Kyoto was founded in 794 AD, and the Japanese called it "the hometown of the soul", and it is also a cultural symbol of Japan. The original design of this thousand-year-old capital was to imitate Chang'an (Xian) and Luoyang during the Sui and Tang Dynasties of China.
In Japan, there is no other city that provides so many secluded shrines and such wonderful views of the four seasons as Kyoto. In the spring, Arashiyama is pink with cherry blossoms; in the summer, yukata-clad women gather on the corner of Gion at night; in the autumn, maple trees are red at Tofuku-ji Temple; and in winter, Kinkaku-ji Temple is cloudless after a snowfall. On the streets of Kyoto, you can blend in with the crowd, feel the pulse, and experience the secular customs. We will take you to this wonderful old Japanese capital.
Our Japan shore excursions are designed by Western destination experts who live in Japan along with local Japanese tour specialists to showcase all the best attractions in Japan and provide a unique understanding of Japan from a Western perspective. In particular, we know where to find cherry blossoms and autumn leaves in Kyoto that most cruise lines do not emphasize in their shore excursion programs.
Join our one-day guided Kyoto tour from Port of Osaka or Port of Kobe. Explore the former capital city of Japan and its magnificent temples in private transportation. Visit Kyoto's iconic cherry blossom destinations such as Kinkakuji Temple, the Heian Jingu Shrine, Arashiyama Gorge, and Osaka Mint to see the most flowers and enjoy the bustling festival. Our Kyoto shore excursion will bring you to some of the best city sites to discover the core of Japanese culture. Enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch in a famous restaurant.
Cruise passengers: You may get this excursion for FREE if you book the cruise through us or transferring your existing reservation to us (meaning we are your travel agent who booked the cruise for you with nothing changed). Please contact us to learn how.
Kyoto is a city rich in history, culture and beauty. It has many attractions that are worth visiting, but cruise passengers may face a challenge of time. If you are arriving at Osaka port and want to explore Kyoto, you need to plan your itinerary carefully. Here are the top 8 attractions in Kyoto that we recommend, but keep in mind that you may not be able to visit all of them in one day.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, famous for its vermilion torii gates that line the trails behind its main structure. Inari Shrine lies on the grounds of 233-meter Mount Inari, which stands in a wooded forest.
There are many shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto deity of rice, but Fushimi Inari is the most important. Many fox statues can be found on the shrine grounds because foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers. A shrine dedicated to the goddess Fushimi Inari dates back to 794, long before Kyoto became the capital.
Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka Slopes are iconic streets of Kyoto City that represent the good old days of Japan. You can't help taking pictures of this nostalgic and dreamy location once you arrive.
Originally constructed in 808, the stone-paved slope leads to Kiyomizudera Temple (below). Streets and surrounding buildings surrounding the slope have been preserved as Important Preservation Districts. In fact, many worshippers carry their wishes up this slope on their way to Kiyomizudera Temple.
Known as the "Pure Water Temple", Kiyomizudera is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. Founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, it was named after the fall's pure waters. Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage, which protrudes 13 meters from the hillside above its main hall. From the stage, you can see the cherry and maple trees below erupting in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as the city of Kyoto in the background.
The Kinkakuji Temple in northern Kyoto is best known for its gold-leafed top two floors. It is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond. It was once the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the third shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate, ruling from 1368 to 1394 during the Muromachi period of Japan. After his death in 1408, the villa became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect. It was Kinkakuji that inspired Ashikaga Yoshimasa to build the similarly named Silver Pavilion on the other side of the city a few decades later.
A world-famous forest of swaying bamboo boughs, located at the foot of the "Storm Mountains" in Kyoto, is the perfect place to relax while in the country. You can stroll along endless paths lined with towering bamboo. It has been described as peaceful, dreamlike, and other-worldly. This forest's rustling bamboo has been named one of the "100 Soundscapes of Japan" by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
"Heian Shrine" is a shrine created to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Heian capital relocation in 1895. The bright shrine hall with red and green as the main color reproduces the main hall and court courtyard of Heian-kyo at a size of five-eighths. The shrine consists of 4 gardens, and the "Shenyuan" with a swimming pool of about 30,000㎡ is worth seeing. Red weeping cherry blossoms in spring, beautiful purple swallows and irises in early summer, red leaves in autumn, and snowy scenery in winter, etc.
