Kyoto City Guide for Nomads & Expats
Kyoto is a city like no other. Rich in culture and history, it is a perfect destination for expats and nomads looking for a unique and rewarding travel experience.
From the ancient temples and shrines to the delicious local cuisine, there is something for everyone. The city is home to a variety of attractions, from traditional Japanese gardens and museums to shopping centers and nightlife. The city is also known for its stunning architecture, with beautiful wooden buildings nestled along the winding river. For those looking for a unique and rewarding travel experience, Kyoto is the perfect destination. With its rich culture and history, there is something to explore every day. Whether you want to explore the city’s temples and shrines, sample the local cuisine, or take in the nightlife, there is plenty to do in Kyoto. With its stunning natural beauty, diverse culture, and vibrant nightlife, Kyoto is sure to stun as your next destination
What are the Best Places to Work Remotely In Kyoto?
Kyoto, Japan offers several great places to work remotely, whether you’re a digital nomad or someone looking for a change of scenery while working remotely. Here are some of the best places in Kyoto to work remotely:
- Kyoto Startup Terrace: This co-working space provides a productive work environment with modern facilities and networking opportunities.
- Kyoto Institute of Technology Venture Café: It offers a collaborative workspace with a vibrant community and regular events.
- Regus Kyoto: Located in Kyoto Station, it offers flexible workspaces, meeting rooms, and business support services.
Cafés with Wi-Fi:
- FabCafe Kyoto: Doubling as a cafe and co-working space, you will surely be able to maximize your productivity times while enjoying delicious coffee and admiring the space’s stunning architecture.
- Arabica Arashiyama: A popular coffee shop in the picturesque Arashiyama district, known for its quality coffee and scenic views.
- Cafe Bibliotic Hello!: A cozy café with a peaceful atmosphere, comfortable seating, and free Wi-Fi.
- Café Phalam: A vegetarian-friendly café with a relaxed environment, delicious food, and a welcoming atmosphere for remote workers.
- Ikariya Coffee: A shop full of friendly staff and plenty of outlets for all your remote work essential needs.
- Kyoto Central Library: A spacious library with designated work areas, free Wi-Fi, and a calm environment ideal for focused work.
- Kyoto International Community House Library: This library offers a comfortable work environment, reading materials in multiple languages, and a café.
Hotels with Co-working Spaces:
- The Millennials Kyoto: A unique hotel with a co-working space, comfortable pods, and a vibrant community of remote workers.
- Trunk Hotel: This stylish boutique hotel provides a co-working space, meeting rooms, and a tranquil garden for relaxation.
Remember to check the availability of these places and their specific amenities, as it is always a good idea to confirm the offerings and any restrictions they might have due to the current circumstances or changes in regulations.
Culture In Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and traditional charm. Here are some aspects of Kyoto’s culture that make it a fascinating and unique city:
Temples and Shrines:
Kyoto is home to numerous temples and shrines, reflecting its historical significance as a center of religious and spiritual life. Famous sites include Kiyomizu-dera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Fushimi Inari Taisha, known for its thousands of vibrant orange torii gates.
Traditional Arts and Crafts:
Kyoto has a long-standing tradition of craftsmanship and is known for its exquisite arts and crafts. The city is famous for its tea ceremonies, ikebana (flower arrangement), calligraphy, and traditional Japanese textiles like kimono and obi.
Kyoto is one of the few places in Japan where you can still experience the geisha culture. Geisha, known as geiko in Kyoto dialect, are highly skilled traditional entertainers who specialize in various traditional arts such as dance, music, and games. The historic district of Gion is particularly renowned for its geisha community.
Kyoto hosts numerous vibrant festivals throughout the year, showcasing its cultural and religious traditions. Some notable festivals include Gion Matsuri in July, featuring massive floats and parades, and Hanatouro, where temples, shrines, and streets are illuminated by thousands of lanterns.
Kyoto is closely associated with Zen Buddhism, with several Zen temples offering meditation sessions and Zen gardens for contemplation. Visitors can participate in meditation practices, learn about Zen philosophy, and experience moments of tranquility amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.
Kyoto’s streets are lined with traditional wooden machiya houses and historic buildings, preserving the city’s architectural heritage. The preservation of these structures contributes to the city’s timeless atmosphere and offers visitors a glimpse into the past.
