Higashiyama (meaning "eastern mountains"), nestled between the Kamogawa River and the eastern sloping foothills, is Kyoto's most historical district. From sprawling temple complexes perched atop hills to the traditional backstreets of Gion, THIS is the historical and cultural heart of Japan that you came to Kyoto to experience!

This culturally rich district is famous for being the densest collection of Buddhist temples in the world, but it's far more than just a religious neighborhood. This is where geisha still live and entertain guests nightly, craftsmen use traditional techniques to create masterworks, and guests gather for tea ceremonies in elegant townhouses on quiet backstreets. Higashiyama is an excellent location to explore the legend of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the great 16th century leader and one of the most interesting individuals in Japan's history. Still a popular figure today, Hideyoshi's time in power was a turning point for Japan, both politically and culturally. The Higashiyama walking tour traces parts of Hideyoshi's story, and gives us a better understanding of why he was so passionate about his three famous obsessions: tea, gold, and women. Along the way, you'll take in some truly magnificent spots, many of which are often overlooked by other visitors.

This full day tour of the east side of Kyoto is perfect tour for guests who want to soak up as much Kyoto culture as possible in a single day, while avoiding the well-known, busy tourist spots. Don't worry about getting "templed-out" on this tour! KyoTours Japan knows how to keep things interesting for guests, and we can show you how to approach each temple and shrine from a new viewpoint that lets you find new details to admire and appreciate. This walk through Higashiyama will provide insight on Japanese religion, art, architecture, geisha, gardens, tea, food, and traditional - as well as modern - ways of life. See another side of Kyoto that most guests often overlook, and join us on this unique journey through Kyoto's past.

The following is a sample itinerary for the Higashiyama Walking Tour:

  • Begin the tour with the most impressive sight in the entire city: Sanjusangendo, the hall of 1001 golden Buddhas.
  • Visit several often overlooked local shrines, and one shocking monument that other tours often skip. You'll never guess what's buried here...
  • Stop for a break at one of Kyoto's oldest tea establishments and enjoy traditional matcha green tea and wagashi sweets.
  • Enter the stunning Buddhist complex at Kodaiji to marvel at vivid paintings, unique original tea houses, and some of Kyoto's best architecture.
  • Pass through a locals-only Shinto shrine where Kyoto residents perform a strange ritual to gain the blessing of the god of personal connections.
  • Enjoy a lunch of your choice. For example: noodles, vegetarian fare, or even Kyoto's most authentic temple-style tofu.
  • Experience Kenninij, Kyoto's first Zen temple, complete with an impressive Zen rock garden and a massive dragon ceiling in the main hall.
  • Walk through Gion, the traditional geisha quarter, and learn about the lives of the women who entertain and live here.
  • Explore the Nanzenji area, passing under a massive wooden gate before entering a hillside complex containing a very interesting Buddha statue.
  • Finish with a visit to one of several wonderful gardens in the area, all focusing on using water in unique ways. (garden selection will vary by season)

Full Day Higashiyama Culture Tour

Duration: approx. 6.5 to 7.5 hours

Price: 28500 yen for one guest

(6500 yen for each additional guest)

Please note that this tour is a combination of walking, trains, and taxis (depending on season) all of which are covered by the tour fee.

This tour took us to main sites as well as off the beaten path. We felt like we were not with a guide, but with a friend taking us around Kyoto. The guide did not rush us during our tour with him which was so nice! We would not have gotten that in a big group tour. Overall, a great tour with a great guide.
— Ocdclean, from San Diego via Trip Advisor

Additional information

  • This tour must be started no later than 9:00am.
  • A stop for lunch or a quick snack can be added into this tour easily.
  • This is mainly a walking tour, so comfortable clothing and shoes are recommended.
  • The suggested route above may be reversed depending on the season and the guest's choice of lunch location.
  • The tour can start from a number of easy to access meeting places, including your hotel or another spot convenient for you.
  • Tour price includes all transportation prices, temple and garden admission fees, and tea.
  • Guests are responsible for their bill at lunch and any additional snacks and drinks.
  • Itinerary subject to change due to seasonal changes in temple hours, special events, transportation delays, weather, or other factors. Guests will be kept informed of any itinerary changes as they occur on the day of the tour.
  • Please read our terms and conditions for more information before booking.

To book this tour, inquire about scheduling, or request more info, please use the contact form below.

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