Strolling around Kyoto’s most famous and popular sightseeing district

The most popular pedestrian sightseeing section in Kyoto is the streets in Higashiyama District. I recommend starting from the Gion, from the south side of Hanamikoji Street to the southeast, along the Yasaka-dori, Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka and finally the Matsubara-dori until the Kiyomizudera Temple. The return route can go in the opposite direction. After returning to the Ninenzaka, turn to Ichinenzaka, Nene-no-Michi (ねねの道), Ishizuchi Alley, and then return to the Yasaka Shrine.

This is the entrance to the south side of Hanamikoji Street in Kyoto
This is the entrance to the south side of Hanamikoji Street in Kyoto

In the route, there are many temples and shrines to visit. If you want to cherish the memory of Japanese historical celebrities, you can go to the Kodai-ji Temple and the Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine. On the Yasaka-dori, there is the Hokanji Temple, and the Yasaka-no-tou Tower next to the temple is a famous photography location.

Gion is a famous geisha district in Kyoto. There is a Kabuki theater (Minamiza Kabuki Theatre) nearby, as well as tea houses, kiosks, bars. At Shijo-dori (an east-west direction road) section between Kamogawa River and Yasaka Shrines, there is a Gion shopping area along the route. There are many traditional souvenir stores. To the north, you can go to Shinbashi-dori near the Gion Shirakawa. The Shirakawa coast is selected as an important traditional building group protection area. To the south is the Kyoto historical landscape preservation area. You can start a stroll from the south side of Hanamikoji-dori towards the southeast. This is the route we took:

Heading south on the Hanamikoji-dori in Gion of Kyoto
Heading south on the Hanamikoji-dori in Gion of Kyoto
We had lunch at Kyouryouri Maiko in Gion of Kyoto
We had lunch at Kyouryouri Maiko in Gion of Kyoto
One of the dishes we had at Kyouryouri Maiko in Gion of Kyoto
One of the dishes we had at Kyouryouri Maiko in Gion of Kyoto
The south side of Hanamikoji-dori at Gion in Kyoto
The south side of Hanamikoji-dori at Gion in Kyoto

Following the crowd, we stopped at the Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine, then went to the Yasaka Dori and saw the famous Yasaka-no-tou Pagoda and Hokanji Temple. After finding a good photography location, there were crowds of people who kept coming across, so we had to shot photos in a hurry.

At Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine, you would find a roughly five-foot-by-ten-foot stone covered with slips of paper. Those slips feature the wishes of those who have passed through the hole that runs through the middle of the stone. A stone that will bind good relationships tighter and sever bad relationships.
At Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine, you would find a roughly five-foot-by-ten-foot stone covered with slips of paper. Those slips feature the wishes of those who have passed through the hole that runs through the middle of the stone. A stone that will bind good relationships tighter and sever bad relationships.
On the way to Yasaka Dori, the far end is Yasaka Kōshin-dō, where the main worship object is Shōmen Kongō (青面金剛), a guardian warrior and to the "three wise monkeys".
On the way to Yasaka Dori, the far end is Yasaka Kōshin-dō, where the main worship object is Shōmen Kongō (青面金剛), a guardian warrior and to the "three wise monkeys".
Kyoyasaka restaurant that is right  next to Yasaka-no-tou Pagoda in Kyoto
Kyoyasaka restaurant that is right next to Yasaka-no-tou Pagoda in Kyoto
A famous and crowded photography location near Yasaka-no-tou Tower in Kyoto
A famous and crowded photography location near Yasaka-no-tou Tower in Kyoto

On Yasaka Dori, we went to the Maisendo Kiyomizu. When we saw the signboard of Okutan Kiyomizu, the Ninenzaka was in front of us. Though the location was at the top of the Ninenzaka stairs, we decided to go to Sannenzaka and Matsubara-dori first, and then come back for Ninenzaka later. On the Sannenzaka, we visited Fujinami, Shoyeido Sanneizaka Store, Yojiya Kiyomizu-Sanneizaka, Seiryu-en Souvenir Store and Izutsu Yatsuhashi Store. We then climbed up the stairs and connected to Matsubara-dori where it continued to go uphill.

Shoyeido Sanneizaka Store, Shoyeido is one of the oldest traditional Japanese incense companies, established more than 300 years ago.
Shoyeido Sanneizaka Store, Shoyeido is one of the oldest traditional Japanese incense companies, established more than 300 years ago.
An incense burner in the front shop window of Shoyeido Sanneizaka Store in Kyoto
An incense burner in the front shop window of Shoyeido Sanneizaka Store in Kyoto
Yojiya Kiyomizu-Sanneizaka, Yojiya with a famous woman image logo is selling cosmetics and related miscellaneous goods, and its primary product is blotting paper.
Yojiya Kiyomizu-Sanneizaka, Yojiya with a famous woman image logo is selling cosmetics and related miscellaneous goods, and its primary product is blotting paper.

