The former Imperial capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, Kyoto is world-famous for its Buddhist temples, gardens and geisha. But did you also know that it’s a wonderful place to go for an easy walk? With a deep and fascinating history, along with the Japanese love for the beauty of nature, ensures you will enjoy many of these amazing easy Kyoto walks.
These seven easy Kyoto walks are great for people of all physical capabilities, including families traveling with an infant, baby, toddler or even preschoolers. The length of these Kyoto walks can be modified to fit your capabilities and your energy level. They also give an important opportunity to let your mobile kids a chance to burn some energy.
For our family trip to Kyoto we had a 14 month old baby (not yet walking) and a 3 year old toddler. We traveled throughout Japan with our kids in two backpack carriers, which we enjoyed very much. They enabled us to go virtually everywhere with our kids at our own pace.
You don’t see many strollers used in Japan as most of the locals use a carrier like an Ergo. If you plan on bringing your stroller, read the descriptions below as not all of these easy Kyoto walks are stroller friendly.
We hope you’ll discover somewhere special on our favorite family-friendly Kyoto walks…
7 Easy Kyoto Walks
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The 7 Best Easy Kyoto Walks
1. Ginkaku-ji Temple and The Philosopher’s Path
Feel the need to be enlightened? Then this famous easy Kyoto walk along the Philosopher’s Path is perfect for you! Our walk through the Ginkaku-ji Temple and then along the Philosopher’s Path took us 1 hour and 20 minutes and measured 1.7miles / 2.7 km.
Part 1: Ginkaku-Ji Temple
The monks at the Ginkaku-Ji Temple (also known as Higashiyama Jisho-ji or the “Temple of the Silver Pavilion“) maintain a perfectly sculpted cone of sand symbolizing Mt Fuji. It is approximately 5 feet tall and not a single grain of sand out of place – amazing!
The gardens at the Ginkaku-ji Temple are amongst the most beautiful gardens we’ve seen in Kyoto and even the hordes of school groups couldn’t ruin the zen-like feeling. The gardens are visited by following a dedicated path which goes up into the mountainside forest. Note that this walking path is not stroller friendly.
Our visit to the Ginkaku-ji Temple and gardens took approximately a half-hour and we walked 2,880 ft / 845m.
If you are looking for a bigger challenge, you can also hike up Diamoniyama (the mountain behind the temple) to an excellent viewpoint of Kyoto. More details are found in our Family Friendly Hikes in Kyoto blog post.
Part 2: Philosopher’s Path
Following our wonderful visit to Ginkaku-ji, we stopped for some matcha (green tea) ice cream then continued on to the Philosopher’s Path. Renowned for its natural beauty, the The Philosopher’s Path is an easy Kyoto walking trail which follows a serene water canal.
Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Path earned its name as Nishida Kitaro, one Japan’s most famous philosophers, used it to meditate during his daily commute. Alongside the canal are trees that would be stunning during cherry blossom viewing or when the fall colors are in full swing. The Philosopher’s Path is a perfect family-friendly Kyoto walk and is a must-do while in Kyoto.
You’ll find plenty of benches along the Philosopher’s Path to stop and rest or feed your baby. The surface of the walking trail is mostly stepping stones, so we don’t recommend a stroller. If you really need to bring a stroller on the Philosopher’s Path, you could walk a little further away from the canal on the adjacent road, but this will negatively impact the scenery.
The start of this very enjoyable easy Kyoto walk begins approximately 650ft / 200m east of Ginkaku-ji. Our pleasant stroll along the Philosopher’s Path took approximately 40 minutes over a distance of 1 mile / 1.6 km.
Recommended Tour: This 3-hour Kyoto walking tour visits the Ginkaku-ji Temple and gardens, the Philosopher’s Path and the Nanzen-ji temple complex. Along the way, you’ll learn all about the fascinating history of Kyoto’s past.
2. Golden Pavilion
The Golden Pavilion (also known as “Kinkaku-ji”) is a one of the most famous of the Kyoto temples. The Golden Pavilion is a Zen temple which gets its name from the top two floors which are completely covered in gold leaf. Kinkaku-ji is an amazing sight and it is no wonder this is one of Kyoto’s top attractions.
Upon entering the Golden Pavilion, you will be herded (yes, literally herded) into a viewing area. Unless you arrive at Kinkaku-ji very early, this area will be jam-packed with other visitors trying to get the perfect selfie of themselves with the Golden Pavilion – and their effort is justified, the beauty of this Kyoto temple is jaw dropping!
Once you get your fill of family pictures with the Golden Pavilion, you can take a nice walk through the temple gardens. It’s a reasonably quick and easy walk, but it’s quite nice and you get a few different views of the Kinkaku-ji temple along the way. The walking path through is not great for strollers because of the stairs and crowds, but if you do bring one make sure it is a lightweight travel stroller.
