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27 Awesome Things To Do In Kyoto At Night (2023 Update)

Looking for things to do in Kyoto at night? 

Well, you are on the right site!

You might be contemplating staying in your hotel room after spending the whole day walking around Kyoto visiting only a small tiny fraction of its 2000 stunning temples and shrines.

Because let’s face it—there are so many interesting highlights to visit in this beautiful former Japanese capital!

And at night Kyoto has nothing short to offer to fellow travellers too. 

Fascinating activities ranging from window shopping at covered shopping arcades to indulging local cuisines and to admiring the traditional Japanese art shows, there is always something to do for everyone for an exciting Kyoto night out. 

So let’s get into it!

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What Is There To Do In Kyoto At Night

  1. Window shopping at shotengai
  2. Chill at Kamogawa River 
  3. Have a stroll at Pontocho Alley
  4. Watch stunning sunset views at Kodaiji Temple
  5. Enjoy the illuminated staircases light show at Kyoto Station
  6. Enjoy the city skyline at Kyoto Tower
  7. Join Kyoto night walking tour
  8. Sign up for the Japanese tea ceremony workshop
  9. Mesmerised by cheap food options in convenience store
  10. Enjoy tasty local snacks at Nishiki Market
  11. Have a guided gastronomic experience in Kyoto food tour
  12. Geisha watching at Gion
  13. Learn more about Japanese traditional arts at Gion Corner
  14. Watch traditional kabuki show at Minamiza Kabuki Theatre 
  15. Wander around Miyagawacho
  16. Indulge a kaiseki meal at a Japanese traditional inn
  17. Have a dip at the Japanese onsen or public bath
  18. Enjoy Japanese sake at the local izakaya
  19. Bar-hopping around Kyoto
  20. Have a fun night out at Kyoto nightclubs 
  21. Scream your lungs out at the karaoke booth 
  22. Watch captivating Japanese lanterns at Yasaka Shrine
  23. Explore Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  24. Explore Arashiyama Kimono Forest
  25. Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha
  26. Complete Kyoto Hanatoro trail
  27. Participate in the seasonal temple and shrines illuminations

Here are the shortcuts to the links of useful resources for your Kyoto trip:

Things To Do In Kyoto: Night Activities

1. Window Shopping At Shotengai

In Japan, shotengai refers to a covered shopping arcade that houses many stores selling a wide range of items. 

And within Kyoto itself, you can find several lively shopping arcades selling various types of stuff where both locals and international visitors frequent. 

Here are the popular shotengai that you include in your Kyoto night outing activities: 

  • Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcade
  • Teramachi Shopping Arcade
  • Sanjo-kai Shopping Arcade
  • Nishiki Market  

Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcade caters to younger visitors, such as teenagers, university students, and tourists. 

Besides being a great place to get cheap souvenirs, this lively street has many chic boutiques, modern stationery stores, and cafes that attract a largely young crowd. 

For a more old-school atmosphere, make your way to Teramachi Shopping Arcade

This local-frequented street is considered as more refined as there are old bookstores, art galleries, traditional craft stores, and Buddhist incense shops scattered along. 

Another old-school shotengai that you can visit in Kyoto at night is Sanjo-kai Shopping Arcade

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Starting operating in the late 1860s, this street is mostly visited by the Kyoto residents to run their daily errands. 

So if you want to have a glimpse of everyday Japanese life and local culture, make sure to visit Sanjo-kai Shopping Arcade.  

Travel tip: You can find several shinise (businesses that have been operating for centuries) in Sanjo-kai. Hosoji Kobundo, an old store known for producing personal seals, has been there for at least 400 years! 

Operating Hours: Varies depending on stores (Typically 10 am-8.30 pm)

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Shontegai In Kyoto

Shinkyogoku Shotengai

Address: Higashigawacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8046, Japan

By bus: Take bus number 4, 5, 17, or 205 and alight at the Shijo Kawaramachi stop. Walk another 5 minutes towards the west along Shijo Street

Teramachi Shotengai

Address: Higashidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-0000, Japan

By train: From Kyoto Station to Karasuma Station (Karasuma Line). Walk another 5 minutes towards the east along Shijo Street. 

Sanjo-kai Shotengai

Address: Mibushujakucho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8871, Japan

By train: From Kyoto Station to Nijo Station (JR Line) 

2. Chill At Kamogawa River

Chilling at Kamogawa River in Kyoto at night is among the best things to do especially for budget travellers.

