If you’ve already visited Kyoto, you’ll surely know about Kyoto Tower, the huge steel tower located just in front of Kyoto station from which you can have a panoramic view of the city. Actually, even if it’s my second time in Kyoto and I’ve been living here for 5 months already, I haven’t climbed it yet. Besides, I’m not sure whether to climb it or not. A friend of mine went there just before leaving Japan and he seemed a bit disappointed.
However, Kyoto Tower isn’t the only panoramic viewpoint, so if you like keshiki (“to enjoy the view”), here’s my personal list of suggested places.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
The Fushimi Inari shrine is probably the most iconic tourist attraction not only of Kyoto but of Japan as a whole. I thought that the reason why it was so popular was because it’s featured in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Actually one of my teacher at school told that it’s because it was chosen as the number one must-seen attractions by tourists visiting Japan in 2013. No wonder why, besides being free (to visit Kyoto’s most famous shrines, like Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera, you have to pay, even if it’s a small fee), its peculiarity are its hundreds of red toriis that cover almost all the paths to reach the top of Inariyama.
If you can’t make it to the top, either because it may be tiring (it takes around an hour or more) either because you’ve had enough of crowds of tourists, make sure to reach at least the main panoramic viewpoint. I’ve been there 4 times, twice in the middle of the day, early in the morning and at night and the view amazes me every time. I still have to go at sunset though.
Higashiyama Mount Peak Park
This panoramic view point is apparently one of the most famous and couple usually gather there. It’s in Higashiyama ward, and by car you have to take Fucho Route 143 line. If you decide to walk up to there the closest station is Keage Station.
I’ve been there a couple of times and last time I went there were quite a lot of people. From one of the two panoramic viewpoints you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the Kyoto Tower and realize how small it can be despite its huge appearence.
This shrine is not very popular, apparently also Kyotojins don’t know about it cause I’ve been asked: “How did you find it out? I’ve never heard of that”. I didn’t know about its existence either, I actually found it by chance during a boring mid-October afternoon. I remember that that day was particularly sunny and warm and I was feeling tired after school.
I wanted to clear my head off, so I asked a friend if he wanted to go somewhere for a ride. We stopped our bike at the entrance of the shrine (don’t worry, first we made sure that we could leave them there) and we started exploring. We were surprised to see no tourists at all, just few ojiisans taking a walk with their dogs and a couple of girls in their yukatas. After taking some pictures, we decided to climb the small hill to discover if there was something interesting. We made the right choice. After 10 minutes walk we reached the top and we were welcomed by the stunning view of the city in the late afternoon sun.
There are several paths within the park, but the one that captured our attention was a staircase that overlooks on a residential area. To my Westener eyes it complished to the image of Japan I’ve drawn from the few animes I’ve seen. The view of the city just before sunset, the school bell ringing to announce the long-waited moment of the end of the lessons. If you’ve seen “Kimi no na ha”, with a bit of imagination you could compare this staircase to the famous one that appears at the end of the movie.
I’m not sure but I think that this place is quite unknown as well. I know it just because I went there with my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago. This observatory spot is on the top of Oiwa mountain in the ward of Fushimi and it’s quite difficult to reach it. We went there by car and the path was very narrow and slopy. But still, I think it’s totally worth going.
There’s an observation deck that overlooks on Fushimi and Minami-ku. As written on the map of the observatory, during the day you can also see some buildings in Osaka if the sky is clear.
I’ve read on Google Maps that someone reached it from Inariyama, so if you like hiking this place may be right for you. Anyway, I suggest you to make sure about the conditions of the path cause after the typhoon that hit Kyoto at the beginning of september, many areas are still damaged.
There are other spots where you can admire the beauty of Kyoto for free, for exemple I’ve heard that also if you go up to the last floor of Kyoto station you can have a pretty view of the city. However this are the places where I’ve been to and they’re strongly recommended. If you’ve been to some unknown places, please share your experience 🙂