The area around Kyoto Station, Kyoto's largest gateway, is lined with buildings and is often perceived as a place that does not represent Kyoto, however; the area has much more to offer than that.
Two of Kyoto’s major temples, Higashi Honganji and Nishi Hongwanji, are located to the north, overwhelming visitors with their magnificent architecture.
They open the door in the early morning to anyone who wants to come to worship in the Founder’s Hall and the Amida Hall.
A temple with a history of over 1200 years, is located south of the station. During the cherry blossom season in spring and the autumn foliage season in autumn, a nighttime illumination is a popular event that beautifully illuminates the symbolic five-storied pagoda framed with flowers or colored leaves.
The temple towns flourished as commercial and industrial towns from the Middle Ages. It is nice to stroll in the backstreets with a downtown atmosphere in search of townhouse cafes, workshops, and craft shops.
Umekoji was a street near the southern end of the main street of the former Heian-kyo capital and once a bustling place where people gathered at Korokan, a pavilion for entertaining guests from abroad. After the railroad was built in the 19th century, a freight station started its operation here. Followed by the opening of the central market, the Umekoji area became the bustling hub for commodities in and out of the city of Kyoto. However, with the decrease in cargo trains, the freight station went out of business. The Umekoji Park project started to bring back the hustle and bustle of the area, turning it into a place of leisure and learning for locals. Kyoto Aquarium and Kyoto Railway Museum are entertainment facilities for kids and adults, and Suzaku Garden of Umekoji Park is a lovely place to stroll.
●Higashi Honganji Temple
As the head temple of the Shinshū Ōtani-ha branch of Jōdo Shinshū (Shin Buddhism), Higashi-honganji has the second largest number of followers among all Buddhist sects in Japan. Six buildings have been designated Important Cultural Properties including the temple gate, which is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. In the spring of 2023 the green plaza in front of the temple gate will be open to the public, drawing attention as a new spot for tourists and citizens to interact.
●Nishi Hongwanji Temple
Having the largest number of followers among the Buddhist sects in Japan, Nishi-honganji Temple is the head temple of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha Buddhist organization. It belongs to the same Jodo Shinshu as Higashi Honganji, but there are differences in the structure of the complex and the color and shape of the decoration. The nearly 400-year-old large ginkgo tree is designated as a Natural Monument by Kyoto City.
●Toji Market (Kobo ichi)
Held on the 21st of every month, which is the anniversary day of Kobo Daishi Kukai, the founder of Toji Temple. One of the largest markets in Kyoto, with antiques, old kimonos, crafts and food.
A food stall street built on the site of an elevated JR freight line. Held mainly on weekends from spring through fall. Being open-air situation, it is likely to be cancelled in case of bad weather.