Kyoto tours and excursions

Kyoto tours

Bus tours

Kyoto Regular Tour Bus organise half-day trips that take in different areas of the city with audio guides available in English. Popular packages include tours of Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple, as well as an exploration of the geisha district with meals included.

Telephone: (075) 672 2100.
Cycling tours

Various guided bicycle tours are available from the Kyoto Cycling Tour Project. They offer a machiya tour, focusing on Kyoto's old merchant houses, as well as a mystery tour and a Japanese cooking tour. Bicycle rental is also available for those wanting to freewheel around the city.

Telephone: (075) 354 3636
Taxi Tours

Several taxi companies offer private sightseeing tours of the city, many of which can be tailored to the visitor. MK Taxi suggests some 60 destinations around Kyoto that sightseers can pick from, while Doi Taxi takes in must-see gems like Kinkaku-ji Temple and Kiyomizu Temple, as well as some secret spots around the city. Both can provide English-speaking guides.

Telephone: (075) 757 6212; 090 9596 5546.
Walking tours

The Kyoto Zigzag Tour is a group of volunteers who organise a variety of walking tours and cultural activities in and around Kyoto that are designed to give participants some understanding of daily Kyoto life. Mr Hajime Hirooka, better known as the professional Kyoto guide Johnnie Hillwalker, is the man behind a very popular five-hour walking tour in central Kyoto that takes in local history, Buddhism, Shintoism, geisha and various aspects of local life. Kyoto Sights & Nights offers a 90-minute guided afternoon walk taking in geisha schools and artisan shops in Kyoto's world-renowned geisha districts of Gion and Miyagawa-cho.

Telephone: (075) 622 6803; (090) 5169 1654.

Excursions from Kyoto

Nara

Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan before Kyoto, is located just 45 minutes away and has a wealth of cultural riches, including a large number of old temples, shrines and artworks. It boasts the world's largest wooden building, Todaiji Temple, which houses a famous bronze Buddha of gigantic proportions, as well as the world's oldest wooden structure, Horyuji Temple. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites and are among the most important temples in Japan. The city has many other interesting temples and shrines in addition to some beautiful parkland and plenty of arts, crafts and souvenir shops.

Osaka

For an antidote to the history-drenched, temples-and-shrines ambience of Kyoto and Nara, step onboard a Shinkansen (high-speed train) and you will be in Osaka in less than half an hour. Traditionally the commercial centre of Japan, Osaka is a bustling city with lots of ultramodern neon-lit cityscapes and futuristic buildings. In the north is the business district of Umeda, with its many skyscrapers, while Namba in the south encompasses the city's main shopping and entertainment centres, including the famous area around Dōtonbori Bridge, where the streets are lined with hundreds of restaurants. A busy, lively city, Osaka is home to Japan's best aquarium, the Kaiyukan as well as the incredible open air Floating Garden Observatory on top of the Umeda Sky Building skyscrapers and the impressive Osaka Castle. With a wealth of excellent restaurants too, the city is considered to be the gourmet capital of Japan.

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