Akasaka Azabu

Living in Kyoto (expenses, safety, climate, food)
  • Date Published: April 30, 2024

Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan, offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity. This world-famous city is renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, historic temples, and vibrant food culture. If you’re considering living in Kyoto, you’ll be captivated by its rich history, safe environment, pleasant climate, and delectable cuisine.

Key Takeaways:

  • Living in Kyoto provides a unique experience, combining traditional charm and modern amenities.
  • Cost of living in Kyoto can vary, with housing being the largest expense.
  • Kyoto is considered a safe city with a relatively low crime rate.
  • The city experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons.
  • Kyoto’s food culture is renowned for its seasonal ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

Overview of Living in Kyoto

Living in Kyoto offers a unique experience, with its blend of traditional and modern elements. The city is filled with historic sites, temples, and gardens, providing a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage. At the same time, Kyoto is a vibrant city with a thriving art and food scene. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples, attending traditional festivals, or indulging in delicious cuisine, Kyoto has something to offer for everyone.

Historic Sites and Cultural Heritage

Kyoto is renowned for its well-preserved historic sites, including the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Kinkaku-ji Temple. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites attract visitors from around the globe who come to admire their intricate architecture, beautiful gardens, and spiritual significance.

Vibrant Art and Food Scene

Kyoto’s art scene is thriving, with numerous galleries, museums, and contemporary art spaces presenting a wide range of artistic expressions. The city also hosts various art festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing the works of both local and international artists.

When it comes to food, Kyoto is a culinary paradise. The city is known for its kaiseki cuisine, a multi-course dining experience that highlights seasonal ingredients and intricate preparations. From traditional tea houses serving matcha sweets to street food stalls offering local delicacies, the food culture in Kyoto is a feast for the senses.

Seasonal Festivals and Traditions

Kyoto is deeply rooted in its cultural traditions, and throughout the year, the city hosts a wide range of festivals and events that celebrate its rich heritage. These festivals often feature grand processions, traditional performances, and stunning displays of fireworks. The Gion Festival, held in July, is one of the most famous festivals in Japan, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Kyoto seamlessly blends its traditional charm with modern elements, creating a unique lifestyle for its residents. While the city’s historic districts, such as Gion and Higashiyama, showcase the old-world charm of Japan, areas like downtown Kyoto offer a contemporary and cosmopolitan atmosphere with modern shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Attractions Culture Art Scene Food Traditions
Historic sites, temples, gardens Kyoto’s rich cultural heritage Vibrant art exhibitions and festivals Kaiseki cuisine and local delicacies Seasonal festivals and traditions

Living in Kyoto provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich traditions, cultural experiences, and vibrant lifestyle of this remarkable city. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a food connoisseur, Kyoto’s attractions, culture, art scene, cuisine, and traditions will captivate and inspire you.

Cost of Living in Kyoto

The cost of living in Kyoto can vary depending on your lifestyle and preferences. It’s important to have a clear understanding of the living expenses in Kyoto to plan your budget appropriately. Let’s take a closer look.

Housing Expenses

Housing tends to be the largest expense in Kyoto. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center ranges from $775 to $2,498. Of course, the price can vary depending on the size, location, and amenities of the apartment. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider renting outside the city center or sharing an apartment with roommates.

Basic Living Expenses

Other basic living expenses in Kyoto, such as groceries, transportation, and entertainment, are relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Japan. You can expect to spend around $300 to $400 a month on groceries, depending on your eating habits and preferences. Public transportation in Kyoto is also efficient and reasonably priced, with a monthly pass costing approximately $41. As for entertainment, dining out at local restaurants and experiencing Kyoto’s cultural attractions can fit different budgets, allowing you to explore the city without breaking the bank.

Budgeting Tips

To maintain a comfortable lifestyle in Kyoto, it’s essential to budget accordingly. Here are a few tips to help you manage your expenses:

  1. Create a monthly budget plan, allocating specific amounts for different categories such as housing, food, transportation, and leisure activities.
  2. Track your expenses to ensure you’re staying within your budget.
  3. Consider cooking at home more often to save on food expenses.
  4. Take advantage of Kyoto’s affordable public transportation system and explore the city on foot or by bike whenever possible.
  5. Look for discounted tickets or special offers when visiting tourist attractions or attending cultural events.

By making informed decisions and planning your expenses wisely, you can enjoy an affordable and comfortable living experience in Kyoto.

As you can see, the cost of living in Kyoto is manageable if you plan and budget effectively. With its unique blend of historical charm, cultural heritage, and modern amenities, Kyoto offers an incredible living experience without breaking the bank.

Safety in Kyoto

Kyoto is considered a safe city with a relatively low crime rate. The city’s peaceful atmosphere and friendly locals contribute to its overall sense of safety. However, as with any city, it is important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas. It is advisable to follow basic safety measures, such as keeping an eye on your belongings and avoiding dark, secluded areas at night.

