Best 12 Things to do in Kyoto, Japan!

Here are the 12 best things to do in Kyoto, Japan!


Top 10 things to do in Kyoto japan in 2023? Kyoto is all the cultural Japanese vibes. If you’re looking for the perfect blend of modern and cultural, go to Kyoto! The subway system isn’t as extensive as Tokyo but they do have an extensive bus line. As much as you can, walk or do subway as the buses are impacted by traffic a lot. Also Kyoto is super touristy so there’s lots of crowds!

1. Visit the Arashimiya monkey forest!

15 Min Uphill Hike (Bring Water if it's hot)
Monkeys near the Top
You can feed Monkey by Entering the Enclosure
Boat at Arashimiya

A 30-40 min subway ride from Gion to Arashiyama , a small town with all the Japanese vibes and onsen. It’s a 15 min hike to the top and you feed monkey from a cage for 100 yen. The monkeys themselves are free and wild and there is a warning not to look them directly in the eyes or attempt to touch them.

Location: Japan, 〒616-0004 Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, 61

2. Nishiki Market

Seafood for Sale
Mameshiba Cafe

I love the knife store here called Aritsugu and recommend going here first and engraving a knife. I recommend a santoku knife or a gyuto. You can also purchase produce and eat street food! The Kyoto owl forest in in here too I love owls so I had to visit. However, there are questionable animal handling judgements so I would say only go if you're content seeing the owls up close and petting them. Apparently they allow the owls to fly and roam free when the store closes at 6 pm but otherwise use your own judgment! They give the owls rest breaks and you’re only allowed to pet with the back of your hand. There’s a mameshiba cafe next door but they’re kinda mean.

Location: 609番地 Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8055, Japan

3. Kichi Kichi Omurice

Kichi Kichi Omurice Chef
Special Omurice

Kichi Kichi Omurice is what dreams are made of. We tried their Beef stew and the Signature Omurice. This was the best Omurice I've ever had. The beef demiglaze sauce was blow your mind good and Chef Motokichi does tricks and insane rice flips for his guests. This is essentially dinner with a show. Overall, I would give it a 10/10. You can reserve a slot here.

tabelog: KichiKichi

Location: 185-4 Zaimokucho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8017, Japan

4. Pontocho Alley

Shop That only sells bunny objects

Located near Gion and the Nishiki Market. There’s tons of izakayas and this neat bunny shop. Be careful for overcharging restaurants.

Location: Pontocho Alley

5. Fushimi Inari Taisha Senbon Torii (Thousands Torii Gate)

The Gates at Fushimi
I Rented a Kimono in 2019
Tanuki for Sale

This probably one of the most famous temples in Japan. It’s crowded at the front but if you venture deeper it’s less crowded and you can take photos. Make sure to get here early to beat the crowds! There’s a tea house and gift shops. I bought a Tanuki here.

Location: 68番地 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan

6. Try Honke Daiichi-Asahi

Shoya Ramen with Menma

The number one ramen spot in Kyoto. They’ve been around for 60+ years. They specialize in shoyu based broth and their gyoza is very popular! They are Cash only. The line was very long but went pretty fast, we stood in line for about 1 hr at peak holiday times.

tabelog: Honkedaiichiasahi

Location: 845 Higashishiokoji Mukaihatacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8213, Japan

7. Try Yakitori!

Negi toro was my favorite

I recommend this spot called Hitomi. You can call to reserve, but I used my visa concierge. The service here was excellent and they're foreigner friendly with an english menu too. One person walked in without a reservation and the chef was kind enough to serve them. The skewers range from 1 dollar to 3 dollars. Their takasaka meat was to die for. Homebred chicken wings is a must.

tabelog: hitomi

Location: 96 Okikucho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8376, Japan

8. Buy all the Kyoto Souvenirs in Gion!

Kyoto is famous for their matcha
Japanese Cloth at Eirakuya
Giant Matcha Whisk

I recommend doing your souvenir shopping here! I recommend buying Japanese cloth from Eirakuya, triangle mochi, and matcha. I also bought furikake. Gion is a good street to shop.

Location: Kawabatacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0076, Japan

9. Visit Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine
Lucky Charms

We visited this iconic Shrine in Gion on New years. The line was super long but it was quite the experience. I purchased a lucky charm for good health!

Location: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073, Japan

10. Try Authentic Gyoza

Pork and Leek Gyoza

This was at @gyozahohei. They have a line always with a waitlist. They are open late at night at night!

tabelog: Gyoza Hohei

Location: 373-3 Kiyomotocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0084, Japan

11. Try Japanese Parfaits!

Karafuneya Coffee
All the Parfait models

Kyoto of full of parfait shops. This shop Karafuneya Coffee has iconic parfait including a fried chicken parfait and more! Overall, This spot has decent parfait but it wasn't life changing. I recommend trying the matcha parfait in the Fushimi Inari temple.

tabelog: Karafuneya Coffee

Location: Japan, 〒604-8031 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Daikokucho, 39 河原町通三条下ル

12. Try Authentic Karagge

World's Best Karagge

I dream of this karagge at Karako. The crispy skin is perfect. The locals line up for this spot. I recommend trying their ramen and getting a side of rice with the karagge too!

tabelog: karako

Location: 12-3 Okazaki Tokuseicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8351, Japan

Click here to check out my guide for Osaka

Click here to check out my guide for Kawaguchiko

Click here to check out my tips for visiting japan.

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