Walking Route

Shisen-do, Manshu-in & Shugaku-in
Sanjusangen-do Temple to Gion
Chushojima and Fushimi
Kamigamo Shrine area
Old Capital Walking

Old Capital Walking
From and to famous & interesting places


Visitors to the Old Capital have many things that they want to see, so, naturally, they have to choose carefully. More importantly, visitors should take the time to read their guidebooks at night, and then, where ever possible, stitch together a daily or half-day route that is as smooth and simple as possible. For example, if you plan to see the Golden Pavilion area then a backstreet stroll to the Daitoku-ji Zen complex / Imamiya Shrine zone is highly recommended. To have a really relaxing time, plan a little, and then have fun. It is the smart way to go!

Yoshidayama to Heian Shrine
This walk will take the visitor through a strange forest, a picture-perfect little shrine, two largely unknown but stately temples, a huge mountaintop graveyard, and through narrow, tradition filled backstreets to Heian Shrine. Start the walk on Imadegawa by walking south through the large stone shrine torii gate. Follow the winding path up into the mountain through an interesting forest. At the top, you will see a gravel path to your left: follow this for about 80 m and you will come to a large lookout area, perfect for picnics or stretching out on the grass. If you don't go the lookout, then turn right and follow the path down to a large open area and a small children's playground: swing left through the open area, past the public toilets (on your right) until you come to a long row or tunnel of orange shrine torii gates. Before continuing, follow the gates to the left: at the end you will come to a very old, very fine little Inari Shrine (guarded on either side by Inari fox statues), home of the rice harvest deity. Then follow the torii gates back down towards the playground and go straight. When you come a road that leads steeply downhill, go straight across into the grounds of another shrine where you will see a long series of stone stairs off to your left. Follow the stairs down and go straight through a large orange temple gate (Shinnyodo). Go around the back of the main building on the right side and follow the path right past the cemetery and into another cemetery. Follow the main path until you come to a 5-story pagoda with a long series of stone stairs leading down through the cemetery. At the bottom swing right and check out the huge grounds of Kurodani Temple. Then take the stairs leading down through the huge gate below, to the south, of the main building. Follow the road out the front (east) gate of the temple and then immediately turn left and follow the narrow lane all the way down to Nijo, where you will run into the high wall of the zoo. From there turn left for Nanzen-ji or right to go further south towards Kiyomizu Temple.

Daitoku-ji Temple & Imamiya Shrine
For a truly delightful morning or late afternoon explore the Daitoku-ji Temple complex and Imamiya Shrine behind it. These two places offer the visitor a unique chance to see ancient Kyoto in a couple of quiet detail filled hours: expect interesting tile motifs, hidden gardens, unbelievable woodwork, and timeworn surfaces) and take pleasure in the distant past and all its refinement and beauty. An important Zen temple, Daitoku-ji's quiet stone lanes, beautiful earthen walls and amazing wooden structures are still perfect. The temple also has a couple of superb Zen vegetarian restaurants. After walking through the temple (south to north) you will see the huge trees of amazing Imamiya Shrine off to your left: enter the shrine from the right side. At the approach you will see two tea and aburimochi (rice dumplings) shops that haven't changed for centuries (stop here after you have toured the endless living relics of the shrine itself). Large and important Imamiya Shrine has been revered as the habitation of a health-giving spirit since before 794. Explore the grounds and expect an incredible array of diverting side paths and minor shrines, often at odd angles to the central design of the grounds. Japan's largest maker of samurai dramas and historical epics often uses Imamiya Shrine for location shoots.

Kyoto's Old Market Streets
Kyoto's ancient covered market streets offer a wonderful look at what is left of the old market stalls and ways of life that was Japan everywhere until the 1960s. Kyoto has quite a few of these special streets left and most of them are not open to cars (or hardly). Here you will see fish shops and vegetable shops spilling out on to street, next to tiny tofu and sweet shops. You will also find these streets are one of the best places to see the old people of Japan shopping, gossiping and joking. Here everything is natural, simple and somehow warm in the way animals are and the ''old days'' were. See the old world: see Kyoto's market streets. 1) Nishiki, one street north of Shijo; known as the Kyoto's Kitchen, Nishiki is over 400 years old; this is where the leading restaurants and households of the city come to shop for produce, fish, etc. 2) Matsubara, between Horikawa and Karasuma; a great local area that is often overlooked. 3) Furukawa, south of Sanjo, one street east of Higashioji; this street is the most narrow of the ones mentioned here. 4) Sanjo, west of Horikawa; this long, bustling stretch of open-air shopping is not far from Nijo Castle. 5) Nishioji Teranouchi; this section is at the western edge of Kyoto's fabled Nishijin textile area, one of the densest and most traditional zones of the Old Capital, and is always well worth exploring.

Fushimi Inari Taisha
The huge shrine complex at Fushimi Inari Shrine is not written up in many guide books. But it should be. The shrine grounds, the climb up to the top of the mountain through the tunnel of orange shrine gates, the mysterious, dark and damp backside of the mountain, the pilgrims all dressed in white, the silence late at night (though the place is lit up all night) all combine to make this shrine a place well worth exploring. To get there, take the Keihan line that runs parallel to the river to Fushimi Stn. (about 10 minutes on a local train). From there walk a little east, over the tracks, and then let the adventure begin.

Detailed route

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