Best Places to Experience Traditional Small-Town Life and Temples In Kiryu

Kiryu is a historic silk town with direct access to Tokyo via comfy express train. While the old downtown is a great place to experience industrial cultural history, the outskirts of town provide a wealth of beautiful nature and unique experiences. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy Kiryu off the beaten path.

Step 1: Wake up in the real heart of Japan: a traditional Japanese temple

Kannon-in Temple Stay provides overnight guests the unique experience of staying in the annex of a Buddhist temple that’s been converted into a suite of modern guest rooms. The suite includes a lounge and kitchen area, private hinoki-wood bath, and a choice between a tatami bedroom with futons or a room with a western-style bed. But the real treat is semi-private access to the inner garden right outside your room!

Check yourself in, get comfy, go to sleep, and wake up to the sound of the temple monk’s morning prayers. Guests are invited to join the morning rituals in the main temple, including zazen meditation and copying sutras.

Step 2: Escape further into the countryside on the scenic Watarase Valley railway

The Watarase River runs from NIkko to Kiryu through a lush valley. The railway that runs through the valley offers views of endless pale pink peach blossoms in the spring, vibrant green in the summer, and colorful foliage in the fall.

The landscape passing by is even better from one of the old-fashioned, open-air train cars. Enjoy the cool breeze and an unobstructed view with no window glass between you and the scenery. The train cars are super cute from the outside and make a great photo-op.

Step 3: Explore quiet forest roads and catch a glimpse of country life on an e-bike tour through Kurohone Village

Located at the very edge of Kiryu part way up into the mountains sits Kurohone Village. It’s too spread out for walking, but you’d miss most of the beauty in a car, so I’ve found that e-bike tours are the best way to explore.

My favorite part of the village is its hidden temples. Soon after setting off from the station, you’ll arrive at Jokanji, a small temple with a cute garden and a large temple bell that you are free to ring with all your might. Later in the tour, a maze of forested roads will take you to Ikoji Temple. Intricate wood carvings inside the temple depict stories from a collection of Chinese fables. The temple grounds are filled with cherry trees that bloom pale pink in spring.

The tour takes you through residential areas as well, between picturesque rice fields and farm houses. Stop to chat with the owner of a heavy-laden persimmon tree on the side of the road, and enjoy a unique soy and cream snack from the local tofu shop. You’ll get to feel like you’re exploring like a local, not a tourist.

For more recommended spots in Kiryu complete with a model route, see our e-pamphlet:

You can book e-bike tours on our Viator page: