Kyoto Guide: Sightseeing × Vegan Food | Higashiyama Area

For everyone who wants to experience Kyoto to its fullest, apart from Gion Area I really recommend Higashiyama Area. In fact, if you search „Kyoto“ on Google pics, this is the place most pictures show. The narrow lanes winding up and down the slope lined by wooden buildings create a very traditional atmosphere and are totally worth a stroll.

The area includes Nineizaka and Sanneizaka, where you can find famous places like Kiyomizu-dera Temple but also lots and lots of small shops selling souvenirs and special items from Kyoto, including sweets, pottery and crafts. Furthermore, there are amazing cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy either a traditional atmosphere with Japanese sweets or modern, stylish cafés.

As in most such areas in Kyoto, the sightseeing spots and shops typically open between 9 and 10 am and close around 5pm. So, I recommend not going too late. In fact, since there aren't too many vegan options it is better to go in the morning and enjoy lunch at the close-by Gion Area, which has amazing sightseeing spots as well. Afterwards you could go to Shijo Area and do some shopping and eat dinner there.

How to get to Higashiyama Area

Train: Subway Tozai Line (Higashiyama Station)

Bus: Number 100, 5 (Gion Station)


Yasaka-jinja Shrine

Located between Gion District and Higashiyama District.

The thing that’ll immediately catch your eye is Yasaka-jinja or Yasaka Shrine. With its red color and huge size it is impossible to be missed. Yasaka-jinja also is the shrine which hosts the famous Gion-matsuri every June.

About Gion-matsuri:

After passing the gate, you can access several sub-shrines, along them ones that are famous for helping you become beautiful and finding love.

The main hall with the prayer hall in front is where many cultural performances take place, including those performed by geisha.

The gods worshiped here are Susano’o no Mikoto alongside his wife Kushiinada-hime and their eight children, the Yahashira no Mikogami.

Opening Times: 9:00 – 17:00 (grounds open to pass through 24 hours)

Admission: free

Address:625 Gion-cho north sides, higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City



Yearly Events:

Maruyama Park

Located behind Yasaka-jinja.

This spacious park is popular especially during the cherry blossom season in spring and in autumn, where beautiful red maple leafs can be seen. It is a perfect place for when you want some tranquillity in between sightseeing. You could buy some traditional sweets in Gion and enjoy them there.

Opening Hours: 24h

Admission: free

Address: Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0071, Japan


Yasaka Pagoda

This five-story pagoda is located to the west of Nineizaka street and Sanneizaka street.

As it is the most visible landmark overlooking this district, it is impossible to miss it. In fact, if you have ever searched for „Kyoto“ in google pictures, you will find that this is the exact landscape visible most often. Yasaka Pagoda is also known as Hōkan-ji Temple which it belonged to. However, the temple unfortunately was destroyed by fires long ago.

It is said that Yasaka Pagoda was built in the year 592 by Prince Shotoku. There is no sure evidence about the historical facts, but it is safe to say that the pagoda had already existed before the transfer of the national capital from Nara to Heian (the former name of Kyoto) in 794. Just as the temple, this pagoda had been destroyed by fires, but it was rebuilt several times. The current one was rebuilt in 1440 by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori (1394-1441).

It is possible to enter the pagoda, however opening times are very irregular.

Opening Hours: 10:00 - 16:00, open irregularly

Admission: 400¥ (Children under elementary school are forbidden to enter)

Address: 388 Yasakakamimachi, Higashiyama-ku


Kiyomizu-dera Temple

This is definitely one of the most known temples in Japan and therefore a must-visit for many tourists. The best known feature is its wooden stage (butai) in front of the main hall, which is 13 meters above the hillside below and a very popular place for watching cherry blossoms or maple leaves. In 1994 the temple was even added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

The temple was founded in the year 778 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, but its present buildings were constructed in 1633. It was originally associated with the Hosso buddhist sect, which ist one of the oldest buddhist schools in Japan. However, Kiyomizu-dera founded its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. „Kiyomizu-dera“ literally means „pure water temple“ and is derived from the place the temple was built: Otowa Waterfall which is said to have pure waters which when drunken help you to longevity and fulfill your wishes. It is possible to drink from it even as a tourist.

Other features:

Okunoin Hall

Koyasu Pagoda/Three Story Pagoda

Tainai Meguri

Kubi Furi Jizō

Behind Kiyomizudera's main hall, you can find a shrine called Jishu Shrine.

Jishu Shrine

Jishu Shrine is dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking (En-musubi) and the oldest shrine of its kind in Kyoto.

In front of the shrine are two stones standing 18 meters apart. If you can successfully walk from one to the other with your eyes closed it is said that you will have luck in finding love. It is also allowed to let someone guide you, but that means that in your love life a mediator will be needed as well. So, why not try it when already there?

You can read more about it on the official website:

Opening Hours: 6:00 to 18:00 (on weekends and holidays from mid April through July and every day in August and September until 18:30)

Admission: 400¥

Address: 294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan Map


Yasaka Koshindo

Close to Kiyomizu-dera.

This one is Kyoto´s most colorful temple - perfect for cute instagram pictures!

Its full name is Daikoku-san Kongo-ji Koshin-do and its colorfulness comes from „kukurizaru“, which are talisman made of cloth. They are each shaped into round ball and represents the good faith monkeys. Worshipers write their wish on a kukurizaru that can be bought next to the temple and hang it up. It is said that if you give up one of your greeds, one of your wish may come true.

Opening Hours: 9:00 - 17:00

Addmission: free

Address: 390−1 Kinancho, Higashiyama-ward, Kyoto


Kodai-ji Temple


Located between Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Kodai-ji is the biggest sub-temple of Kennin-ji Temple and belongs to the Rinzai school of Zen. It was founded in 1606 by Nene (1548-1624), who was the wid