Kyoto
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Our most recommended Kyoto Food & Drinks

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

1. 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: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

2. Kyoto: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

Start your tea ceremony experience by entering through the main gates of the Jotoku-ji Temple. You will pass the entrance to the Grand Tearoom on your left and a shop next to it and meet at the nearby red benches where your guide awaits. Whilst walking through the temple you are free to admire the architecture and stand by the purification fountain. Weather permitting, you are free to sit at the red benches and for a break. In the event of rain you can stand outside under the gable of the shop or wait in the Grand Tearoom. Once you have finished perusing the temple or sitting on the red benches taking in the atmosphere you are able to enter the Grand Tearoom where your instructor waits for you.  Start your tour of the Temple with a traditional purification ritual, a completely unique and insightful experience for Western visitors. Afterwards you will remove your shoes at the entrance of the Grand Tearoom and in your group, proceed inside to take your seat. Get the chance to sample matcha tea at its best. The Tea Master will guide you throughout, showing and explaining every step of the way. Throughout the ceremony you will be taught the fine art of drinking matcha tea and learn about the importance of the ceremony.

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Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

3. Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

You will take you place on the tatami, the traditional Japanese floor mat and be met by your English-speaking host, who is a licensed tea master from Urasenke, the biggest school of tea ceremony in Japan. Watch as the host carries out the ceremonial preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. Then, you will have the chance to make tea yourself, while the host informs you about the history and spiritual role of the tea ceremony and the effects each tea-making method has on its flavor. Afterwards, savor some traditional Japanese sweets Once the ceremony has come to a close, you will have the chance to take photos and see examples of kimonos and beautiful woven textiles made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. If you'd like to wear a kimono during the experience, you can select it as an add-on during booking and take photos to remember the experience.

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Kyoto: Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class

4. Kyoto: Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class

Experience an authentic Japanese food tradition and prepare your own bento box at a morning bento cooking class in Kyoto. Learn about typical Japanese dishes, such as sushi, tempura and miso soup, and hear about the cultural background of the well-known Japanese "bento" takeaway meal. Traced back to the late Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333), the bento box has now become a staple of Japanese cuisine. Arrive for your 2.5 to 3-hour class and collect your ingredients, apron and utensils. Then, watch and follow your chef as they demonstrate the art of bento and explain the tricks to making beautiful Japanese dishes often found in a bento box. Once you have finished cooking your dishes, enjoy the fruits of your labor and tuck into your bento lunch.

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Kyoto: Afternoon Japanese Izakaya Cooking Class

5. Kyoto: Afternoon Japanese Izakaya Cooking Class

Join an afternoon Izakaya cooking class to enjoy a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese dining culture as well as learn authentic Japanese foods that are eaten at home and in local restaurants. The cooking course consists of two parts. First, you will cook 2 or 3 dishes together with your chef and enjoy them. Then you will return to the kitchen and learn 2 or 3 more dishes before eating once more. As in many Izakaya (over the counter) restaurants, be ready to talk with your chef while cooking and eating at the same time. 

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From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

6. From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

Visit some of Kyoto's most famous cultural sites on this day-long bus tour from Osaka. Hop aboard a comfortable coach and drive to Japan's ancient capital to see the brilliant torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-dera temple, and the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto is filled with ancient historic sites dating back to the 6th century. Get dropped off first at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Spend time wandering the brilliant paths before heading to your next destination. Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most iconic temples in Japan. Take ample time to wander through the temple. Walk across the impressive wooden stage, which juts out from the hillside and was constructed without the use of a single nail. Next, stop at Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion due to the fact that it's covered in gold leaf. Wander through the immaculate gardens surrounding the temple, admiring the original Japanese designs that have been preserved since Ashikaga's time. Finish the day in Arashiyama, which has been a popular nature-viewing destination since the Heian Period. Take a stroll through the cool Sagano Bamboo Forest and listen to the distinct rustle of bamboo leaves as you walk. In the late afternoon, hop on the bus back to Osaka.

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Kyoto: Photo Shoot with a Private Vacation Photographer

7. Kyoto: Photo Shoot with a Private Vacation Photographer

The tour provider will organize the locations for your photo shoot based on your own unique requirements, whether it be a family getaway, a romantic trip, or a livelier one with friends.  Once the details are organised you will receive confirmation of all the information you need. All you need to do is simply meet the photographer on location in Kyoto and let them work their magic, capturing your travels in a contemporary and candid style of photography. Your highly experienced Kyoto vacation photographers are handpicked local experts, who will share their knowledge of the city with you like an old friend. When your photo tour has finished you will receive a link to your own personal online gallery (password protected) within 5 working days, containing your professionally edited images, all free to download. Create mementos that will last a lifetime and look back over your travels with fond memories.

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

8. 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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Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

9. Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga Arashiyama station. The Arashiyama district, located west of the Kyoto city center, has long been a scenic leisure spot. Many ancient aristocrats had their villas here 1000 years ago and enjoyed writing literature and poetry. Today, the area is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto.  First, explore the Bamboo Forest and quiet Sagano District, a peaceful neighborhood known for its beautiful maple trees. Then, visit Tenryu-ji temple which was built in 1339 by the Shogun Ashikaga in memory of the Emperor Go-Daigo and was a complex of more than 100 buildings. They were mostly destroyed by fires and civil wars over the years, but the traditional garden remains in its original form, designed by the monk Muso. Enjoy walking in the landscaped garden. After walking, taste Japanese croquette, leek pancakes, and sweet potato. Then, head over to the Togetsukyo bridge which, as the area’s landmark, dates back to the 9th-century and provides a good photo taking spot for visitors today. At the end of this half-day tour, have a nice sweets. If you like, you can enjoy shopping around after the tour because the this tour finished in a district where you can find many souvenirs.

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Lonely Planet Experiences: Kyoto Evening Tour with a Local

10. 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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Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto

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What people are saying about Kyoto

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.

very nice cooking class with a perfect english speaking teacher. all meals were very very delicious, the best food we ate in japan yet. if you don't like any of the ingredients, you can choose an alternative. also got insider tips from our teacher, thanks for that! :) we highly recommend this class if you are staying in kyoto or the area around.

Enjoyed the history and seeing a couple out-of-the-way neighborhoods. Mardi was an outstanding guide and provided an enjoyable evening visiting places we’d never have found on our own.

The experience was excellent! it was amazing to experience some traditional Japanese culture, it was very tranquil, and the tea was delicious!

Great tour guide! Niall was professional and very helpful with providing a pleasant tour.