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Some of the best photography locations in Kyoto are spread out all over the city. From towering temples over the city to historic districts that are tucked away, Kyoto has a lot to uncover.

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been before, the city is constantly changing. Take a look at this Kyoto city guide to see where to stay and eat — it has all of my recommendations. For those who are visiting Japan and want to find an itinerary, this two-week itinerary covers some of the best destinations in Japan for your first trip. And of course, if you’re a foodie like me, you won’t want to miss these 20 best restaurants in Kyoto.

So in between the incredible food and experiences in Kyoto, here is where I’d go to snap some photos.

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The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

Gion Historic District

If you’re an early riser then Gion Historic District is often all yours before the rest of the crowds get up. I love the traditional architecture here and it is truly a gem for experiencing Kyoto’s rich tradition.

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

Don’t forget to book your Japan Rail pass before you arrive!

Philosopher’s Path

Getting out of the center of the city means you’ll have most places pretty solo. One of the gems that are not too far is the Philosopher’s path which follows along a small stream. It’s lush and hidden, and along the way, you’ll find some incredible boutiques.

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

A must-photo location, is the towering bamboo grove of Arashiyama. Get here as early as possible to get the bamboo on its own. I’d recommend right at sunrise, and be sure to explore further back where the bamboo grows higher.

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

Ishibe Alley

For a traditional alley, Ishibe is the spot to capture Kyoto’s wooden houses.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

I love this temple as it has massive grounds to walk and explore. It has an incredible view as well, so I’d time it with sunset where you can see the sight and (respectfully) snap a few photos over Kyoto.

Yasaka Pagoda

The main landmark of the Higashiyama District, this Pagoda towers over the neighborhood. The roads that lead up to it create a beautiful, classic Kyoto scene.

The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Those famous red gates of Fushimi Inari. It’s a classic stop on any photographer’s list when in Kyoto. This is another spot to get early before the crowds.

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The Best Photography Locations in Kyoto, Japan

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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