Higashiyama District (Kyoto) Show mapShow gallery

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  • Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Kimono Style Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Rickshaw Ride Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Higashiyama District Yaska Pagoda, Kyoto

  • Higashiyama District Old Houses

  • Higashiyama District Old House

  • Higashiyama District Map

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Facts & Figures

Higashiyama District (1 out of 11 districts/wards in Kyoto) is the place to go for exploring the most beautiful and popular sightseeing spots in the eastern part of Kyoto's city center. The area is located between Kiyomizudera Temple and Maruyama Park. Enjoy exploring the narrow lanes, peaceful gardens, old merchant shops and preserved buildings like the traditional townhouses (machiya). This whole scenery will bring you back the atmosphere of the old Kyoto capital times. Best Ryokans in KyotoExplore Ryokans in Kyoto
Ryokans are the perfect way to discover old Japanese culture and traditions.
The city did a lot to support this impression by removing telephone polls and power lines cluttering the area in the past. There are many must-see attractions like Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Yasaka Pagoda, Kodai-ji Temple, Maruyama Park, Gion District (watch out for geisha´s), Chion-in Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto National Museum and much more. The rich cultural and historical heritage of this district attracts millions of tourist throughout the year. Most of them follow the district’s two-kilometer path to discover ancient Kyoto.

History

In 1929 the Higashiyama District was formed when this part was separated from Shimogyo-ku (district). The ward has been designated by the Japanese government as an "Important Preservation District for a Group of Historic Buildings". During the 14th century the area became a popular location for large shrines, temples, gardens and villas. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436 - 1490) created after his retirement in Kyoto the Higashiyama culture, a subset of Japanese culture with a strong influence by Zen Buddhism. His main focus was the development of the famous Japanese tea ceremony (Sado), Indian ink painting and flower arrangements (Ikebana). A big role played also the concepts/aesthetics of Wabi-sabi. The former residence of the shogun - Ginkaku-ji - is now one of the main attractions in Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Higashiyama District has many restrictions on urban development, therefore the population is constantly declining. It has now out of all 11 districts in Kyoto the lowest number of people with a huge percentage of elderly citizen.

Location Show map

Higashiyama Ward is located in the center of Kyoto and stretches north to south along the Higashiyama ridge.

How to get to Higashiyama?

  • 10-15min from Kyoto Station to Higashiyama by bus nr. 100 or 206

Sightseeing spots in this area

Top:

Kiyomizu-dera Temple - It is one of the most famous temples in Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist hotspot. I will never forget my first out of three visits there in 2004. Read more >

Yasaka Pagoda - The oldest pagode in Kyoto is with a height of 46m a landmark sign of the Higashiyama area. It is also the 3rd tallest wooden structure in Kyoto. Read more >

Kodai-ji Temple - One of the greatest Zen temples in Kyoto was founded in 1606 to honour general Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1542-1616). Read more >

Maruyama Park - It is the oldest public park in Kyoto and a must-see during cherry blossom season. Read more >

Gion District - The Gion district in Kyoto is the most famous Geisha district in Japan. Walk along the old traditional wooden machiya merchant houses and enjoy the Edo times atmosphere. It is my must-see recommendation for you. Read more >

Chion-in Temple - It is the head temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Japanese Buddhism. At the enrance you will find there the Sanmon Gate (main gate). Sanmon is with a height of 24m and a width of 50m the largest temple gate in Japan. Read more >

Yasaka Shrine - The famous Yasaka Shrine, also known as Gion Shrine, is one of the most popular Shinto Shrines in Kyoto. The Shinto Shrine was founded in 656. Read more >

Kennin-ji Temple - Kennin-ji Temple was founded in 1202. It is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto with a beautiful Zen garden. Read more >

Philosopher's Walk - The Philosopher's Walk (Tetsugaku no Michi) is an app. 2km long pedestrian path in Kyoto alongside a branch of the Lake Biwa Canal. It is on my Most Popular Cherry Blossom Spots In Kyoto list the absolut number one. Read more >

Tofukuji Temple - Tofuku-ji belongs to the five great Zen temples of Kyoto (Kyoto Gozan). The temple was founded in 1236. Read more >

Shoren-in Temple - Shoren-in is the first out of five Monzeki Temples (Sanzen-in, Bishamon-do, Myoho-in, Manshu-in) of the Tendai sect in Kyoto. The sight of the huge more than 800 years old camphor trees at the entrance of Shoren-in temple was really fascinating for me. Read more >

Yogen-in Temple - Yogen-in was built in 1594. The temple is famous for its main hall and the so called blood ceiling. Read more >

Sanjusangen-do Temple - The 120m long main temple hall is called Sanjusangen-do, which means a hall with thirty-three spaces between columns. It is the longest wooden building in Japan. The Japanese government registered Rengeo-in (official name) as an National Treasure. Read more >

Awata-jinja Shrine - Awata-jinja Shrine is well-known for its annual lantern festival in the beginning of October called Awata Taisai. The shrine is located on top of a hill. From there you have a great view over Kyoto. Read more >

Kyoto National Museum - The Kyoto National Museum belongs to the top 4 national art museums in Japan. It was designed by the architect Katayama Tokumain (1854-1917). Read more >

Yasaka Koshindo Temple - Yasaka Koshindo Temple was built during the Heian period (794 - 1185). Its unique decoration of colorful balls, a talisman called Kukurizaru, made this place really popular. Read more >

Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)

February

Setsubun (3rd)
One day before spring arrives (lunar calendar) the Setsubun is celebrated. Bean throwing (Mame maki) ceremonies are held at the shrine to get a good fortune for the year. Do not miss the bonfire on the evening.

April

Miyako Odori (1st - 31th)
The traditional annual spring dance of the Kyoto district Gion Kobu performed by Geiko and Maiko is a must-see on your Kyoto visit. Don't miss the most popular dances the Miyako Odori "Cherry Blossom Dances" or "Dances of the Old Capital" at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater (located close to Gion Corner).

May

Ochatsubo Dochu (1st)
The Ochatsubo Dochu or Traveling Tea Canisters festival dates back to the Edo Period. It represents the practice of showing the new tea harvest from Uji to the ruling shogun in the old days. Now during the parade large ceramic containers with tea are carried by people wearing traditional costumes from Kenninji Temple to Yasaka Shrine.

Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from Imperial Palace through Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri to the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.

July

Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).

October

Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which last around 2 hours.

November

Shichi-Go-San (15th)
The well-being and growth of young children is celebrated at the shrine and in the rest of Japan.

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