Kyoto Guide

KYOTO a city worth exploring

Kyoto, surrounded by gracefully wooded hills and mirrored by 1200 years' history, was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868 AD. In addition to beautiful Imperial Villas, Kyoto has about 400 Shinto shrines and 1,650 Buddhist temples which dot the entire city. Innumerable cultural treasures and traditional crafts, as well as beautiful spring cherry blossoms and autumnal colours, attract visitors to Kyoto, both from within and without Japan.

Today, the city of Kyoto is also a bustling academic city that is young-at-heart, with nearly 50 institutions of higher education, and a home to many world-class corporate research giants.
The spirit of Kyoto lies in the unique blend of old and new, taking the best of the old and applying them to the future.


The main methods of transportation used when traveling within Kyoto, are the Subway lines, Buses, and Taxis.


The immensely reliable Subway is the easiest method of transportation to reach the Kyoto International Conference Center, located at the north end of the Karasuma line (see map). It takes 20mins from Kyoto Station, and most of the signs are in Japanese and English. Tickets ranging from 210-340 yen are bought from bilingual machines located beside the ticket gates.

City Buses

Most of Kyoto's innumerable temples, shrines and other cultural treasures are located away from the subway and are better accessed by the network of City Buses. Buses are entered through the rear doors, and the fare paid at the front when leaving the vehicle. Change should be made before the stop at the change machine beside the driver, although it is important to note that bills larger than 1000 yen are not accepted. Most of central Kyoto city is accessible by a flat rate of 220 yen. For suburban destinations, the fare increases with distance, and requires you to take a number slip when getting on.

Take advantage of the following discount cards

-Kyoto Sightseeing Card
Allows for the unlimited usage of Kyoto City Buses and the Kyoto Subway system.

-Kyoto City Bus One Day Card
Allows for the unlimited use of the Kyoto City Buses, within the set fare area.


Taxis are another option for traveling within Kyoto.
Kyoto is the city with the largest number of taxis in Japan, and are consequently easily found on all major roads. Taxis are available if the light on the roof is on, and the sign in the bottom corner of the windshield is red. Fares start from under 600 yen for the first couple of kilometers.
Japanese taxis are safe, clean and comfortable to ride. Remember NOT to touch the doors as they are fully automated.

Climate & Weather

Japan is a country that takes great pride in the beauty of it's 4 seasons, and the different flora and fauna that spring up are the basis of Japanese aesthetics.

The following information is a generalized summary of the climate and seasons of Kyoto. Use it as a point of reference only.

Spring (March-May):

Lightweight jackets & sweaters.
 Spring is considered the best tourist season in Kyoto, together with autumn. The people of Kyoto pride themselves with beatiful Cherry blossoms, the national flower. The weather is at its best with little humidity.

Rainy Season (June):

Rainwear. Cheap umbrellas readily available at convenience stores.
 The rainy season in Kyoto is mid-June through to mid-July. The deep green foilage of this season is refreshing to see.

Summer (June-August):

Light clothing, short sleeves.
 Kyoto is located on a plateau surrounded by mountains, and has a warm summer. Public buildings are sometimes quite strongly airconditioned.

Autumn (September-November):

Lightweight jackets & sweaters.
 Autumn is another beautiful season for viewing the deep red foilage of the Japanese Maple.Lightweight jackets & sweaters.
 Autumn is another beautiful season for viewing the deep red foilage of the Japanese Maple.

Winter (December-February):

Coats, wool suits & warm sweaters and jackets. Gloves & scarves.
 The climate in Kyoto City may be considered generally mild, as it usually does not snow more than a couple of days in the year, and never reaches more than a few degrees below 0゚C.

Climate & Weather

To convert ゚C (Celsius) to ゚F (Fahrenheit), multiply by 9, divide by 5 and add 32.
To convert ゚F to ゚C, subtract 32, multiply by 5 and divide by 9

Places to Stay

With a long history as the leading tourist city in Japan, Kyoto offers over 20,000 rooms in the central area, with everything from the economic Youth Hostels and Business Hotels to modern City Hotels and traditional Ryokan. Dotted along the subway lines, most of these hotels are within an accessible 15-20 min distance to the ICC Kyoto. (See Kyoto City Map & Hotel Map)

The Lodge

The Lodge is a 30-room facility located on the Kyoto International Conference Hall premises, and is the most convenient for a stress-free commute to participate in early morning conferences and meetings. Often utilized by conference and convention organizing comittees, all 30 rooms, equipped with bath, toilet, TV, free Internet connection and refrigerator, are reasonably priced.

Smoking at all rooms are not allowed since October 1,2011.
Thank you for your understanding.

Check-in from 04:00pm
Check-out before 10:00am

* Doors close at 11:00pm. Contact the front desk if expected arrival time is later.

