General Information | Museums
(More categories to be added with new website)
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.
Wikipedia.org 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.
Wikitravel.org 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.
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
(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)
(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.”
Kyoto National Museum
Fabulous permanent collection, but that wing is now being rebuilt, to reopen 2013 — hopefully with proper illumination, sorely lacking in the previous building. Its Special Exhibition Hall, one of Kyoto’s classic Meiji Western-inspired edifices, is itself designated an Important Cultural Property, dating from 1897. Rodin’s Thinker graces a central plaza, and the museum is renowned for well-curated special art shows, mostly historical, providing fascinating insights into Kyoto’s cultural traditions. Their online gallery is presented in five languages.
Located just across the road from Sanjusangendo, close by teahouses & gardens of Chisakuin temple.
Museum of Kyoto
Three sections: a historical museum with an excellent model of the original Rashomon gate, among other informative displays; an art gallery showing contemporary Japanese and Western-style works; and a hall based on Kyoto’s film history, with regular showings (notably, Ozu as quintessential Kyoto director). Part of the museum is in the former Bank of Japan building, one of the distinctive Meiji-period buildings on Sanjo.
Kyoto International Manga Museum A joint project of Kyoto City and Kyoto Seika University, the Kyoto International Manga Museum was established on the site of the former Tatsuike Primary School; has fascinating ongoing exhibitions and events, and houses a unique research collection, also the “Wall of Manga” for simply browsing Japanese and international publications.
“To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Manga Mmuseum, we are offering a discount of 20% to citizens of the city of Kyoto between November 25, 2011 and March 31, 2012 (please show an official document with your address to the entrance staff).”
Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art In Okazaki, beside Heian-Jingu’s humongous red torii gate.
“The Collection Gallery exhibits selected works of nihonga (Japanese-style painting), y?ga (Western-style painting), prints, sculpture, crafts (ceramics, textiles, metalworks, wood and bamboo works, lacquers and jewelry) and photography from the museum collection. Also shown are outstanding and monumental works of modern art in Japan, as well as modern and contemporary European and American art.”
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art Originally “Kyoto Enthronement Memorial Museum of Art” (celebrating the accession of Emperor Hirohito in 1928), which opened in 1933 as the second large public art museum in Japan. Hosts important special shows, plus a wide variety of exhibitions often by local or national art associations (and art universities’ graduation shows, in February).
Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts The Fureaikan — in the basement of tradeshow venue Miyako Messe building, introduces 67 highly-evolved crafts of Kyoto. The space itself is not exactly a traditional context, but the museum has informative step-by-step examples of processes, videos of craftspeople at work, superb items of each craft, and a library and shop — and admission is free.
Hosomi Museum An excellent private museum in Okazaki, close by Heian Shrine
“Based on the collection of the late Osaka industrialist, Hosomi Ryo (first generation Kokoan), and features some 1000 works of Japanese art representing almost all major time periods and categories. Notable items include Heian and Kamakura Buddhist/Shinto art, Muromachi ink painting, Negoro lacquer ware and tea ceremony kettles, Momoyama ceramics and cloisonne, as well as Edo painting such as Rimpa and Ito Jakuchu. In all genres, world-class pieces can be found.”
Kawai Kanjiro’s House The eclectic former home and studio of ceramicist (also “calligrapher, sculptor, writer and philosopher”) Kawai Kanjiro, a key figure in the 1920s/30s Mingei (Folk Craft) movement, who refused “National Living Treasure” status. You can see his work on display as well as his 8-chambered noborigama (“climbing” kiln). Drop by en-route to Kiyomizu Temple and “Teapot Lane” (Chawan-zaka).
Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum “The first museum in Japan to take as its permanent collection metalwork, cloisonné, makie lacquerware and Kyoto Satsuma Ware artworks of the late Edo and Meiji period.”
Namikawa Cloisonné Museum The former home of the master Namikawa Yasuyuki in the Higashiyama district, close to Heian Jingu Shrine. Find out more about Japanese cloisonné enamels here.
Ryukoku Museum Part of Ryukoku University’s superb collection based on the Otani archaeological expeditions to Dunhuang and other sites in early 1900s. Includes full-size original glowing color digital reconstruction of Bezeklik cave as featured in KJ 74, Silk Roads. Housed in a state-of-the-art building, opposite Ryu-dai’s mother ship, Jodo-shinshu’s World Heritage listed Nishi-honganji Temple (Otani Kozui was the temple’s 22nd Abbott).
Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Museum Highly recommended. Collections of mostly contemporary netsuke in a wonderful old samurai residence. Only open certain times of the year so be sure to check the website.
Sumiya Motenashi Museum Designated an Important Cultural Property, the Sumiya is one of the last surviving examples of ageya architecture in Japan (buildings that served as high-end restaurants where geisha and taiyu would perform).
Kyoto Museum for World Peace Operated by the huge private Ritsumeikan University; a valuable local reminder of how fortunate Kyoto was, in being spared the wholesale destruction of WWII…
“While movements toward attaining a “world without nuclear weapons,” are gaining momentum, the extent of these movements has been limited to some arms reduction and strategic efforts, and we have not even reached global agreement on the issue. The desperate situation of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake has shown us that we have not even adequately addressed the “peaceful utilization of nuclear energy.””
The Koryo Museum of Art
In Kitaku, by the Kamo River: a superb collection of mainly Korean arts and crafts, including pottery and porcelain, furniture, wooden carvings, stone images, and paintings. (Website in Japanese)
Raku Museum Four-hundred-and-fifty years of teabowl mastery, over 15 generations. Not far from the Ura Senke tea ceremony school/Chado Research Center, and Nishijin Textile Center.