7 Offbeat Places to Visit on Your Solo Trip to Kyoto

Believe it or not, Kyoto still has some places that are well hidden from tourists’ radar. Whether you want to escape the crowds or need an alternate Kyoto guide, offbeat places like Ohara Village, Kuya Falls, Amanohashidate View Land, Ine Fishing Village, Hozukyo Gorge, Uji, and Saiho-ji Temple in Kyoto are a saviour in disguise. 

That said, I came to know about some of these destinations after my stay in Kyoto. Had I known earlier, I would have ticked them all off from my to-do list in Kyoto. Therefore, to save you from repeating my mistakes, I have handpicked seven hidden gems to wander off the beaten path in Kyoto. 

So, read on to steal all the details about these seven offbeat places in Kyoto that you must include in your itinerary!

1. Explore the Quaint Rural Town of Ohara Village 

A 60-minute bus ride from central Kyoto will lead you to a traditional village of Kyoto – Ohara in Sakyo Ward. Known for its farm-fresh vegetables, Ohara is minimalistic by all means. 

Little cafes, hot springs, and Buddhist chants – a quaint village straight out of a Hollywood movie. That said, while you are in Ohara, you must explore three places:

  • Otonashi-no-taki Falls means “No Sound Falls” and is one of the best offbeat places to connect to your spiritual side. It is believed Ryonin – the monk practised spirituality here. 
  • Sanzen-in Temple remains the highlight of Ohara. It is a well-known sacred spot for Shomyo (sutra chanting). I loved the entrance through Goten-mon Gate, followed by Shuheki-en Garden. Plus, the statues of Warabe-jizo are equally adorable.
  • Jakko-in Temple is small, quiet, and peaceful. It welcomes you with tea and sweets at an entrance fee of 700 yen. 

That said, try to visit Ohara on a Sunday morning. The locals set up a farmers’ market with loads of fresh vegetables. And, also make sure to grab at least one meal at Café Millet – they serve the best vegan delicacies in an old farmhouse setting! 

2. Hike to Kuya Falls for a Serene Escape in the West of Arashiyama

As you traverse the surroundings in Arashiyama, hike from Kiyotaki village to Kuya Falls – a serene reminder of Kyoto’s unaltered beauty. 

It is an uphill hike of about 6 km on Mount Takao. And, given that you’re fit, it will take you around an hour to complete it. 

As you walk into the forested trails, you’ll be able to hear the sound of the waterfall. In no time, you will witness the stone tori gate as well as stone lanterns at the forefront of the 15-metre waterfall. 

Apart from that, what grabbed my attention was the Buddhist statue inside a mossy cave! It is on the left-hand side of the waterfall. 

Quick Trivia: The waterfall gets its name from Kuya – a Buddhist priest who in the 10th century, inaugurated a shrine here to practise meditation. 

3. Witness a Bird’s-eye View from Amanohashidate View Land 

Once you reach Amanohashidate after a two-hour train ride from Kyoto, head to the Amanohashidate View Land to treat your eyes with a different side of the prefecture – Kyoto by the sea. 

Besides being one of the top offbeat spots in Kyoto, it is also known as one of the three scenic spots in the entirety of Japan. 

To observe the 3 km long sandbar from the top, you have two options – chairlift or monorail. A chairlift is perfect if you’re adventurous. But if you’re scared of heights, opt for the monorail. 

On the other end of the ride, you have access to Kasamatsu Park. After this, be sure to stroll around the town and feast on the fresh seafood the town has to offer.

4. Explore Ine: A Sleepy Fishing Village

Talking about Kyoto by the sea, just 15 km from Amanohashidate, I have another offbeat destination up my sleeves – Ine, a fishing village also known as “The Venice of Japan.”  

I would say, if you’re on a time crunch, get on a local boat to explore the myriad of boat houses – funaya. Strike up a conversation with the boatman; they have the best anecdotes of the village to share. 

However, if you have time in hand – stay in one of those traditional sea-facing boathouse cottages to experience it all. There’s also an observatory hilltop to sink in the island, the mountains, the sea, and the town!

5. Experience the Blend of Water and Woodlands at Hozukyo Gorge 

Another under-the-wrap offbeat spot in Kyoto is Hozukyo Gorge. It stretches for 12 km between the Hozu Bridge of Kameoka City and the Togetsukyo Bridge of Arashiyama. 

You can take in the stunning views of the gorge on a 25-minute train ride in Sagano Romantic Train on all the seasons! You can also directly experience the Hozukyo waterways on a boat ride. 

Overall, it is a chill place to relax and unwind. You can even go for a hike to find the best nature spots in the area.

6. Take a Day Trip to Uji to Discover Kyoto’s Best Tea Fields

Squeezed between Kyoto and Nara, Uji is home to a tea-producing region known for its matcha! With over 800 years of tea cultivation, the tea capital of Japan is a must-visit in the south of Kyoto. 

Take a 17-minute train ride from Kyoto to get all the tea on tea! Here are three things you must do on your day trip to Uji:

  • Have you seen the scene featured in the 10 yen coin? Yes, you will find that scene in Uji at the UNESCO World Heritage site – Byodo-in Temple.
  • Grab a cup of matcha at the oldest tea house in Japan – Tsuen Tea. Plus, the deserts here are delectable. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs from here.
  • Aside from that, do you remember the mention of the infamous Uji Bridge in the Tale of Genji? Do visit it and relive the history!

7. Visit the Terrific Saiho-ji –The Moss Temple

Saiho-ji Temple, popularly known as Kokedera – the Moss Temple, is home to 120+ varieties of moss. The velvety green carpet makes this Zen Buddhist temple stand out from all Kyoto temples and shrines.

With 1400 years of history, the place is like an aesthetic terrarium. Just slow down, trace the sutras and explore the garden without any rush.

Do you know the best part? The access to the temple is reservation-based via mail! Therefore, no touristy crowds! But do book your slot in advance as they only allow a limited number of visitors per day. 

My Ultimate Kyoto Tip

A touristy tour or an offbeat adventure – no matter how you plan your solo trip to Kyoto, I have one suggestion – do not plan your entire time. Always keep some free time on your hands. Trust me, Kyoto needs it. Walk around on your own and let the magic of the former capital of Japan unfold. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your solo trip to Kyoto straightaway! 


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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