Eco-friendly travel guide to Kyoto advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Kyoto, Japan.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 4 / 5
- Public transportation: 4 / 5
- Parks: 4 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 1 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$30 - $350
- Budget per day: US$60 - $550
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Kyoto is a city on the island of Honshu, Japan, and was the capital city. The city is considered the cultural capital of Japan, and it is a major tourist destination. The city is home to numerous classical Buddhist temples and gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines, and traditional wooden houses, some of which are listed collectively by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Various things can be done to ensure responsible travel, and these include:
- Using Public transport such as trains, trams, buses, and streetcars that are available across the city.
- Purchase locally made products.
- Eat local food. Numerous restaurants serve local dishes that you can try.
- Avoid littering and try to recycle whenever possible.
- Find non-profit organizations and try to support them either financially or by volunteering.
Air Quality and Pollution
The air quality in Japan is moderate. There are not many heavy industries in the city, so there is less air pollution than in places with many heavy industries. The main roads do have heavy traffic, although air pollution from traffic tends to be minimal as you will not see many old cars in the city. The air pollution from cars does not affect most people unless they have underlying breathing conditions.
Water pollution is relatively low in Kyoto. It was high for a long time, as there was high pollution caused by various solid waste products, especially plastic and sewage. The city put up an intense fight against water pollution by plastic, especially and has successfully reduced pollution levels.
Japan is considered one of the world's noisiest countries, and Kyoto falls under the country's top three noisiest cities. Several factors lead to noise, with the most prominent being related to the culture. For instance, Japanese society tends to value public expression rights over the rights to quietness, even if the expression is loud, repetitive, and annoying. Also, there is a tendency to make public announcements and warnings.
Respect the Culture
In general, Kyoto, like every Japanese city, has a strong connection to culture. Kyoto is considered Japan's cultural capital, and numerous cultural activities are carried out in the city. One of the most famous traditions is the Japanese Tea ceremony, deeply rooted in Zen Buddhism, with its slow and graceful movements. It was popular with Kyoto nobles back in the day. There are many other engaging cultural experiences that you should take part in and understand.
Top 10 Places to Visit
There are several places in and around Kyoto that offer a fantastic sightseeing experience. The city has many historical, architectural, and outdoor wonders that will keep you entertained throughout your stay. Below is a list of the top 10 places to visit in the city.
- Kinkaku-Ji , officially named Rokuon-Ji, is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto that is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, World Heritage Sites. It is one of the most famous buildings in the city, and it attracts many visitors annually. The temple and its garden are simply stunning to walk through, and they are popular with tourists who will lead to overcrowding, which can make it challenging to take pictures. The parking options are somewhat reasonable, but pricey, and for those without cars, it is easy to get there by bus.
- Fushimi Inari -Taisha is the head shrine of the kami Inari that sits at the base of a mountain, also named Inari, which is 233 meters above sea level and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines. Inari was and still is the hub of rice and agriculture, but merchants and manufacturers also. The shrine is majestic and has fox statues all around that are a sight to see. It is open 24 hours and is one of Kyoto's most famous shrines for local and foreign tourists. The shrine and its ground are huge and tend to get crowded, even when it's not peak season. Those interested in hiking can do so, although they should wear the right gear as the path is steep.
- Kiyomizu - Dera is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. The place is worth a visit as it has stunning nature, old but charming temples, and a breath-taking view. The temple's scenery is also beautiful and memorable, as you can see Kyoto's whole from here. It is even more beautiful during cherry blossom season or with autumn leaves. The temple tends to get very crowded. There is a bit of a walk to get there from the bus stop. There is a Starbucks as well as several local stores where you can sit down for a meal.
- Nijō Castle - It is a flatland castle made up of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the Honmaru Palace ruins, various support buildings, and several gardens. Many beautiful gardens surround the castle, which makes the whole scenery very peaceful. Entry is charged, and you can pay for both access to the parks and seeing the court or just one of the two. There are many pieces of Japanese art and paintings, and the castle is an example of how grand Japanese architecture is. The tour is very educational as its historical significance to Japan. There are food stalls that have local treats and dinner options for sale.
