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Takao (Y) is a thinly populated, mountainous area with three historic temples along its forested valley, a one hour bus ride north of central Kyoto. Worth a visit at any time of the year, Takao becomes most popular during the autumn leaf season, which usually peaks around mid November.

Kozanji Temple dates back to 774 and is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Inside Kozanji, visitors can see what is considered Japan's first manga, a scroll depicting animals in a satire of the court life of the Heian Period. In another first, Kozanji claims to be the original site of tea cultivation in Japan. The original tea plantation has recently been restored for visitors to see.

Excerpt from Japan's first manga displayed at Kozanji

Jingoji Temple is the most visited among Takao's temples. A long set of stone stairs make for an impressive and tiring approach. The temple grounds feature a large entrance gate and multiple halls, as well as a path to an observation point with views over the valley. Small clay discs with inscriptions can be purchased there to be thrown into the valley for good luck.

Saimyoji Temple was originally built as a detached temple of Jingoji. It is not as big or impressive as Jingoji, but still interesting. The vermilion covered Shigetsukyo Bridge, which leads over a river to the temple entrance, is a particularly well known sight.

Jingoji Temple in Autumn

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Get There and Around

Takao is connected with central Kyoto by local JR buses and Kyoto City Bus.

JR buses for Takao leave from Kyoto Station every 20 to 30 minutes, cost 520 yen one way, and should take 50 minutes to get to Takao. The bus can also be boarded at several stops along the way, including JR Nijo Station and Omuro Ninnaji bus stop. The bus is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

Takao can also be reached by Kyoto City Bus number 8, which departs from Shijo Karasuma every 30 to 60 minutes, costs 520 yen one way, and should take 45 minutes. Because Takao is outside the flat fare zone of the Kyoto City Bus network, the one-day bus pass will not fully cover the fare.

All buses stop at Takao bus stop (Y, known as Yamashiro-Takao R鍂Y in case of JR buses), which is most convenient for accessing Jingoji and Saimyoji. While Kyoto City Buses terminate at Takao bus stop, JR buses continue to run deeper into the valley and two minutes later stop at Toganoo bus stop (̃m), which is most convenient for accessing Kozanji.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees



9:00 to 16:00


No closing days


600 yen



9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)


December 31 to January 1


500 yen



8:30 to 17:00


No closing days


Free for grounds, 800 yen to see the "first manga" scroll. During the fall season entrance onto the grounds is 500 yen.

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Japan Guide Recommends:

Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto

One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.

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Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.

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Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel

Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.

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Khaosan Kyoto Guest House

Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.

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New Miyako Hotel Kyoto

Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.

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Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto

Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.

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Tours and Experiences

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Page last updated: December 9, 2016