Top 15 Most Instagrammable Places in Kyoto


There are few cities in the world more beautiful than Kyoto, so it’s no wonder Instagram is packed full of its most famous sites.

We managed to visit many of these on our few days in Kyoto, and had our favourites, but to collate this list of the most Instagrammable places in Kyoto, I went for a data-driven approach, and found the spots with the most posts.

So here they are, (correct as of February 2024) the most popular Insta locations in Kyoto.

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The Reeves Roamed for 25 days through Japan, taking notes as we went. Our route was based on our typically thorough research, though we also found some surprises along the way. We only write about places we’ve actually been, so you can be confident that the details are first-hand.

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Ben Reeve
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Arashiyama Bamboo Forest (916,700 Posts)

arashiyama bamboo forest professional traveller instagram
Photo by Catarina Mello @professionaltraveler

Top of the list, and by a long way, is Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

Voted as one of the 50 most beautiful places on earth, it’s not a surprise it’s an Instagram hit.

Gion (568,100 Posts)

gion district in kyoto most instagrammable places in kyoto photo by kyoto every day
Photo by @kyoto_every_day

One of Kyoto’s oldest district, moody, narrow, rustic Gion is a photographer’s dream.

It has its fame accelerated by the 1997 book Memories of a Geisha, and is a wondrous place to lose yourself for a few hours.

Fushimi Inari Shrine (241,900 Posts)

fushmi inari shrine by nakagawa print
Photo by Nakagawa Takashi @nakagawa.print

I expected Fushimi Inari Shrine to be fighting for the top spot of the list of Kyoto’s most Instagrammed locations, as it was probably the place (outside of Mount Fuji) that I through was the most famous in Japan before I arrived.

Dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and agriculture, the thousands of torii gates that make their way up the mountain are donated by businesses and people in the hope of getting good fortune.

READ NEXT: 30 Facts About Kyoto (#3 Is Bizarre!)

Kyoto Tower (126,200 Posts)

kyoto tower by shinba kamisaka
Photo by Shinba Kamisaka @shinba_19

Here’s a place I didn’t expect to be so far up the list, but Kyoto Tower seems very popular on Instagram, racking up over 1250,00 posts.

The most modern place on this list, it was completed in 1964 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, and is an awesome location to get shots out across the city.

Kiyomuzu Dera (79,800 Posts)

kiyomuzu dera by dain hans
Photo by Dian Hans @passio_4_flashin

Kiyomuzu Dera, is not only one of the most Instagrammable places in Kyoto, but is also a great place to take photos of the city from, especially in Autumn when the maple trees change colour.

Sitting at the very top of Higasiyama District, it is the start of one of the greatest city walks in Japan, down through the well-preserved ancient streets and past historic buildings such as Yasaka Pagoda and Kennin-ji Temple.

Nijo Castle (74,700 Posts)

nijo castle by jenn bauza
by Jenn Bauza @prettyjenn

Japan has some remarkable castles, most of which are heavily rebuilt thanks to war, earthquakes or fire (brush up on your disaster protocols before you arrive!).

Nijo Castle is not a complete reconstruction, but has had many restorations over the years to form the awe-inspiring place you see today. Make sure you head to the far corner, where you can get up on the walls for a great photo back across the grounds.

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Nishiki Market (63,900 Posts)

nishiki market by travel matters unboxing
Photo by @travel_matters_unboxing

Nishiki Market, dubbed ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’, is a bustling lane crammed with over a hundred stalls selling everything from fresh seafood to Kyoto delicacies.

Its vivid colours, traditional lanterns, and diverse offerings create a picturesque scene that’s perfect for Instagram.

Golden Pavilion (59,200 Posts)

golden temple by bran dannunzio
Photo by Bran D’Annunzio @brandannunzio

We were pleasantly surprised by the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji), as knowing how popular it was, we thought it would be impossibly busy, but it’s set out so well, it’s easy to carve out your own space for the perfect photo.

It was first constructed in 1397 as a retirement villa for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and after his death, it was transformed into a Zen Buddhist temple.

Tenryu-Ji (47,000 Posts)

tenryu ji temple by oomi travel
Photo by @oomitravel

Tenryu-ji is easy to forget with the more famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove on its doorstep, but make sure you take some time to explore the grounds, especially if you’re in Japan in Autumn, when the colours reflected in the pond are magnificent.

READ NEXT: RANKED – The 17 Best Things To Do In Tokyo

Ryoan Ji (34,600 Posts)

ryoan ji rock garden by chaitanya sareen
Photo by Chaitanya Sareen @csareen

Ryoan-ji Temple is famous for its Zen rock garden, a serene, minimalist space.

A unique, cleverly planned out aspect of the garden, is that the fifteen stones are arranged so that, from any vantage point at least one is always hidden from view.

Kennin-Ji (31,400 Posts)

kenninji twin dragons ceiling by niisho124

Whilst it is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto (dating back to 1202), it’s actually the 2002 addition of the 175 square metre twin dragon ceiling painting that catches the eyes of Instagrammers.

The temple itself is stunning though, so make sure you take the time to walk the grounds once you’ve seen its main showpiece.

Kyoto City Zoo (30,400 Posts)

gorilla at kyoto city zoo by beauty gorillaz 5
Photo by beauty_gorillaz_5

Kyoto City Zoo, established in 1903, is one of Japan’s oldest zoos and offers visitors the chance to see a wide range of animals from around the world, including rare and endangered species, such as the giant salamander.

The biggest favourites on Instagram though are the Western Gorilla, who seem to have most of the photos on the #kyotocityzoo hashtag.

Yasaka Pagoda (19,100 Posts)

yasaka pagoda by kyoto photograph
Photo by @kyotophotograph

How is Yasaka Pagoda this far down the list?

It’s so famous it’s actually on the front of the latest Lonely Planet Japan guide. The shot above is an absolute Japanese icon, with the winding cobbled street, flanked by traditional wooden buildings adorned with lanterns, leading to the incredible five-storied pagoda.

Philosopher’s Path (16,500 Posts)

philosophers path by jon 2 japan
Photo by @jon2japan

No, we hadn’t heard of it either, but the Philosopher’s Path either, but it starts (or, technically, finishes) just outside the Silver Pavilion, so we set off down the 2 km route and were delighted we did.

The philosopher it’s named after is 20th-century philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who was said to meditate along this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University. It is at its photogenic best in spring when the cherry blossoms create a stunning canopy of pink.

Silver Pavilion (6,200 Posts)

silver pavilion by jeremy khlr
Photo by Jeremy Khlr @jrmykhlr

The silver pavilion, whilst lacking on the silver (it didn’t actually get finished), is still a great photo spot in Kyoto, and the shot above is one of my favourite in this post.

Set at the bottom of a mountain, and surrounded by stereotypical Japanese gardens, get it in the right light and Ginkaku-ji will make you the envy of your followers.

READ NEXT: Is travel in Japan difficult if you only speak English?

Finishing Up

Before you go, make sure you check out our complete Japan travel guide, which has links to all of our content.

If you’ve got your own great Instagram location in Kyoto, then drop a link in the comments below, and I’ll add it in to the article.

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AUTHOR – BEN REEVE

Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.

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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie

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