Kyoto is renowned for its tea production and tea culture. The city is home to several tea houses where visitors can participate in traditional tea ceremonies, learn about different types of tea, and enjoy the serene and meditative experience of sipping matcha.
These are just a few highlights of Kyoto’s rich cultural scene. The city’s deep-rooted traditions, preserved historical sites, and ongoing dedication to maintaining its cultural heritage make it a captivating destination for anyone interested in immersing themselves in Japanese culture.
Food In Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, is known for its unique and delicious cuisine. The city offers a wide array of traditional dishes that reflect its rich culinary heritage. Check out some of the local cuisine and popular foods to try when visiting Kyoto:
Kyoto is famous for its exquisite kaiseki cuisine, which consists of a multi-course meal showcasing seasonal and local ingredients. Kaiseki meals are carefully prepared and beautifully presented, offering a culinary journey through various flavors and textures.
Yudofu is a simple yet elegant Kyoto specialty that features boiled tofu served in a flavorful broth. It is often enjoyed with condiments such as soy sauce, grated ginger, and green onions. Yudofu is a light and healthy dish that highlights the natural flavors of tofu.
Obanzai refers to a style of home-cooked Kyoto cuisine. It consists of a variety of small, traditional vegetable-based dishes that change according to the season. Obanzai dishes showcase Kyoto’s local produce and are often prepared with simple cooking methods to bring out the natural flavors.
Kyoto is known for its unique style of sushi, which is distinct from the popular Edomae sushi found in Tokyo. Kyo-kaiseki sushi features mackerel, gizzard shad, and other locally caught fish, prepared with a slightly sweet vinegar seasoning and served on bite-sized rice portions.
Matcha and Wagashi:
Kyoto is renowned for its matcha (powdered green tea) and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets). You can experience a traditional tea ceremony and enjoy matcha paired with beautifully crafted wagashi, which often incorporate seasonal flavors and artistic designs.
While ramen is not originally from Kyoto, the city has developed its own unique take on this popular Japanese noodle dish. Kyoto-style ramen typically features a soy-based broth, thin noodles, and toppings such as roast pork, green onions, and bamboo shoots.
Kyo-yasai refers to traditional Kyoto vegetables that are cultivated in the region. These vegetables have a unique flavor and are often used in Kyoto cuisine. Look out for dishes that highlight Kyo-yasai, such as pickled vegetables or simmered dishes.
When exploring Kyoto, be sure to visit local markets, traditional restaurants, and specialty food shops to fully immerse yourself in the city’s culinary delights. Kyoto’s food scene offers a wonderful blend of tradition, seasonal ingredients, and exceptional flavors that are sure to satisfy any food lover.
Healthcare in Kyoto
Kyoto, as a major city in Japan, provides a high standard of healthcare with a well-developed healthcare system. We’ve included a list of some key aspects of healthcare in Kyoto:
Kyoto has a range of medical facilities, including public and private hospitals, clinics, and specialized centers. Some notable hospitals in Kyoto include Kyoto University Hospital, Kyoto City Hospital, and Kyoto Katsura Hospital.
Quality of Care:
Japan has a reputation for providing excellent healthcare services, and Kyoto is no exception. The medical staff in Kyoto is highly trained, and the facilities are equipped with advanced medical technology. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in Kyoto generally have high levels of expertise.
Japan has a universal healthcare system, known as the National Health Insurance (NHI) system. This system ensures that all residents, including foreign residents, have access to healthcare services. As a result, residents in Kyoto can receive medical treatment and services with the support of their health insurance.
It is important to have health insurance while residing in Kyoto. If you are a foreign resident, you may need to enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program or have private health insurance coverage. The NHI system provides coverage for a significant portion of medical expenses, but there may be some out-of-pocket costs.
While the majority of healthcare providers in Kyoto primarily communicate in Japanese, some hospitals and clinics have staff who can speak English or provide interpretation services. Major hospitals in the city often have international departments or dedicated services for foreign patients.
Japan places emphasis on preventive care, and Kyoto offers various preventive healthcare services. Regular health check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings are readily available to help detect and prevent health issues.
Kyoto has numerous pharmacies where you can purchase prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. Pharmacists in Japan are highly knowledgeable and can offer guidance on medication usage and possible side effects.
It’s essential to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses when visiting Kyoto as a tourist. In case of emergencies, dial 119 in Japan for an ambulance.
