Kyoto has a river running through it: It’s called the Kamo-gawa and it’s really just one long park which Kyotoites use for relaxation, exercise and contemplation.
Like the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park (the Gosho), the Kamo-gawa Riverside functions as Kyoto’s central park.
Both sides are lined with wide green areas and bike paths, with plenty of benches and exercise areas. Up near the Demachiyanagi end of the river (in the north, where Imadegawa-dori crosses the river), there are wide play areas that are great for picnics and for letting children run around.
There are also imaginative “bridges” made from stone turtles that children can use to hop across the river.
At Demachiyanagi, the river splits. The west branch remains the Kamo-gawa, while the east branch is the Takano-gawa. Both are lovely, but my vote goes to the west (Kamo-gawa) branch. It’s lined with wide park areas and has some of the best cherry blossom trees in the city. This area is perfect for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties). Also, if you’re on a bicycle, the bike paths along the Kamo-gawa are easily your best bet for moving fast between northern and southern Kyoto or vice versa.
Where Is This Place Located?See these places on our Kyoto Google map:
- Open the Kyoto map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
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 Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)