“Kyoto is known for its tranquil and safe environment. The locals prioritize the well-being of residents and visitors, making it an ideal place to live or explore.”

Factors Safety in Kyoto
Crime Rate Relatively low
Precautions Be mindful of personal belongings and avoid secluded areas at night
Atmosphere Peaceful and friendly

In the midst of exploring the beautiful temples and cultural landmarks, tourists can feel confident and secure in Kyoto’s safe environment. The city’s low crime rate and the genuine hospitality of its residents contribute to an enjoyable experience for both locals and visitors.

Climate in Kyoto

Kyoto experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers in Kyoto are hot and humid, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). This season is characterized by a lively atmosphere and is a popular time for festivals and outdoor activities.

In contrast, winters in Kyoto can be cold, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing. However, snowfall is relatively rare, creating a charming winter landscape perfect for exploring the city’s historic sites and enjoying seasonal events.

Spring and autumn are widely regarded as the best seasons to visit Kyoto. In spring, the city transforms into a picturesque wonderland as cherry blossoms bloom, painting the streets and parks with delicate shades of pink. This is an ideal time to indulge in hanami (flower viewing) and witness the breathtaking beauty of sakura.

Autumn in Kyoto is equally enchanting, with vibrant foliage adorning the city’s parks and gardens. The changing colors of the leaves create a mesmerizing scenery, attracting visitors from all over the world. Strolling through Arashiyama’s bamboo forest or visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple during this season is an experience not to be missed.

When living in Kyoto, it is essential to pack accordingly and dress for the weather. Be sure to have lightweight clothing and sunscreen for the hot summers, and warm layers for the chilly winters. When visiting in spring or autumn, don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the stunning natural beauty of Kyoto’s seasons.

Kyoto weather

With its distinct climate and changing seasons, Kyoto offers residents a diverse experience throughout the year. From the vibrant energy of summer to the serene beauty of cherry blossoms in spring and colorful foliage in autumn, Kyoto’s climate adds a touch of enchantment to daily life in the city.

Food Culture in Kyoto

Kyoto is renowned for its delicious cuisine, which emphasizes seasonal ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. The city’s culinary scene offers a plethora of options for food enthusiasts, ranging from high-end Michelin-starred restaurants to bustling street food stalls. Here are some highlights of Kyoto’s food culture:

Kaiseki Ryori

One of the highlights of Kyoto cuisine is kaiseki ryori, a multi-course meal that showcases the artistry and skill of Kyoto’s chefs. Each dish is carefully prepared and presented, using the freshest seasonal ingredients. Kaiseki ryori is not only a feast for the taste buds but also a visual delight.


Another popular dish in Kyoto is yudofu, a tofu hot pot. Made with soft and silky tofu simmered in a savory broth, yudofu is a comforting and nutritious dish. It reflects the simplicity and elegance of Kyoto’s food culture.

Matcha Sweets

Matcha, or powdered green tea, is a prominent element in Kyoto’s food culture. You can find a variety of matcha sweets in Kyoto, from delicate matcha-flavored wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) to matcha-flavored ice cream and cakes. These sweet treats highlight the unique flavor and vibrant green color of matcha.

Kyoto-style Sushi

While Kyoto is not traditionally known for sushi like other regions in Japan, it has developed its own style of sushi over the years. Kyoto-style sushi typically features lighter and more delicate flavors, with an emphasis on local ingredients such as freshwater fish and seasonal vegetables.

Exploring Kyoto’s Food Scene

When it comes to finding the best places to eat in Kyoto, food enthusiasts have endless options. The city is home to bustling markets like Nishiki Market, where you can sample a wide range of local delicacies. Street food stalls offer delicious snacks such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and yakitori (grilled skewered meat). For those seeking a gourmet experience, Kyoto boasts numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, where you can savor innovative and exquisite dishes.


Expat Community in Kyoto

Kyoto has become a magnet for expatriates from around the world, attracting individuals who choose to live and work in this vibrant city. With its prestigious universities, renowned research institutes, and international companies, Kyoto offers ample opportunities for foreigners to thrive in their careers and pursue their passions. As a result, an international community has formed, fostering a sense of belonging and support among expats in Kyoto.

Joining the expat community in Kyoto opens doors to a wealth of cultural and professional experiences. By participating in various events and activities, expats have the opportunity to build meaningful connections and make new friends who share similar experiences and interests.

  • Attending cultural festivals and exhibitions allows expats in Kyoto to immerse themselves in the rich Japanese traditions and customs, creating memorable experiences and forging bonds with locals and fellow expatriates.
  • Language exchange meetups provide expats with the chance to improve their Japanese language skills while connecting with locals who are eager to share their knowledge and experiences.
  • Participating in community activities, such as volunteering or joining clubs and organizations, allows expats to contribute to the local society while building networks and friendships.

