One can easily spend days discovering Kyoto. Unfortunately, time is not always on our side when traveling. We’ve carefully crafted two itineraires that allow for an enchanting look at Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, Japanese gardens, local gastronomic delights and UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the company of a local expert, we'll spend 8 hours unpicking the cultural and historical heart of Japan. Much of our day will be on foot, but in between sites we'll travel either via taxi or an optional chauffeured-car service. Both itinerary options offer fantastic introductions to this former imperial capital that we’ve had a deep love for since Context launched Kyoto in 2013.
Itinerary A - 9:00 start
For the early risers, enthused by Japanese temples and gardens.
Includes Kyoto Briefing at hotel. Other sites might include Yasaka Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera, Kennin-ji, Nishiki Market, Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji, Ninna-ji.
We’ll meet bright and early at your hotel at 9:00. We’ll start with a short briefing on Kyoto and the surrounding area (with relevant maps) before embarking on our day in Kyoto. From your hotel, we will transfer to the area of Gion for an exploration of culture, history, religion and spiritual life and slightly condensed version of our Kyoto Temple Tour
. In the company of a local scholar, we may visit a shinto shrine (Yasaka), a buddhist temple (Kiyomizu-dera) perched high into Kyoto hills, or perhaps a nearby Zen Buddhist temple (Kennin-ji). Educated further on the basic principles of Japanese spiritual and religious life, we’ll head to Nishiki Market to taste some Japanese delicacies and have a traditional Kyoto lunch together. We’ll discuss Japanese dining practices, customs and intricacies surrounding eating and gastronomy as we actively explore this fascinating market. This is a snapshot into our Kyoto Food Tour
. After lunch, we will transfer in a taxi to an afternoon of Japanese garden and temple discovery. Depending on the interests of our private group, we could visit sites such as the Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji, and Ninna-ji, with our docent providing an in-depth commentary as we wander along. This is a condensed version of our Kyoto Gardens Tour
. As we finish up our time together, we will head back to Kyoto, digesting what we’ve learned on ‘Kyoto in a Day’ tour.
Please specify itinerary A (9:00) at checkout.
Itinerary B - 10:30 start
For the later risers, foodies and twilight Geisha searchers.
Includes Kyoto Briefing at hotel, Nishiki Market, Yasaka Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera, Kennin-ji and Gion. Finishes at twilight in Gion.
We’ll meet at your hotel for a more relaxed 10:30 start. We’ll begin with a short briefing on Kyoto and the surrounding area (with relevant maps) before embarking on our day in Kyoto. From your hotel, we will transfer to Nishiki Market. We’ll encounter a wide range of traditional Kyoto foods and the people who make them, learning along the way about the importance of the varying types of cuisine in Kyoto. We may taste pickled vegetables, squid and quail eggs or sweet treat. By the end of the food market tour, the clients will have an understanding of the unique foodstuffs and flavourings that make Kyoto cuisine special. This is an abbreviated version of our Kyoto Food Tour
. Fuelled on tasty Japanese delicacies, we’ll leave Nishiki Market for an afternoon of spiritual and religious exploration and some key Kyoto sites. Depending on the interests of our private group, we may visit a shinto shrine (Yasaka), a Buddhist temple (Kiyomizu-dera) perched high into Kyoto hills, or perhaps a nearby Zen Buddhist temple (Kennin-ji). Any of these religious venues offer a fantastic insight into the world of daily religious life in Japan and serves as a condensed version of our Kyoto Temple Tour
. From here, we’ll walk through the heart of Gion as we discuss traditional daily life in Kyoto; from the historic townhouses, shrines, and temples, to the role of geishas and kabuki in Japan's cultural history. This is a snapshot into our Kyoto Geisha Tour
. We’ll leave one another at twilight, with a greater understanding of Kyoto and surrounded by the buzz of geiko and maiko around us.
Please specify itinerary B (10:30) at checkout.
At the end of either itinerary, we will emerge with a deeper understanding of what it means to be Japanese and the various strands that embody Japanese culture, tradition and religion. We’ll have ventured across the city to sites relevant to Kyoto's history and cultural identity. Hopefully, our Kyoto in a Day tour will set us up for the remainder of our travel in Japan.
Please specify itinerary A (9:00) or itinerary B (10:30) at checkout.
What happens if it's raining?
Our tours happen rain or shine. Our guides are brilliant at adapting during changes of weather. Please bring an umbrella.
I would like to start option A later. Is this possible?
No. The temples will be closed in the afternoon if we start any later.
I would like to start option B earlier. Is this possible?
We could start around 9:30, although the earlier we start the less we will be able to experience twlight hour in Gion.
Will I have to pay for transport, lunch or entrances?
No. The cost of the tour includes incidentals such as lunch, taxis and temple entrances.
I want to see sites that you don't include in Option A or Option B. What should I do?
Will the restaurant be able to accommodate those with allergies or dietary restrictions?
We do our best to accommodate everyone. If you have severe allergies to seafood or nuts, there will be items you can eat during the tasting, but cross-contamination may be a problem during lunch. The best thing to do is let us know when you book if anyone in your party has allergies or dietary restrictions. We can check in on dishes, order ahead, and do everything possible to ensure you enjoy your meal.
Is it okay to tip my expert in Japan?
Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.