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If you are looking for things to do in Kyoto at night, you may be surprised at the amount of sites that are open. When I visited Japan last fall, I noticed that some of the shrines and temples we visited had evening hours as well. Below are a few places that you can see in Kyoto after dark. These shrines and temples are some of the most popular sites to visit in Kyoto as well, so it’s easy to cross these off your bucket list if you are in town for a short amount of time.
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine in Kyoto at Night
The Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine in Kyoto are the very famous red gates that you will see online. It is free to walk through these popular gates. While online it may say that the gates are open until 6:30 pm, this shrine is never actually closed off, so you can visit at any time that you choose.
These gates are an incredibly popular attraction, and if you are visiting at sunset you are bound to run into a crowd. For a photo, try walking further and further up the gate path until there are less people in the way. You’ll notice that the gates have writing on the back – each gate was purchased by a person or a business, and it’s the donors names listed on the back.
Get to this shrine by getting off either the JR Inari Station (JR Nara Line), or walk from the Keihan Railway Fushimiinari Station. If you have the Japan Rail Pass and are in Kyoto at night, you can’t miss this site.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto at Night
The famous temple on the mountain, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple is another one of Japan’s most famous sites. This temple is always open until 6:00 pm, however during special night viewings the temple will stay open until 9:00 pm. Check the calendar to see if you will be in town during one of these special viewings, and you’ll get a beautiful view of the city on your visit. When we visited in 2019 the main temple was under construction, however the complex is still neat to walk around.
You can pay to enter the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and there are prayer sites located inside. However, there are many ways to walk around the temple and access the view points, without walking through the temple.
The easiest way to get to Kiyomizu-dera is to use the bus. Whether you use the city bus 206 or 100, or the Kyoto bus 18, get off at the Gojozaka stop and walk about ten minutes. There will likely be crowds of people to follow to get to the site.
Toji Temple in Kyoto at Night
The Toji Temple is Japan’s tallest wooden pagoda, and is found in a beautiful park. During either the autumn leaves or the cherry blossom seasons, this temple is open in the evening from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. When I visited in November, I was surprised at how many people stood in line outside the temple to get in, but the lights on display will make the wait worthwhile.
The Toji Temple is a 15 minute walk from the Kyoto Station, or can be reached from the Toji Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto metro line.
Getting Around Kyoto at Night
If you are visiting Kyoto on the Japan Rail Pass, you may be disappointed to hear that it is best to purchase a Kyoto bus pass to get around. You can get to the Fushimi Inari-taisha gates and the Toji Temple through the rail pass, but for the majority of Kyoto it is easiest to purchase a bus pass. Keep in mind that Kyoto buses stop around 11:00 pm and the Kyoto metro stops around 10:30 pm, so don’t stay out wandering too late.
Places to See in Kyoto at Night
If you are visiting Kyoto, there are many popular attractions to see, even as the sun starts to set. If you are looking for more things to do or places to eat at in Kyoto, check out our Kyoto after 5:00 pm guide.