“Being part of the expat community in Kyoto has been a transformative experience. The support and camaraderie among fellow expats have made me feel at home in this new city, and I’ve formed friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s truly a remarkable community that welcomes everyone with open arms.” – Sarah Stevens, Expat in Kyoto

No matter one’s background or nationality, the expat community in Kyoto embraces diversity and fosters a sense of inclusivity. Expats in Kyoto find comfort in the shared experiences and challenges of living abroad, creating a strong support system that enhances their overall well-being and enjoyment of their expat life in Kyoto.

Expat Community Benefits in Kyoto

Benefits Description
Networking and professional opportunities Access to a diverse network of professionals, potential job opportunities, and collaborations.
Cultural immersion Engagement in local festivals, traditions, and customs for a deeper understanding of Japan’s rich culture.
Language exchange Opportunity to improve Japanese language skills and develop cross-cultural communication abilities.
Support system Formation of friendships and support networks to navigate the challenges of living abroad.
Integration assistance Guidance and advice from seasoned expats to ease the transition and adjustment to life in Kyoto.

In conclusion, the expat community in Kyoto provides a supportive and enriching environment for individuals from different backgrounds to thrive and connect. By embracing the opportunities offered by this international community, expats in Kyoto can make the most of their experience while enjoying all that the city has to offer.

Transportation in Kyoto

Kyoto boasts an efficient and well-connected transportation system, making it a breeze to navigate the city and explore the surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking to visit popular tourist attractions or commute to residential neighborhoods, Kyoto offers several convenient transportation options.

One of the primary modes of public transportation in Kyoto is the comprehensive bus network. The city’s extensive bus routes cover various areas, ensuring easy access to key destinations. Buses are equipped with English signage and announcements, making them accessible for foreign visitors. Traveling by bus allows you to enjoy the scenic views of Kyoto while conveniently reaching your desired locations.

In addition to buses, Kyoto has a subway line that connects major attractions and residential areas. The subway system provides a fast and efficient way to navigate the city, especially for longer distances. With clear signage and frequent train schedules, you can easily plan your travels and make the most of your time in Kyoto.

“Kyoto’s transportation system ensures seamless journeys, allowing residents and visitors to explore the city’s rich history and cultural treasures.”

For those who prefer a more environmentally-friendly and leisurely mode of transportation, bicycles are a popular choice in Kyoto. The city offers designated cycling paths and numerous bike rental options, making it easy to pedal your way around Kyoto’s charming streets and explore hidden gems at your own pace. Cycling is a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s atmosphere and discover off-the-beaten-path attractions.

Furthermore, Kyoto’s strategic location and efficient train connections make it an excellent base for exploring other cities in Japan. The city is well-connected to major destinations, such as Tokyo and Osaka, by a reliable network of trains, including the famous Shinkansen bullet train. This makes it convenient for residents and visitors to take day trips or embark on longer journeys to discover the beauty and culture of different regions in Japan.

Overall, Kyoto’s transportation system provides a seamless and accessible way to get around the city and venture beyond its borders. Whether you choose to hop on a bus, ride the subway, cycle through the streets, or embark on a train journey, getting around Kyoto is a hassle-free experience that allows you to fully embrace the city’s cultural treasures and hidden gems.

The image below showcases the efficient transportation system in Kyoto:

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Health and Safety in Kyoto

When it comes to healthcare, Kyoto boasts a well-established medical system, ensuring access to quality medical services for residents and visitors alike. The city is home to numerous hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies, staffed by highly skilled medical professionals who provide comprehensive care. Whether you require routine check-ups, specialized treatments, or emergency care, you can rest assured that Kyoto offers top-notch medical facilities to cater to your needs.

In the event of an emergency, Kyoto provides efficient and reliable emergency services. Both the police and ambulance services are readily available and equipped to handle any situation. The local fire department also plays a crucial role in responding to emergencies promptly and effectively. Rest assured that in case of any unforeseen circumstances, Kyoto has the necessary emergency services in place to ensure your safety and well-being.

It is essential to prioritize your health and secure adequate health insurance coverage while living in Kyoto. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that you can access the medical services you need without any undue financial burden. Being proactive about your healthcare needs is crucial, and having proper insurance coverage will help you navigate the healthcare system with ease.

Navigating the Healthcare System in Kyoto

Understanding the healthcare system in Kyoto can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the Japanese healthcare system. To help you navigate the system effectively, it is advisable to seek assistance from local expat communities, healthcare consultants, or relocation services. They can provide guidance on choosing the right healthcare providers, accessing appropriate insurance plans, and ensuring a smooth healthcare experience throughout your stay in Kyoto.

