questions & answers: itinerary check

kyoto half day tour

Kyoto Half Day Tour

Is it possible for us to visit Kinkaku-ji, Kiyomizudera, Fushimi-Inari Shrine in half day? How do we plan our route with the JR pass? Thanks.


The Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine are arguably the top 3 places to see in Kyoto. Fushimi is the most time consuming; you could spend a couple of hours to over half a day if you want to romp over all the trails. The others don't take nearly so long - Kinkakuji can be done in 30-45 minutes without rushing. Kiyomizudera can be seen in about 90 minutes. The problem is that Kiyomizudera and Kinkakuji are pretty far apart - if you want to do all 3 places in half a day, I'd suggest you take a taxi from one to the other. It is not cheap, but if you're flying around the world to see them, being tightfisted once you get there makes little sense. You can take a train from Kyoto Station to Fushimi and get there quickly.

Fushimi is open 24/7 though, so if you get up early, you can easily fit all into your schedule and even more.

Best of luck.


If you are starting from the morning, and don't mind getting up early, you do in fact have more choices. The Honganji Temples are within walking distance of Kyoto Station, and open around 5:30 and 6 AM - and are free. The massive wooden structures are spectacular.
If you have time and want to get off the beaten path a bit, south of Kansai are a number of great sights. Hiroshima is one of the most popular, and worth a visit. Miyajima is by far one of the biggest tourist draws in the area, but aside from the Itsukushima Shrine with the giant "floating" torii, the Daishoin Temple is also a must-see place. There are several other pagodas and temples, and climbing Mt. Misen offers a fantastic view over the island and whole area. Okayama is not far and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. If you'd like to get off the beaten trail for a while, the half day hike up to Konpirasan in Kotohira is stunning. Going to Takamatsu is also nice - it has one of Japan's finest gardens also, called Ritsurin.
Onomichi with its temple tour and Kosanji Temple is spectacular. Just beyond Miyajima also lies Iwakuni with its historical bridge and castle on top of the mountain. Taikodani is also a beautiful shrine in Tsuwano, Shimane.
Hagi Castle was actually delightful, and the preserved samurai district and Mori Clan related temples a rarity. One of the very best is the Akiyoshi Limestone Cave, a 300 million year old wonder with huge caverns and underground river running through it. Kyoto is the jewel of traditional Japan, but don't skip Nara either. The Todaiji Temple will leave you awestruck. Nara Park has a lot of great places, such as Kasuga Shrine, Kofukuji Temple, and feeding the many deer in the area.
A few other great places missed out even by those who go to Nara though are the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens. They are gorgeous and not crowded at all.
And in Kyoto, if you have the chance, the Otagi Nenbutsuji is one of the most humorous and whimsical places you could visit in Japan - well worth seeing.


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