Amenity Goods

Towels, Yukata (An informal cotton kimono), Body soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothbrush set, Razor, Shaving cream, Showercap, Hairbrush, Shoeshine cloth, etc. have now been made available by popular request.


Free Breakfast(Continental type)is served at reception area.

* Hot breakfasts (1,500 yen - Japanese or Western Style) may be arranged to be served at the 'Grill' restaurant in the main building. Reservations may be made for 15 or more, more than one week before.


The following fees will apply:
From 2 weeks before - 20% of room fees
From 24 hours before - 50%
On the date of reservation - 100%
No-show - 100%

Standard Western Style (24 rooms) 6,800 yen 11,600 yen
Deluxe Western Style (4 rooms) 8,500 yen 14,000 yen
Japanese Style (2 rooms) 8,500 yen 14,000 yen

* Tax & service charges included.
* Double occupancy price will be billed when used as waiting room..

Phone: +81-75-705-1265 Fax: +81-75-791-5710
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto

The closest Hotel to ICC Kyoto is the Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto, which is just across the road and a mere 3-minute walk from our Main Entrance. Effective April 1, 2007, all of the Guestrooms, Meeting Rooms and Restaurants are completely remodeled and the hotel has been renamed. The hotel provides a total of 309 guestrooms including 6 two-bedroom suites and 20 one-bedroom suites. The 8th floor is a brand-new Royal Floor offering luxuriously appointed rooms, exclusive lounge and concierge desk. In-house restaurants are French, Chinese and Japanese, and also guests can enjoy the Main Bar, Japanese Teahouse and Lobby Lounge. A Teppanyaki Counter is a popular new addition to the French restaurant Beau Sejours. 7 Meeting Rooms including the Prince Hall(1,140u)and the Gold Room(423u)are available for banquet and conference.
Official site here.

The Ryokan

The Ryokan are beautiful traditional Japanese-style lodgings with tatami mat floors and futon bedding. Full of character, these lodgings reflect the history and aesthetics of Kyoto, offering exquisite food and warm hospitality Japan is renowned for.
Visit Japanese Guest Houses for a comprehensive guide to major Ryokan in the Kyoto city area. Also see Japanese Inn Group, Kinki Area.

Japan is often thought of as an expensive country. However, there are also many cheaper accomodations for the economy traveller. Note that many of these are basic accomodations with less privacy, often shared by students and backpackers.
Visit hostels for some inexpensive alternatives.

Many other City Hotels in the Kyoto area are available for booking online. (ex. conduct a search for 'Hotel Reservations Kyoto')



+ Some simple rules of etiquette and tips on what to expect can mean a lot when visiting a foreign country for the first time. The following are a few distinctive features of the Japanese table.

- The traditional utensil of choice in Japan is the hashi chopstick, with no spoon.
- As a general rule, it is preferred that you hold your bowl of rice or soup in your hand to bring it to your mouth and avoid spills.
- Silverware and other utensils are usually available according to the style of food served.
- In order to enjoy soups and noodles while hot and fresh, slurping sounds are considered a natural and welcome part of the meal, as this way, you are less likely to burn yourself.
- Drinking alcohol is a large part of Japanese culture. The history of Sake, made from rice, the staple grain of the country, goes back a long way. It is usually used for offerings, for symbolic purification ceremonies, as well as other special occasions such as in traditional wedding ceremonies. If you are unable to drink and have said as much, you may still have people insist on filling your cup. Be prepared to accept the gesture and refrain from emptying your cup.

General Characteristics

+ Japanese dishes are often very intricately prepared, and can be quite a mystery to the unaccustomed. Here is a general outline of possibly the most basic ingredients and seasonings that are used in the most versatile of ways.

- The staple grain of Japan is rice (Short-grained 'sticky' rice). Other products made from rice
include sake or rice wine - frequently used in cooking ? and snacks like senbei rice crackers and mochi rice cakes.
- A major source of flavor and protein is the soybean in all its forms.
Soy sauce
Miso paste
Tofu bean curd

- Geographically surrounded by the sea, fish and shellfish as well as edible sea vegetables (Nori) are abundantly consumed fresh, dry, fried, battered, grilled, boiled, minced and virtually any other method of preparation.
- Although domesticated animal meats have only recently been adopted into the popular Japanese diet, they have been quick to develop extremely tender strains of beef, pork and chicken for consumption.
- Dashi soup stocks taken from dried bonito shavings (Katsuo-bushi) or sun-dried kelp (Kombu) make the basic foundation by which sauces, soups and many other dishes are flavored.
Another very basic ingredient used in Japanese cooking is the Mirin.

For the Adventurous

+ That said, the Japanese flavour has become relatively widely known to the world during this past decade or so, with popular restaurants and cookbooks making cuisine like sushi, teriyaki and tempura familiar to the ears of many English language speakers. Of course, all of these can be had in Kyoto, yet there are many more food options that are available for the adventurous.

