Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka:  A Picturesque Shopping District in Kyoto, Japan

Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka: A Picturesque Shopping District in Kyoto, Japan

There’s no better place to soak up Kyoto’s atmosphere than Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka streets.

A series of approaches to Kiyomizudera Temple, these gently sloping roads are filled on either side with tea houses and souvenir shops, offering many items from incense to fans to matcha cakes. Quaint and picturesque, with its flagstones and traditional wooden houses, this is exactly how I imagined Kyoto to be.

But as charming and innocuous as it seems, tourists are advised not to stumble here, because doing so can lead to an early death.

Ninen-zaka, as it turns out, means “slope of two years”, and Sannen-zaka “slope of three years”. Legend has it that anyone who falls along Ninen-zaka will die within two years, and anyone who stumbles along Sannen-zaka will die in three.

Please be careful not to fall down here.

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

There are many tea houses and candy shops here offering visitors a free taste of their goods.
Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Touchdown! I’m in Kyoto!
Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Beautiful, isn’t it?
Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Loving all the details…
Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

Kyoto is known for its matcha. Here I am getting stoned off the green stuff.
Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka

A short video I took. Can you spot the cute little dog walking around on its hind legs?

As mentioned up top, Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka streets take you up to Kiyomizudera Temple, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kyoto. It’s a must-visit, so you’ll be sure to spend an hour or two persuing all the shops here as well.

As expected, most of the stores are touristy and the area does get pretty crowded, but we enjoyed our time here nonetheless. It’s just a great place to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. For me, a trip to Kyoto wouldn’t be complete without spending an afternoon here.

Just remember to keep your balance. 😉

Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka Streets

Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0001, Japan
Suggested Length of Visit: 1-2 hours (can be paired with a visit to Kiyomizudera Temple)

HOW TO GET THERE:
From Kyoto Station, take bus number 100 or 206 (15 minutes, ¥230) and get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka streets are about a 10-minute uphill walk from there.

For more Kyoto travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Kyoto, Japan

 The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Kyoto, Japan

For travel tips to Osaka, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Osaka, Japan

 The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Osaka, Japan

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Yumi at 8:58 pm

    Hi! I was just wondering if you know what time the shops and restaurants close? Some people said they’re open until night and some are saying they close early. I’m quite confused. We’re planning to go this November and see the fall illumination of the nearby temples at night. So, it’s really more ideal for us to go in the late afternoon or at night. I hope you can help! Thanks in advance!

  2. JB Macatulad at 9:41 pm

    Hi Yumi, we went in the morning so I unfortunately don’t know what time the shops close. I do know that Kiyomizudera stays open until 9:30 PM though during Fall illumination, so I’m guessing around that time? Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Enjoy your trip! The Fall must be amazing there. 🙂

  3. Mayu at 5:17 am

    Hi! Can I ask what month did you go to Kyoto-Osaka? I’m planning on going there again this year and based on your pics, it doesn’t seem as crowded as when we went there last November. It seems as if you went there in the summer, if yes, was it too hot or was it colder than Manila still? Thank you!

  4. JB Macatulad at 7:04 am

    Hi Mayu, we went in late May. The weather was just perfect at that time, similar to Tagaytay during the “ber” months. Cool but not cold. There were a good number of tourists but it wasn’t overwhelming. 🙂

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