On the Matsubara-dori, we headed directly to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Because it was raining, we stayed at the Baizando where was closest to the temple. We waited for the rain to stop before visiting the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which is the oldest temple in Kyoto. The Kiyomizu-dera Temple will be covered in its own page. We will save the details for now.

A map shows areas around Matsubara-dori near Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto
A map shows areas around Matsubara-dori near Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto
Niōmon of Kiyomizudera in Kyoto
Niōmon of Kiyomizudera in Kyoto

On the way back, we stopped at the Houkyuuan and enjoyed their tempura and matcha ice cream. When we went downhill for Sannenzaka, we saw the Akebonotei, which had a huge Sakamoto Ryuma kanban in front of the store. It is said that it was originally a hotel where the Bakumatsu patriots liked to stay in the final years of the Edo period. After eating the Mitarashi dango and matcha tea at Fujinami, we returned to the Okutan Kiyomizu, then turned right to downhill which lead us to Ninenzaka.

Houkyuuan on Matsubara-dori near Kiyomizu-dera Temple. We enjoyed their tempura and matcha ice cream before heading back.
Houkyuuan on Matsubara-dori near Kiyomizu-dera Temple. We enjoyed their tempura and matcha ice cream before heading back.
On the downhill of Sannenzaka slope, we saw the Akebonotei, which had a huge Sakamoto Ryuma kanban in front of the store.
On the downhill of Sannenzaka slope, we saw the Akebonotei, which had a huge Sakamoto Ryuma kanban in front of the store.
Mitarashi dango that is served by Fujinami Sannenzaka Honten in Sanneizaka at Kyoto
Mitarashi dango that is served by Fujinami Sannenzaka Honten in Sanneizaka at Kyoto
The Ousuno sato near the intersection of Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka
The Ousuno sato near the intersection of Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka

On the Ninenzaka, we passed the Minatoya Tanba Kuro and the distinctive Starbucks, and also visited the CHIRIMEN Craft Museum, the Ousuno sato Ninenzaka location, and then bought incense at Niimi Original incense and incense pot Shop. The incense we bought represents the fragrance of the four landmarks of Kyoto, I like the fragrance that represents Arashiyama.

A Ninenzaka slope view from Yasaka Dori in Kyoto of Japan
A Ninenzaka slope view from Yasaka Dori in Kyoto of Japan
On the Ninenzaka slope, Kasagiya Tea house serves traditional Japanese confections, cakes & matcha. And the shop next is Minatoya Tanba kuro which was the temporary residence mark of Yumeji Takehisa who is one of the most famous leading poets and painters during the Taisho era. Kintsuba, the sweetened beans wrapped in wheat-flour dough, is Minatoya Tanba kuro‘s specialty.
On the Ninenzaka slope, Kasagiya Tea house serves traditional Japanese confections, cakes & matcha. And the shop next is Minatoya Tanba kuro which was the temporary residence mark of Yumeji Takehisa who is one of the most famous leading poets and painters during the Taisho era. Kintsuba, the sweetened beans wrapped in wheat-flour dough, is Minatoya Tanba kuro‘s specialty.
On the Ninenzaka, there is the world’s first tatami style starbucks.
On the Ninenzaka, there is the world’s first tatami style starbucks.
Niimi Original incense and incense pot Shop at Ninenzaka in Kyoto, the store next is Funny portrait shop where they only take 5-10 minutes to draw one person’s portrait.
Niimi Original incense and incense pot Shop at Ninenzaka in Kyoto, the store next is Funny portrait shop where they only take 5-10 minutes to draw one person’s portrait.
Incenses we bought from Niimi Original incense and incense pot Shop in Kyoto
Incenses we bought from Niimi Original incense and incense pot Shop in Kyoto

After passed Ichinenzaka, we went directly to Kodai-ji Temple without visiting any shops. Unfortunately, we got there at about 5 pm, Kodai-ji Temple was closed. The Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine was not open either because of maintenance. We followed Nene-no-Michi, the way to the north, strolling through the Ishizuchi Alley, and then reached the Yasaka Shrine.

Garden of Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto
Garden of Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto
A slope path in Kodai-ji Zen Temple
A slope path in Kodai-ji Zen Temple
Nene-no-Michi next to Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto
Nene-no-Michi next to Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto
Motonago hotel on Nene-no-Michi in Kyoto
Motonago hotel on Nene-no-Michi in Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto
Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto

Finally, after strolling around in the Gion shopping area along the route of Shijo-dori, we called it a day for our tour.

Gion shopping area on Shijo-dori section between Kamogawa River and Yasaka Shrines
Gion shopping area on Shijo-dori section between Kamogawa River and Yasaka Shrines