- Gion - It is a Kyoto district initially developed in the Sengoku period, in front of Yasaka Shrine to accommodate travelers and visitors' needs to the shrine. Over time, it changed to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. The Gion district is known for its charming, historical atmosphere and strong ties to the world of traditional Japanese arts. Visiting this area one of the best things to do in Kyoto. At least nine must-see places in the district, including; Shirakawa, Hanami Lane, Shijo Dori, etc. To get the district's full experience, you must look for a travel guide who will ensure that you do not miss out on any of the exciting sites.
- Nishiki Market - It is a marketplace in downtown Kyoto that is rich in history and tradition. The market is notorious as the place to obtain many of Kyoto's famous foods and goods. There are lots of food shops here with lots of interesting local street food to try. The vendors are friendly, and you can even request a freshly made snack, which they will provide. Besides food stalls, the market also has several places where you can buy souvenirs. Most of the shops are open between 10 am and 5 pm.
- The Heian Shrine - It is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyō-Ku, Kyoto, listed as an important cultural property of Japan. The shrine is bright colored and has vast grounds to explore. There is an entrance fee to visit the garden, and the shrine complex has free entry. The park has many different plants and trees and a lake with a resting bridge, making it the perfect place to go for a relaxing stroll and even a great place to take photos.
- Mount Hiei is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto, with the temple of Enryaku-Ji and several other smaller temples located at the summit of the mountain. The mountain is pretty chill and is a great place to escape to during the hottest summer days. There is an excellent view of the lake from the mountain. The hike is quite steep and challenging, and there is the option of using a cable car or taking the ropeway to the top; the cable car is a bit expensive. The mountain is a definite must for those who love the outdoors and appreciation for history. Photographs are allowed everywhere besides inside the temples.
- The Katsura Imperial Villa - Or Katsura Detached Palace, is a villa with connected gardens and outbuildings in Kyoto's western suburbs and is one of Japan's most important large-scale cultural treasures. The gardens are exquisite and are considered a masterpiece of Japanese gardening, and the buildings are regarded among the most outstanding Japanese architecture achievements. The villa gets quite crowded, and to be sure that you get a chance to enter, you should book your tour online. They have English headphones that work as an audio guide. The villa is out of the way compared to all other tourist destinations, but there is the option of using a taxi or a bus that stops a short 15 minute walk away from the villa to get there.
- Toei Kyoto Studio Park - It is a theme park and film set modeled after the Edo period, opened in 1975. Several projects were filmed at the park, including Sebastiano Serafini's historical Japan-themed music video for the single "Inori." The theme park is not so that people can explore and enjoy the activities at a leisurely pace. The activities include a horror house, Ninja Mystery House, Maze House, etc. All need to be paid for individually, so they might be a bit expensive.
Kyoto is one of Japan's most visited cities because it is the cultural capital with numerous places to see and experience. The city is home to many shrines and temples, exciting to explore, whether you are a religious person. Numerous parks are praised for meeting the exquisite standards that are associated with Japanese parks and gardens. There are also countless historical and cultural sites to see to ensure that you have the best possible memories from the city. The choice to visit Kyoto is, without a doubt, a great one, and it will be worth your time and every cent spent. Keep reading to be able to find out more about this fantastic tourist destination.
Japan is well known for having some of the best parks and gardens, and Kyoto is home to some of the best in the city. Listed below are the most popular parks in the city.
- Maruyama Park - It is well known for being the leading center for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto and can get too crowded at that time of year. The park's star attraction is a weeping cherry tree that becomes lit up at night. The park is located right in the middle of historic places. It offers an absolute serene ambiance where you could take a quick break while strolling around Gion and Higashiyama, countless temples and shrines. The park is filled with trees, streams, ponds, covered seating areas, and is a memorable place to hang out. There is an area to eat outdoors, along with a few street food vendors.
