Around Kyoto Station -- The southern ward of Shimogyo-ku, which stretches from Kyoto Station north to Shijo Dori Avenue, caters to tourists with its cluster of hotels and to commuters with its shops and restaurants. Kyoto Station, which caused quite a controversy when built because of its size, height, and futuristic appearance, is now this area's top attraction with Isetan department store, a shopping arcade, restaurants, and dramatic public spaces, including a rooftop plaza.
Central Kyoto -- Nakagyo-ku, the central part of Kyoto west of the Kamo River and north of Shimogyo-ku, embraces Kyoto's main shopping and nightlife districts, with most of the action on Kawaramachi Dori and Shijo Dori and Teramachi and Shin-kyogoku covered shopping arcades. Most of Kyoto's legendary craft stores are located here, along with numerous restaurants and bars. Home also to Nijo Castle, Nakagyo-ku has a number of exclusive ryokan tucked away in delightful neighborhoods typical of old Kyoto. But downtown is changing fast, as Kyoto's younger generation lays claim to new shopping and entertainment complexes, such as Shin-Puh-Kan, a renovated telephone company building on Karasuma Dori filled with shops and restaurants and an open stage for concerts, and Kyoto International Manga Museum, housed in a former elementary school. Nakagyo-ku is one of the most desirable places to stay in terms of convenience and atmosphere.
Pontocho, a narrow lane that parallels the Kamo River's western bank just a stone's throw from the Kawaramachi-Shijo Dori intersection, is Kyoto's most famous street for nightlife. It's lined with bars and restaurants that boast outdoor verandas extending over the Kamo River in summer. Paralleling Pontocho to the east is Kiyamachi, a narrow lane beside a canal lined with bars and restaurants popular with the young.
Eastern Kyoto -- Eastern Kyoto is a great area for walking, shopping, and sightseeing. East of the Kamo River, the wards of Higashiyama-ku and Sakyo-ku boast a number of the city's most famous temples and shrines, as well as restaurants specializing in Kyoto cuisine and Buddhist vegetarian dishes, and shops selling local pottery and other crafts. Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha entertainment district, is part of Higashiyama-ku. Customers are entertained in traditional wooden geisha houses that are not open to the public (you can only gain entry through introductions provided by someone who is already a customer) -- but the area makes for a fascinating stroll.
Northern Kyoto -- Embracing the Kita-ku, Kamigyo-ku, and Ukyo-ku wards, northern Kyoto is primarily residential but contains a number of Kyoto's top sights, including the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), and Ryoanji Temple, site of Kyoto's most famous Zen rock garden.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.