Historic Monuments of the Ancient Kyoto Area

A major feature of the city, Kyoto's Cultural Properties consist of 17 sites selected from a long list of choices that speak to the many layers of the ancient capital's history. Centering on architectural structures and gardens and based on criteria befitting World Heritage status, these properties were chosen according to their excellent state of preservation, with factors such as possession of high-ranking National Treasures (for structures) or Places of Scenic Beauty (for gardens) and overall designation as a Historic Site taken into consideration.

Nijo-jo Castle

The castle was constructed in 1603 by the Tokugawa shogunate as protection for the old Kyoto imperial palace and as a residence for the shogun in the capital. The Ninomaru Palace at its center is representative of traditional samurai-style residential architecture, with each room painstakingly and spectacularly decorated.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

It's said that in 778 the monk Enchin enshrined Kannon at the Otowa waterfalls, which was then followed by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro establishing a Buddhist temple there in 798 on the orders of Emperor Kanmu. The Hondo (main hall), also known as the "Kiyomizu Stage," forms the center of the temple and was rebuilt in 1633 in the Kake-zukuri style. It's a splendid construction of closely gathered tall pillars, intersected with crosspieces. As well as each of the buildings within the grounds, there is also the Jojuin Garden that uses early Edo period Shakkei landscaping techniques.

Byodoin Temple (Uji City)

This was originally a villa for Fujiwara-no-Michinaga. His son Yorimichi converted it into a temple in 1052, in the late years of Heian Period. The Hoodo, an image of which is featured on the 10-yen coin, represents the Land of Happiness which noblemen dreamt of. Its elegant figure is very famous and tells us the prosperity of the Fujiwara family.

Ryoanji Temple

This Zen temple opened when Hosokawa Katsumoto reconstructed the old villa of the Tokudaiji family in 1450. It is renowned for its rectangular white-sand Karesansui-style garden that stretches from east to west, in which 15 rocks of various sizes are laid out. However, all 15 rocks can never be seen at once. This represents the teaching of Zen – to not always seek perfection. The interpretation of this theme relating to the garden may vary depending on the viewer's thoughts and emotions.

INSIDER TIPS

Ninja footsteps

Can you pass undetected along the corridors of Nijo-jo Castle? Likely not, since the unique Nightingale floorboards are designed to creak under foot to warn of intruders.

SEASONAL ATTRACTIONS

  • SPRING

    Cherry Blossoms

    Maruyama Park

  • SUMMER

    Gion Matsuri

    Yasaka-jinja Shrine and Others

  • SUMMER

    Gozan no Okuribi

    Kyoto City Wards

  • WINTER

    Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro
    (Light and Blossoms Pathway)

    Saga Arashiyama Area

ACCESS

  • Train or Subway
  • Boat or Ferry
  • Walk
  • Car or Taxi
  • Bus

From Kansai International Airport

1 hr 20 minor 1 hr 25 minor 1 hr 30 min

From JR Osaka Station

30 minor 50 min

The 17 Cultural Properties of Ancient Kyoto

From JR Kyoto Station

  • 1.Kozanji Temple

    35 min

  • 2.Tenryuji Temple

    30 min

  • 3.Saihoji Temple

    25 min

  • 4.Ninnaji Temple

    30 min

  • 5.Ryoanji Temple

    30 min

  • 6.Kinkakuji Temple

    25 min

  • 7.Nijo-jo Castle

    10 min

  • 8.Honganji Temple

    10 min

  • 9.Toji Temple

    10 min

  • 10.Kamigamo-jinja Shrine

    30 min

  • 11.Shimogamo-jinja Shrine

    25 min

  • 12.Ginkakuji Temple

    30 min

  • 13.Kiyomizu-dera Temple

    15 min

  • 14.Daigoji Temple

    30 min*1

  • 15.Ujigami-jinja Shrine

    35 min*1

  • 16.Byodoin Temple

    35 min*1

  • 17.Enryakuji Temple

    50 min*1

*1via highway

※Travel times are provided as a guide only. Actual travel times may differ.

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