- The Kyoto Botanical Garden, - also known as the Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden, is a major botanical garden with a conservatory located next to the Kamo River that is open daily and has an entrance fee of 200 yen. The park has a generally peaceful environment, a nice change of pace from the other usually busy and noisy tourist attractions. There are lovely, easily accessible walking areas throughout the grounds, with areas of formal gardens and some indoor exhibits that are accessed for an additional small fee. There are many different plants with some that flower all year round, making it a great garden to visit if you are interested in plants.
- Kyoto Gyoen National Garden - It is a vast national garden of Japan that houses the Imperial Palace and a few imperial residences. There is a lot of exploring to do, which could take a while, so you can set aside a day to visit the garden. The environment is best for a relaxing stroll with gorgeous views of trees and the river. A beautiful new restaurant and information center are part of the things to visit in the garden. The garden is located only a few minutes away from Kyoto Station, so you can use the subway to get there.
- Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama: It is s a commercial park located in Arashiyama in Kyoto that is home to a troop of over 120 Japanese macaque monkeys. The park is at least a 25 min walk up a steep hill. For those who need to rest along the hike, there are several seats along the path. The monkey park is a unique experience with lots of monkeys or all ages running over the place. There is a feeding hut where you can feed the monkeys food bought on-site close-up, but you need to be careful as they are wild. The park is a great family location and well worth the hike up and down.
* Arashiyama Park Nakanoshima Area: It is a protected park area of trees along a river valley, many trees, including a bamboo forest. The park aims to reduce the cutting down of valuable trees leading to their extinction. There are an observation deck and a children's plaza, making it an excellent place for a family outing. The park offers beautiful luxurious sightseeing, the soothing sound of water and nature, a romantic train ride, and many old-fashioned stores and food stalls. Other activities in the park include kimono rental and rickshaw rides.
- Kyoto Tamba Kogen Quasi-National Park: A Quasi-National Park in Kyoto that explains the Kyoto Tamba region's rich nature and ecosystem. The Tamba region has been famous for forestry since long ago, and they have developed quality woodwork over time so that you can buy beautifully carved souvenirs.
There are several beautiful beaches in and around Kyoto that are worth visiting for a day of relaxing or doing other beach activities. Below is a list of the two most popular beaches in the city.
- Kotohiki Beach: located on the Sea of Japan and has beautiful golden-white sand, can be seen for miles and water rough in most areas. There is a crescent if you walk far enough with stunning views of towering cliffs and slightly calmer waters. The crowd density depends on whether or not you visit during peak season. There are plenty of places to relax as well as a hot spring made out of rock perched on the beach.
- Hacchohama Beach: It is located in Amino-Cho, and it is a shallow and beautiful beach with crystal clear waters. The beach's white sand stretches out like an island resort, and it is a popular surfing spot. There are also some rocky areas which are perfect for collecting seashells or discovering small wildlife. There is also ‘Hacchohama Seaside Park,' designed for leisure and has sprawling lawns, kid-friendly playscapes, a workout circuit, nearby hiking trails, and dog-friendly conveniences. Hatchohama has smooth waves, great swimming, fishing, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).
- Kiyomizudera: It is a beautiful temple situated on a hillside. The temple is also known as the Temple of Pure Water. There is the perfect sentiment associated with the temple. It is thought that a visit to the Shinto shrine inside the temple can bring you success in finding a suitable partner, making it rather popular amongst young Japanese. This prominent landmark has the main hall set on an extensive wooden terrace with gorgeous views and is surrounded by the temple grounds and a pagoda. It is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm, and you need to pay to enter.
- KIinakuji: which is affectionately known as the golden pavilion, is a unique gold-painted structure that is one of the most visited and photographed landmarks. The three-storey pavilion has roofs that gently curve upwards at the edges, while the second and third storeys are gold-leaf coated. There is an exquisite garden available for relaxing walks and a pond, which clarifies the building when there is good weather. It is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and you need to pay to enter.
