Sights in the northern part of Kyoto are a little further from the downtown. So the best way to get there is to hop on the bus. This part of the city contains several of Kyoto’s most important sights like Kinkaku-Ji Temple (the Golden Pavilion), Ryoan-Ji Temple, and Ninna-Ji Temple.
Kinkaku-Ji Temple, also called as the Golden Pavilion is a Zen temple. It used to be a shogun villa, and after his death, it became a temple. As the name might suggest, it is covered in gold leaf. Not sure if you remember but when I wrote about Kanazawa I mentioned it. Gold leaf is this very very veeeeeery thin piece of gold (0.125 millionths of a meter), where one touch is enough to break it.
It is a famous sight, so either be there in the morning or close to the closing hours. Otherwise, you will be stuck in crowds. I was there twice, during spring and autumn, it looked great during both seasons.
For more history, click on the link.
Kinkakuji Temple in spring
Kinkakuji Temple in autumn
Ryoanji Temple is the most famous rock garden in Japan. Honestly, I was really disappointed with it. I mean, it was cool that the piece of land with some rocks was raked, but I saw more beautiful places with more elaborate structures like for example Ginkakuji temple.
Beside the temple itself, there is a beautiful park with a pond or rather a lake, that I enjoyed strolling around. It looked lovely with sakura trees all around.
Ninnaji Temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a Buddist temple founded by the emperor in 888. It is great to visit it during the cherry season as there is a grove of locally cultivated, late-blooming Omuro cherries
Besides those temples that I managed to visit, there are many more sights that might also be interesting. I will mention briefly some of them that I think are nice to swing by if you have enough time in Kyoto.
Kibune is a small town built around Kifune Shrine. I wanted to go there because I saw a video of people eating flowing noodles and really wanted to try 🙂 The city is famous because of ryokans and restaurants. From July to September the restaurants build platforms over the river, so you can enjoy the meal while the river flows below you.
There is a hiking trail from Kibune to Kurama, which I read is lovely. However, according to this website, it has been temporarily closed due to a typhoon. So before planning the trip, check out that website to see if there are any updates.
Kurama is another rural town that is known for its temple and hot springs. It is possible to use hot springs even if you are not a guest in the ryokan, you just need to pay. I am just crazy with hot springs, so I thought it would be great to do a hike from Kibune to Kurama and then jump into one. Too bad I run out of time ;( There is always next time!
The Kamo Shrines -Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are two of the most important and oldest shrines in Kyoto. For more information, check out this link.