Itinerary Guide: This Walking Course in Kyoto Reveals Japan’s Rich Heritage
Visit one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto!
The Shimogamo Shrine area, within the expanse of an ancient forest, is where nature, history, and culture come together. It’s a place that holds a former wealthy merchant’s gardens, an ancient natural forest, a world heritage’s old shrine, and the Kamo River’s walking paths.
Anywhere you go, fresh greenery and nature landscapes welcome you side by side with historical architecture. There are also many retro-style cafes and pastries that you can enjoy there even when you’re by yourself. Interested to explore this side of Japan? Take our walking tour below:
9 a.m. Visit the Shinshindo, Kyodai Kitamon-mae Store
Shinshindo, Kyodai Kitamon-mae Store is a famous café that opened in 1930 and is now considered representative of Kyoto. The original owner who trained in Paris decided to design the café’s interiors in a way that it would look like a retro coffee shop in Paris. One of their most popular menu items is the Homemade Curry Bread Set (¥830), which has a nostalgic taste and isn’t too heavily spiced.
This popular Homemade Curry Bread Set has been loved by customers for more than 30 years now.
The interior decoration is chosen carefully, like this long table which has been at the café since it first opened.
The retro exterior stands out in front of Kyoto University.
Shinshindo, Kyodai Kitamon-mae Store is located at 88 Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo District, Kyoto City and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Tuesdays. You may contact them at +81-75-701-4121.
The next spot is a 15-minute walk from this place.
10 a.m. Visit the Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa.
The Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa was the base of the Mitsui Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Japan, and has only been open to the public since 2016. This building was completed in 1925 after the original structure made during the Meiji period (1868-1912) was transferred and the entrance was added. This was designated as an important cultural property because a modern, Japanese-style villa like this is quite rare.
In the middle of the garden is a gourd-shaped pond. There are pathways through which you can enjoy walking around the garden.
From the main building, you can see the garden and enjoy matcha green tea.
Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa is located at 58-2 Shimogamo Miyagawa-cho, Sakyo District, Kyoto City and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Wednesdays (If Wednesday falls on a Japanese holiday, then the villa is closed on the following day). The entrance fee is ¥410. You may contact them at +81-075-366-4321.
The next spot is a three-minute walk from this place.
11 a.m. Drop by the Kawai Shrine.
The Kawai Shrine is related to the Shimogamo Shrine. Its deity, the mother of the first emperor, Jimmu, is known as a protector and has been worshiped as a god of beauty during the ancient times.
Visitors go to this shrine to pray for beauty by applying makeup on a hand mirror-shaped votive picture (¥800) using their own makeup tools.
Kawai shrine is on the west side of Semi no Ogawa, which is a river inside Tadasu no Mori Forest.
Put makeup on this traditional mirror-shaped votive picture as a prayer.
Kawai Shrine is located at 59 Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho, Sakyo District, Kyoto City and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Entrance is free of charge. You may contact them at +81-75-781-0010.
The next spot is a six-minute walk from this place.
11:30 Walk around Shimogamo Shrine.
The Shimogamo Shrine, officially called Kamo Mioya Shrine, is the main shrine of the 1,186 Kamo Shrines all over Japan. It is said that this shrine was made during the B.C. period and is known as one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. Most of the precincts are covered with the trees from the Tadasu no Mori Forest, an ancient forest from the Heian era that gives off an air of sanctity.
Tadasu no Mori Forest spans over 120,000 square meters.
Most people believe that you will get a good partner if you ring the “Renri no Sakaki” bells from this tree.
This is the “Sazare Ishi,” which comes up in “Kimigayo,” Japan’s national anthem.
Shimogamo Shrine is located at 59 Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho, Sakyo District, Kyoto City and is open from 6:30 a.m .to 5 p.m. daily. Entrance is free of charge. You may contact them at +81-75-781-0010.
The next spot is a 20-minute walk from this place.
1 p.m. Walk along the Nakaragi Path.
The Nakaragi Path is famous for the Sakura Tunnel on the left side of Kamo River. After the cherry blossom season, the tunnel changes its colors to fresh green. Here, you can experience hiking with your family and friends and take pleasure in the sound of the flowing river.
This path, along the Kamo River from Kitaoji Bridge to Kitayama-ohashi Bridge, is about 800 meters long.
The Kyoto Botanical Garden is also just nearby.
Nakaragi Path is located at Kamo Imai-cho, Sakyo District, Kyoto City and is open to the public at any time.
The next spot is a five-minute walk from this place.
1:30 p.m. Check out the sweets at Malebranche Kyoto Kitayama Main Store.
Malebranche, a sweets store that opened in 1982, is popular for its thick tea langue de chats “Cha no Ka” and other Uji-matcha sweets. Inside, you’ll find a salon space where you can enjoy different kinds of Kyoto sweets that are limited to this branch.
This original branch is in Kitayama, where there are many retro western buildings.
Malebranche Kyoto Kitayama Main Store is located at Kitayama-dori Shokubutsuen Kitayama Mon-mae, Kita District, Kyoto City and is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The salon is open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. You may contact them at +81-75-722-3399.
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Kansai Walker™(23 May 2019)