A favourite hangout place among the students, you can buy some Japanese snacks and drinks from the konbini (convenience store) and sit along the river to enjoy the night breeze. 

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You can also take this chance to brush up your Japanese with the locals and ask for some local travel tips to further enhance your Kyoto travel experience!

If you are travelling to Kyoto in summer, you will get to see kawayuka—a temporary wooden platform built by the restaurants on the eastern side of Pontocho Alley facing Kamogawa River.

With kawayuka, patrons can enjoy their dinner accompanied by the lovely river views in the open air while cooling off the summer heat. 

Travel tip: It is not recommended to chill at Kamogawa River at night during winter as it can be too uncomfortably cold. 

How To Get To Kamogawa River

A 10-minute walk from Kyoto Station

3. Have A Stroll At Pontocho Alley

Pontocho Alley in Kyoto is a quaint place that is best visited at night. 

Lined with small old-school shophouses, restaurants, teahouses, and izakayas, many people visit Pontocho Alley for a drink or two with their family members and friends before calling it a day.  

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Pontocho Alley is also where you can get to indulge in cheap street food, including yakitori and takoyaki.

Travel tip: Most teahouses and certain bars in this alley only allow entry of local customers who have connections with the establishments. So make sure to check out the sign before entering any of the places. 

Even if you are not up for a drink, walking down Pontocho Alley will transport anyone back in time to pre-modern Kyoto. 

The big Japanese lanterns and traditional decorations can still be seen hanging in front of the establishments and lit up at night, creating a nostalgic and dreamy atmosphere as you stroll along Pontocho Alley. 

How To Get To Pontocho Alley 

By bus: From Kyoto Station, take bus number 4, 5, or 17 to Shijo Kawaramachi bus stop

4. Watch Stunning Sunset Views At Kodaiji Temple

There is no secret that you can find many beautifully preserved temples and shrines in Kyoto. 

But if you are planning to enjoy the sunset views while temple hopping in Kyoto just right before nightfall approaches, your best bet will be at Kodaiji Temple.  

While surrounded by tranquil gardens and magnificent temple buildings, you will get to unwind yourself especially after spending the whole day running around visiting the temples in Kyoto by looking at the mesmerising colours of the sky at peace as the sun sets. 

Travel tip: The sunset view at Kodaiji Temple is unobstructed as there are generally lesser tall buildings in this cultural city. And the best place to watch the sunset is at the temple’s parking lots!

Address: 526 Shimogawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0825 Japan

Visiting Hours: 9 am-5.30 pm (Last entry at 5 pm)

Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

How To Get To Kodaiji Temple

From Kyoto Station: Take bus number 100 or 206

Alight at: Higashiyama Yasui bus stop and walk 5 minutes before reaching Kodaiji Temple

5. Enjoy The Illuminated Staircases Light Show At Kyoto Station

Looking for a free yet fun thing to do in Kyoto at night? 

Well, make sure to spend some time getting awed at the colourful illumination of 171 staircases in Kyoto Station!

Also known as the Daikaidan Great Staircase, these steps are lit with 15000 bright LED lights offering an eye-catching light show to visitors at night. 

You can expect to see different light shows in each season, such as bright foliage during autumn and Gion Festival during summer. 

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Travel tip: Spectators can walk up the Instagrammable LED stairs and strike their favourite pose while being in the middle of the light show. 

As you continue walking up past the stairs, there lies the rooftop Sky Garden where you get to see the city’s charming skyline while surrounded by greenery.

Another popular spot in Kyoto Tower to enjoy the stunning night scenery with Kyoto Tower is at its futuristic-looking Skyway tunnel on the 11th floor. 

Address: Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan

Visiting Hours: Always open (Skyway until 10 pm daily)

Entrance Fee: Free

6. Enjoy City Skyline At Kyoto Tower

If enjoying the night view of the city skyline is your kind of green tea, then make sure to head over to Kyoto Tower.

Completed in 1964, this iconic landmark comes with an observation deck that is filled with tourists during the day to see the 360 panoramic views of this cultural city. 

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You can even see Osaka on a clear day from Kyoto Tower! 

Nevertheless, the city skyline view at night is equally breathtaking where you can spend some time hanging out on the platform while enjoying the night breeze. 

If you are looking for a last-minute souvenir from Kyoto, you can visit the building underneath the tower after getting up to Kyoto Tower. 

The complex houses souvenir stores, restaurants, and Kyoto Tower Hotel. 

Get your Kyoto Tower entrance ticket at a cheaper price online!

