If you’re ready to pop the question, Kyoto is a great place to do it. Kyoto is an incredibly romantic city and it’s filled with beautiful, quiet spots. Here is our guide to the best places to propose in Kyoto.
Gio-ji Temple garden: i6k / Shutterstock.com
Kyoto is a city of pure romance. It’s filled with picturesque gardens, temples and shrines. It’s got hundreds of atmospheric lanes and pathways. There are countless cozy little restaurants that serve brilliant food. And there are lots of traditional inns where you can dine in your room and relax in yukata robes.
Ishibei-koji Lane in the evening: Nishitap / Shutterstock.com
We assume that you want some privacy when you propose, especially if you’re going to do it the old school way by dropping down on one knee. And we assume you want the spot to be truly beautiful and memorable.
Yasaka-no-To Pagoda in Southern Higashiyama: pio3 / Shutterstock.com
We’ve given a lot of thought to this and come up with a list of places that are just right for asking the big question.
Now, all you have to do is buy a ring and screw up your courage.
The Best Places to Propose in Kyoto
This superb villa in Arashiyama has a network of beautiful pathways through a sublime garden. There are several hilltop viewpoints, and if you time things right, you can usually find a secluded spot where you are guaranteed a few minutes of privacy.
Okochi-Sanso Villa: Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com
This lovely temple in the far northern Higashiyama area is often deserted, which is puzzling, because the garden is beautiful. If you take a quick look around, you can be pretty sure that no one will burst in at the crucial moment.
Shisen-do Temple: Kanisorn Pringthongfoo / Shutterstock.com
Close to Shisen-do in far northern Higashiyama, this temple is similar to Shisen-do: It’s got a beautiful garden that sees very few visitors.
Manshu-in Temple: rolling rock/ Shutterstock.com
This is another lovely temple in northern Higashiyama. The garden is sublime and there’s a nice little bamboo forest. If you’re really intent on having absolute privacy, you can walk from Enko-ji to Shisen-do to Manshu-in until you find a place that you can have totally to yourself.
Enko-ji Temple: Anotai Y / Shutterstock.com
Imperial Palace Park
The expansive Kyoto Imperial Palace Park has kilometer after kilometer of pathways leading through forested glens and by lovely ponds (check out the one at the south end). Even in the most crowded season, you can find a place to be alone here.
Kyoto Imperial Palace Park: twoKim images / Shutterstock.com
If you’ve found someone you want to hike with for the rest of your life, you might as well pop the question at one of the viewpoints up at Kurama-dera Temple, in the mountains north of Kyoto. You can get a good view up and down the trails so you can be sure of privacy when the moment is right.
Kurama-dera Temple: mTaira / Shutterstock.com
Nene-no-Michi or Ishibei-koji Lane in the evening
These superb pedestrian alleys are absurdly romantic in the evening. Ishibei-koji Lane has a few quiet corners where you can usually find the privacy you need.
Ishibei-koji Lane: 7maru / Shutterstock.com
Yasaka-jinja in the evening
The main plaza in front of Yasaka-jinja Shrine is magical in the evening, when all the lanterns on the halls are illuminated. If there are too many people around, you can duck into one of the smaller subshrines, or walk up into Maruyama-koen Park. And, best of all, after you’ve popped the question, you can head right over to the main hall of the shrine and wish for a long and happy life together.
Yasaka-jinja Shrine: Narongsak Nagadhana / Shutterstock.com
Gion Shirakawa in the evening
The stone-paved street along the canal here is the most picturesque street in all of Asia. It will be packed here in cherry blossom season, but in other seasons, it can be pretty quiet. You can always duck into a side alley if you need more privacy.
Gion Shirakawa: SarahMichelleW / Shutterstock.com
Local couples use the banks of the Kamo-gawa River as their lover’s lane. In warm months, you’ll see them sitting along both sides of the river in the early evening. Why not join them and pop the question there? The east side, between Sanjo and Shijo is particularly lovely in the evening when the lights of Pontocho are illuminated.
Kamo-gawa Riverside: LeManna / Shutterstock.com
Best Places to Stay When You’re Planning to Propose
If you’re going to propose, you gotta stay somewhere special. And, what could be more special than a Kyoto ryokan? In fact, a good ryokan is the epitome of romance. But, don’t underestimate how romantic a fine hotel room can be, especially if it’s got a view over a beautiful river. Oh, and let’s not forget a private Kyoto-style house or machiya. The fact is, these places are all so romantic that you might not even need the above list. Sitting together looking at a beautiful garden in your private paradise might just be the perfect place to propose!
Old Kyoto Machiya
Whether you choose Amber House, Gion House, Indigo House or The Old Modern, you will find yourself in the perfect romantic cocoon. These beautifully restored traditional townhouses are highly recommended for your special trip.
The Old Modern Garden Suite
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Get a riverside room here and enjoy the views over the Kamo-gawa and the Higashiyama Mountains. This hotel is pure romance.
Ritz-Carlton Kyoto guest room
Four Seasons Kyoto
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
The rooms are superb here and the garden and pond are perfect for a proposal. And, if you need more privacy for your question, there are some lovely temples nearby.
Garden and pond at the Four Seasons Kyoto
Traditional Japanese inns, or ryokan, are by definition romantic. For our top ryokan pics, see our Kyoto Ryokan page.
Hoshinoya Kyoto ryokan
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world