Kyoto Kiyomizu Dera Temple In Kyoto

15 Best Temples to Visit in Kyoto in 2023

In 2023, travelers exploring Kyoto won’t want to miss the chance to visit the city’s top temples.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, perched on a hillside, offers breathtaking views of cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant autumn leaves.

The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji, dazzles with its Zen beauty and golden reflections on the pond.

And Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, beckons with its serene moss garden and minimalist architecture.

With many more temples and shrines to discover, Kyoto promises a peaceful and immersive experience for all.

Key Takeaways

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), and Nanzen-ji are must-visit temples in Kyoto.
  • These temples offer breathtaking views, stunning architecture, and serene environments.
  • The temples are rich in cultural heritage and showcase traditional elements and exquisite artworks.
  • Some temples, such as Tenryu-ji and Tofuku-ji, are famous for their beautiful gardens and vibrant autumn foliage.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kyoto Kiyomizu Dera Temple In Kyoto


Visitors will be able to explore Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a historic temple perched on Mt. Otowa hillside, offering panoramic views and surrounded by cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves in fall.

This temple is like the Beyoncé of temples in Kyoto – fierce, iconic, and always putting on a show. You can strut your stuff on the wooden stage, which is not only architecturally impressive but also gives you a view that will make your jaw drop.

And let’s not forget about the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. It’s like nature is saying, ‘Hey, I know you’re here to see this amazing temple, but check out my stunning colors too!’

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Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Kyoto
Kinkakuji Kyoto

Surrounded by stunning gardens and reflecting on the pond’s surface, the top two floors of Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) are covered in shimmering gold leaf. This Zen Buddhist temple is a symbol of Kyoto’s cultural heritage and offers strolling paths through pine trees and beautiful gardens. But what makes Kinkaku-ji truly unique is its ability to grab your attention, just like this table:

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
Location Kyoto
Year Founded 1397
Architectural Style Zen
Top Attractions Gold leaf facade, stunning gardens
Cultural Significance UNESCO World Heritage Site, symbol of Kyoto

Now, imagine yourself walking through this serene temple, feeling the freedom to explore its tranquil beauty. With its golden exterior and lush surroundings, Kinkaku-ji is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a truly enchanting experience in Kyoto.

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion

GinKakuji Kyoto

The Ginkaku-ji or the Silver Pavilion, with its minimalist architecture and elegant silver exterior, stands as a captivating contrast against the lush greenery of its tranquil moss garden. This temple, modeled after its golden counterpart, is a true gem in Kyoto.

Here’s why you should pay a visit:

  • The temple’s serene atmosphere envelops you, transporting you to a world of tranquility and freedom.
  • The exquisite artworks and traditional elements found within Ginkaku-ji are a feast for the eyes, offering a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.
  • As you stroll through the moss garden, the vibrant green hues and soft textures create a sense of harmony and connection with nature.


Nanzenji Temple Higashiyama Kyoto
Nanzenji Temple Higashiyama Kyoto

Nanzen-ji, an important Zen temple in Kyoto, boasts scenic ponds and Japanese maples that create a picturesque landscape. It’s like stepping into a serene painting where tranquility reigns.

As you stroll through the temple grounds, you can’t help but feel a sense of freedom wash over you. The iconic two-story Sanmon gate, the largest wooden gate in Japan, stands tall and proud, inviting you to explore further. Inside, you’ll find a peaceful sanctuary for meditation and reflection.

Nanzenji Temple Higashiyama Kyoto
Nanzenji Temple Higashiyama Kyoto

The temple’s rich history, dating back to 1291, adds to its allure. Soak in the beauty of the ponds, the vibrant colors of the maples, and the sense of liberation that comes from being in such a sacred place.

Nanzen-ji is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a taste of freedom in Kyoto.

Tenryu-ji Temple

Tenryuji Temple
Tenryuji Temple

Nestled amidst breathtaking landscape gardens, Tenryu-ji Temple in Kyoto offers visitors a peaceful environment for meditation and a chance to enjoy the beauty of its gorgeous autumn foliage. Here are three reasons why this temple is a must-visit:

  • Tranquility: As you step into the temple grounds, a sense of serenity washes over you like a warm embrace. The peaceful atmosphere allows you to leave behind the chaos of the outside world and find inner freedom.
  • Natural Beauty: The temple’s gardens are a sight to behold, especially during autumn when the leaves transform into a vibrant tapestry of red, orange, and gold. It’s like stepping into a painting where nature becomes the artist, reminding you of the beauty that exists in simplicity.
  • Spiritual Connection: Whether you’re a devout practitioner or simply curious about Buddhism, Tenryu-ji Temple provides a space for reflection and contemplation. It’s a place where you can explore your own beliefs and connect with something greater than yourself.

