Japan in general and Kyoto in particular is a safe and enjoyable place for solo female travelers. Here is everything you need to know.
Rickshaw ride in Kyoto © herry
- Kyoto is one of the safest places on earth for solo women travelers.
- However, you should still use your common sense and avoid potentially dangerous situations (ie, hitchhiking alone etc).
- There are a few women’s only accommodations in Kyoto.
- There are women-only train cars on commuter trains in Kyoto.
- There are various ways to meet other female travelers and Japanese ladies in Kyoto.
- There are plenty of restaurants where solo female diners are welcomed and made comfortable.
- For all the details, see below.
Tearoom and garden in Kyoto © aid_precious_ones
First, for general information on solo travel, see our Solo Travel in Kyoto (and the Rest of Japan) page. The information on this page is specifically for women planning solo trips to Kyoto and the rest of Japan.
How Safe is Kyoto for Solo Women Travelers?
- Japan is one of the safest countries on earth. Both petty crime and violent crime are extremely rare. For most people, the worst thing that might happen to them is having an umbrella or bicycle stolen.
- However, it must be noted that crimes against women do occur. These involve things like stalking, flashing, various forms of sexual harassment and rape. The patriarchal and occasionally sexist attitudes of the police and the politicians means that crimes against women are underreported and under-prosecuted in Japan. And, importantly, being foreign does not automatically protect a woman from these crimes.
- That said, such crimes are quite rare and a solo female foreign travelers is very unlikely to encounter any problems. However, it definitely pays to exercise the usual cautions:
- Don’t hitchhike alone.
- Don’t walk alone in deserted areas late at night.
- Lock the door to the room of your hotel, guesthouse, ryokan or vacation rental.
- If a place, a person or a situation seems dodgy, walk away.
- Like anywhere else in the world, most crimes are opportunistic in nature. If you merely exercise the same common sense that you would use anywhere else in the world, you will likely have no problems at all in Japan.
Taizo-in garden in Kyoto © ttshr1970
Women-Only Accommodation in Kyoto
Nine Hours Kyoto
This high-concept capsule hotel, which is located right downtown, has a women’s only floor. It’s a cheap and interesting option for a stay in Kyoto.
Boarding point for women-only train car © cogdog
Women-Only Public Transport
Two of Kyoto’s commuter rail lines, the Hankyu Line and the Keihan Line, have women’s only cars on their trains. Only women can enter these cars during normal weekday rush hours. The Keihan Line runs from Demachiyanagi in the north of Kyoto, all the way to Osaka. You might use it when moving north-south in Kyoto. The Hankyu Line runs from Kawaramachi Station in downtown Kyoto all the way to Osaka. You might use it when traveling east-west in Kyoto, or when heading out to Arashiyama. At this point, the Kyoto Subway does not have women-only cars.
Kyoto sushi restaurant© jirka_matousek
Good Restaurants for Solo Female Travelers
Japanese restaurants are famous for their polite and attentive service. It’s not at all unusual for local Japanese ladies to dine by themselves, particularly at lunch. The restaurants listed here are all places where a solo female diner will feel comfortable enjoying a meal at lunch or dinner.
- Ganko Sushi
This popular downtown sushi specialist has a long counter where you can enjoy sushi and just about any other Japanese dish.
It might look a bit intimidating, but there is a counter and a bunch of small tables where solo diners can enjoy the excellent sushi served here.
- Café Bibliotic Hello!
This café is too cool for words. It’s a great place for a light meal or a coffee drink. Bring a book or choose one from the shelves.
- Falafel Garden
This chill falafel specialist has a spacious upstairs room where solo diners will feel right at home.
If you go during off-peak hours, this bargain downtown Kyoto eatery is a good place for a quick and filling meal of standard Japanese fare.
This great Indian restaurant in downtown Kyoto has lots of small tables that are comfortable for solo diners. If you go slightly off-peak, you can usually get a table without waiting.
Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto © tlimphotography
Meeting Other Women Travelers
If you’re like to meet other travelers, consider staying at one of the places listed on our Solo Travel in Kyoto (and the Rest of Japan) page. Otherwise, consider one of the following activities:
- Bicycle Tours
A guided bicycle tour is a great way to meet other travelers (and, some of the bicycle guides are women). Kyoto Cycling Tour Project offers the best cycling tours of Kyoto in English (and other languages).
- Group Tours
Several tour companies offer guided group tours of Kyoto. A little Googling will turn up plenty of options in all price ranges.
- Take a Lesson
The Kyoto International Community House (KICH) offers various lessons for visitors and foreign residents of Kyoto. Offerings include Japanese language, ikebana, calligraphy (shodo) and tea ceremony. Visit the KICH website for more details.
CAPTION © mshades
Meeting Local Japanese Ladies
- Kyoto International Community House (KICH)
The KICH is a great place to meet Kyoto locals and foreign residents of Kyoto. The locals who go there are usually keen to meet a foreigner and practice their English. And, they often have events there where you can mingle with locals. Occasionally, you can join a tea ceremony demonstration or language lesson. There’s a coffee shop and lounge area where you can sit and chat.
- Home Visit Program
The KICH (above) can arrange a visit to a local Japanese household, which might involve tea or a full meal. Apply at the information counter on the ground floor of the KICH. Same-day visits are not possible, but next-day visits are often possible.
Other Useful Links
- Solo Travel in Kyoto (and the Rest of Japan)
- First Time in Kyoto
- Kyoto on US$100 a Day
- How Much Money do I Need for Kyoto?
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
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world