Southeast Kyoto, at the far southern end of the Higashiyama Mountains, is home to two of Kyoto’s greatest sights: the Shinto wonderland of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and the Zen world of Tofuku-ji Temple and all the subtemples that surround it.
Torii Gateways in Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine: gowithstock / Shutterstock.com
Southeast Kyoto Area Description:
Southeast Kyoto, easily reached by train, bus, bicycle or even foot from Kyoto Station and downtown Kyoto is one of the city’s richest areas for sightseeing. Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine is arguably Kyoto’s single most impressive sight, and it’s also a fantastic place for a hike. Nearby Tofuku-ji Temple contains one of my favorite karesansui (Zen rock gardens) and is surrounded by sublime subtemples, each of which contains their own fine gardens. Best of all, outside of the fall foliage and shogatsu seasons, this area is usually pleasantly uncrowded.
Things To Do And See in Southeast Kyoto
- Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine
Perhaps the single most impressive sight in all of Kyoto, bar none, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine is the most important shrine in the entire city. Don’t miss it!
- Tofuku-ji Temple
One of the most attractive temples in Kyoto, Tofuku-ji Temple also has the advantage of not being very crowded UNLESS you come during the fall foliage season
- Sennyu-ji Temple
If you want to boast that you’ve been to a temple that no other tourist has visited, this is your spot: Sennyu-ji is a lovely temple hidden in the mountains above Kyoto
- Unryu-in Temple
Located atop a hill in southeast Kyoto, this seldom-visited temple is secret treasure. Both the garden and the Buddhist images are superb.
Places to Eat in Southeast Kyoto
For a filling noodle or rice lunch after exploring Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, we recommend Kendonya. It’s a friendly restaurant a short walk from the shrine that serves filling udon and rice meals at a reasonable price.
- Vermillion Café
For a quick cup of coffee or tea, a pastry, or a light meal, drop into Vermillion Café. It’s on the main street right outside Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine.
If you’re looking for a meaty meal near Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, then take the short walk down the hill to Katsuguy to try their tasty gyu-katsu (beef cutlets).
If you need a break while exploring the torii tunnels of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, then hunt down this friendly little café on the north side of the shrine. (It’s the sister cafe of Vermillion Cafe mentioned above).
Getting to Southeast Kyoto
- By JR Train from Kyoto Station: Take a local on the JR Nara line and get off at Tofukuji Station for Tofuku-ji or Inari Station for Fushimi-Inari-Taisha.
- By Keihan Line: Take any train except a tokkyu (limited express) and get off at Tofukuji for Tofuku-ji Temple and Fushimi-Inari for Fushimi-Inari Taisha.
- By bus from Kyoto Station: Take Kyoto City Bus “minami” #5 (“minami” means “south and it’s written like this 南 )
- By taxi: A taxi from Kyoto station will cost about Y1500.
- By bicycle: Cycle east on Shichijo-dori, turn south on Higashioji-dori and turn into the residential neighborhood just past the Japan Red Cross Kyoto First Hospital (Kyoto Dai-Ichi Sekijuji Byouin).
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, you might save money with Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth itfor you
- 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