• Kyoto in Japan


The former imperial capital with a thousand colours

Kyoto is the capital of the prefecture of the same name, located in the Kansai region, in the centre of Honshu, the largest island in Japan. Its name literally means “capital city”: for nearly a millennium it was the imperial capital of Japan, from 794 to 1868, under the name of Heiankyo (“the capital of peace”).

Shaped by history and ancestral imperial rituals, Kyoto is the guardian of a legendary empire. Today, it is one of the most important cities in Japan, often considered as the country’s cultural and religious centre. It is part of one of the largest metropolitan areas in Japan, called Keihanshin, which includes the 3 major cities of Kansai: Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto.

Kyoto was almost chosen as a target by the United States to drop the atomic bomb in 1945, but was finally rejected because of its historical and cultural importance. It was therefore relatively spared by the Second World War, so that today the historic monuments of the old Kyoto (the area containing the cities of Kyoto, Uji and Otsu) are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage.

The best way to get to Kyoto from Tokyo is by Shinkansen (Tokaido line). The journey in Hikari is direct and takes 2 hours 40 minutes, while in Kodama is also an alternative but as it stops in several cities, the journey takes 4 hours.

With its many historic monuments, gardens, bridges and sites listed by UNESCO, Kyoto has no shortage of places of interest. The traditional district of Gion to the east of the city is also a must, with its historic alleys, traditional houses, and Maruyama Park; as well as the geisha district, Higashiyama. We can also mention Nijo Castle, former residence of the Tokugawa Shogun, and its park.

From the vast imperial palaces to the silk kimono Geishas wandering in its atypical districts, Kyoto is home to countless ancestral jewels. The city has managed to keep some aspects of its traditional identity over the years, while at the same time adapting to the present day, such as the Kyoto Tower, or its station with its modern architecture. Kyoto is also one of the cradles of video games via the company Nintendo, which was founded there in 1889, giving rise to global phenomena such as Mario Bros and Pokémon.

As for walks, the bamboo grove of Arashiyama, whose pictures are constantly being taken around the world, is a must, provided you avoid hordes of tourists. But also the path of the Philosopher (Tetsugaku no michi), so called because the philosopher Kitaro Nishida used it every day to meditate.

Every year on July 17, you can attend the Gion Matsuri festival, the most famous in Japan, with its impressive parade of tanks measuring up to 6 meters!

As for gastronomy, Kyoto’s specialities are kyo kaiseki and shabu shabu, sets of several traditional dishes. You can enjoy it in one of the restaurants on stilts overlooking the Kamogawa River, but be careful, the prices are high. Yudofu (hot boiled tofu) and vegetable pickles are also a must. As for sweet specialities, nama yatsuhachi (a kind of sticky rice flour crêpes in the shape of triangles and filled with red bean paste) are not to be missed.

Kyoto in Japan map

General informations

In japanese : 京都

Region : Kansai

Prefecture : Kyoto

Population : 1.5 million inhabitants

Density : 1,780 inhab/km²

Wards : 11

Link : Official website

  • Kyoto in Japan
  • Kyoto in Japan

Where to sleep in Kyoto

among the best rated ryokans
Matsui Honkan

Matsui Honkan

Ideally located just a 2-minute walk from lively Nishiki Market and Ponto-cho Street, Matsui Honkan features large public baths and chic Japanese-style rooms. It’s within a 10-minute walk from Shijo, Karasuma and Kawaramachi subway stations. Free Wi-Fi is provided at the public area.

Arashiyama Benkei

Arashiyama Benkei

Located along the Katsura River in the western part of Kyoto, Arashiyama Benkei offers traditional Japanese accommodation with indoor and outdoor natural hot spring baths. The rooms are fitted with tatami (woven-straw) flooring and futon bedding, and guests can enjoy in-room dinners while wearing yukata robes.



Located in a quiet neighborhood in Arashiyama district, Rangetsu offers Japanese-style accommodations with a private Hinoki cypress wood bath and free wired internet access. Guests can also relax in the public indoor/outdoor baths as well. Keifuku Arashiyama Train Station is a 10-minute walk away.

