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Half Day Small-Group Kyoto Cultural Tour
Overview: Learn about Kyoto’s history and culture in just a half day on this guided cultural walking tour. Guided commentary allows you to delve deep into the history of Japan’s former imperial city while visiting the Tofukuji Temple, Fushimi Inarii Shrine, and Gion Geisha district, which would be difficult to visit independently in the same time frame. The small-group size means you can wander down back roads you wouldn’t necessarily find on your own, and snacks and entrance fees are included.
What to Expect: Meet your guide and a small group in the afternoon at Kyoto station, then set off on foot through the center of Kyoto. This comprehensive tour with a guide gives an overview of the city, visiting three of its most important landmarks in just an afternoon of walking. The tour’s small-group size ensures an intimate atmosphere and plentiful chances to question your guide about Kyoto’s culture and traditions.
The tour’s first stop is the 13th-century Zen Tofukuji Temple, home to lush gardens and a functioning Zen Buddhist monastery. Learn about the long history of the temple and its status as one of Kyoto’s five most important religious monuments from your guide, before walking to the Fushimi Inari Shrine on the city’s outskirts. Take in the oft-photographed red gates—set against the densely forested hillside—that was featured in the popular film Memoirs of a Geisha, and be sure to snap a picture or two of your own. Your guide will lead you to the site’s often-overlooked smaller monuments and numerous statues of foxes, who are thought to be the messengers of Inari, the Shinto God of rice.The last stop of the day is the Gion District, where you’ll often find the city’s geishas, or Japanese hostesses trained to entertain men. Learn about the often-misunderstood tradition of geishas and difference between geishas and their assistants from your guide, and keep an eye out for these elegantly dressed women making their way between the neighborhood’s tea houses.
What Reviewers Say:
“This tour is a must if you only have limited time in Kyoto. Our tour guide Sean was born in Japan but grew up in England and then came back to Japan. He knew everything about the Temples and Shrines we saw plus how to find the mysterious Geishas in Gion. We started off at the Buddhist Temple called Tofukuji. We saw Ojizosan (the bib rock) and FudoMyo (the angry man) statues on the way there. Then we walked to Fushimi Inari Shrine, the place with thousands of red gates and foxes, which is dedicated to the God Inari (for rice and business). Very beautiful gardens and architecture in the area we visited. The only downside to this tour was that so much had to be packed into the limited amount of time we had (3 hours) that we were unable to stop for some shopping time. Other than that, just bring your walking shoes and have fun!”
“Our guide, Miyake, was great! We got to see some of Kyoto’s best cultural sites, including Shrines, laneways, Geisha, markets and the Senbori Tori – 1000 gates of the great Fushimi Inari Shrine. An awesome experience that everyone should have on their bucket list.”
Where To Stay: Top Hotel Pick in Kyoto
Kyoto INN Gion
Kyoto INN Gion, well designed Japanese hotel Perfect location for the leisure traveler Kyoto INN Gion is located right in the front approach to CHI-ON-IN Temple, where just a minute’s walk away. You can be enjoyed very easy access to Higashiyama tourist attractions including very famous YASAKA Shrine, KIYOMIZU Temple and GION (MAIKO) entertainment area. This Japanese designed 34room hotel features free Wi-Fi internet access and guest lounge. You will find our friendly and helpful staff at your service all the time.
What Reviewers Say:
“No doubt this is where you need to stay if you’re visiting Kyoto. The location is fabulous and the staff amazing. They speak English and are beyond helpful. If I’m ever back in Kyoto I’m staying here again. You can take a taxi to other historic sites on the other side of Kyoto because you’ll definitely want to walk around Gion and the river walks closer to where this hotel is located.”
“This was a wonderful hotel for our recent three-night stay in Kyoto. The location was ideal, being in the heart of the atmospheric Gion district with a wealth of interesting restaurants, and a short walk to bus stops giving easy access across Kyoto. The room was extremely quiet and an ample size to be able to open 2 decent sized suitcases, with a very comfortable double bed and en-suite bathroom. The very competitive price included a simple, but more than adequate cooked breakfast. The staff were excellent and couldn’t have been more charming and helpful – seeing us off outside with a bow was a lovely touch. We’d definitely stay here again on our next trip to Kyoto.”