Kyoto Prefecture
Neighborhood Tours

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Our most recommended Kyoto Prefecture Neighborhood Tours

Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

1. Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

Experience one of the most popular walking tours in Kyoto, joined by nearly 5,000 guests annually. This 100-minute guided walk is led by a licensed English-speaking guide and takes you through nighttime Gion. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. As you walk beside this beautiful stream, the guide will tell you about the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules, and what their daily life is like. Although it is not guaranteed, during the walking tour guests often encounter geisha walking along the street.

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Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

2. Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

Explore the Gion district by night with an experienced English, German, French, or Spanish-speaking tour guide who knows everything there is to know about the area. The tour starts near Kamo river, where you’ll learn about how the tradition of Geishas came to be. After a short stroll along a busy commercial street, you’ll slip into a calm, quiet area to visit the Yasaka Jinja shrine. After that touch of education, it’s off to the Gion.   The Gion has secrets and history scattered across its narrow streets, but this is also a modern entertainment district—so it’s time for a deep dive into what goes on here. Your guide will keep it light and fun, and explain some of the more interesting cultural mores of these parts. Step into a restaurant and graze from a multitude of small plates at a sort of Japanese-style tapas experience. Enjoy a drink as well before continuing on.   Between restaurant stops, there will be an exploration of Kiyamachi, Ponto-cho, and some other commercial and nightlife streets. Your guide will show you both modern and historical Kyoto, painting a well-rounded picture that gives you a real sense of the place. This tour keeps the groups small and includes your food and drinks, so that you can have a carefree night like you’re simply hanging out with someone who knows the neighborhood. A delicious Kobe (or nearby sourced) Beef option is available on top of the usual food and drink. This option is for bookings at least 10 hours in advance.

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Kyoto: 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Gion at Night

3. Kyoto: 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Gion at Night

Meet your guide at the Izumo no Okuni statue at Gion Shijo Station, then set off for a tasty 3-hour tour of local restaurants and street food vendors. The tour has been specially designed for you to experience the most authentic side of Kyoto and takes you to places that are normally hard to find for tourists. Throughout the night your guide is on hand to advise what you should order and how to order. Head to the first location of the night and admire Gion's picturesque streets and alleyways full of traditional Kyoto-style buildings with Machiya architecture along the way. Arrive at the restaurant and dine on a selection of meat or vegetables that have been simply but perfectly seasoned to create a pure and flavorsome eating experience. At the next stop, enjoy mouth-watering tempura skewers or traditional sushi, paired with authentic and unique matcha beverages. The final stop is a quirky standing sake bar, where you can taste a selection of sake drinks. This tour is an unforgettable opportunity to see and experience Kyoto nightlife like a real local, and visit bars and restaurants that most tourists miss.

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Lonely Planet Experiences: Kyoto Evening Tour with a Local

4. Lonely Planet Experiences: Kyoto Evening Tour with a Local

Experience the best travel stories for yourself! Join a local expert and uncover hidden gems on this Lonely Planet Experience. Immerse yourself in the drama of Kyoto at night and walk the lantern-lit wooden streets. Get a feel for the nightlife scene with the help of a local guide. Go to the Minamiza Theatre in the famous Geisha district of Gion and keep a look out for the geiko and maiko. Escape the crowds and venture through the backstreets to arrive at Yasaka Shrine. Marvel as it is brought to life by the bright lights and buzzing crowds. Continue to the north part of Gion to find narrow streets lined with smaller and more modern clubs and bars that contrast with the Old Town. Cross the Kamo River and get a sprawling view of the restaurant district before entering the entertainment district of Pontocho, lit by traditional Japanese lanterns. Go to the Teramachi arcade, where merchants sell everything from Manga comic books to statues of ancient gods and high-quality sushi knives. End with a visit to the Nishiki food market to check out a tachinomiya (stand-up only bar) popular with the locals.

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Kyoto: 3.5-Hour Small Group Cycling Tour

5. Kyoto: 3.5-Hour Small Group Cycling Tour

Discover the real Kyoto while cruising the streets of Japan’s cultural capital on this half-day Kyoto bike tour. With a history spanning over 1,200 years, the city streets have a lot to say, so make like the locals and jump on a bike to discover it all. Start the day cycling along the Kamo River, taking in the views of the city’s downtown and passing the wealth of traditional riverside restaurants. Call by the Heian-Jingu Shrine, built in 1894 to commemorate the 1,100 anniversary of the foundation of the capital. Next, weave your way along quaint canals to reach the impressive Nanzenji Temple. Admire the temple’s spacious grounds with a surprising feature: a scenic aqueduct, with the Higashiyama Mountains as their backdrop. This is one of the most important Zen temples in all of Japan, so soak up the surrounds before jumping back on your bike and heading off down the Path of Philosophy. Arguably the most popular walking path in Kyoto, the Path of Philosophy is shaded by hundreds of cherry trees that erupt into bloom every April. It's a spectacular sight to see then, but it's rather beautiful the rest of the year as well. It's a great place to contemplate the tranquillity and beauty of the area, just like Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan's most famous philosophers, did when he named this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University. Cycle back towards Kyoto Station, along a beautiful canal with old teahouses and traditional bathhouses among the cherry trees and traditional narrow backroads. We'll end this Kyoto city tour back at the city's buzzing station.

