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Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto


Geishas, temples & gardens

Kyoto tailor-made holidays


Once the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is filled with a wealth of cultural treasures – among them 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. The city's religious landmarks, majestic palaces and Zen gardens, together with geishas in brightly coloured kimonos, are classic images of Japan and part of the city's lasting allure for tourists.


Kyoto is the best place in Japan to experience the shrinking world of the geisha. Meaning ‘practitioner of the arts', geishas spend many years training to sing, dance, play traditional instruments and provide stimulating conversation for affluent men who consider them the epitome of refined beauty. Before the Second World War there were as many as 80,000 geishas in Japan, but today this number is down to a few thousand - identified by their distinctive white make-up and expensive kimonos - the majority of whom live and work in Kyoto, the bastion of the tradition.

The Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji, or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is an extravagant building with two tiers covered in gold leaf - hence its name. It was originally built as a retirement villa for a shogun, but he requested that it become a temple in his will. It's a peaceful place, with the reflection of Kinkaku-ji shimmering in the waters of a calm pond that forms part of a classic Japanese garden around the temple.

Kiyomizudera Temple

The wooded hills to the east of Kyoto form the backdrop to the celebrated Kiyomizudera Temple, a Buddhist temple that was founded beside a waterfall that divides into three separate streams. Drinking water directly from the stream is said to have different benefits depending on which stream is chosen: long life, success at school and success in love. A grand wooden stage provides visitors with pretty views across a landscape thick with cherry and maple trees. The area is particularly colourful in the spring and autumn, when the flowers of the trees first blossom, then fade to burnt orange.

Ryoanji Temple

Japan's most famous rock garden is housed within the Ryoanji Temple, a Zen temple that was formerly an aristocrat's villa during the Heian period. Fifteen stones laid out in small patches of moss are the focal points, although only 14 are visible at any one time, wherever you view the garden from. The rocks are set within a rectangular space covered with small pebbles. Several walking trails lead around the temple complex, one crossing a bridge to a shrine on an island in a pond.


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Special offers in Kyoto

Sensoji, Tokyo, Japan

Essential Japan

11-day tailor-made journey from £2,655 pp incl. flights


Flight offer – Save up to £225 pp
Book by: 15 September 2019

Get a taste of all that this spectacular multi-faceted country has to offer, with private tours of Tokyo, traditional ryokan stays, trips on Japan's 200mph bullet train and visits to world famous temples.

Top itineraries in Kyoto

Mt Fuji, Japan

Best of Japan

15-day tailor-made journey from £4,745 pp incl. flights

Experience the best Japan has to offer on this 16-day tour, meandering through the modern hi-tech, natural beauty, and the ancient and traditional. Start your tour off in one of the most modern, efficient and largest cities in the world - Tokyo.

Shirakawago, Japanese Alps

Tokyo, Hakone and the Japanese Alps

17-day tailor-made journey from £5,540 pp incl. flights

Step out of Japan's capital and explore an alpine world of shrines and samurai frozen in time. Board the mighty bullet train, sleep in timber ryokan inns, stay in hot onsen springs and more on this tailor-made journey.

Kyoto Gardens

Best of Shikoku

17-day tailor-made journey from £4,700 pp incl. flights

Head off the standard tourist route to explore hilltop temples, artist island retreats, castle old towns and hidden valleys

Cherry Blossom, Mt Fuji

Japan Blossom Season

12-day tailor-made rail journey from £3,540 pp incl. flights

Between private, tailor-made tours, bullet-train trips and stays in historic hot-spring inns, see the best of Japan and its world-famous cherry blossom season.

Top places to stay in Kyoto

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Contemporary hotel

Despite being the first luxury international hotel in Kyoto, fine Japanese dining and clean lines complemented by bonsai trees and tatami mats give this deluxe hotel a real sense of place.

Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto, Kyoto

Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo

Contemporary hotel

This modern hotel has an excellent restaurant, a popular bar and a location that’s perfect for exploring the sights of Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto.

Hoshinnoya Kyoto

Hoshinoya, Kyoto

Designer resort

In each of this renovated ryokan’s 25 rooms, you’ll be able to enjoy the same luxury that greeted Kyoto’s nobility some 100 years ago.

Hyatt Regency, Kyoto

Hyatt Regency, Kyoto

Contemporary hotel

Stay in among Kyoto’s storied past in the contemporary luxury of granite bathrooms and kimono tapestries.

See all places to stay

When to go to Kyoto

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Much of southern Honshu enjoys a subtropical climate with hot, sticky summers and cool winters that almost never reach freezing. Outside of cherry blossom April – Kyoto and Nara are particularly pretty – the best times to go are the more temperate shoulder seasons. If you're looking to cool off from city microclimates, seaside Hagi and lakeside Matsue are good choices.

See regional weather

Kyoto articles

Torii Shrine, Miyajima in Hiroshima, Japan

The ultimate Japanese rail journey

It's not just the ruthless efficiency that makes the Japanese rail network so appealing. On Shikoku, express trains pass hilltop shrines and ancient burial grounds, while main-island Honshu sees routes skirt dramatic coastlines, wind through the Japanese Alps and circumnavigate great lakes.

Meet our Kyoto experts

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0689 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

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