How To Get To Kyoto Tower

Within a 5-minute walk from Kyoto Station 

7. Join Fun Kyoto Night Walking Tour

Of course you should sign up for at least one walking tour in Kyoto at night!

Similar to other Japanese cities, there are many walking tours in Kyoto organised by both local and online tour companies to show the city unique sides in-depth to fellow travellers. 

Depending on the tour types you sign up for, you will get to learn and immerse into the local culture and tradition under the guidance of experienced local guides. 

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Here are some of the popular Kyoto night walking tours to choose from: 

8. Sign Up For The Japanese Tea Ceremony Workshop

Since Japan is known for its tea ceremony, you can sign up for a Japanese tea ceremony workshop

Throughout the workshop, you will be shown the proper way to make the tea by the host. The ceremony typically takes place in a traditional tea room with a tatami floor. 

It starts from the participant’s dress code, the arrangement of the utensils needed for the tea preparation, hand gestures, and the proper way to enjoy the tea—there are so many minute yet major things to learn about this Japanese tradition! 

9. Mesmerised By Cheap Snack Options In Convenience Store

There will be times where one does not feel like experiencing the bustling city nightlife and prefer to stay in instead. 

And the easiest way to still have a blast in Kyoto is to visit the snack sections of local convenience stores!

Snacks in Japan are a serious business. 

You will be mesmerised by the overwhelming snack options and flavour variety in Japan to a point where you might have trouble choosing which to munch on. 

Some of the popular Japanese snacks to try are: 

  • Calbee potato chips
  • Kabukiage rice crackers
  • Kinoko no Yama

Besides snacks, you can find cheap hot meals to fix your dinner at the convenience store too.  

10. Enjoy Tasty Street Food At Nishiki Market

Perhaps one of the top things to do in Kyoto at night is to indulge in numerous tasty street and speciality food options at Nishiki Market

Also known as “Kyoto Kitchen”, you can find more than 100 stalls and restaurants in this bustling market selling food-related items and products. 

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Here are the recommended delicious Kyoto street foods to try while you are at Nishiki Market: 

  • Tako Tamago (skewered quail egg with baby octopus)
  • Sesame dumplings
  • Fresh senbei
  • Pickled vegetables

Travel tip: It is best not to eat while walking in Japan generally so make sure to find an optimal spot within the market to devour your street food peacefully. 

And to end your early dinner meal with a bang, make sure to get your hands on the cute Japanese sweets too from the stalls. 

You can get different kinds of mochi at Nishiki Market such as savoury dango (skewered mochi balls), sakura mochi (pink mochi with leaf), and kinako mochi (powder sprinkled mochi). 

Address: 609 Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8054, Japan

Operating Hours: 10 am-6 pm

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Nishiki Market

By train: From Kyoto Station to Shijo Station (Karasuma Line) and walk for another 5 minutes

11. Have A Guided Gastronomic Experience Through Kyoto Food Tour

Alternatively, you can join a guided food tour in Kyoto by night where you get to taste a wide range of Kyoto mouthwatering cuisine while learning a thing or two about the city. 

A food tour in Kyoto typically will bring the participants to several eateries to try the different local speciality foods

Depending on the food tour you choose, the guide will share some interesting cultural stories about geisha, Gion, and Japanese dining etiquette in general as the group travels from one eatery to another. 

As most of the eateries are centred in Gion and Pontocho, you might have a chance to meet a geisha or maiko on the road too. 

Here are the recommended food tours in Kyoto that you can sign up for: 

12. Geisha Watching At Gion

Gion is the well-known traditional entertainment district in Kyoto that attracts many visitors from all over the world. 

Among all the spectacular highlights that can be found in this cultural district, Gion is definitely the go-to spot for geisha watching

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Geisha is a highly trained entertainer. They specialise in entertaining guests and performing traditional arts, such as dancing, playing instruments, and so on. 

They typically work for ochaya (traditional teahouse)—an expensive and exclusive establishment that only caters to local and known customers as they deal based on trust. 

So your best bet to bump into geisha (for free) is by visiting Gion at night when they are walking down the street to ochaya for work. 

Travel tip: Make sure to be a nice tourist and not to approach geisha and just see them from afar as in not to interrupt their work. 

While you are waiting for your chance, you can walk along the streets and enjoy the lively night atmosphere in Gion surrounded by beautifully preserved wooden traditional buildings. 

