1. Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) – World Heritage
Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site. It was one of 20 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of the World.
The place is not to be confused with Kiyomizu-dera in Yasugi, Shimane, which is part of the 33-temple route of the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage through western Japan, or the Kiyozumi-dera temple associated with the Buddhist priest Nichiren.
2. Arashiyama (嵐山)
Arashiyama is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. It also refers to the mountain across the Oi River, which forms a backdrop to the district. Arashiyama is a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty.
The Iwatayama Monkey Park on the slopes of Arashiyama. Over 170 monkeys live at the park. While the monkeys are wild, they have become accustomed to humans. The park is on a small mountain not far from the Saga-Arashiyama rail station. Visitors can approach and photograph the monkeys. At the summit is a fenced enclosure where visitors can feed the monkeys.
The “Moon Crossing Bridge” (渡月橋, Togetsukyō), notable for its views of cherry blossoms and autumn colors on the slopes of Arashiyama.
3. Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺) – World Heritage
Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺, literally “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, literally “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually.
It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.
4. Nijo Castle (二条城) – World Heritage
Nijo Castle (二条城 Nijo-jo) is a flatland castle in Kyoto, Japan. The castle consists of two concentric rings (Kuruwa) of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens. The surface area of the castle is 275,000 square meters (2,960,000 sq ft), of which 8,000 square meters (86,000 sq ft) is occupied by buildings.
It is one of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
5. Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺) – World Heritage
Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺, literally “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”), officially named Jisho-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the constructions that represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa initiated plans for creating a retirement villa and gardens as early as 1460; and after his death, Yoshimasa would arrange for this property to become a Zen temple. The temple is today associated with the Shokoku-ji branch of Rinzai Zen.
6. Nanzen-ji (南禅寺)
Nanzen-ji (南禅寺 Nanzen-ji), or Zuiryusan Nanzen-ji, formerly Zenrin-ji (禅林寺 Zenrin-ji), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Emperor Kameyama established it in 1291 on the site of his previous detached palace. It is also the headquarters of the Nanzen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen. The precincts of Nanzen-ji are a nationally designated Historic Site and the Hojo gardens a Place of Scenic Beauty.
7. Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社)
Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社 Yasaka-jinja), once called Gion Shrine (祇園神社 Gion-jinja), is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan. Situated at the east end of Shijo-dori (Fourth Avenue), the shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage.
8. Fushimi Inari-taisha (伏見稲荷大社)
Fushimi InFushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometers and takes approximately 2 hours to walk up.
Since early Japan, Inari was seen as the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice.
This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines.
9. Heian Shrine (平安神宮)
The Heian Shrine (平安神宮 Heian-jingu) is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The Shrine is ranked as a Beppyou Jinja (the top rank for shrines) by the Association of Shinto Shrines. It is listed as an important cultural property of Japan.
10. Sagano Bamboo Forest (嵯峨野 竹林の小径)
Bamboo Forest is a tourist site in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan. On CNN, it was referred to as One of the most beautiful groves on Earth. The Ministry of the Environment included the Sagano Bamboo Forest on its list of “100 Soundscapes of Japan”.