Kyoto, Japan’s second city, is described by many as the opposite of Tokyo, the country’s first city. While Tokyo is vibrant and modern, Kyoto has remained serene and traditional throughout the centuries. Below are some of the many reasons why you should visit this city known as the heart of Japanese culture. And don’t forget to have your Kyoto Travel Guide and Offline City Street Map ready.
Historic Temples and Shrines
Kyoto has an overabundance of temples having more than 1,600 Zen, Shinto, and Buddhist temples and shrines. Visiting them all is impossible so here are the ones you definitely should not miss:
· Fushimi-Inari Shrine Complex – founded in 711 A.D., this site is the quintessential representative of ancient Japan. Walking along the slightly uphill path lined up by thousands of red lacquered gates is definitely an unforgettable experience. Visitors are also given the chance to take part in the Misogi water purification ritual before entering the temple complex.
· Shunko-in Temple – built in 1590, it paves the way to Japanese Zen tradition. And its monks are quite modern. Its guestrooms have free Wi-Fi and the temple’s deputy monk even has a very active Twitter account @RevTakaZen. The lovely gardens in the temple provide the perfect atmosphere for contemplation.
· Nanzen-ji Temple Complex – houses some of the most beautiful temple gardens in Kyoto such as the Nanzen-ji Head Gardens and the Leaping Tiger Garden.
Spectacular Outdoor Spaces
There is beauty all around Kyoto. The city’s most popular activity happens at the beginning of spring. The Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) attracts thousands of tourists each year. Even if you miss out on the Hanami, there are still plenty of fun stuff to do in Kyoto even during the other seasons. All year round, you can take the Sagano Romantic Train and experience a jaw-dropping view of the Hozu River gorge. You can also visit in spring and view the hillsides that seem blazing with red thanks to hundreds of fiery maples. Then there is also the renowned Arashiyama bamboo forest where you can immerse yourself in the tranquility of the greenery.
Sake was being brewed and sold in Kyoto since early 16th century. There is no better place to get authentic sake than the source. The most popular Sake house in the city is the OZU Kyoto Maison du Sake located near the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It serves a wide variety of sake each one coming with a set of carefully chosen receptacles.
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