Asia Pacific

Kyoto, Japan

Includes Otsu. See Also Our Running Guides for Nearby Nara & Osaka.

Formerly the Imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto is a city of 1.5 million located in the central part of the island of Honshu, Japan. It’s one of the more popular cities to visit in Japan, famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. The city sits in a valley and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. There are some lovely for running in Kyoto. NOTE: It is not appropriate to within temple grounds. 

A must-do run in Kyoto is the garden-like grounds of the Imperial Palace, which can be combined with the nearby Nijō Castle path. The best place for a longer run in Kyoto is to choose a section of the 30 km of paths along the Kamo River. Maruyama Park is another nice spot. For some hills, head to the Yoshidayama Hill and Green Space near Kyoto University. For a memorable, challenging run, head to Fushimi Inari & Mt. Inari. Also memorable are the grounds around Myōshin-ji Temple.

Like many Japanese cities, Kyoto is densely populated. The central part is laid out in a grid pattern. The main business district lies just to the south of the Palace, while Kyoto’s greener sections are to the north. Kyoto has fantastic transportation system consisting of municipal buses, rail, and two subway lines: the green colored Karasumal line and the vermilion colored Tōzai line.

See Also

Other Nearby Running Guides

Nara, Japan

Nara is capital Nara Prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan. The city's eight remaining temples... more...

Osaka, Japan

Osaka, capital of the Osaka Prefecture, is the second largest city in Japan — an important economic... more...

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Kyoto has a humid subtropical climate, which means hot, humid summers and cool winters. Runners should prepare for the heat of summer, where average high temperatures are near 33C (92F), and nights stay very warm. Winters are relatively mild, with average January highs about 9C (48F), with temps sometimes dipping below freezing, and occasional snow. Spring is delightful, highlighted by the cherry blossoms. Kyoto gets its share of rain, with greater amounts in summer due to thunderstorms.

Kyoto has an abundance of hotels, with a large number in the central business district just south of the Imperial Palace. This is a good area to stay from a running perspective, due to proximity of the Kyoto Gyoen (grounds of the Imperial Palace) and the Kamo River paths.

Note from a member of the Great Runs community: I would always recommend anybody visiting the city to stay near the river east of Pontocho in the Gion area or slightly north because it offers a good balance between being in everyday Kyoto, but also just on the edge of those things you want to see. It also provides easy access to the running paths on the river and most transportation lines. I have stayed in this area multiple times now and never regretted it. Everything is a walk away and if necessary, there is a subway stop even closer.