Kinkaku, Ryoanji and Northern Kyoto

Up to 5 Guests 4+ Hours Private Guide Flexible itinerary

Discover two of Kyoto's most alluring World Heritage sites

* Explore the subtle meanings and wabi-sabi aesthetics hidden within Ryoanji's incredible dry rock garden * Learn about the distinctive architecture and fascinating history of Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion) * Stroll through the peaceful sub temples of Daitokuji, one of the city's hidden gems * Enjoy sweet aburi mochi (grilled rice flour cake) from a traditional shop run by the same family since the 1,600's * Option to add a private tea ceremony in a beautiful machiya or a visit to Ninnaji temple to discover its rich history

Nestled in the foothills of northern Kyoto and surrounded by lush mountain landscapes, the World Heritage sites of Ryoanji and Kinkakuji make for a fantastic half day guided walk. 
We start by heading north out of the city to explore Japan’s finest karesansui garden (dry landscape) and the many meanings hidden within the 15 purposefully placed rocks – everyone sees something different! The view from the Hojo (the head priest’s former residence) allows plenty of time for reflection and contemplation, especially when flanked with beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring.
Ryoanji is also known for its detailed art work on its fusuma sliding doors as well as the surrounding park with its large, carp-filled pond, a great place to try Yudofu (Kyoto’s famous boiled tofu) while overlooking the pretty outer gardens.
We then walk through a local neighbourhood to Kinkakuji to take in the beauty of the Golden Pavilion and learn about its unique history. Originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun in the 15th century, the three floors each represent distinct architectural styles and reflect the local aristocratic tastes of the time. The outer grounds also offer some amazing photo opportunities which change with the time of day and the season.
The tour finishes with a stroll through the peaceful sub temples of Daitokuji and a stop at a 400 year old sweet shop serving the city’s best aburi mochi – a must try with green tea – before heading back to central Kyoto.
For those with more time, we can add a 1 hour private tea ceremony near Ryoanji (recommended) as well as a visit to Ninnaji temple complex, known for its vast gardens, 5 storey wooden pagoda and late flowering sakura.


1 - 5 GUESTS
  • Accommodation meet and greet
  • Expert bilingual private guide
  • Multiple World Heritage sites
  • Secret spots and hidden gems
  • Option to customise into a full day tour

  • The price does not include transportation or temple / garden fees for each guest and the guide 

  • We will provide an accurate estimate of these fees and any customised options at the time of confirmation

  • Please bring a little cash to enjoy the local snacks and unique Kyoto delicacies! We can also tailor this to suit vegetarian and vegan clients

  • As this is a private walking tour, we can adjust the pace and length to suit but please let us know of any mobility issues

  • Please note our cancellation policy under ‘FAQs’ and we ask all guests to have comprehensive travel insurance


"This was a fascinating tour which included relaxed walks through the ancient gardens in which the sites are set. En route, Chris filled us in on the history of the sites and offered glimpses into their cultural significance. He had taken into account our physical limitations and set our itineraries accordingly. Chris is personable, informal, knowledgeable and very good company. We would certainly recommend Kyoto Guided Walks to anybody who would prefer a 'stroll with a friend'."
J+L Ward
Melbourne, Australia

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