What to Do in Kita

Kita - Kyoto Attractions

Kita Ward is home to the most iconic of Kyoto attractions, the Golden Pavillion, Kinkaku-ji which draws hundreds of thousands of tourists every years to view its most serene setting. There’s more history to be told at the Daitoku-ji an enormous compound of Zen Buddhist temples and sub-temples, enough to fill an entire day’s sight-seeing.

The ward also has a number of historic houses and villas which have been converted into museums and restaurants. For a taste of traditional Japan head to the Funaoka onsen and enjoy the relaxing water-therapy.

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Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavillion)

Known by many as Rokuonji or the Deer Garden Temple, Kinkaku-ji was built in 1397 as a retirement pavillion for Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (1358-1409). It is located in northern Kyoto. The Golden Pavilion has three floors and stands 12.8 metres high. Both the second and third floors are gilded with gold-leaf on Japanese lacquer and the Read More...

  • Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 17:00
  • Location: 1 Kinkaku-ji-cho In Kinkaku-ji-cho, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 461 0133
  • How to get there: Kyoto City Bus 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station
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With four exquisitely maintained Japanese gardens, meditative rock gardens and some of the oldest and grandest temples in Japan, Daitoku-ji is the archetypical Zen Buddhist temple on a magnificent scale. Within its high walls Daitoku-ji contains many large temples and sub-temples dating back to the 14th century.

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
  • Location: 53 Murasakino Daitokuji-cho, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 491 0019
  • How to get there: Karasuma Subway Line, Kitaoii Station
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Koto-in (Daitoku-ji)

Hidden away on the western side of Daitoku-ji this small, reclusive sub-temple deserves special mention for its priceless collection of national treasures from Japan and China. The mossy gardens enveloping the temple are stunning in autumn with the vivid colours and dappled sunlight through the maple leaves. A beautiful spot for contemplation, respite or a picnic.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 16:00
  • Location: 73-1 Daitoku-ji-cho Murasakino, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 492 0068
  • How to get there: Karasuma Subway Line, Kitaoii Station
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Daisen-in (Daitoku-ji)

Visit this popular rock garden and see if you can identify the sea, the mountains and a boat represented in the rock formations. There are also animal faces and a waterfall depicted in the rock façade. Built in 1513 during the Muromachi era, the garden is a depiction of a dry landscape and well worth a visit early before the tour buses arrive.

  • Opening Hours: Mar – Nov from 09:00 – 17:00, Dec – Feb from 09:00 – 16:30
  • Location: 54-1 Murasakinodaitokujicho, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 491 8346
  • How to get there: Bus 101,205 or 206 from Kyoto Station to Daitokuji stop.
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Kyoto Prefectural Insho-Domoto Museum of Fine Arts

Avant-garde painter Insho Domoto designed the contemporary architecture of this interesting museum and was awarded the Order of Cultural Merits for his work in 1961. The museum exhibits wonderful modern art, paintings and sculpture. Within walking distance from Kinkaku-ji, it is a nice addition to a day in Kita Ward.

  • Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 09:00 – 17:00
  • Location: 26-3 Kamiyanagi-cho Hirano Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 463 0007
  • How to get there: Kyoto City Bus 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station
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Hirano Jinja Shrine

If you happen to be in Kyoto in autumn do not miss a visit to Hirano Jinja to see the stunning cherry blossoms and experience the hana-mi (flower-watching) Kyoto-style. Annually on the 10th April the cherry blossom festival is held here. Food and drink stalls are set up and there are free performances of traditional koto and shamisen musical reviews.

  • Opening Hours: Daily
  • Location: Miyamoto-cho 1, Hirano, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 461 4450
  • How to get there: Kyoto City Bus 50 or 205 to Kinugasako-mae stop
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Drama is literally built into this small temple tucked away at the foot of a hill. After suffering a shocking defeat in the Battle of Sekigahara, a group of soldiers committed mass suicide in Fushimi Castle. The bloodstained floorboards from the castle are used in the ceiling of this temple, however the tranquility of the temple compound defies the tragedy of its history. Annually it is part of the Gozan Fire Festivals when five of Kyoto’s mountainsides are set ablaze to spell out the phrase ‘Wonderful Buddhist Law’.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
  • Location: 72 Kitachinjuan-cho Nishigamo Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 371 5649
  • How to get there: City Bus to Jinko-in-mae Stop
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Waratenjin Shrine

If you happen to be pregnant or know someone who is, then a trip to Waratenjin Shrine may just ensure a healthy bundle of joy! This old Shinto shrine is dedicated to protecting babies and mothers during childbirth. It is also believed that by procuring a special charm from the shrine you will be able to predict the sex of your baby.

  • Location: Tenshinmori-cho Kinugasa, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 461 7676
  • How to get there: Kyoto City Bus 15,50, 101, 204 or 205 to RU Kinugasa Campus
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Ota Shrine

Also known as the purple iris shrine, the grounds of this peaceful site explode with colour during May and June when the iris are in bloom. The shrine is devoted to the god of plentiful harvests and fittingly has been an important shrine for farmers since its beginnings.

  • Location: 340 Motoyama-cho Kamigamo, Kita-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 781 0907
  • How to get there: Karasuma Line, Kitayama Station
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Kyoto Museum for World Peace

Simulations, films, photographs and replicas foster this museum’s purpose of spreading world peace. The museum has three areas devoted to the 15-year Japan War, World War II and War and Peace since 1945. A centerpiece of the museum is a sculpture created by Hongo Shin in honour of the students whose studies were cut short by the WWII mobilization in 1943.

  • Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 09:30 - 16:30
  • Location: 56-1 Kitamachi, Toji-in Kita-Ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 465 8151
  • How to get there: From JR or Kintetsu Kyoto Station: City Bus 50 to Ritsumeikan Daigaku-mae bus stop
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