When it comes to sightseeing in Kyoto, most people go to the center of Kyoto city and Arashiyama, where you can visit World Heritage temples and shrines, experience unique Japanese culture, and more.
The next hot tourist spot in Kyoto that I would like to recommend is Kyoto Nishiyama!
Not only is it still not well known to foreigners, but it is a place full of attractions that even Japanese people in the know are not familiar with.
I have already been to famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto.
I want to make a trip to Kyoto that is different from others.
Want to visit a sightseeing spot in Kyoto that is not well known yet.
If so, please check it out!
Where is Kyoto Nishiyama?
The central area of Kyoto City is surrounded by mountains on three sides. With the capital at its center, the area is called “Higashiyama” to the east, “Kitayama” to the north, and “Nishiyama” to the west.
Nishiyama refers to the area spanning Rakusai, Nishikyo-ku, Muko City, Nagaokakyo City, and Oyamazaki Town in Kyoto City, and is located 10 to 30 minutes by train from Hankyu Kyoto Line Kyoto-kawaramachi station toward Osaka.
Why Nishiyama, Kyoto is a great place for sightseeing
“Higashiyama” is home to major tourist attractions such as Kiyomizu Temple and Kodaiji Temple, while “Kitayama” is a sophisticated residential area.
On the other hand, from the perspective of tourism, Nishiyama has the following attractions
・Temples and shrines are scattered in the mountains.
・There are experience facilities that can be experienced only in Japan.
・You can visit the temples and shrines in a relatively slow pace compared to the main tourist attractions in Kyoto City.
Typical tourist spots are the old temples called “Kyoto Nishiyama Sanzan”: Yoshimine Temple, Komyo-ji, and Yanagidani Kannon. If you visit these temples and shrines at a leisurely pace, avoiding the crowds, you may be able to grasp firsthand the spirit and sensibility of the Japanese people, who have always respected nature and offered prayers to it.
In addition, while Arashiyama’s “Sagano Bamboo Grove” is famous when it comes to sightseeing in Kyoto, there is a bamboo grove walking path in Nishiyama, Kyoto, that is longer and more rewarding than the bamboo grove path. You can cycle along that path, experience making sand patterns in a temple’s sand garden, and other contents that will make your trip special.
You can even stop by on your way from Kyoto to Osaka, so there is no reason not to go!
However, some sights are far from the station and some experiences require advance reservations, so be sure to check in advance how to get there and how long it will take.
Nishiyama area attractions and sightseeing spots
Spacious and worth seeing! Yoshimine Temple, one of the three mountains in Nishiyama, Kyoto
The grounds of Yoshimine Temple, which boasts an area of 99,000 square meters, are a circular garden that takes advantage of the mountain terrain, and can be visited in about 30 to 40 minutes around the temple. Seasonal flowers such as weeping cherry trees over 300 years old, hydrangeas, autumn chrysanthemums, and autumn leaves are beautiful, and the view of Kyoto city from the temple grounds is spectacular.
Also not to be missed is the 37-meter-long, 600-year-old “Yuryu-no-matsu” pine tree. Designated as a national natural monument, it is so powerful that it looks like a living creature as it crawls across the ground.
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1372, Oharano,Oshio-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto [MAP]
Take Hankyu Bus No.66 (bound for Yoshimine Temple)
from Hankyu Kyoto Line Higashimuko station(about 30 minutes),
get off at Yoshimine Temple Stop and walk 8 minutes.
Komyo-ji, the most beautiful tunnel of autumn leaves in Kyoto
The temple grounds are vast, covering an area of about 56,000 square meters. The 200-meter-long“Maple approach”is known as one of the best places in Kyoto to view the autumn leaves. More than 250 maple trees planted on both sides of the approach turn fiery red in season. The “Shikiki-Momiji” (autumn leaves spreading at your feet after they fall) that fill the approach after the maples have fallen are another impressive sight.
In addition to fall, the seasonal scenery, including cherry blossoms in spring, green maples in early summer, and snowy winter scenes seen several times a year, exudes a sense of wabi-sabi that is unique to a temple nestled in the mountains.
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26-1, Ao Saijo-nouchi, Nagaokakyo, Kyoto [MAP]
From Hankyu Kyoto Line Nagaokatenjin station
or JR Nagaokakyo station
transfer to Hankyu Bus No.20 or 22 (about 10-15 minuts),
a short walk from Asahigaoka Home-mae
The "Yanagidani-Kannon" where you can have a valuable experience, famous for "Hana-Chouzu"
Known since ancient times as the God of Eyes, Yanagidani-Kannon has become famous in recent years as the birthplace of “Hana-Chouzu” (flower water fountain), in which the water fountains are decorated with flowers. The “Hana-Chouzu” is as beautiful as a work of art, and the flowers change with the seasons, delighting the eye throughout the year.
