Start planning your Kyoto adventure. View hotels.

The most enchanting cultural experiences in Kyoto

Explore Kyoto’s remarkable heritage, including temples, tours and classes. By Elizabeth Wellington | October 8, 2021

Although Tokyo is Japan’s capital city, Kyoto is the heart of the country’s heritage. The historical city is set against the backdrop of architectural wonders, breathtaking temples and a sea of cherry blossoms every spring.

Travelers can immerse themselves in this former imperial capital and creative hub for Japanese art by prioritizing authentic cultural experiences. From art galleries to private washi-making classes and world-renowned restaurants, there are an abundance of life-changing activities at your fingertips.

Here are three things to expect when exploring and making new memories in Kyoto:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Kyoto has 17 historic monuments with UNESCO World Heritage Site status, all within easy reach of the city’s center.

Artisan treasures: World renowned for its artisan heritage, from handmade paper to ceramics, clothing and calligraphy sets, Kyoto’s heirlooms are worth the traveling for.

One-of-a-kind accommodations: ROKU KYOTO, the city’s newest bespoke luxury resort is a stunning property tucked into the foothills of the Takagamine mountains.

Experience the city’s artisanal heritage

Kyoto has a rich cultural legacy as a center for artisans in the country. Nowhere is its history more evident than within the city’s most remarkable independent shops. At Kyukyodo, you’ll find exemplary papermaking that honors an important Japanese pastime. Gallery Yamahon showcases a mix of contemporary arts and crafts, and at Otsuka Gofukuten, select a beautifully designed kimono to bring home with you.

ROKU KYOTO, LXR Hotels & Resorts reflects the depth of artisan traditions of the region in every aspect of the hotel, beginning with the location. The area was once an artists’ settlement in the Edo period and was the birthplace of the famous Rinpa school of painting. A traditional kimono-dyeing manufacturer who works in the renowned nishijin weaving style still operates on the premises. Guests can learn to make washi paper during their stay, using the same local river water that artisans used to make washi paper locally for the Imperial Court.

Explore Kyoto’s popular sites and hidden gems

Make the most of your stay and book a private tour with an expert who can guide you through Kyoto’s charming streets for the morning. Your private tour guide will take you through southern Higashiyama to see lesser-known sites and off-the-beaten-path wonders. You’ll visit the Shoren-in Temple, Maruyama Park and the vibrant Yasaka-jinja Shrine. After a full afternoon, you can either extend the tour to explore another part of Kyoto or get directions for a self-guided exploration of northern Higashiyama in the afternoon.

As you explore Kyoto, make sure to step into the Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art. It is one of the country’s oldest public museums that has benefited from a remarkable expansion. Renowned Japanese architects Jun Aoki and Tezzo Nishizawa have preserved its iconic brick facade while evolving the architecture in a harmonious synergy of old meets new.

When you stay at ROKU KYOTO, LXR Hotels & Resorts, you can easily walk to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinkaku-ji, which translates to Golden Pavillion, as well as the Koetsu-ji Temple. The top two floors of Kinkaku-ji are entirely covered in gold leaf and overlook a tranquil pond. Stop for tea in the garden for a lovely break from sightseeing.

Enjoy dishes steeped in local culture

When you’re ready to explore, head to Gion in Kyoto, the city’s geisha district. You’ll find restaurants that honor the kaiseki tradition, in which chefs share multiple courses of elaborate, beautifully presented dishes. Here, third-generation owner-chef Yoshihiro Murata runs three-Michelin-star Kikunoi Honten. The elegant dining room will put you at ease as you savor 10 courses of intricate dishes that include seasonal vegetables, savory meats and multiple preparations of local seafood. Because it can be challenging to get a restaurant reservation, ask the guest services team at ROKU KYOTO to call on your behalf in advance.

While you’re wandering through Gion, take a break at Gion Tokuya, a traditional sweets shop where you can sample mochi (sweet rice cakes), shaved ice or other desserts in a cozy setting and plot your next adventure in the city.

At ROKU KYOTO, LXR Hotels & Resorts, you can also experience French-inspired dishes at TENJIN that reflect the nature and culture of Kyoto. The signature dish, “herb garden,” is inspired by a medicinal herb garden on the historical property and the “flower story” cocktail balances seasonal fruits, flowers and herbs.

A visit to Kyoto will leave you feeling inspired by the cultural legacy of an unparalleled place and rejuvenated by the spirit of Zen that informs ROKU KYOTO, LXR Hotels & Resorts. Beyond the souvenirs you bring back with you, you’ll bring its heritage and ethos into your day-to-day life.

Start Exploring

Elizabeth Wellington is a travel writer and brand copywriter whose work has appeared in Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure and BBC. When not writing in her Vermont farmhouse, she's usually en route to a new destination with a notebook in hand.

ROKU KYOTO, LXR Hotels & Resorts

Nestled deep within the foothills of the ancient capital’s north western mountain range, ROKU KYOTO offers a luxurious escape with breathtaking views of the Takagamine mountains. Explore the pristine forested grounds, take a stroll accompanied by gentle murmur of the Tenjin-river, and bask under the stars in an elegant onsen-thermal pool.

View Hotel