- Nijō Castle: It is a flatland castle made up of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the Honmaru Palace ruins, various support buildings, and several gardens. There are many beautiful gardens surrounding the castle, which makes the whole scenery very peaceful. Entry is charged, and you can pay for both access to the parks and seeing the castle or just one of the two. There are many pieces of Japanese art and paintings, and the castle is an example of how grand Japanese architecture is. The tour is very educational as it has historical significance to Japan. There are food stalls that have local treats and dinner options for sale. It is open daily from 9 45 am to 5 pm, and you need to pay to enter.
Being Japan's cultural capital, Kyoto is home to several museums that commemorate and keep Japanese culture and history alive. Numerous museums are worth a visit to ensure that you leave the city having learnt about its history, amongst other things. Below is a list of some of the most prominent museums in the city.
- The Kyoto National Museum: It is one of Japan's major art museums that focuses on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art. The exhibits are a bit smaller than is expected from the size of the building and price of the tickets, but they are beautiful and worth the visit. The museum grounds are stunning, and it is a great place to sit and escape the city while you're exploring Kyoto. A majority of the exhibitions have English and Chinese explanations. Lastly, there is a restaurant inside that serves high-quality food.
- The Kyoto International Manga Museum: It is home to 300,000 items, including Meiji period magazines and postwar rental books. The museum is beautiful and has an expansive display with English explanations on the origins of Manga, history, and styles. They have an incredible selection of Manga available for reading, so you can go in the morning and enjoy reading all day. The museum also has a gift shop and a cafe.
- The Kyoto Railway Museum: It is a modern railway museum owned by West Japan Railway Company and operated by Transportation Culture Promotion Foundation. It is a fun place for those who love trains. Their displays show the technology behind everything, past trains, and current trains, and offers historical artifacts and explanations of rail transport history in the world and Japan. The experience is enjoyable for both adults and kids alike.
There are several traditional Japanese foods found in Kyoto. Japanese food has gained fame and reputation across the world, so it could be interesting to try it while you are in the area of origin to see if it tastes the same. Trying various local dishes is one of the best things about being a tourist as you get to experience multiple dishes that you probably could never come across anywhere else. Several restaurants and street vendors sell different dishes that you could try, whether it is out of curiosity or so that you can have a story to tell later.
Traditional Local Restaurants
One of the best things about traveling across the world is trying the various local cuisines available in that area. In most cases, traditional restaurants are the best place to experience local foods' taste, and maybe even a bit of the culture behind said dishes. Kyoto has many traditional local restaurants that you should try. Below is a list of the most famous traditional local restaurants in the city.
- Saishuan Shiraki is an amazing restaurant that has both an amazing atmosphere and great food. The menu has a lot of delicious traditional Japanese food that is prepared with seasonal products. The owner is friendly and speaks English, and she cooks her signature dishes right in front of you and is full of energy. The recommended dishes are the tempura and beef curry. The restaurant is dine-in only.
- Sugarhill Kyoto is a quaint restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere and impeccable service. They serve fresh food that is prepared by a friendly and well-experienced chef. The food is beyond delicious and comes in generous helpings. The restaurant sometimes gets crowded, so it is wise to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointments.
- Nishiki Warai is home to the traditional local dish known as Okonomiyaki. The food is super delicious and is prepared while you wait to ensure freshness. The preparation times tend to take about 20 minutes, so you should be ready for that wait. There is good service, and the portion sizes are good. The members of the staff are lovely and friendly, and most of them can speak English. For entertainment, there is Jazz music playing in the background.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- Veg Out: is a Vegetarian cafe and restaurant by the river that offers a beautiful view as you enjoy your meal. They specialize in a variety of vegetarian dishes, including lots of veggies and some soy meat on brown rice. They offer a wide selection of very healthy food. The restaurant has both dine-in and curbside collection, but no delivery service.
- Ain Soph: features fine, plant-based fusion cuisine. It is possible to sample dishes such as mushroom Hayashi rice, taco rice, and green curry with brown rice. They also have amazing vegan desserts such as matcha pancakes, creme brulee, vegan cheesecake, or ice cream soda. Lunchtime food is served till 4 pm, and the last evening order is 9 pm. There is a lovely staff who are very friendly and welcoming and offer quick service.