In Nishiki Market, there are more than one hundred shops and restaurants lined up along a five-block street. As "Kyoto's Kitchen," this lively market offers a wide variety of seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, including Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood, and sushi. It is a great place to explore Kyoto's culinary delights. Numerous stores in the market have been run by the same family for generations
One of the best ways to enjoy the scenic beauty of Kyoto is to take a rickshaw ride in Arashiyama. A rickshaw is a traditional Japanese vehicle pulled by a human runner. You can sit back and relax as your guide shows you the highlights of the area, such as the bamboo forest, the Togetsukyo bridge, and the temples and shrines. The rickshaw ride is fun, comfortable, and informative. You will learn about the history and culture of Kyoto while admiring the stunning views. A rickshaw ride in Arashiyama is an unforgettable experience that you don't want to miss!
One of the best ways to experience Arashiyama is to ride the "Sagano Sightseeing Train (Arashiyama Train)" and admire the stunning valley views along the route. The train runs slowly and elegantly along the Hozu River Valley. The total distance is 7.3 kilometers. It takes about 25 minutes one way and about an hour round trip. There are five carriages in total, and the seats are made of wood. Carriage No. 5 (Fugui) is an open carriage. Along the small train, there are cherry blossoms all over the mountains and fields in spring, fresh green in summer, red leaves in autumn, and silvery white world in winter. You can enjoy the four seasons of Kyoto by taking the small train. style.
Enjoy an authentic traditional tea ceremony hosted by a real Kyoto geisha, also called a geiko, or their apprentice called a maiko! You will be introduced in English to the unique geisha culture of Kyoto, where young geiko women would serve tea to pilgrims visiting the historic temples in Eastern Kyoto.. This event includes: Geisha Tea Ceremony, Matcha Tea and Utensils, Wagashi or Japanese Sweets, Geisha Dance Performance, and Photographs with Geisha. (45 mins).
Have a fun day at the family friendly experience museum! You will be amazed by the stories and secrets of the samurai and ninja, the legendary warriors of Japan. You will also get to try some martial arts moves and learn about the culture and history of this fascinating country. The friendly and knowledgeable guides will show you around the museum in English and answer all your questions. Don't miss this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of samurai and ninja!
One of the most popular attractions in Kyoto for sakura lovers is Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts about 500 cherry trees of different varieties. The castle grounds are open to the public from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every night during the blooming season, offering a spectacular display of light and color. Visitors can admire the illuminated trees against the backdrop of the historic buildings and enjoy a unique atmosphere of beauty and history.
The Philosophical Path connecting Ginkakuji Temple and Nanzenji Temple is located on the east side of Kyoto University in Japan and is about 1.8 kilometers long. It is called the Philosophical Path because the former philosopher Kitaro Nishida often walked here to explore profound philosophical issues. road. The paths along both sides of the canal are filled with cherry blossoms, so it is recommended as one of the most romantic walking paths and one of the best spots for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto. It is relatively quiet outside of cherry blossom season.
Gion is the geisha district of Kyoto, and it can be said to be the representative area of Kyoto. This place still maintains Japan's most traditional street style and architectural features. Walking here is like returning to ancient Japan, elegant and leisurely, and comfortable. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the streets are covered in a light pink color. In the Gion area, there is a small river called "Shirakawa" running through it, making the scenery on the bank even more beautiful. On spring nights, the blooming cherry blossoms on the bank of Shirakawa are illuminated by various lights, making it even more charming. <
Although it is a well-known tourist city in Japan, there is no bustling traffic, no over-development of commercial tourism, no crowds and noise, but it always has the ancient charm of traditional art and pure and simple temperament. National treasure-level historic sites are hidden in the city, handicraft workshops that have been passed down for centuries are all over the streets, and any corner of the street is full of scenery. There is no doubt that Kyoto must be the most unmissable destination in Japan's itinerary.
The beauty of Kyoto and its historical, cultural, and gastronomic background deserve more time. It's a great idea to stay overnight. It takes three hours to go back and forth from Kyoto to Osaka or Kobe cruise port. Wouldn't it be great if you could spend these three hours exploring Kyoto?
If you visit Kyoto, you may want to consider staying at a ryokan, a Japanese style inn. Ryokan provide cozy facilities for relaxing while you savor delicious Kyoto cuisine and Japanese-style baths. For those who want to experience a genuine Japanese atmosphere, ryokan are a great option. A stay at one of these traditional inns is usually slightly more expensive than that in a hotel, but it is a rewarding and personal experience worth the extra cost.
We have arranged for you to stay in a decent Japanese traditional ryokan in the evening, which allows you to get in touch with Japanese culture and history while getting away from the small cabin of the cruise ship. In addition, you will be able to enjoy a nice Japanese meal in a decent Michelin-starred restaurant where you will enjoy many delicious dishes from Japan.
Osaka Port or Kobe Port
We highly recommend that you book our shore excursions now if you will be taking a cruise in 2024. 2023 has already seen large crowds, and 2024 will see even more. We expect many tourists will be unable to book their shore excursions in 2024, so please make your plan as soon as possible.