What to Do in Shimogyo

Shimogyo - Kyoto Attractions

From the ultra-modern structure that is Kyoto Station to the ancient grace of Buddhist temples, Shimogyo ward has plenty to offer interested visitors. A number of museums provide insight into aspects of Kyoto’s history from ancient times, through the industrial revolution right up to the modern era.

Kyoto Tower is a must to get a bird’s eye view of the city from its 131m heights and on a clear day enjoy views all the way out to Osaka Bay.

Other Shimogyo attractions offer visitors a taste of everyday Japanese life like the Hakyusan-yu sento or public bath.

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Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station is a glorious example of modern Kyoto. The futuristic 15-storey station building features impressive and imposing architecture; steel frames and irregular cubic plate glass cover the 238,000 sq m interior, which houses not only the regular trains and shinkansen (bullet trains) but also a shopping mall, a hotel, a movie theatre and a department store. The main hall is 70 metres in height and stretches for 470 metres from east to west. Designed by architect Hiroshi Hara, the station was opened in 1997 to commemorate the 1,200th anniversary of Kyoto.

  • Location: Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 361 4410
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Nishi Honganji Temple

This vast temple complex is the oldest of the 2 Honganji temples and is now headquarters of the prosperous Jodo Shin-shu sect of Buddhism. Not all of the temple is open to the public; the two halls you can enter feature exquisite carvings and paintings on paper screens and walls created by the Kano school of artists. You can find Nishi Honganji Temple around 10 minutes' walk north of Kyoto Station. 

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 5.30am to 5pm (May–August until 6pm)
  • Location: Horikawa-dori, Hanayamachi-sagaru, Shimogyo, Kyoto, 600-8501, Japan
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 371 5181
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Higashi Honganji Temple

Nishi Honganji Temple (The Eastern Temple of the Original Vow) covers a large area near Kyoto Station. Within the complex, cavernous buildings demonstrate the might of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The large pigeon population in the central courtyard may well have annoyed him, though. This temple is full of ornate buildings. Enter though the 28-metre-tall Founder’s Hall Gate for a feeling of grandeur.  An interesting element of this temple is the long black rope which was used during the reconstruction of the temple during the 19th century; it is completely made of female devotees’ hair.

  • Opening Hours: March–October from 5.50am to 5.30pm. November–February from 6.20am to 3.30pm
  • Type: 3 Karasuma-dori Shichijo-agaru, Shimogyo, Kyoto, 600-8505, Japan
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 371 9181
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Costume Museum

This often over-looked museum has wonderful exhibits of the various Japanese costumes throughout the ages – from royal dresses to samurai armor and exquisite geisha kimonos. The museum aims to endow visitors with insight into the world of nobility during the Heian Period (794 to 1185) of Japanese history. Fans of the world’s first ever novel, The Tale Genji Monogatari, will appreciate the ¼ scale model of the Haru-no-Goten (Spring Palace) on display, offering a 3D portrayal of the story. It's located on the 5th floor of an office building close to Kyoto Station. 

  • Opening Hours: Monday–Saturday from 9am to 5pm
  • Location: Fifth Floor Izutsu Building, Shinhanayacho-dori, Horikawa Higashiru Shimogyo, Kyoto, 600-8468, Japan
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 342 5345
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Kyoto Tower

Opened in 1964, Kyoto Tower stands 131m above the city. From the observation decks, on a clear day you can see all the way to Osaka Bay. You'll find a 4-star hotel, a shopping arcade, a cocktail bar and several restaurants housed within the tower. The modern structure is seemingly incongruous to the rest of the ancient capital, however being the tallest building in Kyoto it has been a major icon since its completion. Kyoto Tower is next to Kyoto Station and can be seen from far and wide. 

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 8.40pm
  • Location: Karasuma-dori, Higashishichijo-sagaru, Shimogyo, Kyoto, Japan
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 361 3215
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Hakusan-yu is an authentic Japanese sento or public bath where you can experience this most Japanese of leisure activities. Here, you will be privy to a side of Japanese family life that few outsiders get to see. There are separate male and female indoor baths, a heated waterfall that gives a strong pummel of a back massage, an electric bath and a beautifully landscaped outdoor bath. Remember to wash yourself thoroughly before entering the baths.

  • Opening Hours: Thursday–Tuesday from 3pm to midnight (open from 7am on weekends and holidays)
  • Location: 893 Ushitoracho Rokujo, Shinmachi-dori, Shimogyo, Kyoto, 600-8304, Japan
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 351 2733
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