Kyoto city – the capital of Imperial Japan

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Japan is loved by tourists for its unusual atmosphere, excellent cuisine and, of course, for historical monuments. The former capital of the country, the city of Kyoto, is especially famous for them, the sights of which remind of the great imperial times. To see them all, a few days will not be enough, but you can walk along the main ones. What interesting things can the city offer its guests?

You can book a tour with a local guide here .

Temples that Kyoto is famous for

There are seventeen of them here, and each impresses tourists with its own characteristics. So, here is the main temple of the goddess of abundance – Inari, to which 10 thousand gates, called torii, lead. This is a whole temple complex, which is decorated with numerous kitsune statues. The exact date of the construction of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is unknown, but in 965 the imperial family began to patronize it.

Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan
Gate leading to Inari Shrine

2. The Temple of Pure Water is another tourist attraction in Kyoto. Kiyomizudera was founded in 778 and rebuilt in 1633. Being in this temple complex, you should definitely visit the beautiful veranda, which is interesting, firstly, because it was built without a single nail, and secondly, because it offers a magnificent view of the city. Also, the temple of water in Kyoto impresses with a ritual waterfall, after which it was named.

Three different springs flow there, from each of them you can drink water. Do not forget to make a wish: here they often ask for longevity, good luck, success in personal life. Before or after visiting this temple, be sure to take a walk along Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka streets. Traditional wooden houses have been converted into shops where you can buy souvenirs, cozy cafes and restaurants.

Temple of Pure Water in Kyoto, Japan

3. Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Temple of Kyoto, is a pavilion erected for one of the shoguns who lost interest in life and retired from the world to contemplate the beautiful and clean lake, on the shore of which his dwelling was erected, covered with sheets of pure gold. Today, it keeps the relics of the Buddha and shows tourists the painting that adorns the interior halls of the building.

4. Yasaka Shrine Literally within walking distance of Kiyomizudera, this is one of the most frequently visited Shinto shrines. It is famous for the Gion Matsuri summer festival which takes place every year in July. Near the temple there is a park called Maruyama, where cherry blossoms grow. If your trip to Kyoto falls on March-April, then be sure to look here.

5. Nijo lock. It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is famous for its beautiful gardens, the palace also has “nightingale floors”. This is a kind of alarm that alerted the owner of the castle about approaching thieves or murderers. The nails were hammered into the floor in a special way, when they were stepped on, the floors began to make sounds similar to the chirping of birds.

Kyoto Golden Temple in Japan photo

Rock garden and bamboo forest – places for contemplative walks

The rock garden in Kyoto is located on the territory of the Reanji Temple. It has a hypnotic effect on a person walking on it: contemplation of stones of bizarre shapes, shades and sizes distracts from unnecessary thoughts, allowing you to think about the higher, find peace of mind, immerse yourself in yourself. Which is not surprising: it was originally created for the meditations of the monks of the temple. The mysteries of this charming Kyoto landmark are revealed only through silent reflection, which today is only available immediately after the opening of the garden, when there are no tourists yet.

Rock garden in Japan photo

And, of course, visiting this city, you can not miss Sagano – the most famous bamboo forest in Japan. It is not difficult to find it – it is part of Arashiyama Park. This place has gained popularity among tourists due to its incredible beauty, as well as due to the special sound that occurs as a result of the contact of the wind with slender bamboo stems. Those who have ever been to the Sagano Forest claim that this sound is vaguely reminiscent of music and has an extremely calming effect, giving a sense of harmony.

If you want to see Kyoto from above, climb the tower of the same name. From a height of 100 meters, breathtaking views of the city open up. The tower is located near Kyoto Station, so you can visit it when you arrive in the city or before you leave it.

Sagano Bamboo Forest in Japan

When is the best time to visit Kyoto

In fact, at about the same time as Tokyo – that is, in almost any season. True, it is really hot here in the summer, this must be taken into account. Comfortable weather for Kyoto comes in early April, when cherry blossoms , and at the end of November – this period is also called the time of red maples. But there are a lot of tourists during these periods.

December – February. The coldest time in Kyoto.

March – May. The ideal weather is set, the best for visiting Kyoto. Sakura begins to bloom at the end of March. The peak of flowering occurs in the first week of April. The influx of tourists is simply huge at this time, hotel rooms can be booked in advance. The same excitement occurs in the first week of May, when the Japanese celebrate Golden Week.

From June to August, it’s hot in Kyoto. As the temperature rises, so does the humidity level. It often rains in June and July, while August sees the highest temperatures. But there are much fewer tourists at this time.

In September – November, Kyoto is again filled with tourists, who have already come to look at the colorful fall of the leaves.

But whenever a tourist goes to Kyoto, the travel plans should definitely include the ancient Japanese capital – Nara. To get from Kyoto to Nara, you need to spend about an hour on the road if you leave from the central station by train.

A visit to Kyoto is a must for a tourist who comes to Japan. Without this, the impression of the country will be incomplete. If you want to visit several Japanese cities during your trip, you may want to purchase a JR Pass .

Where to stay in Kyoto

It is best to find a hotel in the center of Kyoto or in the Higashiyama area. Many bars, restaurants and tourist attractions are within walking distance. Metro lines also pass here, so there will be no problems with movement.

Another option for accommodation is next to Kyoto Station. Kyoto Station is the city’s main transportation artery. From here it will be convenient to organize transportation not only within the city, but also in other parts of Japan.

The Higashiyama area is located along the Kamo River. It is divided into north and south, where the most popular attractions such as Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka Shrine, and Ninnen-zaka / Sannen-zaka streets are located here. Both the northern and southern parts of Higashiyama are ideal for exploring Kyoto, but stay closer to the Gion area if possible.

Arashiyama. Surely you have seen photos on social networks on the background of a bamboo grove more than once. This area is located away from the central part of Kyoto, but here you can feel the closeness to nature and tranquility. There are several bizarre shops and temples here.

What to do in Kyoto

  1. You can rent a kimono and take beautiful atmospheric photos as a keepsake. There are kimono rental shops all over Kyoto. If you are going on a trip during the high season, then be sure to take care of the rental in advance.
  2. Be sure to visit the Nishiki market, also called “Kyoto’s Kitchen”. It is a narrow and long street with many small restaurants. There you can taste the most popular Japanese delicacies.
  3. Visit the geisha area. In total, there are 5 geisha districts in Kyoto, each of them is very atmospheric. The most popular is Gion. If you are lucky, you may see a geisha with her teacher walking between the tea houses. During the cherry blossom season, the geisha district hosts a bright and memorable performance of Miyako Odori.
  4. Enjoy a tea ceremony. The Japanese do not just pour boiling water into a teapot with tea leaves, the traditional tea ceremony is the observance of certain rules of conduct. The ritual of proper drinking of tea will help you get closer to Japanese culture. Why not do it in Kyoto, where the tea ceremony originates from.

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