Kyoto Temples, Best traditional Japanese Temples in Kyoto

The absolute best Top 5 Temples in Kyoto – Traditional Highlights in Japan

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Kyoto surely is a breathtaking city and there are so many things to see in Kyoto. We stayed in this amazing town for about four days and still have the feeling that there is so much left to see.

geisha district kyoto vicki viaja

Besides the Iwatayama Monkey Park and the famous Geisha District, that you both shouldn’t miss out, Kyoto is famous for its amazing temples, thus the top things to see in Kyoto are mostly temples. Therefore we decided to share our Top 5 temples in Kyoto with you in this article.

Lanterns in Kyoto, Japan, Top 5 temples in Kyoto

The temples here are not comparable with the temples of other cities in this country, such as Tokyo’s temples. That’s why in the following, you can see our 5 best temples in Kyoto.

5. Ryoanji and Chion-in


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Entrance Fee: 500 Yen (ca. 3,77€/ $4,65)

Opening Hours: 08.00 am – 05.00 pm

The Ryoanji temple that has been built around 1450 is a Zen temple. In 1994, the Ryoanji temple has been declared a UNESCO- World Heritage besides other sights of Kyoto. The unique point of this temple is its stone garden.

The temple garden is nice but couldn’t completely convince us, to be honest. That’s why it shares fifth place with the Chion-in Temple.


Chion-in Temple, Best 5 temples in Kyoto

Entrance Fee: free of charge

Opening Hours: 09.00 am – 04.30 pm

Update: Until March 2019 constructions are taking place inside of the hall

The Chion-in Temple is known for its colossal main gate. Its gate is the biggest in Japan and is said to be one of the most important Japanese cultural goodsIt is 26,7 meters (87,6 ft.) bride and 12,3 meters (40,35 ft.) high. The constructions of this gate have probably been finished around 1620. And yes, the gate is really impressive. The temple, on the other hand, doesn’t really feel special to us compared to the other amazing temples we saw in Japan. A visit to the Chion-in temple is worth it, nevertheless. Even if it’s just for the gate.

4. Sagano-Arashiyama Bamboo Garden

Sagano-Arashiyama, Bamboo Garden, Umbrella, Kyoto

Entrance Fee: free of charge

Opening Hours: 24 hours

The Arashiyama Bamboo Garden is one of the most famous sights of Kyoto.

But as you might have realized already, it is indeed not a temple. But as there are many temples in and around the park we included it to our list.

Sagano-Arashiyama, Bamboo Garden, Kyoto, Transport

The park is located a little bit outside of Kyoto’s city center. Anyway, you can perfectly combine that way with a visit to the Iwatayama Monkey Park and the Togetsukyo Bridge. I can recommend them both.

kyoto togetsukyo brücke vicki viaja

You probably might wanna get there early in the morning. As it’s starting to get crowded in the Bamboo Garden from 10 am.

Moreover, the light shining through the bamboo looks much more beautiful around the morning time. So you should definitely visit the Kyoto Bamboo Garden during your stay. And the entrance is free of charge by the way.

Your first time in Japan?

Find a lot of helpful information in my post about Things I wish I had known before visiting Japan here.

3. Kinkaku-ji Temple

Kinkaku-ji Temple, Golden Temple in Kyoto

Entrance Fee: 400 Yen (ca. 3,00€/ $3,72)

Opening Hours: 09.00 am – 05.00 pm

The famous Golden Temple of Kyoto. A true gem of Japan.

The upper floors of the Kinkaku-ji Temple are completely covered in gold. This masterpiece is orientated to the Chinese Zen Architecture.

This temple was absolutely beautiful and we liked it a lot. But (yes, unfortunately, there is always a but…) the drawback is the huge amount of people pushing each other through the park. It truly makes the whole experience less enjoyable.

You might wanna get there right when the temple opens at 09 am and get there during the week to avoid the crowds.

2. Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Best Temples in Kyoto

Entrance Fee: 400 Yen (ca. 3.00 €/ $ 3.72)

Opening Times: 06.00 am – 06.00 pm

Update: Unfortunately, a big part of the temple is under construction until March 2020.

The Kiyomizu-dera temple is popular due to its amazing view.

The Kiyomizu-dera temple also belongs to the UNESCO world heritage since 1994.

Besides the beautiful view, the temple has even more to offer. There is a big amount of shrines and stands.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, View, Traditional Japan

One part of the temple is dedicated to the god of love Okuninushi-no-mikoto. That part offers the so-called love stones. They lay 18 meters apart from each other. It’s said that if you can walk with closed eyes from one to another you will find love very soon. If someone is helping or guiding you, it means that you find this love with help from someone else. In this part of the temple, you should take care. It’s easy to get run over by Japanese school girls with closed eyes. 🙂

1. Fushimi Inari-Taisha

Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Oranges Torii, Kyoto

Entrance Fee: free of charge

Opening Hours: 24 hours

The Fushimi Inari-Taisha, the popular orange temple in Kyoto, is probably the most famous sight in Kyoto. This Shinto Shrine counts as one of the biggest and most visited shrines in Japan.

Everywhere in the temple grounds, you will find these typical orange gates (Torii). Most of them were donated by families and companies. Their names are printed on each of the donated gates. Moreover, you can find price lists next to the ways. The smallest gates cost already about 1500 Euro. All in all, there are way more than 1000 gates in the park. They work as tunnels and mark the way up to the mountain.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Orange Gates Temple, Kyoto

You can either walk as much as you feel like and then return to the entrance. The other option is doing the whole roundtrip which guides you up to the mountain peak. It might be a little exhausting up to the top. But it is worth it from the moment you realize that the amount of tourists gets less with every meter up.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Crowds, Tourists, Kyoto

Then you can finally take one of those famous pictures. You should keep in mind though that this roundtrip might take several hours.

Everywhere on your way, you can find fox statues. That’s because this Fushimi Inari-Taisha temple is dedicated to the rice god Inari. And his messenger is a fox.

fushimi inari kyoto vicki viaja

Besides the way through the orange tunnels upwards there are also many small ways to smaller shrines.

fushimi kandakara shrine kyoto vicki viaja

Our tip: In the first part of your way up, you can find this sign. If you go up to the Fushimi Kandakara Shrine you can find a beautiful bamboo forest up there. We spent around half an hour in this place to take pictures and have a little rest before walking up to the mountain top.

Kyoto Map

More Kyoto?

Make sure to check the best Ryokans in Kyoto those 18 unusual non-touristy things in Kyoto and also read this great 4-day Kyoto Itinerary or this One Day in Kyoto Itinerary.

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About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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2 thoughts on The absolute best Top 5 Temples in Kyoto – Traditional Highlights in Japan

  1. Another brilliant post! You’re making me want to travel the world (especially Japan)! I think out of all these places I’d like to visit Kinkaku-ji Temple the most! it just looks incredible!

    • I am happy you like it. Yes, the Kinkaku-ji temple was really impressive. Just make sure you get there in the early morning as it’s gonna be crowded 🙂


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