Kyoto, Japan

A vibrant City of Tradition, Culture and Food

Kyoto was the former capital of Japan until 1869 and was the residence of the Japanese emperor between AD 794 and 1868. The City has seen rapid industrialisation. The city centre looks like any other major cities in Japan, with modern buildings and high rises. Despite it’s modern twist, Kyoto has retained its tradition, culture and educational importance.

As a cultural city, Kyoto is the heart of Japan. Home to many Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, gardens and other landmarks which forms part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. As a region, it has at least 1600 temples and shrines, both small and large, famous and not so much. There are many imperial palaces and gardens that just beckons a visit.

In addition to these attractions, Kyoto is rich in its offering of a diverse food culture, local delicacies and traditional sweets. This is a region which has a strong culinary history, and formal traditions such as Kaiseki dining still widely practised. Kaiseki is a dining experience and embodies a celebration of Japanese traditional culture where multiple courses of precise dishes is served by geisha, a female entertainer often found in Gion-Shiji. Other dining experiences or food that one must try is the Yodofu, simmered tofu.

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In relation to its educational importance, Kyoto is home to 37 universities and colleges scattered throughout the city including the internationally renowned, Kyoto University. Mount Hiei, regarded as the sacred mountain in Japan, is home to the “Marathon Monks” – a place for those who dedicate themselves to pursue enlightenment which is a test of endurance and preseverance.

Mount Hiei, lanterns line the path to a small shrine.
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With Kyoto being home to so much culture, food, vibrancy and history to indulge in, I can confidently say that one cannot have too many days in this cultural city. Exploring Kyoto and unveiling its mask of modernity will turn up countless historical gems. Strolling through Gion or Pontocho to steal a glimpse of geishas, visiting the many iconic temples or experiencing a traditional ryokan stay will leave you with lasting memories. No matter how much time you spend in Kyoto, saying ‘goodbye’ will always be hard.

Where is Kyoto?

Kyoto sits on west-central of Honshu Island, 55 metres above sea level. and is equidistant between Osaka and Nara, about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Osaka. Nara is another ancient centre of Japanese culture and tradition.

Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Map.
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Map of Japan: Kyoto Prefecture (Wikipedia)

Kyoto is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Given the importance of Kyoto, both as a former capital of Japan, and a city where tradition abounds, it has become a popular destination for both tourists and locals. Visiting the heart of this fascinating country will always be a rewarding experience but selecting what to visit, when to visit and how much time is needed to visit this iconic city will require some prior planning. Thus, selecting the best places to top my list was a difficult task. Nevertheless, here is the suggestive ultimate guide to Kyoto travel for you.

Other places to visit in Kyoto, Japan

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“I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity.
The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes, one of them giggling in a voice yet unbroken; a touch of autumn in the air, a sense of gathering rain.”

― Pico Iyer, 

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A vibrant city of culture, hidden gems, markets, food and so much more! via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/
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