Kyoto is one of Japan’s best cities to visit if you are interested in temples and the rich culture that surrounds Japan’s history. There is said to be over 1000 Buddhist here in Kyoto, not sure if anyone actually has time to visit them all! One of the best to visit is the golden pavillion, although unfortunately that is not free.
The population of Kyoto is over one and half million people yet the city doesn’t feel overly crowded and manageable even if you can only speak English.
With all that in mind we present our list of the top five free things to do in Kyoto:
5. Philosopher’s Walk
One of the free things to do in Kyoto is to wander along the Philosopher’s walk, a pathway lined with cherry trees. The best time to visit is in Spring when the blossoms are out in full colour, however it is still a pleasant walk any time of year.
The walk is around 2km long and flat so is a decent length yet still enjoyable.
It is named the Philospher’s walk because the influential 20th-century Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro is thought to have used the walk for daily meditation.
4. Maruyama Park
Another favourite for cherry blossom viewing is the fourth on our list of free things to do in Kyoto – Maruyama park. The weeping cherry tree in the centre of the park even gets lit up at night so it is worth visiting during the day and at night.
You can find Maruyama Park between Yasaka Jinja Shrine and Chion in Temple and is open 24 hours a day.
3. Bamboo forest
If you have seen the classic pictures of scenic Japan then you will probably have come across an image of this bamboo forest before. However now you can experience it in real life, and it is far better than picture to see these mighty plants up close!
You can find the bamboo forest (Arashiyama) at the entrance/exit to Tenryu-ji temple which is also worth visiting (although unfortunately not free so we can’t talk about that here!)
2. Spotting a Geisha in Gion
Geisha are a big attraction for many tourists in Japan, and your best chance at seeing a real one “in the wild” so to speak is here in Gion, Kyoto.
To find out more about finding Geishas in Gion, Kyoto for free check out Borders of Adventure’s blog post all about “How to see a Geisha in Kyoto”
1. Fushi Inari Taisha shrine
The number one item on our list of free things to do in Kyoto is another location which you may be surprised to find out is free – the Fushi Inari shrine. This series of orange shrines is a significant trek up a relatively steep hill but one not to be missed!
The main site structures on this site were built in 1499 but there are many more of the orange gateways here today!
One of the best sites in Kyoto and perhaps Japan this Inari Shrine is also easy to access as it has its own dedicated station just outside the entrance. You have no excuse not to visit this incredible sacred destination.
That concludes our list of the top five free things to do in Kyoto, if you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment!