Tokyo or Kyoto, Which will you choose?

Tokyo or Kyoto, which wii you choose? Tips

Many people are confused about whether to visit Tokyo or Kyoto. I live in Tokyo, but have traveled to Kyoto countless times. So I can’t say for sure that this one is better!  But I have prepared some conditions for you to choose, so please read on.

Decide by season

When is the season you will be traveling? Spring when the sakura are in bloom? Summer with high temperature and humidity? Autumn when the leaves change color? Cold and dry winter?

Summer and Winter : Tokyo

Kyoto is very hot in summer and cold in winter. Tokyo’s summer and winter are also harsh, but there are many indoor places to enjoy in Tokyo. You can visit museums or spend the whole day in a shopping complex.

Spring and Fall : Kyoto

Kyoto is great in both spring sakura season and autumn foliage season. Kyoto is very crowded during these seasons, but there are ways to avoid the crowds if you can stay in Kyoto. For example, early in the morning, before the crowds of tourists arrive, you can enjoy the sakura and autumn foliage in peace and quiet.

Modern or Traditional Japan?

Is your image of Japan modern or traditional? Imagine which view you would like to be in.

Modern Tokyo

Tokyo city scape
Tokyo Tower with skyline cityscape in Tokyo, Japan at night

Looking up at the skyscrapers in Shinjuku. It is interesting to look out over the city of Tokyo from both Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree. It’s not that Tokyo doesn’t still have some traditional parts, but they are different compared to Kyoto.

Traditional Kyoto

fushimi inari shrine
Fushimi-inari Shrine

Walking through the old streets that remain in Gion. It is easy to find traditional experiences such as zazen, sutra copying and tea ceremony in Kyoto. Kyoto is also modernized enough so that you can spend as much time as in Tokyo.

Shopping or sightseeing?

What is the purpose of your visit to Japan? Shopping at various stores? Or take pictures at temples and shrines?

For shopping, Tokyo

Tokyo is a shopping paradise. Even in Ginza, where luxury brands line the streets, you can enjoy inexpensive shopping at 100-yen stores and UNIQLO. Tokyo is also a great place for sightseeing, especially if you go to Asakusa or the Imperial Palace.

ginza wako

For sightseeing, Kyoto

In Kyoto, you will encounter old buildings as you walk the streets. You can take your time to look at them, or you can visit famous temples and shrines. Of course, shopping is also possible in Kyoto. However, the number of stores in Tokyo is far greater than in Kyoto.

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Decide what you want to eat

There are many delicious foods in Japan. In Japan, you can have a decent meal at any restaurant, but you want to taste the best food you can find.

Can’t decide! Tokyo is the place for you

As one of the world’s leading gourmet cities, there is probably no cuisine that you cannot find in Tokyo. The level of Japanese cuisine is high, as is the cuisine from around the world. Try the ramen that draws a line out the door. Enjoy a wide variety of cuisines, from street food to chain restaurants that Japanese people usually patronize!

Are you an advanced gourmet? Kyoto is the place for you

Kyoto cuisine is generally refined and is said to have a lighter flavor than Tokyo cuisine. The use of dashi (Japanese soup stock) is a hallmark of Japanese cuisine, and it is even more pronounced in Kyoto. If you are accustomed to Japanese food, you should definitely try Kyoto cuisine. And don’t worry if Kyoto cuisine doesn’t suit your palate, as there are fast food restaurants in Kyoto that are familiar to people all over the world.

Decide from where to make your excursion.

Once you decide on one, you don’t have to stay there forever. There are plenty of great places to visit around each city!

Places you can go from Tokyo


yokohama city scape
night scene of yokohama port

A port town about 30 minutes by train from Tokyo Station. Westerners have lived here since around the Meiji era (1868-1912), and the townscape is a blend of Japanese and Western styles. Yokohama Chinatown, the largest in Japan, is also located here.


kawagoe city scape
Cityscape of Kawagoe

About 40 minutes from Ikebukuro Station by train. It is called “Little Edo” because of its Edo Period streetscape, and is easy enough to enjoy in a day.

Places that can be visited from Kyoto


osaka city scape at night
Night view of Osaka city

Osaka is Japan’s second largest city, only 30 minutes by train from Kyoto Station. It has a long history of prosperity as a merchant town. Universal Studios is also located here.


Nara Todaiji temple
Todaiji temple, Nara

About 60 minutes from Kyoto Station by train. Nara has an ancient history that is even older than Kyoto. If you want to see a lot, you will need to stay several days.

For those of you who can’t make up your mind

If you still can’t decide after reading this, go to both! Kyoto is only 2 hours and 20 minutes away from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train. If you have more than 4 days in Japan, it is possible to visit both places.

Whichever you choose, I wish you the best on your journey!