Scholar-led Kyoto Walking Tour: Shintoism And Buddhism In Japan

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Per Person
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Tour Details


Join a local scholar of religion on a 3-hour walking tour of Kyoto, exploring Shinto and Buddhist landmarks. Visit Yasaka Shrine, Kennin-ji Temple and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Youll learn about the synchronicity of religions and spirituality that permeate Japanese culture, historically and in present day. Explore the history, traditions and rituals of both Shintoism an indigenous spiritual belief and Buddhism, which was imported from China and Central Asia. Numbers are limited to 6 people, ensuring an intimate experience with a small group.


  • Step back in time on a history tour
  • Perfect introduction for first-time visitors
  • Small-group tour

Know More about this tour

Meet your guide in front of the Lawson's General Store and embark on your small-group walking tour of Kyoto. First, head to the historical Gion district and start at the Yasaka Shrine, a Shinto complex that includes numerous gates and halls. Here, witness the temizu, a ritual hand washing conducted before entering a Shinto shrine.

Your guide, a local scholar, will outline the basic principles of this indigenous spiritual belief system and introduce you to the kami, spiritual deities. Hear an interesting discussion on the role of folklore and its use in the nationalism promoted by the 19th-century Meiji regime.

Stroll through the streets of Gion and wend your way toward one of Kyotos most renowned temples, the Kiyomizu-dera. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed temple was established in 788 AD and its main hall, perched halfway up Otowa Mountain, provides spectacular views across the city. Your introduction to Buddhism begins with a small-group discussion of the the religion's origins and a basic understanding of how temple complexes are structured. Youll also learn how charms and amulets are used to help change ones fortune or provide protection.

Your final stop is the Zen Buddhist temple complex of Kennin-ji, rebuilt several times since it was established in 1202 AD. As you explore the complex with your guide, youll gain a better understand of the daily life of Buddhist monks, and discover how work and meditation are used to reach enlightenment. Structures you might visit are the Abbot's Quarters, the Dharma Hall (Hatto), a teahouse built in the 16th century and the Imperial Messenger Gate.

By the end of your small-group walking tour, youll have a better understanding of the symbols of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples for a more fulfilling experience during your time in Japan!

Inclusions for Scholar-led Kyoto Walking Tour: Shintoism And Buddhism In Japan

  • Professional English-speaking guide

Exclusions for Scholar-led Kyoto Walking Tour: Shintoism And Buddhism In Japan

  • Entrance fee to sites, JPY800 (approx.)
  • Gratuities (optional)
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Additional Info

Confirmation will be received at time of booking, unless booked within 7 days of travel. In this case confirmation will be received within 48 hours, subject to availability

Adult pricing applies to all travelers

Minimum age is 10 years

A minimum of 2 people per booking is required

Please note that you may be asked to remove your footwear at some temples

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

See All 11 Traveler reviews

  • This was a highlight of our stay in Kyoto. Alexander's tour was informative and engaging I highly recommend the walking tour. Despite the cold weather the time flew!

  • When people ask me, you're back! So how was Japan?! Even though I was away for three weeks and was busy every day, his is what I end up telling them about.

    This is the third time I've been to Japan, and though I know very little about religion broadly and had been to the area that this tour is in, I was very curious to understand a bit more about the places and rituals I'd seen in the past. I figured this tour would uncover a lot of the things that I'd looked at, or read the brochure about, but never really understood what I was looking at. I got that, and much much more!

    Our guide was Martin, who is the best tour guide that my partner and I have ever had. He started out by asking about what we wanted out of the tour, and tweaked our experience from there. His tour, stories and information was personalised to what we were interested in and already knew about.

    I've attached two photos - they're not the most spectacular of the views we saw that day please do the tour and experience those for yourself!. But it is representative of the quality of this walking tour - this area of Kyoto is a stunner and you'll have a great time, guaranteed.

    Our timing for this tour happened to be perfect - we got to see a Shinto wedding took some gorgeous shots, but I'll not post them out of respect for the people involved in the ceremony, and a Buddhist ceremony for the dead which I obviously didn't photograph. I had seen some of the temples when I'd been to Kyoto in the past, however they're not something I could ever get tired of seeing. Real balm for the soul, regardless of your religiousity

    Martin was also fantastic for helping us with some of our other burning questions about Japan - he had some great suggestions about where else to go in Japan THANK YOU for your suggestions if you're reading this!, and some really interesting anecdotes that I'm still talking about weeks later.

    My top tips for this tour - you'll be on your feet for a few hours so wear comfy shoes, bring water, and make sure you've got cash for souvenirs/entry fees/vending machines.

  • Not worth the $100+ I paid for it, even though the guide was nice and knowledgeable.

  • Well informed guide. Well structured tour. Wish one more Daikaku-Ji temple was also included.

  • We weren and #39;t sure what to expect from this tour but we had an unparalleled experience! Alex was an absolutely fantastic tour guide, it honestly felt like we were hanging out with a really smart, cool friend who was showing us these amazing tempels and shrines. I wish I could go on and on!

  • Very good guide :

  • Fantastic tour for anyone who is interested in learning more about how Shintoism and Buddhism have helped to shape Japanese history and culture. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter and thoughtfully answered all of our questions. This tour definitely improved our awareness and understanding of some of the subtleties of Japanese culture. As a result, it also improved our understanding of everything we experienced in the days that followed. Highly recommended!

  • Friendly and extremely knowledgeable tour guide. He provided insights I would have missed had it not been for him. Do this tour at the start of your stay as it will make subsequent visits to shrines and temples more rewarding.

  • Absolutely fantastic afternoon! Our guide was a buddhist priest who really brought into perspective the temples we had been visiting. Amazing!

  • Absolutely amazing experience. Our guide Brian is one of the best guides we have ever had. He is very passionate about what he does and it benefited our tour and vacation tremendously.

  • See All 11 Reviews

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