Walking through Higashiyama, arguably the cultural and historical heart of old Kyoto, the intrepid traveler will find something new and exciting on every corner.
Wander down a few of the hidden side streets, and you will be transported to a different world and find yourself yearning to know more of Kyoto's secrets.
Saka Hotel resides in Kyoto`s famous Higashiyama district, surrounded by the five hills of Old Kyoto, and very near Kiyomizu Temple, one of the most iconic of Japan`s must-see sights. From the hotel, guests can easily walk to many major tourist attractions, including Hokanji Temple, Yasaka Shrine in Gion, Sanjusangendo, and the Kyoto National Museum.
We highly recommend taking advantage of an early morning visit to Kiyomizu, which is only a 5-minute stroll from our hotel. Though most of Kyoto's shrines and temples open from 9am, Kiyomizu's doors open at 6am.
The temple is busiest from the afternoon, so getting there early ensures a leisurely pace. The morning is just the right time to truly savor the sounds of the temple bells and the Otowa waterfall without the usual din of the crowd. After a pleasant start at Kiyomizu, come back to Saka Hotel; we will have breakfast waiting for you.
01.The busy streets of Kyoto are just waking up; the morning sun rises on the road to Kiyomizu.
02.Visit the Hondo main temple without the bustle of the crowd.
03.Return to Saka Hotel for a fresh, nourishing breakfast.
Founded in 778AD, Kiyomizu Temple is located halfway up Mount Otowa. Covering over 130,000 square meters, the temple and its surrounding grounds feel like stepping back in time. As the well-tended landscape changes with the seasons, Kiyomizu is a delight to visit year-round, especially during the spring cherry blossoms and autumn leaves color change. The Hondo main temple is a Japanese National Treasure and its most famous landmark, but there are over 30 other buildings on site as well as the Otowa waterfall, where visitors can partake of this mysterious spring's waters which are said to grant wishes.
Yasaka Pagoda is part of Hokanji Temple. It is said to have been built by Prince Shotoku, the monarch who established Japan's centralized government in the late 6th century, but its true origin is unknown. It was reconstructed in 1440 by Ashikaga Yoshinori, and miraculously managed to withstand the burning of the temple in the Onin Wars. Standing at 46 meters, Yasaka Pagoda has witnessed some of Imperial Japan's most illustrious events, and is an enduring symbol of the dynamic Higashiyama area.
Yasaka Shrine, known affectionately as Gion-san, is famous for its iconic western gate that frames the end of Shijo-dori. It is also a main stage for the Gion Matsuri festival, which takes place for one month every summer in July. This is one of the best, and busiest, times to visit Kyoto, but as it is one of the top three festivals in Japan, it is not to be missed.
The National Treasure Sanjusangendo gets its name from the number of spaces between the columns in its main hall, which correspond to the thirty-three teachings of Buddhism. It is also the world's longest wooden structure, stretching 120 meters from north to south. Its crowning glory, however, are the 1000 statues of the bodhisattva Kannon, which line the hall leading to its glorious main statue.
Founded over 120 years ago, the Kyoto National Museum collects, preserves, and displays precious artifacts spanning centuries of Japanese history. There are also special exhibitions held 2~4 times per year in the Meiji Kotokan Hall, which has been preserved in its original state, just as it was when built in the late 19th century. There is also the modern Heisei Chishikikan Wing, which is home to some of the museum's permanent collection.
Kodaiji is best known as the final resting place of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan's most important historical figures, and his wife, Nene, who commissioned the temple's construction in his honor. The interior of their mausoleum is home to Kodaiji makie, a type of silver and gold lacquerware unique to the temple. Kodaiji is a beautiful place to experience Kyoto's seasons, with cherry blossoms, bamboo, myrtle and Japanese maple all creating a tapestry of color throughout the year. Kodaiji also has evening light-up events, and visitors can also reserve zazen meditation and tea ceremony experiences as well.