Imagine this: you're the leader of an important clan in the imperial household, deftly balancing power and politics in 13th century Japan. Where do you choose to build your palatial villa that you retire to between military campaigns and political upheavals? Why, the gracefully sloping northwest hills of Kyoto, of course! The tranquility of the area convinced many nobles, shoguns, and even retired emperors that this was the spot on which to reflect upon their lives and leave a shining monument to their power and wealth.

Some of the finest examples of Kyoto's private estates are still preserved here today, many of which have been transformed into magnificent Buddhist temple complexes. Many tourists make the mistake of coming up this way to only see the Golden Pavilion, but there are many more impressive sights to be admired in the area. This Northwest Kyoto Walking Tour will take you to some of Kyoto's most famous and busiest spots, but also passes through some more tranquil locations, included a stop for tea in a peaceful temple garden. This is a great tour for guests interested in Buddhism and Zen, or anyone who wants to see Kyoto at its best!

The following is a sample itinerary for the Northwest Kyoto Walking Tour:

  • Begin with a walk through Nijo Castle and gardens, the former palace of the mighty shoguns, military leaders who lived in splendor.
  • Marvel at one of the most visited spots in Kyoto, the magnificent Golden Pavilion, a world class modern wonder.
  • Explore the gardens at Ryoanji Temple, and find enlightenment at the original Zen rock garden. That's right... the very FIRST Zen garden!
  • Lunch at one of three choices: European-style cafe, Japanese casual dining, or a fun revolving sushi restaurant. (not included in tour fee)
  • Stroll through Toji-in Temple, featuring a beautiful pond garden and a statue hall with a strange tale of revenge involving beheaded shoguns.
  • Walk through a residential area to reach the massive walled temple complex at Myoshinji, and pass through one of Kyoto's most important Zen compounds.
  • Enter one of Kyoto's best "secret" temple gardens and enjoy a cup of matcha green tea and traditional sweets overlooking the garden.
  • Return to Kyoto Station by JR train, or transfer to the subway to head downtown.

Northwest Kyoto Tour

Walking and Public Transportation Option

Duration: approx. 5 to 6 hours

Price: 22,500 yen for one guest

(6,000 yen for each additional guest)

Taxi Option (no trains/buses, minimal walking between locations)

Duration: approx. 5 hours

Extra Fee: 5,800 yen

Japanese taxis hold 4 passengers max


So satisfied with this tour. The Golden Pavilion was just as great as we expected. The guide made sure we got there early before the crowds arrived so that it was perfect for us to take pictures. The Zen garden [Ryoanji] was spectacular! Best thing we saw in Japan.
— Heather from Ontario, Canada

Additional information

  • This tour must be booked with a start time no later than 9:00 am.
  • This is mainly a walking tour, so comfortable clothing and shoes are recommended.
  • During peak tourism seasons, only the taxi transportation option of this tour may be available.
  • Tour price includes transportation fees (train and/or bus), temple admission fees, and tea and sweets.
  • Guests are responsible for any additional food or drink purchased while on the tour.
  • If guests would prefer to take a taxi between locations, guests are responsible for all taxi fees (limit 3 guests per taxi).
  • 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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