DID YOU KNOW? With Kyoto’s emphasis on traditional health practices, alternative therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine are also widely available. These practices, combined with modern medicine, offer a holistic approach to healthcare for those seeking diverse treatment options.

Healthcare Facilities in Kyoto

Below are some notable healthcare facilities in Kyoto:

Hospital Specialties Contact Information
Kyoto University Hospital General medicine, specialized surgeries, cancer treatment Phone: +81-75-791-5901
Address: 606-8507, 54 Kawahara-cho, Shogaiji-agaru, Sakyoku, Kyoto
Hospitals of Kyoto Prefecture General medical services Phone: +81-75-451-5111
Address: 602-8577, 67, Takeda Tobadono-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
St. Luke’s International Hospital Kyoto General medical services, emergency care Phone: +81-75-611-8111
Address: 604-8845, 60 Jujo Nakamachi, Fudanodai Hospital Building, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

When seeking medical attention in Kyoto, it is advisable to make appointments in advance whenever possible. This will help ensure proper scheduling and minimize potential waiting times, allowing you to receive timely medical care.

Kyoto healthcare

With well-established healthcare services and emergency facilities, Kyoto prioritizes the well-being of its residents and visitors. Rest assured that in Kyoto, you will find the necessary support and care for your health needs, allowing you to embrace your life in this beautiful city with peace of mind.


Living in Kyoto offers an unparalleled experience, combining a rich history, vibrant culture, and the comforts of modernity. The city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and traditional charm make it a unique destination for expats seeking immersion in Japanese culture.

Despite the higher cost of living compared to other cities, the quality of life in Kyoto is well worth it. The city’s friendly atmosphere and welcoming expat community create a sense of belonging for foreigners making Kyoto their home.

Whether you’re captivated by the history, enamored by the exquisite food culture, or simply desire a peaceful and charming environment, Kyoto has something for everyone. From ancient temples and traditional festivals to Michelin-starred restaurants and bustling markets, the city offers a range of experiences and delights to satisfy any interest.

In conclusion, living in Kyoto provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich traditions, stunning natural beauty, and warm hospitality that Japan has to offer. So, if you’re considering a move to Japan, Kyoto should undoubtedly be at the top of your list.


What is the cost of living in Kyoto?

The cost of living in Kyoto can vary depending on your lifestyle and preferences. Generally, housing tends to be the largest expense, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center ranging from $775 to $2,498. Other living expenses, such as groceries, transportation, and entertainment, are relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Japan. It is important to budget accordingly and make informed decisions about your expenses to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in Kyoto.

Is Kyoto a safe city?

Kyoto is considered a safe city with a relatively low crime rate. The city’s peaceful atmosphere and friendly locals contribute to its overall sense of safety. However, as with any city, it is important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas. It is advisable to follow basic safety measures, such as keeping an eye on your belongings and avoiding dark, secluded areas at night.

What is the climate like in Kyoto?

Kyoto experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Winters can be cold, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing. Spring and autumn are considered the best seasons to visit Kyoto, as the cherry blossoms in spring and the colorful foliage in autumn create a stunning natural backdrop. It is important to pack accordingly and dress for the weather when living in Kyoto.

What is the food culture like in Kyoto?

Kyoto is renowned for its delicious cuisine, which emphasizes seasonal ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. The city is known for its kaiseki ryori, a multi-course meal that showcases the artistry and skill of Kyoto’s chefs. Other popular dishes include yudofu (tofu hot pot), matcha (green tea) sweets, and Kyoto-style sushi. Food enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the city’s bustling markets, street food stalls, and Michelin-starred restaurants, which offer a wide range of culinary delights.

Is there an expat community in Kyoto?

Kyoto has a growing expat community, with many foreigners choosing to live and work in the city. The city’s universities, research institutes, and international companies attract people from all over the world. Expats in Kyoto often find a welcoming and supportive community, with opportunities to connect through various cultural and professional events. Joining expat groups, attending language exchange meetups, and participating in community activities are great ways to meet fellow expats and make new friends in Kyoto.

What is the transportation like in Kyoto?

Kyoto has an efficient and well-connected transportation system, making it easy to navigate the city and travel to neighboring areas. The city has a comprehensive bus network and a subway line that connects major tourist attractions and residential areas. Bicycles are also a popular mode of transportation in Kyoto, with many designated cycling paths and rental options available. Additionally, Kyoto is well-connected to other cities in Japan by train, making it a convenient base for exploring the country.

What is the healthcare like in Kyoto?

In terms of healthcare, Kyoto has a well-developed medical system with a range of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. The city is home to highly skilled medical professionals and modern medical facilities. In case of emergencies, Kyoto has emergency services available, including police, ambulance, and firefighter services. It is essential to have adequate health insurance coverage while living in Kyoto to ensure access to quality healthcare services.

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