It’s worth noting that healthcare practices and regulations can change over time. Therefore, it is advisable to consult official sources or contact healthcare providers directly for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding healthcare services in Kyoto.
Staying Fit and Healthy in Kyoto
Kyoto is one of the best places in Japan to stay fit and healthy! There are a variety of parks, trails, and gardens for outdoor activities, with the most popular being the Philosopher’s Walk. The city also has a number of gyms, including fitness centers and yoga studios.
For those looking for a more traditional approach to fitness, there are martial arts centers, including karate, judo, aikido, and kendo. There are also a number of health and wellness centers in the city, offering massage, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine.
Outside of the city, there are a variety of hot springs and onsen that offer treatments and relaxation. Staying fit and healthy in Kyoto is easy when you take advantage of all the options available. Some suggestions to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle during your time in the city:
Kyoto is surrounded by beautiful nature and scenic spots that provide opportunities for outdoor activities. Take advantage of places like Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or Philosopher’s Path for walks, jogging, or cycling. The city also has many parks and gardens where you can engage in activities like yoga or tai chi.
Embrace traditional Japanese exercises to promote physical and mental well-being. Join a local class or try activities like aikido, karate, or kendo. Tai chi and qigong are also popular practices that focus on gentle movements, breathing techniques, and mindfulness.
Temple Stairs and Hiking Trails:
Kyoto has several temples and shrines with steep staircases that offer a great opportunity for cardio exercise. Climbing stairs can be a challenging but rewarding workout. Additionally, Kyoto’s surrounding mountains provide hiking trails that allow you to enjoy nature while staying active.
Fitness Centers and Gyms:
Many fitness centers and gyms can be found throughout Kyoto. These facilities offer a range of exercise equipment, fitness classes, and personal training services. Some popular chains include Anytime Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Konami Sports Club.
Public Sports Facilities:
Kyoto has public sports facilities that are accessible to residents and visitors. These facilities often include swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, and running tracks. You can find information about these facilities at local community centers or the Kyoto City website.
Kyoto offers a variety of restaurants and food options that cater to healthy eating preferences. Look for restaurants that specialize in vegetarian or vegan cuisine, as well as those offering locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The city has many markets where you can find fresh produce and ingredients to cook your own healthy meals.
Onsen and Wellness Centers:
Kyoto is known for its hot springs (onsen) and wellness centers. Soaking in a traditional onsen can help relax your muscles and promote overall well-being. Some wellness centers offer activities like yoga, meditation, and relaxation therapies to rejuvenate both the body and mind.
Remember to stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen when engaging in outdoor activities, and listen to your body’s needs. By incorporating physical activities, exploring nature, and making mindful choices in your diet, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle while experiencing the cultural wonders of Kyoto.
Things to Do In Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, offers a wide range of activities and attractions that showcase its rich history, traditional culture, and natural beauty. Explore the history and culture of Japan and take in the beauty of the city at the same time. Here are some popular things to do in Kyoto:
Visit Temples and Shrines:
Kyoto is known for its numerous temples and shrines. Must-visit sites include Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari Taisha, and Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion). Explore their beautiful architecture, serene gardens, and spiritual atmosphere.
Experience a Traditional Tea Ceremony:
Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which offers a serene and meditative experience. Several tea houses in Kyoto provide the opportunity to learn about tea culture, taste matcha (powdered green tea), and enjoy delicate Japanese sweets (wagashi).
Wander Through Historic Districts: Explore the narrow streets and preserved neighborhoods of Kyoto’s historic districts. Gion is famous for its traditional machiya houses, geisha culture, and traditional arts. Pontocho and Higashiyama are other districts worth exploring for their charming atmosphere and historic sites.
Visit the district of Arashiyama, known for its scenic beauty and attractions such as the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Togetsukyo Bridge, and Tenryu-ji Temple. Take a boat ride along the Hozu River or visit the Monkey Park for stunning views and encounters with monkeys.
Explore the Philosopher’s Path:
Walk along the Philosopher’s Path, a picturesque trail that follows a canal lined with hundreds of cherry trees. It’s especially popular during cherry blossom season (late March to early April), when the trees bloom in vibrant colors.
Enjoy Zen Gardens:
Kyoto is home to beautiful Zen gardens that offer tranquility and contemplation. Ryoan-ji Temple, with its famous rock garden, and Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) are notable locations to experience the meditative atmosphere of these meticulously designed gardens.