Tofuku-ji Temple

Surrounded by vibrant autumn colors, Tofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto invites visitors to explore its expansive gardens and experience its traditional structures.

This temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, is not just any ordinary temple. It’s a temple that knows how to have a good time. With its iconic Tsutenkyo Bridge adorned with vibrant autumn colors, it’s like a party waiting to happen.

The temple is also home to the oldest sanmon gate in Japan, which adds a touch of history to the festivities.

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple

The historic Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto boasts an impressive main hall, Goeido, known for its magnificent architecture. This temple, with its rich cultural heritage and peaceful atmosphere, is a must-visit for those seeking freedom and spiritual enlightenment. Here are three reasons why Nishi Hongan-ji Temple will captivate your heart:

  • Serenity: Step into the temple grounds and feel the tranquility wash over you. The peaceful atmosphere and beautiful surroundings create the perfect environment for meditation and introspection.
  • Grandeur: Prepare to be awestruck by the grandeur of Goeido. The intricate design and attention to detail showcase the incredible craftsmanship of ancient artisans. It’s a true testament to human ingenuity and creativity.
  • Cultural immersion: Enjoy the rich history and traditions of Kyoto. Explore the temple’s grounds, learn about the teachings of Buddhism, and witness the rituals that have been practiced for centuries.

Visiting Nishi Hongan-ji Temple is not just a sightseeing experience, but a journey of self-discovery and freedom.


Leaving behind the grandeur of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, our journey now takes us to the enchanting Byōdō-in. This temple, originally built in 1052, is a true gem of Kyoto. Its centerpiece, the Phoenix Hall, houses a gilded Amida Buddha and overlooks a pond that resembles the Buddhist Pure Land paradise. Talk about heavenly scenery!

As you stroll through the temple grounds, you’ll be captivated by the Tendai sect’s tranquil atmosphere and minimalist design. The simple elegance of Byōdō-in creates a peaceful environment that is perfect for meditation and reflection. And let’s not forget about the rock garden, which adds an extra touch of serenity to the temple.

Whether you’re a history buff, a spiritual seeker, or simply someone who appreciates beauty, Byōdō-in is a must-visit destination. So, make sure to add this heavenly temple to your Kyoto itinerary in 2023 and let your wanderlust soar!

Ryoan-ji Temple

Nestled in Kyoto, Ryoan-ji Temple beckons visitors with its famous rock garden and tranquil atmosphere. The temple, built in the late 15th century, boasts a simple and minimalist design that exudes a calming vibe.

Here are three reasons why Ryoan-ji Temple should be at the top of your must-visit list:

  • Zen Bliss: As you enter the temple grounds, you’ll feel an immediate sense of peace wash over you. The serene atmosphere is perfect for those seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
  • Rock Garden Magic: Prepare to be mesmerized by Ryoan-ji’s renowned rock garden. The carefully arranged rocks on a bed of white gravel evoke a sense of mystery and contemplation. It’s like a Zen puzzle waiting to be deciphered.
  • Time for Reflection: Ryoan-ji Temple provides ample space for introspection and meditation. Find a quiet spot, take a deep breath, and let your thoughts wander as you soak in the tranquility.

Sanjusangen-do Temple

Surrounded by lush greenery, Sanjusangen-do Temple captivates visitors with its impressive collection of 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It’s like a mercy overload!

You won’t believe your eyes when you step into the long wooden hall and see row upon row of these statues staring back at you. It’s like they’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re here to bring you all the mercy you’ll ever need!’ And let me tell you, that’s a lot of mercy.

But it’s not just the statues that will leave you in awe. The architectural and artistic details of the temple are simply stunning. It’s a true masterpiece of craftsmanship.

Chion-in Temple

Chion-in Temple impresses visitors with its imposing architecture and beautiful gardens, making it a must-see destination in Kyoto. Nestled in the Higashiyama Mountains, this temple offers a serene escape from the bustling city.

Here’s why Chion-in Temple will leave you in awe:

  • The monumental Sanmon gate, the largest wooden gate in Japan, will make you feel small and insignificant. It’s like entering another world.
  • The expansive temple grounds are a peaceful oasis. Take a stroll through the meticulously maintained gardens and let your worries melt away.
  • The main hall, with its intricate details and grandeur, will leave you speechless. You’ll feel a sense of reverence and wonder.

Kodai-ji Temple

Kodai-ji Temple, a Zen temple founded in 1606, enchants visitors with its beautifully landscaped gardens and intricate wooden carvings.

