Kyoto with kids: 7 sights in a row!
Is Kyoto a fun destination with kids? That’s what we wondered when we went to visit this city for five days. To be perfectly honest, it’s not exactly Japan’s most family-friendly destination or your kids must love temples. Our daughter certainly enjoys seeing some temples, but not several days in a row. Therefore, we tried to do things in Kyoto that were suitable for her as well. In this blog, we list the different (family-friendly) sights of Kyoto.
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If you visit Kyoto you can’t escape seeing some temples. Known for its more than 1,000 temples in the area, the city is also one of Japan’s major attractions because of its many temples.
We viewed a total of four different temples in these different days. These were also the city’s most famous temples. We put our findings about our visit to these temples below.
Fushimi Inari Taisha: If you have little time and still want to visit a temple, we ourselves would choose this temple. You can easily visit this temple by train. It takes about ten minutes by train from Kyoto central. This temple is known for its many arches (toriis).
When we visited this temple during the day, it was very crowded around the temple. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to take great photos at the various arches. Especially if you walk up a little further it becomes less and less crowded and you have more and more of the arches to yourself.
Tenryu-ji temple: this temple is located in eastern Kyoto and by bus we were in front of the temple entrance in about half an hour. This temple has a beautiful garden with a pond and is very photogenic. What makes the area around this temple so popular among visitors is that it is surrounded by a forest of bamboo.
This bamboo forest is also very popular among tourists, so it is also very crowded. Around the temple you have two forests that you can visit. One is right by the temple’s garden and the other is a few minutes’ walk from the temple.
As we read in advance on several blogs, the forest is a bit disappointing and you’ll have seen it in a few minutes too. We felt that because we had low expectations, it was fine to just walk through and take a picture.
Kinkaku-Ji temple: we visited this temple after the Tenryu-ji temple and as transportation between the two temples we took a cab. This one took about twenty minutes and cost just over 20 euros.
The Kinkaku-ji temple is known for its golden temple that was located by the water. This temple is very photogenic. Other than that, there wasn’t much special about this temple as far as we were concerned.
We describe the fourth temple we visited in the next section on dressing up as a geisha.
#2 Dressing up as a Geisha
When you visit Kyoto’s temples, you immediately notice how many (Japanese) tourists walk around in traditional clothing. Around most temples, therefore, you have stores that rent kimonos and where you can choose to have your hair done as well.
Our daughter always really enjoys dressing up, so at the fourth temple we visited (Kiyomizu-dera Temple) we rented traditional clothing for her. In total, this cost about 30 euros for a couple of hours and in the process she was given a traditional kimono to wear and her hair was done.
Around the Kiyomizu Dera temple are dozens of stores that rent out these kimonos, and the prices between the stores vary quite a bit. Therefore, it pays to check with several stores to see what the prices are. We ended up taking beautiful photos at the temple of our daughter in traditional dress. By the way, from this temple you also have a beautiful view of the city of Kyoto.
#3 Hirakata Park
A fun children’s activity to do from Kyoto is the Hirakata amusement park. This amusement park is located halfway between Osaka and Kyoto and can be reached by train in about half an hour from Kyoto. Hirakata Park is a fairly quiet amusement park, where you don’t have to stand in line for a long time for the various attractions.
It doesn’t compare to, say, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka or Disney World Japan in Tokyo, but there are enough attractions to keep you entertained for a whole day. The target audience for this amusement park is kids up to about 10 years old. For older kids, there are not enough spectacular attractions to keep you entertained for an entire day.
You can buy tickets at the box office, or as we did through Klook’s app. Then you get a QR code that they can scan at checkout. You can choose admission only at the amusement park and that you pay for each attraction separately or a ticket, where you get a band and you can do all the attractions without limit. We chose the latter and had a very good time for a whole day.
#4 Nara Park
You can also take a day trip from Kyoto to the town of Nara, known for its deer. A total of 1,200 deer live and roam freely throughout the city. From Kyoto, it is about an hour by train to Nara.
From the station, you then walk right into Nara Park where you need to be to see most of the deer. You can feed these deer with cookies that are for sale everywhere. Just be careful not to give your kids a full pack of cookies, as there can be quite a few deer that can be quite intimidating to kids.
In the park, you also have three different temples that you can visit. Therefore, along with the deer, you have quite a few photogenic spots in Nara. Count on spending at least half a day on the road to visit Nara (including traveling by train).
#5 The Gion district
We found a visit to the Gion district very enjoyable. The district is known for its Geishas, despite we did not see one (you also see very few of them). In the Gion district, you have lots of small temples to visit and the district also has lots of photogenic spots and temples.
Also located in this district is Shinbashi street which is also called one of the most beautiful streets in Asia. Near this area is also the Nishiki market that is known for its food stalls. We honestly did not find this market to be very much and found it mostly very touristy.
Of course, you can also rent a kimono in several places in the Gion district.
Other children’s activities Kyoto
Of course, we didn’t do everything in Kyoto either. Of course, you have dozens of other temples you can visit and there are also some more activities geared toward kids. We list them briefly below.
#6 Kyoto Zoo: You can go to the zoo as in most cities in Japan. At most zoos in Japan you pay only a few euros entrance fee, and a visit to the zoo can be nicely combined with the visit to a temple.
#7 Samurai and Ninja museum: this museum is all about Ninjas and the great thing about this museum for kids is that you can dress up as a ninja or samurai.
Where to stay in Kyoto with kids?
We spent four nights in Kyoto with our daughter at the Comfort Hotel Kyoto Horikawagojo. We had a non-smoking triple room here, which was a nice room with three beds and a bathroom with both a shower and a bathtub. The hotel is in a fine neighborhood and in front of the hotel the bus stops, which goes to many different attractions.
At the hotel you also have a list for each temple of which bus or train to take from the hotel so that’s super convenient. We had also booked breakfast with this room and it was delicious. There were plenty of Western things at breakfast as well, so our daughter had an excellent breakfast as well. For more information on the Comfort Hotel Kyoto Horikawagojo, take a look here.