Visit Kyoto during your trip on the Japanese archipelago: how to find where to stay in Kyoto? Here are the best areas to stay in Kyoto!
The former Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years (from 794 to 1868), Kyoto is now Japan’s eighth largest city. It is located in Kansai, in the center of Honshu Island. In a city with a population of 1,475,183 (2015) and extending over an area of 827.83 km², accommodation in Kyoto can be very expensive: prized for its countless charms, the city is invaded by visitors during spring, summer and autumn. Having been spared from the bombings of the Second World War, Kyoto has retained an impressive historical and cultural heritage, and boasts a number of historical monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
Home to more than 2,000 temples, Kyoto also features many shrines, palaces, and Japanese gardens. Kyoto is considered a leading cultural centre in Japan. Neighbourhoods to stay in Kyoto are spread over a sprawling area. Since it’s impossible to list them all, here are some of the best places to stay in Kyoto.
Gion and Higashiyama
Photo credit: Flickr – Ganaselmi
Nestled between the Kamo River and the mountains, these two neighbourhoods are the most popular among visitors. Centrally located, Gion and Higashiyama also house magnificent historical monuments such as Kiyomizu-dera and Yasaka-jinja – shinto sanctuaries – and Maruyama Park, the quintessentially modern and picturesque Kyoto offering a complete change of scene! Here, accommodation options are plentiful, from inexpensive hostels to luxurious hotels. At dusk, the atmosphere is calm because the Buddhist temples and shops close at nightfall. However, you will find along the canal many small bars and restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine. A nice place to stay in Kyoto, and an ideal area to indulge in cultural visits and quiet nights.
Photo credit: Flickr – Eric Chen
Thanks to its central location, this district offers a perfect blend of traditional Japan, nightlife, and proximity to the city centre. From Kawaramachi, along Shijo Avenue to Nijo Castle, this area concentrates Kyoto’s vibrant life: staying in this part of Kyoto will allow you to indulge in shopping before going out in restaurants and bars. Crowded with students who enjoy its down-to-earth atmosphere, the nearby Kiyamachi Avenue offers a fun combo for those who like to party in bars and nightclubs until dawn.
The path of philosophy
Photo credit: Flickr – Dani Oliver
A path located in the northeast of the city, the path of philosophy (or Philosopher’s Walk) runs along the canal and allows visitors to visit the Ginkaku-ji and Eikan-do Zenrin-ji temples on foot. Don’t miss this walk during springtime, and admire the countless cherry blossoms in pink and white, an iconic feature of Japan, and walk in the footsteps of the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945), famous founder of the Kyoto School of Philosophy. This residential area is a haven of calm in the evening. Choose this area to stay if you seek tranquility and comfort, and if you’re not particularly keen to go out: the neighbourhood’s bars are likely to be closed at night!
Arashiyama and Sagano
Photo credit: Flickr – PaulSchliebs
The second most touristic zone of Kyoto, Arashiyama and Sagano feature an array of historical buildings and allow for relaxing walks in the countryside, a valuable activity in a metropolis of this size. In the surrounding area, don’t miss the peaceful world of the Arashiyama bamboo plantation, Arashiyama Monkey Park, Kinkaku-ji and the nearby Ryōan-ji zen temple. This area offers a wealth of historical and natural wonders. The only downside is that the district is one hour by subway from the city centre: here we are in the western suburbs but it is the price to pay to avoid the urban jungle in Japan… Choose these two neighbourhoods to stay in Kyoto if you prefer to stay away from big neon lights, shopping malls, and concrete buildings.
Main photo credit : Flickr – inefekt69