This temple is like the Beyoncé of Kyoto temples, with its stunningly gorgeous features that make you want to bow down.

The gardens are meticulously maintained, giving you a sense of peace and tranquility as you stroll through them.

And let’s not forget about the wooden carvings! They’re so intricate and detailed, it’s like they were made by a team of master artisans.

Plus, during special events, the temple is illuminated at night, creating a magical atmosphere that will leave you breathless.

Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine, located in the vibrant Gion district of Kyoto, captivates visitors with its stunning architecture and colorful festivals. This lively shrine offers a unique blend of tradition and excitement, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking freedom and a good time.

Here are three reasons why Yasaka Shrine will leave you in awe:

  • Enchanting Festivals: Yasaka Shrine is famous for its lively festivals, such as the Gion Matsuri, which features stunning floats, traditional performances, and an electric atmosphere. Get ready to Enjoy a whirlwind of vibrant colors, lively music, and joyful celebrations.
  • Architectural Marvels: The shrine’s intricate and ornate architecture is a feast for the eyes. From the impressive main gate to the stunning main hall, every corner of Yasaka Shrine showcases the skill and artistry of its craftsmen. Prepare to be dazzled by the intricate details and awe-inspiring beauty of this architectural gem.
  • Cultural Significance: Yasaka Shrine holds deep cultural significance in Kyoto. As one of the city’s oldest and most important shrines, it embodies the rich history and traditions of the region. Explore the grounds and feel the weight of centuries of spiritual devotion and cultural heritage.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Kyoto S Famous Fushimi Inari
Kyoto’s Famous Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari Taisha, located in the southern part of Kyoto, beckons visitors with its famous torii gates and serene atmosphere.

The shrine is dedicated to the god Inari, the deity of rice and agriculture.

But let’s be honest, the real star of the show here is the endless tunnel of vibrant red torii gates that wind their way up the mountain.

It’s like stepping into an otherworldly realm of freedom and exploration.

And if you’re feeling up for a hike, you can follow the trail that leads to the summit of Mount Inari, offering stunning panoramic views of Kyoto.

Just be prepared for a swarm of cheeky fox statues along the way, as they are believed to be Inari’s messengers.

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle
Nijo Castle

After exploring the enchanting Fushimi Inari Taisha, it’s time to venture to another must-visit destination in Kyoto: Nijo Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not your average castle. Here’s what makes it so special:

  • Rich History: Nijo Castle was once the residence of the powerful Tokugawa shoguns in the 17th century. It’s like stepping back in time and experiencing the grandeur of feudal Japan.
  • Stunning Gardens: The castle is surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens, complete with serene ponds and vibrant flora. It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and soak in the beauty of nature.
  • Intricate Architecture: The architectural details of Nijo Castle are truly awe-inspiring. From the elaborate carvings on the doors to the exquisite sliding screens adorned with intricate paintings, every corner of the castle is a work of art.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to Enter Kiyomizu-Dera Temple?

The cost to enter Kiyomizu-dera Temple is unknown. But hey, don’t let that stop you from experiencing the breathtaking panoramic views from the wooden stage and immersing yourself in the rich history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Are There Any Restrictions on Photography at Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion)?

Yes, there are restrictions on photography at Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). Visitors are not allowed to take photos inside the temple, but they can capture the stunning golden exterior and beautiful gardens from outside.

Can Visitors Participate in Meditation Sessions at Tenryu-Ji Temple?

Visitors can participate in meditation sessions at Tenryu-ji Temple. The peaceful environment and breathtaking landscape gardens provide the perfect setting for mindfulness practice. It’s a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Is There a Dress Code for Visiting Chion-In Temple?

There is no specific dress code for visiting Chion-in Temple. However, it is recommended to dress modestly and respectfully, as it is a religious site. Visitors should avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate clothing.

Are There Any Guided Tours Available at Nijo Castle?

Yes, guided tours are available at Nijo Castle. Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens, moats, and intricate architectural details while learning about the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Sum Up

To sum it up, if you’re planning a trip to Kyoto in 2023, don’t miss out on these amazing temples!

From the breathtaking views at Kiyomizu-dera Temple to the dazzling golden beauty of Kinkaku-ji, there’s something for everyone.

And let’s not forget about Ginkaku-ji, with its serene moss garden that will transport you to another world.

But wait, there’s more! Nanzen-ji, Tenryu-ji, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Nijo Castle…the list goes on.

So grab your camera, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to Enjoy the beauty and spirituality of Kyoto.

It’s a trip you won’t soon forget!