- Mumokuteki Café and Foods: Kyoto has a massive variety of selection, which draws many people to it. The food is a bit costly, but it is worth it as it is tasty, and the main dish options at the top are pretty sizeable for a full meal. The restaurant is child-friendly and even has small children's books and toys section making it comfortable for families. They serve lunch from 11:30-15:00 and dinner from 18:00-20:00.
Street food is quite popular in Kyoto, and there are several places where it can be found. The most popular place to get street food in the city is at Nishiki Ichiba, a long street full of shops that sell street food. There are several types of street food that you should try, and below are some that you should put at the top of your list:
- Hamo (Pike conger) Tempura
- Sakana Kushi (Fish stick)
- Yatsuhashi - a Japanese confectionery made of glutinous rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Dashimaki Tamago - a Japanese style of egg, made by rolling multiple layers of fried egg on a pan
The weather in Kyoto is divided into seasons that are either hot or cold. In most cases, the beverage of choice is influenced by the temperature at that time. There is an endless variety of non-alcoholic drinks, excluding water, to choose from in Kyoto. In its various types and flavors, tea is loved by most people, and in most cases, they drink it even on a hot day. Other choice beverages include soft drinks, lemonade, milkshake, vegan shakes, and even iced tea or coffee. On the colder days, especially during winter, the beverages of choice are usually hot with things like tea, coffee, and warm milk being the most sought after drinks.
Alcohol consumption is relatively high in Kyoto as alcohol is a source of entertainment or a way of cooling down after a long and hard day at work. There are several bars and pubs where people can go for a relaxing drink and hang out with friends, while some people prefer to drink in the comfort of their own home. The local brew of alcohol is known as Sake and is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the city. There are several other alcoholic drinks that are enjoyed by people depending on their taste in alcohol. These include wine, gin, vodka, and cocktails, to name a few.
The tap water in Kyoto is very safe for drinking. The city has little water pollution and several top-notch water processing plants, which ensures that the water that comes out of the tap is clean and safe for drinking.
Organic foods are foods that are grown without artificial nutrients, pesticides, or other chemicals. Eating organic has become a widespread trend where people are very selective about what they put in their bodies. There are several organic cafes that attract patrons of all ages who are careful about nutrition. There are many cafes in the city that cater specifically to this group of people. Below is a list of some of the organic cafes that one could try in the city:
- Mumokuteki Café and Foods Kyoto Matcha Café
- Pico Organic Coffee and Smoothies
- Organic Junction
Kyoto's local beer brewing industry is quite active as the locals prefer to drink local beer above imported brews. There are numerous breweries that are responsible for making local liquor known as Sake. These breweries are responsible for supplying a majority of the bars and pubs in the city. The most popular breweries are:
- Kyoto Brewing Co.
- Suntory Kyoto Brewery
- Woodmill Brewery Kyoto
There are numerous activities that can be done as you explore Kyoto. The city is one of the most visited in Japan by both local and international tourists alike. The activities are designed to ensure that no one is left out, and people of different interests can still enjoy and have a great time. Some of the most popular activities include museum tours, hikes, bike riding, game drives, visits to the many religious sites, and beautiful gardens, to name a few. Some of the activities are in the city center while others are just on the outskirts. It is essential to carefully plan your itinerary to ensure that you get the best out of what the city has to offer.
Yoga and Retreats
Yoga is traditionally a Hindu discipline that focuses on physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines. It has become quite popular across the globe, and there are yoga studios in almost every country in the world. There are several yoga studios in Kyoto, although there are some which are preferred, including:
- Ashtanga Yoga Kyoto
- One Yoga Kyoto Yoga
- Yoga Vini Kyoto
There are numerous accommodation options across Kyoto. The type of accommodation that you end up in depends on your budget, taste, and sense of adventure. This section will look into some of the accommodation options that are available for tourists to select from.
