Cultural Tour of Kyoto (September 3)


Kyoto, former imperial capital of Japan, is the country’s cultural and historical centre. Located in the Kansai region, Kyoto is a fascinating mix of nature, traditional buildings and modern-day city life, home to hundreds of temples and 17 world heritage sites. Join us as we spend the day touring Kyoto, learning more about this area’s vast history and deep cultural heritage. Guests must be aged 14 or over.

Tour Locations


Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Kiyomizu-dera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails, houses the temple’s primary object of worship, a small statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon.


Ryoanji is the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden, which attracts hundreds of visitors every day. Originally an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period, the site was converted into a Zen temple in 1450 and belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, whose head temple stands just a kilometer to the south. The garden consists of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low earthen walls, with 15 rocks laid out in small groups on patches of moss. An interesting feature of the garden’s design is that from any vantage point at least one of the rocks is always hidden from the viewer.

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Kinkakuji is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. Kinkakuji was the inspiration for the similarly named Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), built by Yoshimitsu’s grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, on the other side of the city a few decades later.

Tour Schedule

The following information is intended as a guide only. Exact tour details will be provided closer to the conference date. Times are approximate and weather conditions may affect the outdoor elements of the tour.

Wednesday, September 3

07:45 – Meet in the lobby of the Kobe Portopia Hotel
08:00 – Bus Departs for Kyoto
09:45 – Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera
10:00 – Walk to Kiyomizu-dera Deva Gate (Main Gate)
10:15 – Kiyomizu-dera
10:45 – Shopping at Matsubara-dori
12:00 – Bus Departs for Lunch
12:30 – Buffet Lunch
13:30 – Bus Departs for Ryoanji (Zen Garden)
14:00 – Ryoanji (Zen Garden)
15:00 – Bus Departs for Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
15:15 – Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
16:15 – Bus Departs for Kobe
17:30 – Arrive in Kobe

Important Information

  • Although this is a bus tour of Kyoto, it still requires plenty of walking so please keep this in mind when preparing.
  • Locations may vary depending on availability and weather.
  • Lunch is provided at a restaurant, and consists of a buffet with over 60 dishes to choose from.
  • All transportation and entrance fees are included in the price of the tour.
  • Gifts, souvenirs and food other than lunch are not included in the tour price.
  • Please note that a minimum of 15 participants is required for the tour to go ahead. IAFOR reserves the right to cancel the tour if minimum numbers are not met. In the event that the tour is cancelled for this reason, your money will be refunded in full.

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