How To Get To Gion

By bus: Take bus number 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station to Gion bus stop

By train: From Kyoto Station to Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Line)

13. Learn More About Japanese Traditional Arts At Gion Corner

If you are intrigued with the unique Japanese culture and wish to delve in more, you can do so at Gion Corner

This unassuming theatre allows visitors to learn more and experience 7 different Japanese traditional arts under one roof. 

This list shows the traditional art programs available at Gion Corner: 

  • Kyo-mai Dance
  • Kyogen Theatre
  • Bunraku Theatre
  • Gagaku 
  • Koto
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Flower Arrangement 
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Kyo-mai dance originated in Kyoto. The traditional dance is performed by maiko (geisha apprentice) dressed in kimono with intricate head ornaments. 

Kyogen is a theatre show that portrays life in amusing themes while Bunraku is a UNESCO recognised Japanese art that uses puppet dolls for the performance. 

For music lovers, you can opt for Koto or Gagaku programs. Koto is an old-school string instrument that produces soothing music while Gagaku incorporates both ancient Japanese music and dance that was used to be performed at Imperial Court. 

Each lovely program takes about 50 minutes and the ticket price starts at US$28 (3150 yen) for adults. 

Travel tip: You can get a ticket as low as US$22 (2500 yen) for adults from 1st July to 28th February.

So if you are looking for cultural things to do in Kyoto at night, Gion Corner is a great place to be at. 

Address: 605-0074 Yasaka Hall, 570-2 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

Ticket Prices: US$28 (3150 yen) for adults and US$17 (1900 yen) for children

Showtimes: 6 pm and 7 pm daily

How To Get To Gion Corner

By bus: Take bus number 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station to Gion bus stop and walk for another 5 minutes

By train: From Kyoto Station to Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Line) and walk for another 5 minutes

14. Watch Traditional Kabuki Show At Minamiza Theatre

Another interesting activity to do in Kyoto at night is to watch a kabuki show at Minamiza Theatre. 

Another UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage traditional art that originated in Kyoto, kabuki is a dramatic, loud, and intense performance played by all-male actors.

Yes, even if there is a female character in the story. 

Minamiza Theatre is the only remaining kabuki theatre in Kyoto and has been operating since the 1600s.

Most of the storylines played in the theatre revolved around tragedies, revenge, romantic affairs, and historical events that were written back in the 17th century. 

Travel tip: Minamiza Theatre does not provide an English translation headset so it is best to check out the stories online before watching the kabuki show so that you won’t feel lost when the actors perform in old Japanese language that even certain locals have trouble understanding.

Depending on the ticket types, you can watch just a single play or multiple different plays within a segment. If you choose the latter, the show duration can be as long as 3 hours. 

The ticket price varies from US$18 (2000 yen) for a single play. 

For the whole segment, you can expect the price ranges from US$27-US$219 (3000 yen to 25000 yen) depending on the seat types. 

Address: 198 Nakanomachi, Shijodori Yamatooji Nishiiru, Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto

Ticket Prices: US$18 (2000 yen) for 1 play and US$27-US$219 (3000 yen to 25000 yen) for 1 segment 

Showtimes: Check online at Kabuki Official Website

How To Get To Minamiza Theatre

By train: From Kyoto Station to Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Line) and walk for 1 minute to reach Minamiza Theatre

15. Wander Around Miyagawacho

If you want to have a totally underrated place in your “Where to go in Kyoto at night” list, make sure to include Miyagawacho

Miyagawacho is a low-key yet mesmerising geisha district in Kyoto. 

A hidden gem located to the east of the Kamogawa River, Miyagawacho offers a historical atmosphere for visitors to wander around and admire its untainted beauty. 

While you walk along the stone-paved lanes, you can see some beautifully-preserved machiya (traditional townhouses) that were built in the late 19th century. 

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As Miyagawacho is less-known among international tourists, the experience of wandering around this quiet geisha district at night is going to be more pleasant. 

And if you are lucky, you might even bump into one or two maikos in Miyagawacho. 

How To Get To Miyagawacho

By train: From Kyoto Station to Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Line) and walk for 3 minutes to reach Miyagawacho

16. Indulge In A Kaiseki Meal At Japanese Traditional Inn

While you are in Japan, you need to get at least a night stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.

Ryokan offers international travellers a chance to experience the traditional Japanese way of living back in the heydays. 

Travel tip: The room is covered with a tatami floor and comes with a sliding wooden door. And instead of a typical bed, guests are provided with a futon bed and lay it out on the floor to sleep. 

One of the fascinating highlights that you can experience while staying in a ryokan is indulging in its famous kaiseki meal—a traditional Japanese haute cuisine consisting of several small dishes. 