Due to the crowds, we kept our visit to Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion reasonably short. Our visit lasted around a half-hour and the easy walk around the temple grounds was around 2800 ft / 850 m.
Recommended Tour: Learn about the fascinating history of the Golden Pavilion on this 1-Hour Kinkaku-ji Temple Guided Walking Tour.
3. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Park
If you love nature, then a trip to Koto’s Arashiyama District is for you. Begin with an easy walk through Kyoto’s famous bamboo forest and then onwards into a park will fill you with calm and recharge your batteries! From end-to-end, this easy Kyoto walk took us an hour and was 1.1 mi / 1.7km in length.
Part 1: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is an absolute must-do easy Kyoto walk! We recommend you start this enjoyable walk through the Kyoto bamboo forest at the eastern side of the grove as it allows you to continue on to the Arashiyama Park when you are done. To be honest, we didn’t think the eastern half of the bamboo forest was that great, likely as the bamboo wasn’t deep enough and you could see through to the other side – somewhat ruining the effect.
But the western side of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest was awesome; truly a special place. This flat and easy Kyoto walk is also stroller accessible. The walk through the Kyoto bamboo grove measures 2350 ft / 725 m in length and took us about 30 minutes.
Part 2: Arashiyama Park
Once the walking path through the Kyoto Bamboo Grove ends, most people simply turn back, but we recommend continuing on and turning south into Arashiyama Park. This Kyoto park is beautiful and lush, with an amazing viewpoint of the Katsura River running through a mountain valley.
Arashiyama Park also has a large kid’s play area and little covered areas with benches (good for stopping to feed your baby). This Kyoto park is great for an easy family walk and plenty of spots to let babies crawl around or let small kids burn off some steam.
At the southernmost end of Arashiyama Park you meet up with a beautiful, stroller-friendly river walk. The river itself is stunning with its blue colour and the maple-covered mountain on the opposite side.
Arashiyama Park has lots of steps and rock – so not all areas of the park are stroller friendly. We spent about a half an hour enjoying an easy walk through the park and walked 3,280 ft / 1 km.
Optional Add-On: Monkey Park Iwatayama
If you are feeling up to it, the Monkey Park Iwatayama can be reached on foot simply by crossing the river from Arashiyama Park. Due to the steep climb to see the Kyoto monkeys, we classify this one as a short Kyoto hike, so if you’d like more details, please visit our Family Friendly Kyoto Hikes blog post.
Recommended Tour: This comprehensive walking tour of Arashiyama visits the bamboo forest, the monkey park and the Tenryū-ji Temple.
4. Nishiki Market
A visit to the Nishiki Market is a very fun thing to do in Kyoto on a rainy day. This covered Kyoto market is so much fun with endless delicious food stalls, vegetable stores, souvenir shops, stalls with live fish, octopus, etc. Nishiki Market is stroller friendly, but you may not enjoy having one if it’s a crowded rainy day or lunchtime.
From end-to-end, the Nishiki Market is 1,400 ft / 425 m long. We aren’t big shoppers, so our visit lasted just over an hour, but how long you stay depends on how much you like to shop!
INSIDER’S TIP: While in the market, be sure to try some Takoyaki, which are octopus egg balls served with tempura scraps, pickled onions, green onions, cheese and teriyaki sauce. OMG, they are so good!
Recommended Tour: Discover the best food in Kyoto with this 3-Hour Food Tour with Tastings in Nishiki Market.
5. Kamo River Walk
When we travel, we love to walk to our daily destination if at all possible. In Kyoto, the easy walk along the Kamo River made getting from our Kyoto apartment rental to our daily activities very enjoyable. There are easy walking paths along the Kamo River for miles and making it very enjoyable getting around Kyoto by foot.
Even crossing the Kamo River can be fun as there are several spots where you can cross by using a path of stepping stones. Our toddler loved it and even our one year old thought it was a lot of fun! It’s a fun Kyoto experience which you should try if you are ever in the area.
6. A Walking Tour of Higashiyama Ward
Many of the Higashiyama Ward’s top attractions can be combined through a series of easy Kyoto walks. We started our self-guided walking tour in Shinbashi Dori and continued on to the Gion Geisha District, Kiyomizu-dera Temple and then finished at Maruyama Park.
We enjoyed this easy Kyoto walking trail a single morning; taking us approximately 3 hours to complete this 4.3 mile / 6.9 km walk. Feel free to customize this walking tour of the Higashiyama Ward to meet your needs.
Part 1: Shinbashi Dori
More of a leisurely stroll than a walk, Shinbashi Dori is a fun place to enjoy a famous Kyoto walk. Shinbashi Dori is a beautiful easy walk alongside a tree-lined canal, with many traditional wooden buildings.
Some claim Shinbashi Dori is the most attractive street in all of Asia, and we can attest to its beauty. We were there just as the fall colors were starting to turn; we can imagine how beautiful it would be with the spring cherry blossoms or the full fall colors.
