ViaHero · October 21, 2018
Looking to get off the beaten path in Japan? Kyoto’s central location allows for easy day trips throughout the country. Plus, with a Japanese Rail pass, you can basically go anywhere—so check out these awesome trips! Any questions? Drop us a line.
Want to explore Japan differently? Have a local plan your trip.
Why get a JR Pass?
Japanese Rail Passes—JR Passes for short—are discounted train tickets exclusively for tourists. Aside from being cost-effective, they’re also super convenient, as the JR system spans across most of Japan. You’ll definitely want to talk to one of our Japanese travel gurus about getting a JR Pass for your trip to Japan.
#1: Miyama—a quaint and cozy must-see
Famous for its kayabuki (thatched roof) villages, Miyama is a rural area just north of Kyoto that you need to see when you visit Japan. If it’s not already on your Japanese itinerary, then maybe the quaint kayabuki villages, blooming cherry trees, and cozy vibes will convince you otherwise!
Travel time from Kyoto: ~1.5 hours
#2: Osaka—Japan’s kitchen is super close
Traveling to Osaka from Kyoto is also super easy. There are a bunch of things to do in Osaka including a Castle, eight stories of medieval Japanese history, scenic views of the city, and a TON of great food. Osaka is close enough to Kyoto that you could take a Japanese Uber, but you’re best off riding the rails on this one.
Travel time from Kyoto: ~1 hour
#3: Shrine Island, Miyajima—you need to “sea” it!
Wondering where to go in Japan for beautiful sunsets, breathtaking views, and amazing landmarks? Look no further than Miyajima, “Shrine Island”—home to the sea-based Itsukushima Shrine and Torii Gate. Take advantage of the rail system’s late hours and stay until the tide rolls in so you can walk right up to the Torii Gate! Ask your personal trip advisor about getting to this infamous landmark with your JR pass.
Travel time from Kyoto: ~3 hours
#4: Nara—home to temples and tea galore
Even closer than Osaka, Nara is the perfect last minute trip in Japan and day trip from Kyoto. Most travelers head to Nara to see some (or all) of the Seven Great Temples, but we recommend checking out Nijo Castle. A hidden gem and unique place to go, Nijo Castle is an ancient palace with a nearby cafe serving warm, delicious matcha tea and treats.
Travel time from Kyoto: ~50 minutes
#5: Kinosaki Onsen—you have to take a dip
Your trip to Japan is simply incomplete without a day trip to a traditional hot spring, or onsen. A quick train ride from Kyoto, Kinosaki boasts having the most beautiful onsens in Japan. Plus, this day trip can easily be turned into an overnight thanks to the abundance of ryokans providing traditional Japanese lodging.
Travel time from Kyoto: ~2.5 hours
#6: Hiroshima—yes, you need to check it out
Though harrowed by a dark history, Hiroshima today is nonetheless a must-see for your Japan itinerary. Full of peace monuments and newly rebuilt historical sights, it’s a place you need to see, especially if it’s your first time visiting Japan. These two cities aren’t super close but, thanks to bullet trains, you can get there in a flash.
Travel time from Kyoto: ~2 hours
#7: Kobe—for food and nightlife
You probably already know this place by its signature marbled steak. And while Kobe beef might not be a snack you can take home from Japan, it’s certainly a delicacy you’ll want to try. Or, you can catch the end of the sake brewing season by traveling to Japan in April, and giving a kanpai—cheers!—to some of the best sake in Japan.
Travel time from Kyoto: ~1 hour