Gion Hatanaka

Gion Hatanaka

Just a short walk from the picturesque Gion district, hotel Hatanaka features traditional Japanese accommodations and a spacious public bath overlooking a zen garden. Free Wi-Fi is available.

Matsui-Bekkan Hanakanzashi

Matsui-Bekkan Hanakanzashi

Featuring spacious public baths and antique items on display at the lobby, Matsui-Bekkan Hanakanzashi offers traditional Japanese-style guestrooms fitted with tatami (woven-straw) flooring. It is located just a 10-minute walk from Karasumaoike, Karasuma and Shijo subway stations. Free Wi-Fi is available at the lobby.

among the most valued hotels
Almont Hotel Kyoto

Almont Hotel

Almont Hotel provides modern accommodations with free wired internet. Hachijo East Exit of train station is only a 5-minute walk away. A coin-laundromat and drink vending machines are available.

Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto

Royal Park Hotel

Selected by the Michelin Guide in 2013 and 2014, Royal Park Hotel features stylish modern accommodations with free wired internet access. The hotel provides massages and concierge services, as well as a bar and a buffet restaurant with savory dishes. Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae subway station and Sanjo Keihan Station are both within a 3-minute walk of the hotel.

Sakura Terrace

Sakura Terrace

Opened in October 2013, Sakura Terrace is only a 6-minute walk from Kyoto Station’s Hachijo-Higashi Exit. It features free Wi-Fi throughout the building, as well as a free laundromat. The hotel is a few steps from Kujo subway station.

Sakura Terrace The Gallery

Sakura Terrace The Gallery

Opened in March 2015, Sakura Terrace The Gallery is conveniently located a 2-minute walk from the train station. Free WiFi is available and guests can refresh in the public bath and sauna.

Hotel Sunline Kyoto Gion Shijo

Hotel Sunline Kyoto Gion Shijo

In the center of the city of Kyoto and a 15-minute public bus ride from train station, Hotel Sunline Kyoto Gion Shijo provides Western-style accommodations with free wired internet access and a spacious private bath.

among the most booked hotels
Hotel Gran Ms Kyoto

Hotel Gran Ms

Only a few steps from the Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae subway station, Hotel Gran Ms features Western and Japanese rooms with free Wi-Fi. It’s a 10-minute walk from the Gion district, and a 5-minute walk from both Keihan Sanjo Train Station and Hankyu Kawaramachi Train Station.

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo is in Kyoto, less than half a kilometer from Karasuma Station. It offers modern accommodations with a public bath, a restaurant and rooms with free internet.

Hotel MyStays Kyoto-Shijo

Hotel MyStays Kyoto-Shijo

Recommended by the Michelin Guide, the Hotel MyStays Kyoto-Shijo is centrally located in city and is a 6-minute walk from Shijo subway station. It has rooms with free Wi-Fi/wired internet, a restaurant and self-service laundry facilities.

Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto

Hotel New Hankyu

Right across the street from Kyoto Station, Hotel New Hankyu features 5 restaurants, a tour desk and a 24-hour front desk. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property.

HOTEL UNIZO Kyoto Shijo Karasuma

Hotel Unizo Kyoto Shijo Karasuma

Opening in October 2014, Hotel Unizo Kyoto Shijo Karasuma is centrally in the city, just a 4-minute walk from Karasuma subway station. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in guest rooms.

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Transportation in Kyoto

Railway Network Map

kyoto railway map

Kyoto Subway Route Map

The city has two subway lines

  • Kyoto Metro     Karasuma Line
  • Kyoto Metro     Tozai Line
kyoto subway route map

Kyoto Bus Network Map

kyoto bus route map

Understand bus destination signs

kyoto bus destination signs


Nearest Airports : 

  • Kansai International Airport
  • Osaka (or Itami) International Airport

Main station :

  • Kyoto Station – ο served by Shinkansen