Central Kyoto encompasses everything in the wide plain in the middle of Kyoto. Being the capital of Japan and the emperor’s residence for over 1,000 years, the center of Kyoto is now home to the country’s most popular attractions such as Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace) and Nijo Castle. Central Kyoto is a mix of museums, religious heritage sites, contemporary shopping, and office buildings.
Built in 1603, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is arguably the best surviving example of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era. Nijo Castle can be divided into three areas: the Honmaru (main circle of defense), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense), and some gardens that encircle the Honmaru and Ninomaru. The series of ornately-decorated reception rooms within the Ninomaru Palace complex is particularly impressive, and known for its "nightingale floors" - wooden flooring which makes bird-like squeaking sounds when stepped on to give a warning when someone was approaching. Activities: Palace visit, photo stop Fee: JPY 620 Time required: 1 hour
Located in the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park, Kyoto Imperial Palace was the residence of Japan's Imperial Family until the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. The complex is enclosed by long walls and consists of several gates, halls, and gardens. The 1300 meter long and 700 meters wide Kyoto park also serves as recreational space for both tourists and residents, featuring attractive, broad gravel paths, lawns, and tree groves. It is a popular spot popular for strolls, jogging, picnics, and flower viewing.
Activities: Walking, photo stop Fee: None Time required: 1 hour
Nishiki Market is Kyoto’s largest traditional food market. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", this lively retail market specializes in all things food-related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood, and sushi. Some of the shops freely give out samples or sell sample dishes and skewers meant to be eaten then and there.
Activities: Food and souvenir shopping Fee: None Time required: 1 hour
Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji are two large temples in the center of Kyoto and headquarters of Jodo-Shin Sect (True Pure Land Sect), one of Japan’s largest Buddhist sects. Nishi Honganji's two largest structures are the Goeido Hall, dedicated to Shinran, the sect's founder, and the Amidado Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in Jodo-Shin Buddhism. Nishi Honganji is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Activities: Temple visit, photo stop Fee: None Time required: 1 hour
Nishijin Textile District
The traditional textile district of Kyoto, Nishijin, is in the northwest of central Kyoto. The best feature of this center is the kimono fashion show that goes on once every hour. It's a great way to see some truly remarkable kimono first-hand. The center also features live weaving demonstrations and a gallery of extravagant kimono from long ago. Hands-on activities include weaving classes and the chance to dress up in a kimono and get your photo taken and/or stroll the streets of Kyoto in style.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 1 hour
A narrow alley running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of Kamogawa River, and one of Kyoto’s most atmospheric dining areas. The alley is packed with restaurants on both sides offering a wide range of dining options from inexpensive yakitori to traditional and modern Kyoto cuisine, foreign cuisine and highly exclusive establishments that require the right connections and a fat wallet.