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These eye-feasting dishes are lightly seasoned and the menu can be changed and ultimately decided by the chef based on the ingredient seasonality. 

You can expect to savour appetisers, main courses, rice, miso soup, and desserts for this traditional cuisine. 

So if you are looking to enjoy some local traditional meals in Kyoto at night, you can do so at the ryokan. 

Want to experience having a 10-meal kaiseki course in Kyoto without staying at a ryokan? Make sure to check out this tour: 

17. Have A Dip At Japanese Onsen Or Public Bath

Having a dip at the Japanese onsen is another unmissable thing to do in Kyoto by nightfall. 

This soothing activity is highly recommended especially if you are looking to have a wind-down session after exploring Kyoto during the day. 

You can find Japanese onsen with better amenities in the ryokan. 

And if you are not staying in one, that is okay too. You can still have a dip at the sento (local public baths) in Kyoto at a fraction of the cost. 

Here are the 3 sentos to get to in this lovely city: 

A visit to the sento will cost about US$3-US$4 (350 to 470 yen) whereas a Japanese onsen will cost at least US$9 (1000 yen). 

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Travel tip: So even if you are a budget traveller, remember you can still opt for sento for a pampering session.

Nevertheless, make sure you check out the local culture and etiquettes when getting into both onsen and sento. 

One of the major unnegotiable onsen customs is that all visitors are required to be fully nude before starting soaking in the pool. 

And if you have any tattoos, make sure to do some research before making your way to the onsen or sento as some spas do not allow the entry of inked patrons. 

18. Enjoy Japanese Sake At Local Izakaya

What is a fun night out in Kyoto without a visit to a local izakaya and sipping on sake?

Izakaya is a typical small eatery establishment frequented by local working-class adults after work for a happy-hour session or a gathering spot for catching up among friends.

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Patrons are usually served with Japanese dishes including edamame, sashimi, yakitori, and so much more.  

And all these dishes go really well with sake.

Depending on the season and your preference, you can have the sake either hot or cold. 

If you are not a fan of sake, there are also other alcoholic drinks to choose from such as beer and shochu.

While hanging out in an izakaya at night, you also get to mingle with the locals and have a glimpse of their way of living—a perfect combo to experience the different Japanese cultures in Kyoto at night!

19. Bar-hopping Around Kyoto

Though entertainment options in Kyoto are less as compared to Tokyo and Osaka, this ancient city is also home to many chic bars catering to a younger generation clientele and international visitors. 

There are many types of bars in Kyoto, such as craft beer bars, Western bars, sake bars, and rooftop bars that come with great views, especially after dusk. 

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So if you are into sipping a cocktail, beer, or local Japanese wine, here are some of the recommended bars to visit in Kyoto at night: 

Most modern bars have friendly English-speaking staff to guide and recommend drinks that best suit individual customer preferences. 

These bars are also great places to mingle with the locals or meet new people—either way is a great way to spend your lovely evening.   

Prefer to visit Japanese bars with a local guide? Check out these highly recommended tours: 

20. Have A Fun Night Out At Kyoto Nightclubs

Apart from drinking at bars, you can continue your fun night out at Kyoto nightclubs

You can make your way to World Kyoto, which is the biggest nightclub in this traditional city. 

It is also popular among the locals as this nightclub is frequented by world-class DJs who play a wide range of entertaining modern music. 

So if you are into drinking and hitting the dance floor at the same time, you will have the best  party time in World Kyoto at night! 

Address: 97 Shincho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8001, Japan

Operating Hours: 9 pm-3 am (until 5 am on Thursday & Friday)

21. Scream Your Lungs Out At Karaoke Booth

As karaoke is among the things that Japan is known for, you can have a fun night out by screaming (singing) your lungs out at the karaoke establishment in Kyoto.

You can find 2 types of karaoke establishments in Kyoto; old-school Japanese karaoke bars and private karaoke booths

At karaoke bars, you will have to sing in front of strangers as they are open spaces which is similar to Western-style karaoke sessions. 

You can also order some booze from the bar to boost your confidence in singing in public while spending the night mingling with the locals. 

Travel tip: Karaoke bars are typically visited by working-class male adults after working hours. 

And even if you are not great at hitting the high pitch, that is okay—you can get a private karaoke room all to yourself or with friends so that you can sing at ease without feeling embarrassed!  

Certain establishments also offer free drinks and snacks to their patrons, though mostly they are charged separately from the karaoke fees. 