Visit Nijo Castle:
Explore Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning architecture and historical significance. Take a tour of the palace to see the impressive interiors, beautiful gardens, and the famous “nightingale floors” designed to chirp when walked upon.
Experience Kyoto’s vibrant festival culture by attending events like Gion Matsuri in July or Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) in October. These festivals feature parades, traditional costumes, performances, and local food stalls.
Try Kyoto Cuisine:
Kyoto offers a unique culinary experience with its traditional dishes. Taste Kyoto-style kaiseki (multi-course) cuisine, indulge in Kyoto sweets like yatsuhashi and matcha-flavored treats, or savor local specialties such as yudofu (boiled tofu) and kyo-kaiseki sushi.
Enjoy Cherry Blossom Viewing:
If you visit during cherry blossom season, be sure to participate in hanami (flower viewing) by visiting parks like Maruyama Park, Arashiyama, or the Imperial Palace Park. Take a leisurely stroll or have a picnic under the blooming cherry trees.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Kyoto. The city’s rich cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes, and traditional charm provide a wide range of experiences for every visitor to enjoy.
Weather & Best Time to Visit Kyoto
The best time to visit Kyoto depends on your preferences and the experiences you are seeking. Here are some considerations for each season:
Spring (March to May):
Spring is a popular time to visit Kyoto due to the blooming of cherry blossoms (sakura). Late March to early April is the peak season for cherry blossoms, and parks and temples are adorned with beautiful pink flowers. It can be crowded during this time, so plan accordingly. The weather is generally mild and pleasant.
Summer (June to August):
Summers in Kyoto can be hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching over 30°C (86°F). However, if you can handle the heat, you’ll find fewer crowds and the opportunity to experience traditional summer festivals, such as Gion Matsuri in July. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and consider indoor activities or early morning and evening outings to beat the heat.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another popular season to visit Kyoto due to the vibrant autumn foliage (koyo). From mid to late November, the city’s parks and temples are transformed into a tapestry of red, orange, and yellow leaves. The weather is generally mild and comfortable, making it a great time for outdoor activities and strolling through gardens.
Winter (December to February): Winter in Kyoto is relatively cold, with temperatures ranging from 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F). While it may not be the peak tourist season, visiting during winter allows you to experience Kyoto with fewer crowds and the opportunity to see some sites covered in snow. You can also enjoy seasonal events and illuminations.
Overall, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit Kyoto. The weather is usually pleasant, and you can witness the natural beauty of cherry blossoms or autumn foliage. However, each season has its unique charm, so choose based on your preferences and the experiences you wish to have.
Cost of Living in Kyoto
Kyoto, as a major city in Japan, has a relatively high cost of living compared to some other cities however, it’s important to note that living expenses can vary depending on individual lifestyle choices. Here are some key aspects of the cost of living in Kyoto:
The cost of renting an apartment in Kyoto can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, size, and condition. In general, expect to pay higher rents for apartments closer to the city center or in popular residential areas. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can range from around ¥100,000 to ¥200,000 per month, while outside the city center, it can be slightly more affordable.
Utilities: Utilities, including electricity, water, and gas, can add to your monthly expenses. The cost of utilities will depend on the size of your apartment, usage, and the time of year. On average, expect to budget around ¥10,000 to ¥15,000 per month for utilities.
Food and Groceries:
Dining out in restaurants or enjoying local specialties in Kyoto can vary in cost depending on the type of establishment. There are options available to fit different budgets, ranging from inexpensive eateries to high-end restaurants. Cooking at home and buying groceries from supermarkets or local markets can help save money. On average, a moderate food budget can range from ¥30,000 to ¥50,000 per month.
Public transportation is well-developed and convenient in Kyoto. The cost of transportation depends on how frequently you use buses, trains, or subways. A monthly pass for unlimited travel on buses and subways costs around ¥5,000 to ¥10,000, depending on the distance you travel.
In Japan, health insurance is mandatory for residents. The cost of health insurance is based on your income and is typically around 10-15% of your monthly income. Foreign residents may need to enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program or have private health insurance coverage.
Entertainment and Leisure:
The cost of entertainment and leisure activities, such as visiting attractions, museums, or attending events, can vary. Kyoto offers a wide range of cultural experiences, and prices can range from free or low-cost visits to temples and parks to higher-priced tickets for performances or exhibitions.
