Opportunity Lives

Kyoto Station’s Rooftop Escapes: Panoramic Views and Relaxation


While Tokyo is the most obvious travel destination in Japan, Kyoto has the richest traditions and history of any city in the country. From ancient temples and serene gardens to exquisite cuisine and vibrant festivals, Kyoto offers the purest expression of Japanese culture you’ll find. It’s also a bustling and modern city with excellent transit facilities and infrastructure, making it an easy city for international travelers to visit. 

Kyoto Station is the busiest transportation hub in the city, and most visitors will travel through this train station at one point during their visit. Situated in the Shimogyo Ward, the station is located in the heart of Kyoto and will be useful for popping around Kyoto.  

The station itself is an architectural marvel. Designed by renowned architect Hiroshi Hara, Kyoto Station’s modern and distinctive structure perfectly combines modern design with elements of traditional Japanese architecture. The futuristic glass and steel façade is crowned with a massive atrium simply known as the “Cubic Plaza.” 

The location of Kyoto Station is ideal for exploring Kyoto as it’s situated near several popular landmarks, including Nijo Castle, To-ji Temple, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This makes Kyoto Station an incredible jumping-off point for exploring the cultural heart of Japan. It also makes for incredible views. Luckily, there are plenty of rooftop terraces and vantage points for enjoying stellar views of the skyline. 

If you’re running around the city trying to reach that perfect perch, you’ll want to be able to get around Kyoto quickly and conveniently. Fortunately, luggage storage near Kyoto Station isn’t hard to find. 

Kyoto Station Skyway

This one should be obvious, but Kyoto Station’s Skyway offers travelers incredible views of the city right off the train. This observation deck is located on the train station’s 11th floor and provides stunning views of Kyoto’s city center. It’s remarkably easy to get to, with a few elevators propelling you from the train station up to the top for panoramic views of Kyoto Tower, Higashi Honganji Temple, and the surrounding neighborhoods. 

With large windows, there is plenty of space for everyone to spread out and appreciate the views. The particular vantage point (owing to Kyoto Station’s advantageous location) offers a superb view of the contrast between the station’s modern architecture and the traditional cityscape of the surrounding historic neighborhoods. The panoramic between the historic temple and the sleek modern Kyoto Tower is particularly striking. Being just a short escalator ride from where you’ll get off the train, it just doesn’t get any easier or better than this. 

Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower provides some of the most incredible views in the country, let alone the city. Located just a short walk from the train station (as you can tell if you take advantage of the Skyway’s views), Kyoto Tower is a prominent landmark and observation deck that provides a 360-degree view of the city. It’s tall enough that you can see the surrounding landscape along with most of the cityscape. 

From Kyoto Tower, you’ll be able to see almost every major landmark Kyoto has to offer. Highlights include Higashi Honganji Temple, To-ji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto Tower Sando district, and even the Kamogawa River. If each of these landmarks didn’t offer superb (even life-changing) travel experiences, you could simply head up to the tower and catch a glimpse of everything you’d want to see and call it a day. 

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Perched on a hillside just east of Kyoto’s city center, Kiyomizu-dera Temple offers magnificent views of the city from its wooden terrace. You’ll be able to see the iconic Higashiyama district and its charming streets and traditional “machiya” houses. During the spring cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons, this temple provides some of the most breathtaking and quintessentially Japanese images you’ll ever see. 

While it may seem far from Kyoto Station, the bus ride (and short but delightful walk up the hill) only take about 15-20 minutes. This temple should be on most Kyoto travel itineraries regardless, so enjoying the view is just an added bonus to this deeply spiritual place. 

Shogunzuka Seiryuden Temple

Situated in the foothills of the mountains just east of Kyoto’s city center, Shogunzuka Seiryuden Temple has an observation deck located within a tranquil temple complex. This is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as there will be a short hike up the beautiful pine-filled slopes. Travelers that brave the trek will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Kyoto’s skyline and landmarks like Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Kyoto Tower. 

Once you’re done enjoying the views, you can appreciate the quiet of your wooded surroundings and a number of superbly-manicured gardens. Autumnal travelers will enjoy the temple’s annual sound and light festival held each November. The temple itself is a well-preserved historic landmark dating back to 794, when Emperor Kammu commissioned its construction. 

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

Ginkaku-ji is a Zen temple with famously beautiful gardens. The temple features a two-story pagoda where visitors can ascend to the top of the pagoda to enjoy panoramic views of the temple grounds and the surrounding landscape. The views are simply fantastic. From the top of the temple’s Kannon-den, visitors are treated to expansive views of the temple’s gardens, the surrounding Eastern Mountains of Kyoto, and the entire city center. 


Kyoto’s fascinating and eclectic architecture makes for some of the most beautiful sights travelers will ever witness. From deeply spiritual temples and historic palaces to glossy modern marvels, you’ll want to experience the captivating fusion of old and new. There’s no better way to do that than to find a vantage point where you can see the entire city center. Kyoto Station itself is an amazing place to do this, but there are plenty of other spots nearby to enjoy those iconic views! If you’re trying to pack a few of these spots into your itinerary and need a place to store bags near Kyoto Station, Bounce has a number of luggage storage spots nearby.

Share This