Kyoto, Japan, is a stunning city filled with rich history, culture, and tradition. It is an excellent destination for anyone interested in experiencing traditional Japanese culture while still enjoying modern amenities. With so much to see and do, it can be challenging to know where to begin. Here’s a first-time visitor’s guide to Kyoto to make the most of your travels.
Kyoto,_Japan | img by Pedro Szekely via flickr
Visit the temples and shrines
Kyoto is home to over 1600 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and each one is unique in its own way. The most popular temple is Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. It’s a stunning temple covered in gold leaf that reflects a beautiful glow on the pond surface below the temple. Other must-visit temples include the Fushimi Inari Taisha, Tofuku-ji, and Ginkaku-ji.
Explore the bamboo groves
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a stunning destination located in the western part of Kyoto. The bamboo groves provide a peaceful and serene escape from the city and make a popular spot for photography. Whenever a strong breeze passes by, visitors have caught sight of the bamboo groves ‘dancing’ as the swaying motion of the bamboo mimics a slow dance in the wind.
Experience traditional Japanese cuisine
With its culturally rich background, Kyoto is also famous for its traditional Japanese cuisine, including Kaiseki Ryori, a multi-course meal consisting of small dishes made from local ingredients. This city is also known to produce the finest matcha, a type of green tea, which you can get to taste at a local teahouse while experiencing traditional methods of tea brewing. Other must-try dishes include sushi, ramen and local sweets and confectionaries available even at restaurants by Kyoto hotels.
Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, and it is a great place to experience traditional Japanese nightlife culture. Narrow streets are lined with traditional wooden buildings which house restaurants and bars for many to unwind after a long day. If you are lucky, you may even spot a geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) walking to their appointments. While spotting a geisha or maiko on the streets might be a rare sight, visitors should remain respectful, keeping a comfortable distance from them so as not to cause any disruption to them.
Take a stroll through the Philosopher’s Path
A 20-minute drive away from Park Hotel Kyoto by Park Hotel Group, the Philosopher’s Path is a scenic walking path that follows a canal lined with cherry trees. It makes a scenic backdrop for pictures during the cherry blossom season and is a short, peaceful escape from the bustle of the city.