Sightseeing Kyoto. This one's a pretty big task! There's so much to see and do here.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan before Tokyo and, luckily for us, has managed to preserve much of its heritage. Unfortunately, Tokyo lost the majority of it's original buildings to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and during the firebombing of WWII.
We've picked out our favorites below if you plan on going it alone. If you want to make your own way to Kyoto and let someone else do the organizing once you get there, see our Kyoto Japan tours.
If you want to have the planning included from Tokyo, see our bullet train tours.
The Gion District
The Gion district of Tokyo is full of local restaurants and Japanese teahouses as well as being the area you just may get to see a Maiko if you're lucky.
What's a Maiko? A Maiko is a trainee Geisha. You really are lucky if you get to see a Maiko in the flesh.
With thanks to Adam Kalbarczyk for our Maiko area photos. Although we've visited Kyoto a number of times we've never managed to capture images like these so we are truly grateful for his generous contribution.
Kinkakuji - The Golden Pavilion
Next on our sightseeing Kyoto list is Kinkakuji, otherwide known as the Golden Pavilion.
Whatever the season, Kinkakuji is a magical place - at least for us. There's a peace and calm here that has to be felt to appreciate it. Words just can't do it justice.
Take your time here and try to get there early or late to avoid the crowds. It's a popular place.
A visit to Kiyomizu-dera temple is another of our favorite sightseeing Kyoto places.
Just looking at the place and taking in the wooden stilts that hold this temple up on the hillside are impressive in themselves.
The original building was constructed in 798 but the most recent structure was built in 1633 during the Edo Period.
Kiyomizu literally means "pure water" and is represented at the temple by the spring water that runs off the surrounding hills.
If you drink from this water you'll receive two of the following; wisdom, health, or longevity. To get all three is seen as being greedy and will bring you bad luck so be happy with just two and you'll be fine!
Take your time and stroll round this temple in your own time. As far as sightseeing Kyoto goes this one is high on our list.
Nijo-jo Castle gives you the chance to explore a little and, for us at least, step back in time. You can walk round the old hallways, listen to the nightingale floorboards that warned the Shogun someone was approaching, and take in the original Japanese paintings and art that still remain.
There are large grounds where you can stroll in relative solitutde and let your imagination see what it might have been like here back in the day.
As much as we love all the things above, we fell in love with Nijo-jo Castle! This made the top spot on our sightseeing Kyoto list. Of course we're all different so feel free to disagree... you can add your own Kyoto top spot below. If you can include a photo that would be great!