minutes by bus from Ryoanji)

Official name: Higashiyama Jishoji
Ginkakuji (another World Heritage and Cultural site) was built as a mountain villa for a warrior in 1482. The Togudo building is the oldest remains of a building that was used in everyday life, so it's registered as a national treasure.

How to get there:
Take city bus 59 from Ryoanji-mae bus stop. Switch at Kinkakuji-michi to city bus 204 and alight at Ginkakuji-michi.

Time necessary (estimate):
1 hour


3. Ginkakuji (about 50 minutes by bus from Ryoanji)


Rinzaishu Shoukokujiha Official Homepage (Japanese only)

4. Arashiyama (about 50 minutes by bus from Ginkakuji)

There are plenty of things to see at Arashiyama, but the sight of the autumn foliage from Togetsukyo Bridge is so beautiful you'll be speechless. Why not take a walk from JR Sagano Arashiyama Station to Togetsukyo, the Chikurin no Michi, and Tenryuji while checking out the souvenir shops?

How to get there:
From Ginkakuji-michi, take express bus 102 heading to Ginkakuji - Kinrin Shako and alight at Kinrin Shako-mae. (This is a walkable distance if you prefer.) Switch to city bus 93 heading to Sagano Arashiyama and alight at Sagano Arashiyama Ekimae.
*On this course, Tenryuji is the next stop, but you can choose whichever order you would like to go in. It's also recommended that you use a rent-a-bike.

Time necessary:
2 hours


4. Arashiyama (about 50 minutes by bus from Ginkakuji)


Kyoto Tourism Navi Official Homepage

5. Tenryuji (about a 20 minute walk from Arashiyama Station)

Tenryuji (another World Heritage and Cultural site) is famous for the dragon that looks at you from all sides painted on the ceiling of the Hattou, the room where the chief priest gives lectures. You can feel overwhelming power from the dragon. You can't take photos of it, so please burn the image of it into your mind's eyes. Also, the Sougenchi garden is a popular spot in the fall.

Time necessary (estimate):
30 minutes

*To reach the final tourism spot, Nijo Castle, from JR Sagano Arashiyama, please return to the station after walking around Arashiyama. Nijo Castle only allows entry until 4:00 pm and closes at 5:00 pm (Ninomaru Palace closes at 4:00 pm), so please be aware of this as you walk around.


5. Tenryuji (about a 20 minute walk from Arashiyama Station)


Official Homepage

6. Nijo Castle (about a 20 minute train ride from JR Sagano Arashiyama Station)

Official name: Moto-Rikyu Nijojo
Nijo Castle (another World Heritage and Cultural site) is a castle that was built from 1603 to 1626 on flat ground. It's popular because it's a castle that still retains the luxury and gorgeousness that it had when it was built. When you walk, you can't help but make loud footsteps - it was made that way in order to hear the arrival of any enemies. There are plenty of must-see details, like the gorgeous art on room partitions made with gold leaf. Don't forget the Japanese garden inside the castle!

How to get there:
Ride the Sanin Main Line from JR Sagano Arashiyama Station towards Kyoto (1 Day Pass is ineligible for this line), switch at Nijo Station to the Tozai Line heading to Rokujizo, and alight at Nijojo-mae.

Time necessary (estimate):
1 hour


6. Nijo Castle (about a 20 minute train ride from JR Sagano Arashiyama Station)


Official Homepage

Goal: Kyoto Station (about 30 minutes train ride from Nijo Castle)

Well done! Did you enjoy the sights of Kyoto?
Head back to Kyoto Station filled with the memories of your day!

How to get there:
Take the Tozai Line from Nijojo-mae towards Hamaotsu Station. Switch at Karasuma Oike Station to the Karasuma Line towards Takeda, and you'll reach Kyoto Station.


Goal: Kyoto Station (about 30 minutes train ride from Nijo Castle)

Kyoto is visited by tourists from around the world and it's one of Japan's foremost sightseeing areas. The scenery changes throughout the year, so no matter when you visit it is just one part of the gorgeous scenery. Please enjoy Kyoto to the fullest and take your days to appreciate the beauty of Kyoto and Japan.
*This course was planned using an 8:00 am departure from Kyoto Station.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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