There are several eco-friendly hotels in the city. They have the same aim of sustainability of the environment. These hotels tend to offer safe, non-toxic, and energy-efficient accommodation. Other characteristics include the use of renewable energy, organic soaps, energy-efficient light fixtures, and recycling programs. A few of the most popular ones are:
- Kyoto Hotel Okura
- Hoshinoya Kyoto
- The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Hostels and Guest Houses
- K's house: It is a simple and affordable guesthouse with both dorm rooms and simple but serviceable private rooms, large common areas, and even an on-site restaurant and bar. The guesthouse is perfect for backpackers and has several services that they could need, including laundry, Wi-Fi, and friendly English-speaking staff.
- Utano Youth Hostel: It is a pleasant and clean youth hostel with neat common areas, lovely grounds, and friendly staff. There are both private and shared rooms at reasonable rates. The hostel is located a bit too far from most attractions in the city, but they rent bicycles to their patrons, which can be used when sightseeing.
- Gojo Guesthouse: It is a casual traveler's guesthouse with both dorm rooms and single or twin rooms furnished with tatami mat floors onto which you spread out your futon to sleep. The guesthouse meets travelers' needs as it has free internet, bicycle rental, and English-speaking staff.
For those who plan on staying in Kyoto for a long time, staying in hotels might prove to be a bit too expensive. There are several apartments that are hired out for a minimum of one month, and these are more budget-friendly as they reduce costs on several levels. For one, apartments allow for self-catering, which means that you get to save as compared to having to buy all meals at hotels. Also, if you stay as a group of friends or family, you can share the cost, unlike hotels that charge per head.
Couch surfing refers to staying with a host family that rents out a part of their house to tourists. This is a trend that is gaining popularity in Kyoto. There are several websites where people who are willing can put their homes on offer, and tourists can book the one they find most interesting or convenient. One such website is simply called couch surfing.
There are numerous campsites across Kyoto for those tourists who want to rough it, by living outside during their vacation. Camping offers a sense of adventure as it allows people to get the full outdoor experience and can be quite affordable. Camping provides a great experience, including the fresh night air as well as the magnificent night skies. Below are some of the more popular campsites in Kyoto:
- Utsukyo Park Camping Ground
- Kyoto Seishonen-mura Free Campsite
- Kyoto Station Base
How to Get There
Several modes of transport can be used to travel to Kyoto, with the most convenient for you being dictated by where you are coming from, be it a local or international area. People from surrounding cities usually travel to the city by bus or train. While those coming from further away commonly use aeroplanes.
There is no airport in the city of Kyoto. There are three airports with easy access to the city, and each has convenient modes of transporting people to Kyoto. The Osaka International airport is the closest to Kyoto, and there is an airport limousine that takes about 50 minutes to get to the city. Kansai International Airport is the main international access point to Kyoto, and there is an express train that takes about 90 minutes to travel between both cities. Lastly, there is the Central Japan International Airport, which is less than 90 minutes from Kyoto by airport express.
There are two main bus companies that offer long-distance travel between Kyoto and other cities in Japan. These are the overnight JR buses run and the Willer express. Both buses offer comfortable overnight buses. Tickets for the JR buses can be purchased from the bus information center at Kyoto Station, while Willer Express tickets are purchased online.
There are several bullet trains that travel into Kyoto from various cities. Bullet trains are an efficient way of travel as they offer fast and affordable travel. You can get a Japan rail pass, which covers all bullet train travel and will ensure that you save money and don't need to carry change each time you board a train.
Hitchhiking is quite a popular way of finding transport in Japan and is considered to be the key to budget travel. It is easier to hitchhike on expressways than anywhere else; it is also important to note that it is illegal to hitchhike near road crossings or bus stops.
Taxis are another standard mode of transport in the city. They are comfortable and convenient as they do not work according to any time tables. They are, however, relatively expensive.
Kyoto is a rather large city with many things to do and places to explore. Moving around the city is relatively easy regardless of the mode of transport that you use. You just need to select the way of traveling that you are most comfortable with, and you will be fine. There are several ways to move around within the city, as will be shown below.