It is also famous for its hydrangea blossoms, which attract many visitors, especially in June when they are at their best.
The Kamishoin, which is open to the public in the fall, is also a highlight. The contrast of light and dark in the room, where the ceiling is illuminated and dyed red by the light, and the shadows of the maple trees are reflected in the room, is a beauty that cannot be described in words.
In addition to sutra and Buddhist sutra copying, and the experience of making red seals with pressed flowers, there is also a therapy menu to help heal eyestrain.
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Take a Hankyu bus from Hankyu Kyoto Line Nagaokatenjin statio,
get off at Okukaiinji stop, and walk about 40 minutes.
or about 15 minutes by cab from Hankyu Kyoto Line Nagaokatenjin station
Sightseeing spots in Nishiyama, Kyoto where you can see Japanese-style scenery! Kyoto City Rakusai Bamboo Park, Bamboo Path
The Rakusai area is known for its bamboo shoots. Many people think of Arashiyama when they think of bamboo groves in Kyoto, but there is a hidden spot here that is different in scale and flavor from the bamboo groves of Arashiyama!
Kyoto City Rakusai Bamboo Park is developed to preserve the landscape of bamboo groves. In addition to a circular garden lined with rare bamboo trees, there is also a bamboo museum designed in the image of Japanese-style architecture, a tea ceremony room, and other facilities where visitors can learn how bamboo has been deeply involved in the lives and arts of the Japanese people and how it has become a part of Japanese culture.
A further 5-minute bicycle ride away from there is the 1.8-kilometer-long “Bamboo Path”. The tunnel of bamboo groves stretching back toward the sky is a spectacular sight. The various designs of“bamboo fences”made of bundles of bamboo branches are also noteworthy!
“Cycle Base Asahi Rakusaiguchi”, located near Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi station, offers guided cycling tours through bamboo path. Experience the exhilaration of riding a bicycle through bamboo path!
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LOCATION INFORMATION (Kyoto City Rakusai Bamboo Park)
2-300-3, Oedakita,Fukunishi-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto [MAP]
Transfer from Hankyu Kyoto Line Katsura station
to Nishi 3 or Nishi 8 city bus and walk 5 minutes
from Minamifukunishicho(Chikurin Koen-mae),
or transfer from Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi station
to Tokunishi 4 city bus and walk 5 minutes
from Minamifukunishicho(Chikurin Koen-mae)
LOCATION INFORMATION (Bamboo Path)
Terado-cho Shibayama, Muko-shi ～ Mozume-cho Nagano・Nakakaidou-chinai [MAP]
15-minute walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi station,
25-minute walk from Higashimuko station
or, about 7 minutes walk from Higashiyama stop on Hankyu Bus,
or a short walk from Muko Kaisei Byoin-mae stop on Kyoto City Bus or Yasaka Bus
"Nagaokatenmangu" accessible from the station, famous for plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, and azaleas
Nagaokatenmangu is dedicated to Michizane Sugawara,the god of learning. The shrine is associated with plum blossoms and is a well-known spot for viewing plum blossoms. The best time to view the ume blossoms is from mid-February each year. Ume blossoms are used as a motif on charms, red seals, and omikuji.
Hachijo-ga-ike Pond, which is located in the precincts of the shrine, comes into bloom in spring, and the cherry blossoms along the pond bloom from late March, creating a magnificent scene. In late April, the “Kirishima azalea” blooms and the approach to the shrine turns crimson with its 2.5 meter height.
Located within walking distance from the nearest station, this spot is easy to incorporate into your Nishiyama sightseeing route.
2-15-13 Tenjin, Nagaokakyo-shi, Kyoto [MAP]
10 minutes walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Nagaoka-tenjin station
Cultural Experience in Nishiyama, Kyoto｜Shoboji Temple
Shoboji Temple, isn’t known to Japanese people, is a beautiful temple with seasonal flowers and gardens. Here, visitors can experience the precious experience of “Samonhiki(draw patterns on the bedding sand with a rake-like instrument)”in the garden, which consists of 16 stones arranged to look like animals.
Samon is a regular wavy pattern drawn in a karesansui (dry landscape garden). Before the start of the tour, visitors are specially invited to enter the stone garden, which is normally off-limits to the public, to experience “Samonhiki” under the guidance of a Buddhist priest. Visitors can deepen their understanding of the spirit of Zen by learning about the meaning of samon, the tools used, and preparing their minds for the experience. After the experience, visitors will tour the garden, receive an explanation of the borrowed scenery, and finally receive a red seal.
Reservations are required for the experience.