If you are keen to experience the old-school karaoke bars, Dore Dore Do Honten is a great place to be. 

For a private karaoke room, your best bet will be those major karaoke chains such as Big Echo.   

22. Watch Captivating Japanese Lanterns At Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine is among the many beautiful shrines in Kyoto that you need to include in your night activity list. 

With over 1350 years of history, Yasaka Shrine attracts a lot of visitors to admire its intricate buildings and not to mention hundreds of Japanese lanterns. 

And the illuminated rows of lanterns in Yasaka Shrine at night are a sight to behold. 

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As this shrine is open 24 hours to the public for free, you can spend the evening walking around and enjoying the dazzling view of illuminated lanterns. 

Apart from the hanging paper lanterns, there are also many vermilion lanterns lining some of the paths of Yasaka Shrine grounds, creating a lovely atmosphere and a nostalgic vibe that transports you back to the pre-modern Kyoto era instantly. 

Travel tip: Yasaka Shrine is also popular in summer, where it hosts the grand Gion Matsuri festival—one of the top 3 festivals in Japan. 

Address: 625 Gion-machi Kitagawa, Higashiyama, Kyoto 605-0073

Visiting Hours: Always open

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Yasaka Shrine 

By bus: Take bus number 206 or 207 from Kyoto Station and alight at Gion Bus Stop

By train: Kyoto Station to Gion Shijo Station (Keihan Line) or Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Line)

23. Explore Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

There is no doubt that Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is among the most Instagrammable spots in Kyoto. 

In fact, you might have seen countless picturesque Arashiyama Bamboo Forest pictures on the internet. 

But if you are up for some unconventional things to do in Kyoto at night, you can visit this tranquil bamboo forest after dusk settles in. 

As there might be tourist over-crowdedness issues during the day, you can literally have all the space in Arashiyama Bamboo Forest at night due to lower tourist presence. 

You can have a stroll along the illuminated walkway while enjoying the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

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Nevertheless, the bamboo forest pictures taken at night might not come out as nice as those in the day. 

So if you intend to take and upload nice Instagrammable pictures, it is best to visit in the earlier part of the day. But if you are keen to see the lesser-known side of Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, make sure to visit this popular Kyoto highlight after dusk. 

How To Get To Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

By train: From Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station (Sagano Line) and walk for 10 minutes to reach the bamboo forest

24. Explore Arashiyama Kimono Forest

Another stunning forest that you can explore in Arashiyama is the Kimono Forest

Based at Randen Arashiyama Station, Kimono Forest is a collection of 600 cylindrical pillars with beautiful kimono prints on the poles.

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Designed by Yasumichi Morita, the colourful and eye-catching patterns were printed onto the fabric using a traditional Kyo-Yuzen method. 

As the pillars are lined with LED lights, the night view of the illuminated Kimono Forest is even more breathtaking, creating a lovely atmosphere for visitors wandering around to enjoy the one-of-the-kind scenery. 

You can also see the colourful intricate kimono prints clearer after dusk with the help of bright internal pillar lights.

Travel tip: These poles are scattered around the station ground and along the walkway to the station so take your time to admire the dazzling view. 

As you walk along the path, you will reach the Dragon Pond—a black stone ball with gold dragon carvings in the middle of the pool. 

As dragons are considered a good symbol, some visitors stop by the Dragon Pond to make some wishes before throwing coins into the pool hoping that things will come true!

Address: 20-2 Saga Tenryuji, Tsukurimichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8384

Visiting Hours: Always open (Illumination is from sunset until 9 pm) 

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Arashiyama Kimono Forest

By bus: From Kyoto Station, take bus number 28

By train: From Kyoto Station to Nijo Station (JR San-in Line) or Shijo Omiya Station to Keifuku Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Arashiyama Line)

25. Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha

There is no shortage of spectacular shrines to visit in Kyoto at night. And the list includes Fushimi Inari Taisha.

This 1300-year old shrine is famous for its Instagrammable bright orange torii gates. 

During the day lots of tourists swarm around the walkway to get their pictures taken with the torii gates. 

But if you prefer to skip the crowd and enjoy the shrine’s beauty without constant distractions, make sure to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha at night. 

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The torii gates-lined pathway up to Mount Inari is lit with traditional lanterns after dusk, creating a nice atmosphere to wander around while admiring the peaceful scenery. 

Though the pictures might not come out as great as those taken during the day due to limited light. 

Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan

Visiting Hours: Always open

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Fushimi Inari Shrine

By train: From Kyoto Station to JR Inari Station (JR Nara Line)

26. Complete Kyoto Hanatoro Trail

If you are in Kyoto in March or December, make sure to participate in the dazzling annual Hanataro trail at night! 