From end-to-end, the easy walk along the beautiful Shinbashi Dori street is only 985 ft / 300 m. It took us approximately 15 minutes, including stopping for pictures. This section of the Higashiyama Ward walking tour is stroller friendly.
Part 2: Gion (Kyoto’s Geisha District)
Gion is the famous Kyoto geisha district and can be walked via Hanamikoji Dori. This charming street has maintained the feel of medieval Kyoto and due to the presence of geishas it comes with its own set of rules (look for the signs). If you want to see a geisha in Kyoto, your best bet is to visit Gion in the early evening at dusk, but be prepared for massive crowds, vying to get a picture.
Knowing we likely wouldn’t get to see a geisha in Gion, we were content to enjoy our easy walk very early in the morning, when we had it pretty much to ourselves.
We have accepted the fact that we won’t be able to experience everything when travelling with small children – but we don’t mind, knowing we will likely return to Kyoto someday!
From end-to-end, the walk through the Kyoto geisha district is only 900 ft / 275 m. It took us approximately 10 minutes, including stopping for pictures. We had the Hanamikoji Dori street to ourselves, so it will likely take longer during the day when there are larger crowds. This walk is stroller-friendly.
Part 3: Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Next up was Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most popular temples in Kyoto. We started our walk there through the temple-filled park which begins at Hiroshiyama Temple. The walk began nicely enough, but halfway up we were forced to turn back due to a recent landslide in the area (be sure to check if it has reopened before going this way).
We took a detour through a neighborhood just north of the park, which was less appealing. Nonetheless, as you approach the temple complex, you are greeted by a lot of stairs. Beyond this, you are rewarded with beautiful buildings, including a three storied pagoda.
With the delay from our unexpected detour, we opted to admire the buildings outside the Kiyomizu-dera Temple (pictured below), but we didn’t actually go in as we’d be too rushed.
If you wish to go inside, most of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple complex is stroller-friendly. Once you are finished admiring the city views from the wooden stage, there is a nice walk through the forest to go to another three storied pagoda south of the main temple. The walk is a reasonably short 650 feet / 200 m. To get to this walk, you must go down a large set of stairs.
Due to the stairs in the Kiyomizu-dera Temple complex, we don’t advise you bring a stroller. A baby carrier would be much easier.
Part 4: Higashiyama District
For a fun walking tour through historical Kyoto, leave the Kiyomizu-dera Temple via Matsubara Dori and then turn right (north) at your first opportunity onto a pedestrian-only street with stairs leading downward. This leads you to the Higashiyama District, where the buildings are built in the traditional wooden style. This is a very charming street and and it’s worth visiting for the easy walk through it.
Most of the buildings in the Higashiyama District are retail stores selling their wares to tourists, so this is a good place to buy souvenirs. As a bonus, many of the shops sell sweets and they are generous with their free samples! Be prepared for large crowds as the Higashiyama District is a very popular Kyoto attraction.
From the Kiyomizu-dera Temple exit to the end of the Higashiyama shopping District is approximately 2,200 feet / 675 m and took us 20 minutes. Due to the crowds and stairs along this easy walk, a stroller isn’t ideal.
Step 5: Maruyama Park
Maruyama Park is one of the most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto in the spring. It’s a beautiful park where little kids can burn off some energy chasing pigeons and watching the carp swim in the pond.
There are plenty of spots in Maruyama Park to stop for a snack or feed your baby. Several walking paths criss-cross the park; we randomly wandered throughout the park for around 40 minutes. In this time we covered 2,425 feet / 740m.
By the time we left the Maruyama Park, it was nap time for our little guy. If you still have the time and energy, you can continue north to visit two more important Kyoto temples in close proximity to the park: Chion-in and Shoren-in.
Recommended tour: We recognise that the above is a pretty big self-guided walk through the Higashiyama District. If you’d like to make it easier on yourself, you can visit most of the places described above on this Historic Higashiyama Guided Walking Tour.
7. Shoren-in Temple
Another wonderful place for an easy nature walk in Kyoto is the 13th century Shoren-in Temple. Before going on the beautiful nature walk, you take your shoes off and explore the historic buildings of Shoren-in Temple.
Once complete, you can explore Shoren-in Temple’s garden via a short walking trail that winds through the property. The garden is really nice with a pond and a small bamboo forest. Kids of all ages will love to ring the large bell at the end of the walk using a battering ram on ropes!
There are steps throughout the Shoren-in Temple garden path, so a stroller is not ideal. We spent around a half-hour at this amazing Kyoto temple and walked 2,200 feet / 660 m.
More Japan with Kids
- 7-Day Itinerary for Kyoto with Kids
- 6 Playgrounds for Visitors to Kyoto
- How to Spend 4 Days in Tokyo
- 5 Playgrounds for Visitors to Tokyo
- Feeding your Baby in Japan
- Hiking with a Toddler Resources