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Kyoto is laid out in a grid, making the city easy to navigate. Walking is the best way to soak up the atmosphere but you’ll need to make use of the excellent bus system (or jump in a taxi) to explore the sights, as most of them are scattered on the outskirts.

Kyoto Neighborhoods


Central Kyoto, home to the Imperial Palace, Nijo castle, and Nishiki food market, is also filled with bars, restaurants, and tea houses. Tiny, lantern-lit Pontocho street is particularly magical at night.


Head east for the city’s finest temples including Kiyomizudera and Ginkakuji Temple (the silver pavilion). The “Walk of Philosophy” by the canal is spectacular during spring’s explosion of cherry blossoms.


One of this area’s biggest draws is Ryoanji temple, which contains Japan’s most famous Zen rock garden. Other lures: Ninnaji temple’s beautiful Japanese gardens and Daitokuji temple’s tea ceremony rooms.


The south contains Kyoto’s iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine with its tunnel of bright red "torii" gates. Millions of worshippers flock here annually to celebrate the new year.


Journey to this quiet suburb to visit Katsura Imperial Villa with its gorgeous gardens and famous Edo period architecture.

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