There’s so much to see in Kyoto itself that most people don’t explore the surrounding area. First priority should probably go to Arashiyama, to the west side of Kyoto, which is famous for its gardens and temples, as well as the Hozu-gawa gorge boat ride and the monkey park. Uji, to the south of Kyoto, is another quiet pocket of history and home to the magnificent Byōdō-in, whose graceful Phoenix Hall is a masterpiece of Japanese architecture, as well as the tea fields which support Kyoto’s cultural traditions. In the northeast of Kyoto is Hiei-zan, atop a mountain overlooking the city, where age-old cedars shelter the venerable temples of Enryaku-ji. Below Hiei-zan, Ōhara contains a scattering of beguiling temples in an attractive valley.

Slightly further afield, but definitely worth the effort, are Amanohashidate, the “Bridge to Heaven”, on the northern coast of Kyoto prefecture and one of the trio of top scenic views in Japan; the attractive castle town of Hikone on Biwa-ko, Japan’s largest lake; and the architecturally stunning Miho Museum, nestled in the Shigaraki mountains.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sake is quickly replacing craft beer as the cool kid on the drinks scene globally – and a number of breweries have recently opened in the UK, USA and Austral…

10 Nov 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
6 reasons why Osaka should be on your radar

6 reasons why Osaka should be on your radar

Osaka is affectionately known as "Japan's kitchen". It's the birthplace of ramen noodles (which celebrate their 60th birthday in 2018) and is home to some of th…

26 Sep 2017 • Tamara Hinson insert_drive_file Article
Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

With its glittering royal palaces, ancient temples and sacred shrines as well as sandy beaches, some of the world’s best skiing and beautiful national parks, …

07 Sep 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook