Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital and a prominent tourist attraction globally, is a city rich with Buddhist temples, castles, and Shinto shrines.
But, did you know that Kyoto Prefecture boasts a variety of off-the-beaten-path hidden gems in addition to the capital city of Kyoto?
Here are the top 10 of my personal favorites!
Kameoka (亀岡) The Must-Visit City in Kyoto Next to Arashiyama
Kameoka is a beautiful city that can be reached using the Sagano Scenic Railway from Arashiyama’s bamboo forest. The city in a basin is frequently foggy, adding to the lovely mood of the surrounding landscape.
Aside from being a beautiful off-the-beaten-path cherry blossom site. You can also build your first little knife in a sword forge. And come upon a reclining Buddha statue lying in a futon bed!
If Arashiyama is on your schedule for your next vacation to Japan, we recommend that you also visit Kameoka. After all, it would be a pity if you didn’t get to ride the Sagano Scenic Railway (嵯峨野観光鉄道) at the end of the bamboo forest!
Ine Bay (伊根湾)- One of the Top Three Scenic Places in Japan
Ine Bay, located just north of Amanohashidate, is a lovely fishing community with cottages constructed immediately on the water.
Taking the Ine Bay Sightseeing Ferry or Sea Taxi is a terrific opportunity to visit the unusual residences known as Funaya. Alternatively, you may schedule a night’s stay or visit one of the cafés to view the architecture in further depth. Ine Bay is also excellent for leisure activities like biking and sea kayaking.
Amanohashidate (天橋立), one of the Three Views of Japan (日本三景, Nihon Sankei), is a well-known picturesque spot in Japan that most Japanese people like to visit. Throughout the year, the scenery is breathtaking.
Mt. Hiei (比叡山) – mountain, the mother of Japanese Buddhism
Mt. Hiei is a sacred mountain located on the border of the prefectures of Kyoto and Shiga. Temples, pagodas, and prayer halls may be found across the mountain, known as “the mother of Japanese Buddhism.”
Aside from the Enryaku-ji temples, there are non-religious things to explore. Such as the Garden Museum Hiei and the Yumemigaoka Observation Deck for spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Mt. Hiei (hee-eh) is a 2,500-foot (850-meter) peak in the highlands east of Kyoto that is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Enryakuji Temple. Warriors and marathon monks have always lived in the temple.
The mountain has stunning beauty, including azaleas in the spring and Japanese maples in the fall. The hike up the mountain takes only 15 minutes from Shugakuin Station. But a cable car also runs up and down the mountain.
Fukuchiyama City, located in northern Kyoto Prefecture, features stunning natural beauty, including cherry blossoms, hydrangeas, and spectacular fall colors. The city has a long history and is associated with the great warrior Akechi Mitsuhide.
The Futasegawa Gorge and the Amanoiwato Shrine are must-sees for nature enthusiasts in Fukuchiyama City. The Futasegawa Gorge’s remarkable rock formations and pure streams are one of Kyoto’s most stunning hidden secrets. Also, for a thrilling experience, stroll across the gorge’s suspension bridge!
Kyotamba is a fantastic hidden treasure to escape the crowds in Kyoto’s city center, with hiking and riding paths nearby! Kyotamba is a tiny village in Kyoto Prefecture noted for its chestnuts, black beans, and breathtaking scenery. The city features include Koto Falls, Gyokuunji Temple, Tamba Winehouse, and the Shizushi Limestone Cave.
Kyotamba is located on the Tamba Plateau, surrounded by many mountains. From peaks of 400 meters to the tallest, Mt. Chorogatake, at 917 meters high. The southern part of the mountain range forms part of a divide. The town is about 83% forest with narrow valleys where small villages are interspersed across the vast rice fields. In the past, this region flourished as a transportation hub connecting Kyoto city and the old Tango region . The constant creation of new dishes and the cultivation of rich, traditional food culture in the town of Kyotamba. Make it genuinely deserving of the appellation ‘Gourmet Food Kingdom.’
Kurama (鞍馬) and Kibune (貴船)- The Hidden Gems in the Mountains of Kyoto
The Kurama and Kibune neighborhood is located in Kyoto City’s most northern portion and is a hidden gem for cooling down on a hot summer.
Platforms are constructed over the river where you can rest, eat great Japanese food, and enjoy the view.
While visiting Kurama and Kibune, you should also visit the distinctive shrines and temples and pray for a great relationship and good luck.
Keep reading if you’re seeking a naturally cool and refreshing location in Kyoto City! Mt. Kurama and Kibune, located on the city’s northernmost outskirts, are popular summer destinations for locals. The ideal way to spend a summer day in Kyoto is to eat Japanese food on the Kibune platform, which is situated above a river. In Japanese, this dining style is known as Kawadoko (川床).
Ōhara (大原) – place You Meet the Traditional Townscape of Kyoto
Ōhara charming and peaceful village on the outskirts of Kyoto near the base of Mt. Hiei, is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. It is the best place in Kyoto to observe the beautiful Japanese gardens and temples sans the regular throng. In addition, Ōhara has numerous good restaurants and a Foot Spa Cafe Sansou where you may relax after a long day of touring!
Amanohashidate is one of Japan’s most beautiful destinations.
The centerpiece is a 3.6km sandbar in the sea with 5,000 pine trees that resemble a flying dragon when viewed from observation platforms on neighboring hills.
Amanohashidate is a must-see hidden treasure in Kyoto Prefecture, filled with hot springs facilities, temples, and beaches. It is a beautiful site to visit at any time of year. In the spring, there are cherry blossoms, breathtaking foliage in the fall, and lovely snow in the winter.
Miyama Kayabuki no Sato (美山 かやぶきの里)
You don’t have to travel to Shirakawa-g to enter a thatched roof house. If you don’t have much time, Miyama Kayabuki no Sato is an excellent spot to go! The Miyama Folk Museum, soba farms, cafés, and the Chii Hachiman Shrine are just a few attractions in the area.
It is also a fantastic place to explore nature because it is located in the Kyoto Tamba Kgen Quasi-National Park. If you visit Miyama Kayabuki no Sato in the winter, make sure to time your visit to coincide with the Kayabuki no Sato Snow Lantern Festival.
Nantan City (南丹市)
Miyama Kayabuki no Sato isn’t the only sight in Nantan worth seeing. The tranquil city has breathtaking scenery and exquisite Japanese dams.
The Ruri River Valley Natural Park, located southwest of Nantan City, is a recognized National Place of Scenery Beauty with beautiful waterfalls and lakes.