Kyoto is one of Japan’s largest cities and one the best tourist destinations in Japan and has a much different vibe than Tokyo as it has preserved much of the atmosphere of the past, having been the only major Japanese city to escape the devastation of WWII.

As the site of the residence of the Emperor and Japan’s principal cultural center for almost 1,100 years, Kyoto today offer a rare glimpse into the past of ancient Japan. It continues to play an important role in Japanese culture and religion, with many of the city’s Buddhist temples and shrines still active.

A trip to Kyoto is not complete without visiting Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion as pictured above), a 14th century retirement villa, which is surrounded by elegant gardens and canals. Here is the must see list of Tokyo attractions:

1. Kinkaku-ji

A retirement villa now a Zen Buddhist temple, is the most iconic of Kyoto’s attractions. The site is also famous for its beautiful grounds and gardens. It is a half hour bus ride from the city and needs a half day to explore.

2. Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is a complex built in 1603 and later served as the seat of government offers with well-preserved walls, and palaces. The site’s most important building is Ninomaru Palace.

3. Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Famous Fushimi shrine (Image).

Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands gates. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari.

4. Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Image).

A UNESCO World Heritage site. It was one of 20 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of the World. An independent Buddhist temple part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.

5. Kyoto Imperial Palace

The Kyoto Imperial Palace used to be the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, when the emperor and capital were moved to Tokyo.