During these lively festivals, the streets and alleyways of the trail are lit with thousands of lanterns creating a nice atmosphere to stroll around. 

In December, the Hanatoro festival is organised at Arashiyama district for ten days. 

Some of the major highlights including the Togetsukyo Bridge and mesmerising Arashiyama bamboo grove are illuminated with lanterns attracting a large crowd of visitors at night. 

In March, this festival is held in the Higashiyama district. During this period, most of the historical temples and shrines in Kyoto have extended visiting hours and special illuminations for visitors to admire after dusk. 

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Apart from enjoying the beautiful illuminations, there are many entertaining activities for visitors to engage in too. 

These include watching maiko dance performances, ikebana (flower arrangement), decorating the lanterns, and enjoying student artworks.  

Illumination Timing: From 6 pm to 9.30 pm

27. Participate In The Seasonal Temple And Shrines Illuminations

Most of the old temples and shrines in Kyoto do not open 24/7 to the public. 

However, there are special occasions where these Kyoto temples at night have extended visiting hours till nighttime. 

During these periods, visitors can stroll around and spend their evening admiring the lesser-known side of these places. 

These buildings and their surroundings will be lit up at night typically during spring, autumn, or Kyoto Hanatoro festival, giving a chance to visitors to experience the mesmerising view of these spots after dusk. 

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Travel tip: The illumination date and timing of Kyoto temples and shrines might change without prior notice. So it is recommended to check out their websites first before heading over. 

Nijo Castle

Built in the early 1600s, Nijo Castle was the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu—a powerful military commander during the feudal era. 

Now open to the public, Nijo Castle is one of the important UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto. 

Every year, Nijo Castle attracts a large crowd of visitors to admire the cherry blossom. There are about 400 cherry trees of varying types planted on the castle grounds.

During the spring season, Nijo Castle has night illumination events for visitors to continue enjoying the cherry blossom viewing even after sunset. 

Address: 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward Kyoto 604-8301

Illumination Hours: 6 pm-10 pm (Late March to mid-April)

Entrance Fee: US$13 (1400 yen)

How To Get To Nijo Castle

By bus: Take bus number 9, 50, or 101 from Kyoto Station

By train: From Kyoto Station to Karasuma-Oike Station (Karasuma Line) and transfer to Nijojo-mae Station (Tozai Line)

Kodaiji Temple

Kodaiji Temple is another beautifully-preserved temple in Kyoto.

Built in the 17th century, Kodaiji Temple is famous for its peaceful rock and zen gardens. There is also a serene pond in one of its Zen gardens where maple trees are planted around it. 

Depending on the season, different gardens of Kodaiji Temple are illuminated at night for visitors to enjoy the lovely views.

During autumn, the maple trees’ leaves change colour to fiery foliage making the scenery exceptionally breathtaking at night as the artificial light shines through.

In spring, the pinkish-white cherry blossoms’ views are equally fascinating as the trees are illuminated in the dark.  

Address: 526, Kodai-ji Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0825

Illuminating Hours: 5.30 pm-10 pm (For spring: late March to mid-April/ For autumn: late October to December)

Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

How To Get To Kodaiji Temple

By bus: Take bus number 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station to Higashiyama Yasui bus stop

Chion-in Temple

One of the special features of Chion-in Temple is its big Sanmon Gate. It is also Japan’s largest wooden gate with a height of 24 metres. 

Aside from being part of the Kyoto Higashiyama trail, Chion-in Temple also holds a dazzling illumination at night during the spring season. 

The stone paths to the major temple buildings are lined with lanterns creating a lovely atmosphere to stroll to enjoy the evening in Chionin Temple. 

Address: 400, Rinkacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-8686

Illumination Hours: 6 pm-9.30 pm (Late March to April)

Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

How To Get To Chionin Temple

By bus: Take bus number 206  from Kyoto Station to Chionin-mae bus stop and walk another 5 minutes

By train: From Kyoto Station to Higashiyama Station (Tozai Line) and walk 10 minutes

Toji Temple

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyoto that is worth including in your Kyoto night activities list is Toji Temple

Toji Temple has a light-up event in spring that draws a large crowd at night to view its spectacular 200 cherry trees blooming scenery.

Apart from the illuminated cherry trees, its iconic 5-storey wooden pagoda will be lit at night too during this season exuding a magical atmosphere to stroll around after dusk.

