We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Expert Led Private Tour of Kyoto's Gardens and Landscapes

Select Date and Travellers
2 travellers
    What to Expect
    Explore the delicate interplay of water, rock and plant life that constitutes the Japanese traditions of landscape and garden design as you explore Kyoto on a private walking tour with a local scholar. This tour offers an ideal opportunity to view some of Kyoto’s most exquisite outdoor spaces up close while learning about the traditions behind their creation.

    Start your private walking tour just outside Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, on the corner of the streets Kurama-guchi Dori and Kagamiishi Dori. Your meeting time will depend on if you’ve selected a morning or afternoon tour. The ancient city of Kyoto, seat of the emperor for many centuries, makes for a perfect backdrop to explore the influences of Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture on this beautiful art form.

    Make your first stop at Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. This Zen Buddhist temple, originally a private villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, offers a perfect example of the principles of garden design during the 13th and 14th centuries. During your visit to the site, listen to your guide explain they key innovations in villa garden design that occurred between 1337 and 1573. The site’s Mirror Pond, for example, illustrates a perfect balance of water and stone in the environment. You’ll also hear about the various ways Japanese gardens were used for both entertainment and spiritual purposes.

    Take a short bus ride to visit two unique Zen rock gardens, the Karesansui Garden at Ryoan-ji and gardens of Ninna-ji. First admire the dry rock garden at Ryoan-ji, forming a stylized pattern using stones and gravel. You’ll also learn why Ryoan-ji’s Karesansui Gardens offer a great example the landscape design typical of Zen Buddhist sites. At Zen Buddhist gardens, the form often follows the garden function, mimicking the central tenets of the Zen philosophy.

    Make your final stop at Ninna-ji, a temple that contains both dry and water features. Walk along the covered walkways leading to the former home of the temple’s head priest, known as the Goten, offering excellent views of the building’s sliding doors painted with scenes mirroring the surrounding landscape. Your walking tour finishes here.
    Show More
    Important Information
    Departure Point
    Kinkaku-ji, 1 Kinkakujichō, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8361, Japan
    Return Details
    Returns to original departure point
    • Privately Guided Tour
    • Expert Guide
    • Gratuities
    • Admission Fee
    • Bus Fare
    Show More
    Additional Info
    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
    • Not wheelchair accessible
    • Please send supplier of tour the ages of all participants at time of booking
    • Tour operates rain or shine
    • Near public transportation
    • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
    • Check-in is 15 minutes prior to tour start time
    • Hotel pick-up cannot be accommodated
    • Please note that you may be asked to remove your footwear at some temples
    • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
    Cancellation Policy
    For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
    Traveller rating
    • 2
    • 0
    • 0
    • 0
    • 0
    Traveller type
    Time of year
    • Filter
    • English
    My husband and I spent a fascinating day with Preston. We were expecting a garden tour with Gavin but Preston showed up. We got gardens and so much more - about Buddhism and current Japanese culture. We hired many private guides in Japan but have to say Preston was one of our
    Read more
    We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, hearing from Marc about Japanese gardens and way of life. We did three Context tours in Kyoto, all great!
    Read more
    Key Details
    Why Book on TripAdvisor?
    • Free Cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
    • Low Price Guarantee
    • No Booking Fees
    • Secure Payments
    • 24/7 SupportCall: +1 855 275 5071