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9 Spots in Kyoto to Enjoy the Amazing Snowscape

It’s from here on in that the Japanese winter will get started in earnest, and many of Kyoto’s famous destinations will transform into snowy wonderlands. Winter in Kyoto sees fewer visitors when compared to the other seasons, which allows you to enjoy the sublime depths innate to the city as well as get around to your heart’s content thanks to the lack of crowds! With that in mind, we’ve prepared you nine tourist destinations that are absolute must-sees come winter. At the end of the article, we’ll include some information about an event that lets you visit places normally off-limits to the public. Photo


1. Kiyomizu-dera

清水寺 (A World Heritage Site)

Every year on December 12, a single kanji (Chinese ideograph) representative of the past year is announced at Kiyomizu-dera’s inner temple stage. It’s kind of exciting, anticipating what kanji they might pick for this year. 
Related: Three Best Temples for Fall Foliage in Kyoto + their Highlights


2. Ninen-zaka


The streets that line this famous slope in the Kiyomizu-dera area have a sweetly melancholy atmosphere when not bustling with visitors.


3. Kinkaku-ji

金閣寺 (A World Heritage Site)

When sprinkled with snow, Kinkaku-ji is exceptionally beautiful, and after a big snowfall there’s sometime even a lineup to enter the temple.


4. Ginkaku-ji

銀閣寺 (A World Heritage Site)


If you’ve seen Kinkaku-ji, you’ll want to see Ginkaku-ji as well, but please note that you’ll need to travel a bit to get between them.


5. Genkō-an



Genkō-an is famous for the thought and planning put into the design of its windows, the round Satori no Mado (Window of Enlightenment) and the square Mayoi no Mado (Window of Delusion). The fall foliage seen from these windows is already quite well-known, so we’d like to recommend contrasting the view in autumn with the snowy landscape framed in winter.


6. Kurama-dera



Kurama-dera is famous for its connection to Minamoto no Yoshitsune (Ushiwakamaru). Additionally, in the Kurama area you can find Yuki Shrine, well-known as the location for one of Kyoto’s big three “oddity” festivals, the Kurama Fire Festival.
Related: The Big 3 “Oddity” Festivals of Kyoto, Continuing from the Heian Period


7. Kamigamo Shrine

上賀茂神社 (A World Heritage Site)

This shrine is highly acclaimed for Aoi Matsuri, held together with Shimogamo Shrine in May. Dusted or coated in snow, it’ll leave you with a feeling of awe wholly unique to this winter landscape.


The yakimochi (grilled rice cakes) of the area are also quite famous, so be sure to try them out, too. Recommended store: Jinbado, Aoiya


8. Daigo-ji

醍醐寺 (A World Heritage Site)

This temple is so renowned for the beauty of its cherry blossoms that even now the phrase “Daigo no Hanami (Flower-viewing at Daigo)” remains in Japanese, left to us by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. For that, there’s worth in a winter trip to this temple to see the cherry trees here bursting with hidden vitality stored in anticipation of spring, the season of blossoming flowers.


9. Kifune Shrine


This is the grand shrine for the 450 or so shrines across Japan devoted to the Japanese deity of water. More information: 


Kyoto does see occasional snow fall, but there are only a few days of the year when it snows enough to cover the ground. It is a very rare occasion when snow accumulates enough so that it doesn’t melt away immediately to create a beautiful snowscape. Be sure not to miss it.

Related: World Heritage


Additional Event Info: Kyō no Fuyu no Tabi (“Winter Travels in Kyoto”)


Held from January to March, this event involves the special exhibition of cultural properties normally not open to public viewing. This year marks the 50th anniversary milestone for the event, so a lot of work is being put into the places on exhibition. It’s definitely worth checking out, as you’ll be able to go and enjoy some rare sights, including places that haven’t been open to the public in 30+ years. Information

New Meets Old in 5 Kyoto Temples with Gorgeous and Modern Fusuma-e
Winter Hokkaido Travel: 3 Spots for Scenic Winter Views

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