Travel tip: This wooden pagoda is also the tallest in the country.  

Address: 1, Kujocho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 601-8473

Illuminating Hours: 6 pm-9.30 pm (From March to April)

Entrance Fee: US$9 (1000 yen)

How To Get To Toji Temple

By train: From Kyoto Station to Toji Station (Kintetsu Line) and walk 10 minutes

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

Perhaps the most popular temple in Kyoto with a non-stop incoming stream of visitors is Kiyomizu-Dera temple

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple has 3 light-up night events in a year; spring, autumn, and summer.

With a wooden structure that keeps the temple’s main hall up 13-metre tall, this photogenic spot allows the visitors to admire the mesmerising cherry blossom and autumn foliage view without obstruction. 

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During the illumination events, you can also see the distant city night view from the temple. 

Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, 605-0862

Illuminating Hours: 6 pm-9 pm

Entrance Fee: US$4 (400 yen)

How To Get To Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

By bus: From Kyoto Station, take bus number 100 or 206 to Kiyomizu-Michi bus stop and walk another 10 minutes

Eikando Temple

Eikando Temple is a popular site in Kyoto for admiring the stunning autumn foliage. 

In autumn, this Buddhist temple holds night illumination events. 

The best place to enjoy the night illumination in Eikando Temple is its beautiful pond garden. 

The fiery red foliage leaves are reflected on the pond, attracting a large crowd at night to enjoy the breathtaking views. 

Address: Eikandocho, Sakyo Ward Kyoto Prefecture 606-8445

Illumination Hours: 5.30 pm-8.30 pm (November to December)

Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

How To Get To Eikando Temple

By bus: From Kyoto Station, take bus number 5 to Eikando-michi bus stop and walk 5 minutes

By train: From Kyoto Station to Keage Station (Tozai Line) and walk another 15 minutes

Hirano Shrine 

Founded in 794, Hirano Shrine is another wonderful cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto.

This old shrine has over 400 cherry trees with at least 60 varieties planted around its grounds. 

Thanks to this unique feature, visitors can admire the lovely sakura views for a long time as different tree varieties have different blooming rates. 

To make the view even more mesmerising, the shrine has an extended light-up event at night every spring. 

Address: Hiranomiyamotocho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 603-8322

Illumination Hours: Sunset to 9 pm (Late March to April)

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Hirano Shrine

By train: From Kyoto Station to Kitanohakubaicho Station (Keifuku Dentetsu-Kitano Line) and walk for another 10 minutes

Kifune Shrine

Located 30 minutes drive away from the city, Kifune Shrine is among the most beautiful shrines to visit when in Kyoto. 

This shrine is famous for its calming atmosphere and breathtaking scenery. 

The stone path leading up to its main shrine is lined with traditional red wooden lanterns, making it an unmissable photo-taking spot for every visitor. 

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Kifune Shrine has special illumination events held during autumn (November) too. 

The scenery of the illuminated shrine is even more picturesque especially at night when the vibrant foliage leaves colours are further enhanced with the bright light. 

Address: 180 Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto Prefecture

Illumination Lighting Hours: From sunset until 8.30 pm (November)

Entrance Fee: Free

How To Get To Kifune Shrine

Board from Kurama Station to Kibuneguchi Station via Eizan Line. Then take bus number 33 to the Kibune bus stop. Walk another 5 minutes to reach Kifune Shrine. 

Why Is Kyoto So Special

Kyoto is one of the must-visit Japanese cities when exploring the country. 

This ancient city is home to many beautifully preserved buildings and century-old cultures, such as temples, shrines, Japanese gardens, traditional arts, and iconic landmarks that are only native to Kyoto. 

Special tip: There are about 17 UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto alone. 

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Is Kyoto Safe At Night

Generally, Kyoto is a safe travel destination for both domestic and international visitors to wander around the city at night

Though one might still need to be alert to their surroundings and take care of their belongings when getting from one place to another. 

That’s because a low crime rate does not mean no crime at all, and that applies to Kyoto too. 

27 Fascinating Things To Do In Kyoto At Night: Conclusion

So here you go—27 fascinating things to do in Kyoto at night to ensure you will never get bored when exploring this highly cultural Japanese city. 

Do you have other fun activities to recommend doing in Kyoto at night? Let me know in the comments—I would really love to hear from you!

And if you think this article is useful, please share it with your friends and family members. Or if you are planning a Kyoto itinerary yourself, don’t forget to bookmark this page so that you can easily refer back whenever you want. 

Have fun!

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