1. Top 5 Must-do things to do in Kyoto

Top 5 Must-do things to do in Kyoto

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Takumu Ogama

I have been living in Kyoto, Japan since I was born. I have a lot of friends in other countries. So, I know how poor their knowledge about Kyoto is. That is why I am trying to share food, culture, and stuffs like those with people around the world. I hope my articles will be useful for your trip.



Kyoto, one of Japans iconic cities, where tourists from all over the world visit throughout the year.
A bamboo forest, temples, shrines, superb restaurants and quaint streets, there are many places to go in Kyoto.
So it might take you a while to choose where, and what you want, but don’t worry, you are lucky to be reading an article introducing 5 of the non-touristy places to visit, strongly recommended by us, and we are local to Kyoto.
We are sure, that by reading this article you will find what you are looking for, and without wasting your time. Therefore sit down quietly, read, and make a decision of where you’d like to go.

Do you like coffee?  Starbucks Ninen-zaka is the must-visit place for you

Starbucks from ZAZA pub in Kyoto

Yes, there are Starbucks in Kyoto, and it is always good to pop in when you want to sit down for a break, have a drink and people watch in Kyoto.
We recommend the one in Ninen-zaka, before or after strolling in the Gion area – such as Kiyomizudera temple and Kodaiji temple.

Painting of Maiko in Starbucks in Ninenzaka

Kyoto’s Starbuck’s coffee culture blends Kyoto tradition and a unique exterior that is very different from any other Starbucks. Particularly notable for its Machiya style frontage, which is a traditional wooden townhouse, and very typically Japanese.

A staff making coffee and stuff like that

In addition, how you get coffee is very different and unique.
Once you have made your order, you walk through a long corridor to reach the espresso counter, which is where you receive your order from the barista. There is also a traditional Japanese room called “Zashiki” and sofa upstairs, where you can totally relax and feel real Japanese culture whilst you are enjoying your chosen drink in such a new, yet cultural, space.

Starbucks LOGO at starbucks
“We are usually very busy between 9 am to 11 am and 3 pm to 5 pm” says the Starbucks staff.
※Please be aware that no queueing is allowed at the front of the shop due to the need to protect the front aspect.

Opening hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Phone: 075-532-0601
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/KwcQEikze6q

Visit Ozora hiroba, Kyoto station to see the night view of Kyoto

kyoto tower from Kyoto sytation at night

Everyone who visits Kyoto arrives at Kyoto station. There is a department store, restaurants, souvenir shops and cafés all located in the station.
But we are not introducing this kind of attraction, but instead, a rare and stunning night view from Kyoto station itself.

a long stair at Kyoto station
Taking a long escalator, you’ll reach the observatory “Ozora hiroba” where you will be amazed by the view at night.
You can get to Ozora hiroba directly from the station exit very easily, and it is a fun and pleasurable place to go as a couple, or with your family and friends.

Opening hours: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/PJT79vokDqt

Go to ZAZA PUB If you do not have a thing to do at night

Entrance in front of ZAZA pub

One of the pleasures of staying in Kyoto is the nightlife, and Kiyamachi-Dori is a very famous place for many clubs, bars, and pubs.
Our recommended pub is called ZAZA PUB, frequented by not only foreign but also Japanese tourists, so it always has the busy and lively atmosphere and a place that you can happily communicate with Japanese people, as they are keen to chat with foreign tourists.

The DJ playing EDM
The pub has constant music playing all the time, and there is a DJ upstairs, so you can imagine the atmosphere fun and lively, filled with friendly people.

we have to order one drink at ZAZA pub
There is no charge apart from event days and you can have non-alcohol drinks as well.
Give the friendly ZAZA PUB a try.

Opening hours: 5:00 pm -5:00 am

Phone: 075-231-6808 
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/NVdhnSdELj92

Feel calm and nature along Kamogawa (Kamo river) in Kyoto

A picture of Kamo river from Shijo bridge

Kamogawa river is as famous as Katsuragawa river in Kyoto.
The view of the river is one of the most beautiful scenes in Kyoto and it is must-see. The river runs through Sanjyo and Shijyo which are in the middle of Kyoto, hence access is very convenient.

A picture of Kamo river from Shijo bridge

We recommend the view from Shijyo-Ohashi because you can also see Mount Kurama and other mountain peaks far away, and Kawadoko of Ponto-Cho is on your left.

A picture of Kamo river from Shijo bridge
Both local people and tourists enjoy strolling and picnicking along the river, so it would be ideal to stop along Kamogawa river bank when your legs are tired from exploring Kyoto, yet from the vantage point, you will still have something pleasant to see whilst you are taking your break. You will then easily see by being close to the Kamogawa river – even though Kyoto is a big city – just how the city can seamlessly blend in with the local nature.

Opening hours: 24/7
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/aNoKYTYyduP2

Visit  Aeon KYOTO , If you do not have things to do around Kyoto Staion

Japanese shopping mall whish is called Eion mall KYOTO

“I want to save money for food sometimes during my trip!” In that case, you should go to “Food Court” in the Aeon mall in front of Kyoto station.

Chasyu ramen at EION mall KYOTO

There are 11 different shops; for example, Udon costs around 300 yen, Tako-yaki, Ramen (Chinese style BBQ pork noodle 830 yen) and you can also have steak.

Souvenir for your country
Whilst you are there, take advantage of the souvenir shops after your meal, as you can find Japanese quality stationary, such as colored pens at “ARC.OASIS.art”; as well as nails that you can only buy in Kyoto (1,404 yen includes tax); and Japanese puzzles. So if you are seeking something Japanese, we recommend you visit Aeon for a browse and perhaps lunch.

Opening hours: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Phone: 075-691-1116
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/iftvAVmjKRB2


So, have you found somewhere, or something to do in Kyoto that is off the normal tourist track?
We imagine that you will visit famous temples and gorgeous restaurants anyway, but it is a good mix if you can have some idea of other great places for both day and night time, and it doesn’t cost you an arm or a leg, some are totally free, but still make your trip to Kyoto a real experience!

Thank you for reading.


Author Profile

Takumu Ogama
I have been living in Kyoto, Japan since I was born. I have a lot of friends in other countries. So, I know how poor their knowledge about Kyoto is. That is why I am trying to share food, culture, and stuffs like those with people around the world. I hope my articles will be useful for your trip.