1102,Minamikasuga-cho, Oharano, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto [MAP]
8 minutes walk from Minamikasuga-cho stop
after transferring by Hankyu bus from Hankyu Kyoto Line Higashimuko station.
Factory tour in Nishiyama, Kyoto｜Suntory "Natural Water Brewery"
“The Premium Malts” is one of Japan’s most popular beer brands, widely enjoyed at home and in Japanese-style pubs. At the Suntory Natural Water Brewery in Kyoto, visitors can learn about Suntory’s commitment to craftsmanship and quality through a tour of the “The Premium Malts” production process. The tour is guided by an audio guide in English, Korean, and Chinese.
At the end of the tour, sample a freshly poured “The Premium Malts” to experience its delicious taste! Reservations are required for the tour, which takes about 70 minutes.
3-1-1,Choshi, Nagaokakyo-shi, Kyoto [MAP]
10-minute walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Nishiyama-tennozan station.
Free shuttle bus available.
Distillery tour in Nishiyama, Kyoto｜Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
“Yamazaki” is a world-famous whiskey brand that is the pride of Japan. “Yamazaki” is made here in Nishiyama, Kyoto. Visitors to the Yamazaki Whisky Museum (advance application required) can learn about the history of Suntory whiskey and the story behind the creation of the Yamazaki brand. In the tasting lounge (for a fee), visitors can taste rare whisky and other rare whiskies.
If you want to learn more about the in-depth world of whiskey, we recommend participating in the English guided tour that includes a tour of the production process, tasting, and souvenirs, or the English guided tour for whiskey enthusiasts! Both tours are charged and only those who apply in advance and are selected by lottery can participate, but they are sure to be a valuable experience.
*From the standpoint of proper drinking, Suntory does not accept reservations for tours that visit two factories on the same day. Please understand this.
5-2-1,Yamazaki,Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka [MAP]
10 minutes on foot from Hankyu Kyoto Line Oyamazaki station
Hot Springs in Nishiyama, Kyoto｜Open 24 Hours “Kyoto Takenosato Onsen Manyonoyu”
A 24-hour hot spring located near Bamboo path. It is recommended as a better spot than a stopover for cyclists!
The spa is equipped with nine bathtubs, including an open-air bath, a jacuzzi, a highly concentrated carbonic acid spring, a sleeping bath, and a sauna, as well as a free relaxation room and a dining area, allowing you to refresh your body and mind. The hot water is characterized by its beautiful skin that becomes smooth and silky. For use of the hot springs, a day-use plan is also available for private rooms with open-air baths.
Since lodging facilities are also available, visitors can stay overnight here and enjoy an early morning stroll through the tranquil bamboo path.
For those on foot, the free shuttle bus from Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi station is convenient.
Those with tattoos may bathe as long as they are large enough to be covered by two 10 cm x 10 cm tattoo stickers sold at the facility.
2-4,Oharano,Higashi Sakaidani-cho, Nishikyo-ku,Kyoto [MAP]
Transfer from Hankyu Kyoto Line Katsura station (West Exit)
to Kyoto City Bus (Nishi 1, Nishi 2, Nishi 5) and
walk about 1 minute from Sakaidani-Ohashi stop.
or transfer to Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus (12A),
Kyoto City Bus (Nishi 4), or Yasaka Bus (1, 2, 8) from
Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi station.
1 minute walk from Sakaitani-Ohashi stop.
Free shuttle bus service is available from Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi station.
Recommended lunch spot "Taut" in Nishiyama, Kyoto
“TauT Hankyu Rakusaiguchi”is a convenient place to recharge your energy with lunch or cafe in the Nishiyama area of Kyoto.
“TauT Hankyu Rakusaiguchi”is a complex of restaurants and supermarkets that stretches about 1 km under the elevated railway tracks of Hankyu Rakusaiguchi station. The complex includes a ramen store “Kyoto Menya Takei” which attracts a long line of customers, a store specializing in pork miso soup and onigiri (rice balls), izakaya (Japanese-style pub), bakeries, cafes, and sweets stores, all of which you should try when you come to Japan.
Families can also enjoy the indoor playground “Gatagoto” available for children from 6 months to 12 years old at the Kyoto City Exchange Promotion and Community Development Plaza, also located under the elevated railway tracks.
In December 2023, “OLU BURGER KYOTO RAKUSAIGUCHI”, a very popular hamburger specialty restaurant, will newly open! The juicy patties made from 100% Japanese black beef are hearty and filling. It will satisfy your hungry stomach.
Kawashima Rokunotsubo-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto [MAP]
Right by Hankyu Kyoto Line Rakusaiguchi Station
Kyoto Nishiyama is an upcoming tourist attraction in Kyoto. Check it out now and use it as a reference for your next travel plans.