Anyone who has spent any long periods of time in Japan, will be able to tell you that many Japanese love to ask if you can eat some of the more 'challenging' foods of the Japanese cuisine, that are often avoided by the less adventurous. Natto (with or without raw egg), Tsukemono (Japanese pickles), Horumon or Motsu (giblets), Tako (octopus), to name but a few. As a general rule, trying everything on the table will give a good impression, as having food preferences have traditionally been looked upon as a sign of extravagance.

Foods of Kyoto

+ Kyoto particularly prides itself in its long history as the central capital of Japan, where the best food ingredients were gathered from around the country, and food culture was developed and honed.

- Kyo-Yasai & Shoujin-Ryori

Originally brought into Japan during the Kamakura Era together with Buddhism, it was a type of food eaten and prepared by monks. Shoujin-Ryori (food for betterment of oneself) does not include animal meats or fish in its ingredients, and is a treasure trove of vegetable delicacies. In order to maintain a good nutritional balance, Kyo-Yasai (Kyoto vegetables) were indispensable. For this reason, the Kyo-Yasai quantity and quality were cultivated to play a central role at the table.

- Obanzai

Originally meaning 'everyday foods', this has come to be the name known for traditional home cooking dishes that developed from the private kitchens of Kyoto. Usually composed of vegetables and other homely ingredients that were readily available in the Kyoto and surrounding area, this included Kyo-Yasai, bean curd products, as well as some dried fishes, flavored in intricate ways.

- Kyo-Kaiseki

Kyo-Kaiseki is a formal course-style dinner that developed from the ideals of sado- (the way of the tea). Kaiseki (meaning, just enough to warm the stomach) originally developed from the simple dishes prepared to eat as a light meal before partaking in tea ceremonies. In Kyoto - tea ceremony mecca ? creative minds sought to develop this meal into an art that reflects the best aromas and fruits of each season. In the same way that sado- (the way of the tea) inspired the development of Japanese confectionary artisans, so too was it responsible for nurturing and perfecting the skills that would make the best dishes from the produce the land had to offer.

These and other more traditional delights may be found at the Nishiki Market, also known as 'the kitchen of Kyoto'.

Reasonable Foods

+ Where to find foods is also another essential matter for the unaccustomed. Although some English language guidebooks list restaurants that have English menus or English speaking staff, it is always good to know what other options are available.

Food to GO

- Konbini Convenience store - ie. 7/11, FamilyMart, Lawson, Circle K
- Su-pa- Supermarket - Many franchises throughout the city
- Depachika Department store - ie. Takashimaya, Daimaru, Isetan
These are three places where a great variety of ready-to-eat foods are spread out on display. With everything from instant noodles to salads and rice balls to pasta and breads, the convenience store is true to its name, very often, serving the residents of local neighborhoods 24hrs a day. Less flexible time-wise, but perhaps slightly cheaper and with more options for fresh ingredients, is the supermarket. The depachika (basement-level floors of department stores dedicated to food) generally cost a little more than the former two options, but usually carry a great variety of delicious pre-cooked takeout dishes, as well as sweets and other foods from around the world.

These and other more traditional delights may be found at the Nishiki Market, also known as 'the kitchen of Kyoto'.

Fast food vocabulary

- Soba, ra-men, donburi, obento-, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, udon, ohsho-, curry rice, dotour, hamburger, kaitenzushi, izakaya

What to See

Sightseeing Information
Kyoto Info ONLINE

-Wikipedia - Kyoto
A good source for the well traveled, looking for more to see!

-Fodor's Online - Kyoto Travel Guide
A great database of Hotels, Restaurants and Shops with tangible prices to help with the budgeting.

-JNTO - Japan National Tourist Organization
With a section dedicated to Kyoto, the JNTO website offers a well illustrated textbook tour of the City.( )

-Kyoto City - Official Site
A detailed overview of what the Public Transport system is like in Kyoto.

Kyoto Info IN PERSON

-Kyoto Prefectural International Center & Kyoto Tourist Information
9th floor Kyoto Station Building 075-344-3300
Although slightly challenging to locate, this office is well worth the visit with a library of English books, Internet access for visitors and English speaking staff.

-Kyoto City Tourism & Culture Information Center
2nd floor Kyoto Station Building 075-343-6655
Accessibly located, this Information Center supplies English maps of the city, as well as pamphlets and other useful information. (Can be congested)
The web-based Kyoto Information Database tool is great for searching for what you're looking for.

A Bigger Picture

-Kansai Window
For those looking to venture a little bit further than Kyoto City, the Kansai area is the name of the group of 9 prefectures comprising this part of western Japan.
The online version of the famous pocket travel guide, covering most major destinations in Japan.