Japan Kyoto

Southern Higashiyama

A journey through Kyoto’s historical landmarks, where tradition resonates amid temples, shrines, and ancient streets.

Photo of Southern Higashiyama, Japan (清水寺 Kiyomizudera by Kanesue)

Nestled against Kyoto’s eastern mountains, Southern Higashiyama is a historic district, offering a glimpse into Japan’s past with traditional buildings, sacred sites, and artisan shops. This area, starting at Gion, showcases the city’s enduring heritage.

About Southern Higashiyama

Southern Higashiyama, or Minami Higashiyama, is a district that captures the historical essence of Kyoto. Here, the past and present coexist, with narrow lanes and wooden machiya (traditional townhouses) standing alongside modern establishments. The area is known for its cultural landmarks, each with its own story of Japan’s history.

Chionin Temple, the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, is notable for its large temple gate and bell, traditionally rung during New Year’s Eve. Its vast grounds and structures, including the Miedo (main hall), attract those who appreciate spiritual and architectural grandeur.

Kiyomizudera Temple, officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera, is a landmark of Southern Higashiyama. Part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site, its wooden stage offers views of Kyoto, particularly during cherry blossom season and autumn.

Ishibei-koji Alley is a charming stone-paved lane lined with ryokan (Japanese inns) and restaurants, preserving the atmosphere of old Kyoto. While not a secret, its historical ambiance is less noted by many visitors.

Hokanji Temple, known as Yasaka no To, features a five-story pagoda that stands out in Kyoto’s skyline. Its origins date back centuries, and despite misconceptions, the pagoda welcomes visitors at certain times to appreciate its form.

Southern Higashiyama is where traditional events and practices are still part of daily life. Seasonal festivals and the artistry in local craft shops draw visitors interested in Kyoto’s cultural practices.

A stroll through nearby Maruyama Park, especially during cherry blossom season, is a natural extension of the historical exploration. It’s where nature and culture blend, providing a respite in the city.

Southern Higashiyama offers an exploration of Kyoto’s cultural landmarks, from Chionin Temple’s reverence to the ambiance of Ishibei-koji Alley, upholding the city’s historical identity.

Upcoming Events what's happening around Southern Higashiyama

🌸 Cherry Blossom Predictions
Thursday, 21 March - Saturday, 13 April 2024 (predicted)

Cherry blossoms (sakura) started blooming in Hiroshima on March 25, 2024, and are expected to reach their peak around April 1, 2024. In the Kansai region, including Kyoto and Himeji, blossoms are expected to start around March 28, 2024, with Osaka and Nara following shortly after, beginning on March 31 and March 30, respectively.

Petals typically fall within about 1 week of the full bloom unless the weather causes them to drop earlier.

For more information, see our complete Cherry Blossom Predictions 2024 guide.

Updated 29 Mar 2024
Event listings are sourced from public information, and may be incorrect or outdated. Always consult the official website for full details.

Around Southern Higashiyama

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