It’s important to keep in mind that these figures are approximate and can vary based on personal choices, lifestyle, and individual circumstances. Additionally, exchange rates can also impact the cost of living for foreign visitors or expatriates. It’s recommended to research and plan your budget accordingly based on your specific needs and preferences.
Visa Requirements in Kyoto
As Kyoto is located in Japan, the visa requirements for visiting or residing in Kyoto would fall under Japan’s visa regulations. Here’s an overview of the visa requirements for different purposes:
Citizens of many countries are allowed to enter Japan as tourists without a visa for a designated period, typically up to 90 days. This is subject to the visa exemption agreement with Japan. However, please note that the specific visa requirements can vary depending on your nationality, so it’s advisable to check the visa requirements for your country on the website of the Embassy or Consulate of Japan.
If you plan to work in Kyoto or Japan, you will generally need to obtain a work visa. The specific work visa category will depend on the nature of your employment, such as professor, engineer, specialist in humanities, skilled labor, etc. To obtain a work visa, you would typically need a job offer from a Japanese employer who will act as your sponsor.
Student Visa: If you plan to study in Kyoto or any other city in Japan, you will need to obtain a student visa. To apply for a student visa, you will need to be accepted into an educational institution in Japan and provide necessary documents, including a certificate of enrollment and proof of financial support.
Working Holiday Visa:
Japan has working holiday agreements with certain countries, allowing young individuals to visit and work in Japan for a specific period. The requirements and eligibility criteria for a working holiday visa can vary depending on your country of citizenship. Generally, applicants need to be between certain age limits and meet other specific criteria.
It’s important to note that visa requirements and regulations can change over time, so it’s always advisable to check the latest information on the official website of the Embassy or Consulate of Japan in your home country or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
For any specific questions or inquiries regarding visa requirements for your situation, it is recommended to consult with the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate in your country or seek assistance from a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant. They can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information based on your individual circumstances.
Jobs & Work Requirements in Kyoto
While finding a job in Kyoto or any other city in Japan is certainly attainable, the process does typically requires meeting certain standards and going through specific processes. Here’s an overview of the job market and work requirements in Kyoto:
To work legally in Kyoto or Japan, you will generally need to obtain a work visa. The specific visa category will depend on the nature of your employment, such as professor, engineer, specialist in humanities, skilled labor, etc. Your prospective employer in Japan will act as your sponsor and guide you through the visa application process.
Japanese Language Proficiency: Proficiency in the Japanese language is often required for most jobs in Kyoto, especially those that involve direct interaction with Japanese clients or customers. Having a good command of Japanese will significantly enhance your job prospects. Some companies may require specific levels of proficiency, such as the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
Kyoto offers a diverse job market with opportunities in various industries. The city is known for its technology, tourism, traditional crafts, education, and research sectors. Companies in Kyoto may seek employees with specific skills and experience related to their industries.
Building a professional network can be valuable when searching for job opportunities in Kyoto. Attending industry events, career fairs, and professional meetups can help you connect with potential employers and expand your contacts in the city.
Working in Kyoto may require adapting to Japanese work culture, which places importance on punctuality, respect for hierarchy, teamwork, and dedication. Familiarize yourself with the work etiquette and customs to enhance your professional interactions.
Job Search Platforms:
Utilize online job search platforms and websites to explore job opportunities in Kyoto. Popular job search websites in Japan include Indeed Japan, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. Additionally, some companies in Kyoto may advertise job openings on their official websites or through recruitment agencies.
Teaching English is a common job opportunity for foreigners in Japan, including Kyoto. Many language schools and public schools in Kyoto hire English teachers. Obtaining a teaching position often requires a bachelor’s degree, teaching certification (e.g., TEFL/TESOL), and a work visa.
It’s important to note that job availability, requirements, and processes can vary depending on the industry, company, and individual circumstances. Researching specific job sectors and consulting with recruitment agencies or professionals in your field can provide more insights tailored to your interests and qualifications.
For the legal aspects of working in Japan, such as visa requirements and work permits, it is recommended to consult with the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate in your country or seek assistance from a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant. They can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information based on your individual situation.
Enjoy your trip to Kyoto, Japan!
Always blue skies,
The Insured Nomads Team