Experience Kyoto: General Information

Kyoto is a city of many layers of Japanese culture accumulated through time. The cultural experience of the people in each historical layer can be found chronicled in every corner of the city. However, we cannot help but see that modern society’s infatuation with technology and economic growth is causing the abrupt loss of these myriad memories ingrained within the city and its architecture. They are contained in fragile elements like paper, wood, and clay walls and their succession to future generations is by no means assured. We need to redevelop the mind-set and spirit with which to appreciate these qualities that make up the true nature of our culture.
— Kinoshita Ryoichi, KJ 27
Kyoto has a wealth of beauty which is not surpassed anywhere in the world. Once more we touch on one of the fundamental differences between Europe and the Far East. Florence is Western beauty displayed for all to see; Kyoto is Eastern; its beauty is concealed, a secret to be wrested from it little by little. …the things that matter at Kyoto are tucked away in little valleys, in green alcoves between the folds of the hills. Its beauties do not present themselves, but have to be sought out.
— Fosco Maraini from Meeting with Japan, I960

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General Information


Kyoto Official Travel Guide
Kyoto Tourism Council Site – a good first stop for all aspects of visiting Kyoto: planning, accommodation, dining, shrines & temples, museums, entertainment, other activities, and shopping. Includes some current events, special offers, and many suggested tour itineraries).

Kyoto Visitors’ Guide
Kyoto’s handiest source of information on events and attractions, with informative articles. (See monthly highlights and Kyoto walks…) Available in print from main information offices and some hotels.

Comprehensive summary of major aspects, slightly quirky (no one who has experienced winter here would describe Kyoto’s climate as “humid subtropical”), but a good source of many specialized links including listing of the city’s 14 World Heritage sites.

Well-presented with many useful tips for visitors including access options; extensive sub-articles on local district attractions.

Kyoto Prefectural Government Tourism Division
Useful for out-of-town explorations as far north as Tango Peninsula; another source for
World Heritage sites (map & photos/details of major sites). Also lists local tourist information offices (with phone numbers for direct inquiries).

Kyoto at Answers.com
Another informative site, including online encyclopedia entries; gives Iwatayama monkey park in Arashiyama unexpected prominence. Some people just really, really like those monkeys…

Virtual Tourist Kyoto Travel Guide
Over 2200 (and counting) “Kyoto Tips” mostly (not surprisingly) for short-term visitors, including a sometimes-useful forum for logistics questions.

Trip Advisor
As always and anywhere, the default reference site, useful for its array of often conflicting first-hand travellers’ reviews (18,000+ on Kyoto at last count) of accommodation, restaurants and attractions. Very active forum there too.

Destinations, Kyoto (Lonely Planet) Japan Travel Updates: Kyoto
“Stepping out of Kyoto station for the first time and gazing around at the neon and concrete that awaits you, you are likely to feel that all you’ve heard and read about Kyoto is just so much tourist-literature hype. We can only advise you to be patient, for the beauty of Kyoto is largely hidden from casual view: it lies behind walls, doors, curtains and façades.” Good basic advice.

Kyoto Guide (Japanese Lifestyle site)
Useful and fairly extensive information on attractions, access etc, with online interactive Google KML format map that can be downloaded to mobile devices. Nation-wide site, apparently sponsored by big Western-style hotels.

Deep Kyoto
Essential: Discerning local resident Michael Lambe’s highly recommendable personal listing of the best of Kyoto. Introducing fine restaurants, cafes, bars (and the interesting people who run them) plus valuable insights into much more of what makes Kyoto special.

Japan Times Exhibition Listings
This rich, regularly-updated resource covers Tokyo, Kanto, and Kansai. Scroll down for Kyoto… (Check out the Japan Times’ reviews section too).

My Kind of Kyoto
Asano Noboru’s introductions to places of interest, festivals and events in Kyoto. Well-illustrated, very helpful site.

Tale of Genji.org
Very detailed, excellent photos, covering places and pilgrimages and much much more…

“This site aims to promote a wider understanding and appreciation of The Tale of Genji – the 11th Century Japanese classic written by a Heian court lady known as Murasaki Shikibu. It also serves as a kind of travel guide to the world of Genji.”

Sacred Destinations, Kyoto
Specialized & informative resource for 15 major sites, plus guidebook listing:

“Nestled in the mountains of Western Honshu, Kyoto has earned a worldwide reputation as Japan’s most beautiful city. Kyoto is known as “the city of a thousand temples,” but it actually has more — an astonishing 1,600 Buddhist temples, plus 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of gardens and museums! Kyoto boasts more World Heritage Sites per square inch than any other city.”

Online Kyoto Map
“Map of Kyoto’s major temples, shrines, gardens and other significant sightseeing attractions, as well as walking paths and trails. Click the ‘zoom’ link for a full-sized version.”