Private Scholar-led Kyoto Walking Tour: Japanese Gardens And Landscape

Per Person
Instant ConfirmationLowest Price Guaranteed

Tour Information

Tour Details


This 3-hour private walking tour of Kyotos beautiful Japanese gardens takes you to several Zen Buddhist temples with a local scholar. Admire Mirror Pond at Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), Karesansui Garden at Ryoan-ji and the intricate rock and water landscapes of Ninna-ji. Your knowledgeable private guide will enlighten you about the Japanese aesthetics and principles of design that have shaped the stylized gardens of emperors, nobles and monks for centuries. Enjoy personalized attention on this private tour, with a choice of morning or afternoon departure times.


  • Soak up the atmosphere on a walking tour
  • Step back in time on a history tour

Know More about this tour

Make your way to the northwest corner of Kyoto and meet your private guide a local scholar at Kinkaku-ji Temple, known as the Golden Pavilion. With a wide array of well-preserved temples, Kyoto is an ideal environment for exploring the Zen gardens and Japanese landscapes that have become world-renowned since Japans emperors ruled during the Muromachi period. Throughout your 3-hour private walking tour your expert guide will focus on Japanese garden design from this era when Japanese culture and Zen Buddhism began to flourish.

Starting at the Zen Buddhist temple, which was a former private villa during the 13th and 14th centuries, learn how Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu purchased and transformed the land. Visit the lush gardens as your guide delves into villa garden design from approximately 1337 to 1573. Mirror Pond, which reflects the pavilion and contains numerous man-made islands, is a prime example of the use of water and stone in the environment. While here, discuss the various natural elements used to create the gardens, and contemplate how these spaces were used for both entertainment and contemplation as the space transformed from private villa to Buddhist temple.

After a short trip on the local bus, arrive at two excellent examples of Zen rock gardens: Karesansui Garden at Ryoan-ji and the gardens of Ninna-ji. The dry Zen gardens at Ryoan-ji showcase a stylized landscape created from gravel and rocks. Karesansui Garden from the Muromachi period exemplifies the typical design found at Zen Buddhist temples. Youll learn to read the landscape as your expert guide points out how form and function are bound tightly together with the philosophy behind Zen Buddhism.

Ninna-ji, your final stop, dates from the Heian period, providing a means to compare Japans earlier landscape design. The covered walkways of the Goten, the former residence of the head priest, were modeled on an Imperial style and feature painted sliding doors that mirror the surrounding landscape. Ninna-ji contains both dry gardens and gardens with water features, tying together the Japanese principles of precision and idealization youve come to appreciate during your private walking tour.

Inclusions for Private Scholar-led Kyoto Walking Tour: Japanese Gardens And Landscape

  • Professional English-speaking guide
  • Private tour

Exclusions for Private Scholar-led Kyoto Walking Tour: Japanese Gardens And Landscape

  • Entrance fee to sites, JPY1,400 (approx.)
  • Public transportation fee of JPY220 if you don't have a Kyoto bus pass
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Additional Info

Confirmation will be received at time of booking

Adult pricing applies to all travelers

Not wheelchair accessible

Minimum age is 10 years

A maximum of 6 people per booking

You will be asked to remove your shoes in some areas, and it is considered impolite to walk on tatami mats in bare feet, so if you are not wearing socks please bring a pair with you

Please note that JPY220 will be needed to ride a public bus, unless you have a Kyoto bus pass

Cancellation Policy
  • If you cancel within 3 calendar days (72 hours) of the scheduled departure time, the cancellation charge will be 100% of the undiscounted tour price.
  • If you cancel between 4 to 7 Calendar days before scheduled tour departure,the cancellation charge will be 50% of the undiscounted tour price.
  • If you cancel at least 8 calendar days in advance of the scheduled departure time, there is no cancellation fee. You will receive Full Refund for the paid amount.
  • Please note that in case of No show, the cancellation charge will be 100% of the listed tour fare.
  • Please note tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.

Write A Review

5 Traveler Reviews

  • Overall we were disappointed in this tour since we saw less of Japanese gardens but heard more about the guide's knowledge of Shintoism and Buddhism. The tour did not start off on the best note because we had a meeting time 30 minutes than the guide had. Fortunately he had waited and we were quite early for the time on our documentation.

  • The ONLY reason I signed up for this tour was the fact that I am very, very interested in Japanese gardens and landscapes. I was looking forward to an in-depth explanation from our scholar.

    As it turned out I was highly disappointed with the quality of this tour. I paid 2.5 times the advertised rate, by far the most expensive of our Japanese tours, and therefore my expectations were correspondingly high. Not only was the tour expensive but I also had to pay all the entrance and transport costs on top. It was a rip-off.

    The first question I was asked was what on the tour especially interested me. Well, the clue is in the title Japanese Gardens and Landscape. I saw a forlorn look and heard from our scholar: well I dont know much about gardens. It turned out that I knew more than the so-called scholar did! Was I interested in Buddhism? The only real advantage of having the guide was in getting from one garden to the next. Shelling out 440 for two for this walk was totally unreasonable and excessive. We could have done it by ourselves for a fraction of the cost

  • Excellent. Guide knowledgable, evocative sensitive and extremely diversified in his knowledge of area history zen. Japan and its history and current attitudes. Well recommended

  • The tour guide are very well organized and knowledgeable all the way until the end of tour. It's so much fun and very memorable.

  • It was very good. The guide showed a lot of knowledge on his topic and I learnt a lot

More Information