Keeping go up the stairs, you would face the big open space with all stairs. This is called daikaidan or Great Staircase.
They are real stairs. However, usually they are not used as stairs (There are only few people try to go up these stairs), but used as chairs or seats. Sometimes, especially on weekends, people have some events and the stairs become an open theater which gathers both people in Kyoto and visitors.
On other days, people use the stairs to spend some time alone or with friends, just sitting on, reading books, having small lunch, chatting or waiting for next trains. Some people analyze that people fill the stairs from the top, but it is not sure. Men’s group is likely to just pass rather than sit to spend some time. People there are mainly one person (both man and woman), groups of women, family and couples.