10 Must-Visit Kyoto Shrines and Temples for First Timers

First Time in Kyoto : Best Shrines and Temples to Visit in Kyoto

Do you know how many temples and shrines are in Kyoto?? In fact, there are over 4,000 of them located in Kyoto which is more than the number of convenience stores in the city.. WOW! So how would you pick which shrines and temples to visit out of thousands??

In case you are wondering which temples and shrines in Kyoto are really worth-visiting, you may get some ideas from this list. I have picked 10 must-visit Kyoto shrines and temples which every first time visitor should visit. So please take a look 🙂

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1. Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji (金閣寺) a.k.a. Golden Pavilion is one of the most iconic landmarks in Japan. Without any doubt, every first time visitors to Kyoto should definitely visit this stunning golden temple.

More details ▶️ Kinkakuji Temple: Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion

2. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (伏見稲荷大社) has marked as the most visited shrine among foreign visitors in past years. The shrine’s significant Red Torii Gate which is seen in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha” fascinates millions of visitors, and it’s one of the most photographed places in Japan.

More details ▶️ Fushimi Inari Taisha: Kyoto’s Most Visited Shrine by Foreign Visitors!

While the majority of tourists visit Fushimi Inari Taisha to capture the tunnel of red torii gates, there is a hidden hiking trail that you can enjoy a peaceful and tranquil walk amidst the trees and bamboos away from the crowds. The “Fushimi Inari Hidden Hiking Tour” is a popular tour in Kyoto which is perfect for eager travelers who wish to discover hidden gems. With this small group tour, you can enjoy hiking on a secret path to the shrine and immerse into the serine nature with a local guide. Check the following link to find more details about the tour!

Book Here

3. Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺) is one of the oldest historical sites in Kyoto which was built in 778. Along with Kinkakuji Temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, it’s Kyoto’s top visited tourist sites. The stunning wooden temple displays a spectacular view of the large terrace and the surrounding nature.

More details ▶️ Kyoto Kiyomizudera Temple: When is the Best Time to Visit?

4. Sanjusangendo Temple

Sanjusangendo Temple

Sanjusangedo (三十三間堂) is a mysterious temple where over 1,000 human sized golden statues of Kannon are stored in its hall.

More details ▶️ Sanjusangendo: Kyoto’s Buddhist Temple with 1,001 Golden Statues

5. Ginkakuji Temple

Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺) is also known as Silver Pavilion as it was modeled after Kinkakuji Temple. Although it’s not covered in silver, it’s one of the most beautiful temples in Japan, especially popular during the autumn leaves season.

More details ▶️ Ginkakuji Temple: Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

6. Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple (龍安寺) is a Zen temple which is best known for its stunning rock garden. The garden is formed with a puzzling design which is pretty mystery about how it was made will now.

More details ▶️ Ryoanji Temple: Kyoto’s Best Zen Rock Garden

7. Kifune Shrine

Kifune Shrine

Kifune Shrine (貴船神社) is a photo worthy shrine which has red lanterns lined on the stairs. Thanks to the current trends of Instagram and photography, the shrine has become hugely popular among Japanese and foreign visitors in the past few years.

More details ▶️ Kifune Shrine: New Travel Destination in Kyoto

8. Heian Shrine

Heian Shrine

Heian Shrine (平安神宮) is a celebrating shrine dedicated to the former Imperial family. The vivid red shrine has one of the biggest torii gates in Japan. It’s famous for the weeping cherry blossoms which displays the stunning view during spring.

More details ▶️ Heian Shrine: Kyoto’s Best Weeping Cherry Blossom Spot

9. Tenryuji Temple

Tenryuji Temple

Tenryuji (天龍寺) is the most iconic temple in Arashiyama area with the gorgeous Japanese garden and the famous dragon painting on the ceiling.

More details ▶️ Tenryuji Temple: Kyoto’s Yet Another UNESCO World Heritage Site

10. Byodo-in Temple

Byodo-in Temple

Byodo-in Temple (平等院) is the famous Buddhist temple in Uji city, which is best known for the appearance on the back of the Japanese 10 yen coin. The view of the Phoenix Hall and the pond in front is absolutely picturesque.

More details ▶️ Byodo-in: the World Heritage Buddhist Temple in Kyoto

How did you enjoy the list?? If you are planning a trip to Kyoto for the first time and thinking which temples and shrines to visit, these 10 should be first choices on your list 🙂 There are countless temples and shrines in Kyoto, so pick them wisely!

If you are a second time visitors to Kyoto and looking for off the beaten track spots, then you may wanna check out these articles below! 😉 Not only temples and shrines, but Kyoto has a lot of hidden beautiful spots!

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"The world is my oyster" A globetrotter 🌎 and hammock lover 🌞 who loves taking adventures to fuel wanderlust. Born and raised in Japan, I have lived and explored countries around the world. As a resident of Japan and based on my travel experience, I'd love to share my knowledge and tips for travelling Japan with my readers. I hope my story will help you plan your trip and have a great time in Japan 🌈