Kyoto is a big city, and there is no way that you could walk around the entire city in a day. However, you can easily explore particular foot districts, such as the Southern Higashiyama District, which is Kyoto’s most famous and most popular sightseeing district. Kyoto is a brilliant place to explore on foot as it is compact, mostly flat, the weather is comfortable most of the year, and drivers are sane.
Bicycles are a standard mode of transport in Kyoto as the city is one of the world’s best bicycle cities. The city is a great place to explore by bicycle as it is flat, the weather is usually good for cycling, and drivers are relatively sane. It is relatively easy for people to rent bikes either for the day, week, or month, to use as they move around the city. In some cases, you can even rent the bicycle from where you are staying.
Electronic vehicles are growing in popularity in Kyoto, with the city having manufactured some of their own. You should try an electronic vehicle at least once in the city. They sometimes offer shared rides, which could make the journey more enjoyable.
Buses are a popular mode of transport, especially in the morning and evening for those trying to beat rush hour. They are affordable and convenient. You can buy either a 1-day or multi-day “unlimited” transportation pass at the Kyoto Bus Information Center in front of Kyoto Station. These can save you a lot of money.
Tram, Train and Subway
Subways are the most popular way of moving around Kyoto, and there are two subway lines in the city that intersect in the middle, making it possible to change lines. They do not serve much of the city, but they are efficient in the areas they serve.
There are many shopping centers in the city whereby tourists and locals alike can go for shopping. It is more sustainable to shop in local shops as well as to ensure that you do not only stick to one shop but try to spread the wealth by visiting different shops.
There are several markets across the city that are dedicated to selling fresh food. They sell both local and international food, processed or unprocessed. Some of these markets include:
- Nishiki Market
- Kyoto Fish or Seafood Market
There are several flea markets across Kyoto which offer both an exciting shopping experience and a chance to mingle with the locals. Most of them sell various things at reasonable prices, some of which are found in local shops. However, they tend to double the price when selling to tourists. Some of these flea markets are:
- Kobo-san Flea Market
- Tenjin-san Flea Market
- Tezukuri-ichi Market
Second Hand Stores
The trend of second-hand stores has caught the world by storm; numerous stores have opened where people can buy things they wouldn't usually afford for less than half the price. The most common ones in Kyoto are:
- Harajuku Chicago Kyoto Store
- Three Star Kyoto
- Kyoto Recycle Kingdom
People have become more cautious about how their actions and choices affect the environment and have started doing things to ensure that they reduce their carbon footprint. There are four leading sustainable fashion brands in Kyoto, namely:
- Kikuya Zakkaten
- Reborn Kyoto
Kyoto takes recycling very seriously, and they have several guidelines that should be followed to ensure that recycling is done correctly. Recycling is supposed to be placed in bags written in green ink, and it is collected once a week.
The waste management system in Kyoto is efficient, and there are guidelines that need to be followed. People are expected to fill the designated household garbage collection bags up to a weight that can be carried in one hand and firmly tie them. It is important to note that if you put out your garbage in bags other than the designated bags, they may not be collected. Waste is collected twice a week.
Work and Study Abroad
There are not many job opportunities for foreigners in Kyoto. The city puts locals first when it comes to most employment opportunities. There are, however, a few gaps where foreigners can be hired, with the most popular being English teaching positions. There are many universities in the city, and it is considered as one of the best student cities in the world, with one in ten people in the city being students.
There are several programs for exchange students in Kyoto, with Kyoto University having the most popular program. This program has two incoming exchange programs that accept students from institutions with a university-level exchange agreement either for 6 or 12 months. Students can apply from partner institutions in July and December.
An au pair is a young foreign person who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and pocket money. The concept of Au pairs is relatively popular in Kyoto and is a great way to get a job for those intending to move to the city. Several agencies and websites connect potential Au pairs with families that need them. One of these websites is "great au pair."
There are several voluntary organisations across Kyoto that are always looking for volunteers. You can volunteer to work with animals, children, and older people or even in the city's agricultural sector. Voluntary programs tend to run for anything between one week going up. Also, if you are interested in volunteering while you visit the city, there are several places that are open to the idea.