Kyoto Hidden Gems You Should Check Out

Those seeking an experience that feels different than Kyoto Station should pack a day bag and head toward its beautiful countryside, where there are numerous hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.

Hieizan Enryaku-ji offers the perfect combination of spiritual calm and natural splendor – truly one of Kyoto’s hidden gems!

Gio-ji Temple

Kyoto’s well-known temples like Kinkaku-ji, Kiyomizudera and Togetsukyo Bridge draw thousands of tourists each year; however, lesser-known spots also provide plenty of beauty and delight. From history buffs to nature lovers alike, Kyoto offers plenty of hidden treasures that offer spiritual or historic experiences for you to connect with its history or deepen spiritual journey.

Gloriously situated amongst the rolling hills of Gion, Gio-ji Temple provides the ideal natural retreat. As part of Daikaku-ji Temple and related to a story from Heike Monogatari (Heian romance), Gio left Tokyo following her heartbreak at being spurned by chieftain Taira no Kiyomori; leaving with her mother and sister she became nuns here and spent her remaining days living out her days in seclusion in an isolated thatched hut known as soan. Wooden statues depicting Gio, her mother as well as Taira no Kiyomori can be found within this modest temple’s main hall.

Gio-ji Temple in Kyoto stands out as an oasis of calm and relaxation, its lush moss-covered grounds providing a welcome respite from city heat. Spring brings cherry blossoms while autumn’s vibrant reds and yellows bring rich hues. Even winter when its trees turn frosted green offers its own stunning beauty!

Gio-ji stands out among Japanese temples by being dedicated to practicing Zen Buddhism rather than veneration of deities, making it the perfect location to reflect upon and embrace impermanence as part of one’s spiritual journey. With tranquil moss-covered gardens, gentle breezes rustling through branches and an iconic statue of Buddha standing watch over all this peaceful sanctuary, Gio-ji will provide a sense of peace and serenity you won’t soon forget.

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Tawaraya Sosho

As soon as you step through Tawaraya Sosho‘s covered passageway and emerge into its earthenware world, your senses will be immersed in an intoxicating sense of wonder that transcends time. For those interested in fine craftsmanship, Kyoto offers this hidden gem offering exquisite handmade items and antiques not found elsewhere.

This ryokan is widely regarded as one of the finest hotels in Kyoto and Japan. With its private gardens and impeccable attention to detail, its popularity draws in celebrities, politicians and other high-profile guests from both sides of the political divide. While it may be expensive compared to other accommodation options available here in Kyoto, its worth it!

Though there have been a few negative reviews on TripAdvisor about Tawaraya Sosho, most reviewers seem to enjoy it immensely. Those who didn’t seem too fond of Tawaraya Sosho tend to either not feel at home staying in any ryokan or dislike its oldness – the latter category seems odd since Tawaraya Sosho represents a timeless aesthetic that embraces age with grace while celebrating imperfection and welcoming guests from different backgrounds and countries alike.

On tatami mats, sipping green tea alongside age-old artifacts and hearing the soft rustle of silken kimonos, you’ll be transported back in time to Kyoto of another era. More than simply visiting a tea house; this experience provides an unforgettable glimpse into a culture characterized by balance and harmony.

Walking across Kyoto’s Tsutenkyo Bridge during autumn can be one of the most captivating experiences, offering elegance and beauty that’s hard to match elsewhere. It captures the essence of autumn perfectly, making the trip well worth your while to experience this Kyoto gem first-hand.

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Kurama-Kibune Hike

Kurama and Kibune lie just north of Kyoto’s urban sprawl and offer an idyllic rural escape that seems worlds away from city life. Conveniently accessible via Eizan Line train service, this half-day adventure provides the ideal chance to escape Kyoto’s usual tourist crowds while experiencing nature and heritage – with temples, shrines, quaint shops and boutiques that showcase Japan’s diverse heritage all on display during a hike through nature and heritage sites.

The Kurama-dera Temple Complex and Kibune Village lie at its origins; from here you’ll enjoy mountain vistas and lush forest scenes along the trail, as well as ancient temples and shrines hidden away within thick woods. Of special note is Yuki Jinja Shrine with its massive cedars and distinctive Japanese Wisteria trees – it stands as an embodiment of fertility and love – perfect symbolizing what this hike represents!

One of the best times to explore this region is during spring or autumn when its beauty is at its height. Cherry blossoms add an airy pink hue over serene temples and stone pathways in spring; autumn’s vibrant leaves color the trails in reds and yellows. However, this hike can be enjoyed year-round for equally impressive results.

Kurama-Kibune hike can easily be combined with a visit to Hieizan Enryaku-ji temple complex on top of Mt. Hiei, accessible by Eizan Line. Here you will experience spiritual tranquility and stunning natural splendor that are sure to create lasting memories – definitely one of Kyoto’s hidden gems worth exploring!

Hieizan Enryaku-ji

Kyoto offers many wonderful experiences; whether it is enjoying an exquisite tea ceremony, experiencing nature’s bounty firsthand or discovering Kyoto’s rich history – one such place is Ohara Temple Complex in Kyoto’s historic village Ohara. Here lies an incredible temple complex covered in lush moss covering every inch of ground with over 120 different varieties that provide cushioned comfort as you walk the grounds.

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Once known as Onjo-ji, Mii-dera later gained its current name due to the springs on its grounds used to bathe new Imperial newborns. Additionally, this temple served as an early training ground for warrior monks known as sohei who combined Buddhist discipline with martial arts skills and played an influential role in Japanese history.

Enryaku-ji temple, listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, is an impressive complex that sprawls up and around Mount Hiei with breathtaking views of Kyoto city below. Visitors can spend the day exploring its shrines, prayer rooms, gardens, cultural relics collection and even its vast collection of cultural artefacts; particularly during autumn months when its walls are lined by red leaves of the traditional momiji tree!

Todo, Saito and Yokawa of this massive temple offer their own distinct experiences. Todo’s western section houses Kompon Chudo and Saicho’s mausoleum – two iconic features from early 800s Buddhism who established the temple – while Saito area surrounding Shaka main hall and known for its stunning green mosses is less frequently visited and provides more tranquil settings.

Hieizan Enryaku-ji may not be easy to reach, but the journey will certainly be worthwhile. Booking a tour or hiring a private driver to ensure a seamless visit. Alternately, bus and cable car services run from Tokyo City Center; either way you will require at least a full day visit in order to maximize your visit!

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I love to travel and explore new places around the world. Meeting different people from various intercultural background and spending time with locals is something that makes me feel great. You can connect with me at Google+ or follow me on Twitter.