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Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

6. Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

Your experience will include stops at family owned stalls and shops which have stood the test of time. At a few of the stops sample specialty products like tsukemono (vegetables from the surrounding mountains preserved in vinegar), yuuba (the world’s smoothest sashimi tofu made from the world famous Kyoto mountain water), Kamaboko (seafood preserved in fish paste), Tako (Octopus with quail egg) and Macha Warabi Mochi (a special traditional sweet covered in ground tea leaves). During the tour learn detailed information about the ingredients of different Japanese dishes, how their food is prepared and what is used to eat it. Your experience will do more than just give you a chance to taste Kyoto’s delicious food but will also give you a sense the history and atmosphere of the Nishiki Market experienced by the Japanese for generations. You will be consumed with physical and visual stimuli every step of the way and enjoy stories from the past told directly from shopkeepers and families you will spend time with. After your market exploration walk to a nearby restaurant and have a course lunch featuring beautiful and delicious local dishes.

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Kyoto Matcha Green Tea Tour

7. Kyoto Matcha Green Tea Tour

The green tea and matcha (powdered green tea) produced in Uji are famous for their quality not only in Japan, but also all over the world. While visiting Uji you will also get to see the gorgeous and famous Byodoin temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  During the tour you will sit down for a fantastic lunch, and have a chance to experience making and drinking tea. If you find teas that you like, you will have time to choose, purchase and take home some delicious memories of your tour.

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Kyoto: Izakaya Food Tour with Local Guide

8. Kyoto: Izakaya Food Tour with Local Guide

Join a like-minded host to experience Kyoto's nightlife like the locals do - gathering in izakaya, the small local drinking houses, and tachinomiya, Japan's unique street-side standing bars, to enjoy a few beers, share plates of food, and sip sake with friends after work. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Spend the night bar exploring the historic Gion district, or for a truly authentic glimpse into izakaya culture, explore the city's train station bars where locals gather for drinks before catching the last train home. Once you've bar hopped your way through this tangled network of bars, perhaps head to another yokocho, the historic alleyways that are steeped in tradition and dotted all over the city, where you'll find more character than you thought could ever be squeezed into such narrow streets.

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Takayama: One-Way Bus Transfer to/from Kyoto or Osaka

9. Takayama: One-Way Bus Transfer to/from Kyoto or Osaka

Enjoy a hassle-free transfer by comfortable bus between Takayama and Kyoto or Osaka. Enjoy the beautiful scenery during the journey, including some free time in the city of Kanazawa. There are 3 transfer options to choose from: Osaka to Takayama Route Depart from Osaka at 7:15 AM. Arrive at the city of Kanazawa where you can enjoy some free time. Take the opportunity to visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and see Leandro Erlich's "Swimming Pool" art installation. Afterward, the bus takes you to the Observation Deck where you can enjoy beautiful views of Shirakawago village. Arrive in Takayama city center at about 6:05 PM. Kyoto to Takayama Route Depart from Kyoto at 8:15 AM. Arrive at the city of Kanazawa where you can enjoy some free time. Take the opportunity to visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and see Leandro Erlich's "Swimming Pool" art installation. Afterward, the bus takes you to the Observation Deck where you can enjoy beautiful views of Shirakawago village. Arrive in Takayama city center at about 6:05 PM. Takayama-Kyoto/Osaka Route Depart from Takayama at 9:00 AM. Stop in the city of Shirakawago and enjoy some free time. After Shirakawago, continue the journey with a stop in the city of Kanazawa. Explore Kanazawa freely until departure time. The bus will reach Kyoto around 7:00 PM and Osaka around 8:00 PM.

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Kyoto Evening Gion Food Tour

10. Kyoto Evening Gion Food Tour

Starting in Kamogawa, you will stroll along the local streets and head toward Kamogawa River, with some possible seasonal food stops along the way, to gaze upon the many Japanese locals enjoying the cool of the evening, while sitting on the terraces along the water known as Kamogawa yuka noryo in Japanese.   After crossing the Kamogawa River, you'll enter into the Pontocho area, a district of Kyoto, home to many Geisha houses and traditional tea houses. In the evenings you'll be able to see Geisha walking the streets. Not long after our time in Pontocho, we will be in historical Gion, the most prominent entertainment district and Kyoto’s center of traditional arts. Gion is clad with old wooden buildings, teahouses and very exclusive Japanese restaurants, mostly by invitation only. Your guide will tell you stories about this very exquisite part of Kyoto along the way. At the end of the short journey, you will sit down to a 10-course Kaiseki dinner, prepared especially and specifically for Arigato Japan. This should be a moment in your life you will never forget, so the details will be  reserved for those who join the tour. To give you an idea, one of the 10 courses will be an ornate platter mounted with living fish, and you can enjoy the freshest sashimi straight from the bone. The other 9 courses are a mystery guaranteed to surprise and delight your culinary senses.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto Prefecture

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What people are saying about Kyoto Prefecture

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 841 reviews

Mardi was right on time on a crisp Christmas evening with a cheery demeanor and a pleasant smile, even though we both wore COVID masks. She had an exhaustive knowledge of Japanese history and culture, including local landmarks from temples to tea houses to brothels. My favorite tale was the creation of a local shrine to the tenuki spirit that dragged people into the nearby river. She also picked excellent places to grab some refreshments. The cheese and tofu soup was the highlight of the trip. I totally recommend Mardi's tour of the Gion and surrounding area if you find yourself in Kyoto.

She conveyed the mystery and enchantment of Gion. She was well prepared and was excited to point out special sightings on our way. Familiar with the history of the culture and made a rainy night enjoyable.

Mie was knowledgeable and engaging. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour.

Very interesting! The guide was really nice and prepared! Love it!

Excellent guide. very friendly, knowledgable. So glad we did this.