Kyoto Sightseeing Guide - Visit notable attractions and landmarks

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Kyoto's main offering to visitors is its amazing collection of shrines, temples and gardens. Although there are plenty of other attractions that all the family can enjoy, the likes of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Heian and Fushimi Inari Taisha shrines are must-sees.

With its mountain setting, and for views and exercise, the high up Kiyomizu Temple is lots of fun, while back in town is the huge Kyoto Tower. The Kyoto Municipal Zoo is another one of the city's top attractions, where you can check out the animals as well as take in the city's famous cherry blossoms in the spring.

Heian Shrine

Kyoto's most famous shrine, Heian Shrine is only around 100 years old—far younger than most others in the city—and commemorates 1,100 years of Kyoto's founding. Shinen Garden is the main highlight and is best seen in the spring for its famous cherry tree blossomings.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Easily explored on foot and devoted to the Shinto god of rice, Inari, this stunning shrine is one of the most intriguing in the country and certainly one of Kyoto's main highlights. The architectural quality of the shrine is impressive alone, while the long path behind the shrine is beautifully enclosed by innumerable Torii gates.

Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho)

The imperial family used to live here during Kyoto's days as the Japanese capital. It is elegance personified and despite being restored many times owing to the ravaging of fire, it remains true to form. Free, hour-long tours of Kyoto Imperial Palace take in the main buildings and the beautiful Emperor's Garden.

Kiyomizu Temple

Another of Kyoto's must-see temples has a fine mountain setting and great views over the city. It sits over a cliff in Eastern Kyoto, is supported by huge wooden pillars and sports a wonderful, multi-tiered roof. The nearby Jishu Shrine and Otowa Falls are also worth a look. Getting here is by way of bus or via an arduous bike ride.

Katsura Imperial Villa

Katsura Imperial Villa is a must-see for those in Western Kyoto for its fantastic gardens and classical architecture, although you need to book a tour in advance. A lottery process is sometimes used to determine who goes, such is its popularity. Katsura Station provides access.

Kyoto Tower

For the best views of town, the lofty Kyoto Tower is a 400-plus-foot tall torch-like structure and a modern landmark. From the high panoramic observation deck, you can see the entire city. There is also a bathhouse up top and arcade games for kids.

Kyoto Municipal Zoo

Kyoto Zoo is the perfect alternative to Kyoto's shrines and temples for those with bored kids. As with most things in Japan, it is properly done and contains a fascinating collection of world animals in gorgeous surroundings. It is near Okazaki Park and can be explored on foot. Kyoto Zoo is also known for its cherry blossoms.

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