Kyoto is the storehouse of Japan’s traditional culture and the stage on which much of Japanese history was played out. With 17 Unesco World Heritage sites, more than 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shintō shrines, Kyoto is also one of the world’s most culturally rich cities. Indeed, it is fair to say that Kyoto ranks with Paris, London and Rome as one of those cities that everyone should see at least once in their lives. And, needless to say, it should rank near the top of any Japan itinerary.
Kyoto is where you will find the Japan of your imagination: raked pebble gardens, poets’ huts hidden amid bamboo groves, arcades of vermilion shrine gates, geisha disappearing into the doorways of traditional restaurants, golden temples floating above tranquil waters. Indeed, most of the sites that make up the popular image of Japan probably originated in Kyoto.
That said, first impressions can be something of an anticlimax. Stepping out of Kyoto station for the first time and gazing around at the neon and concrete that awaits you, you are likely to feel that all you’ve heard and read about Kyoto is just so much tourist-literature hype. We can only advise you to be patient, for the beauty of Kyoto is largely hidden from casual view: it lies behind walls, doors, curtains and façades. But if you take a little time to explore, you will discover that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of pockets of incredible beauty scattered across the city. And, the closer you look, the more there is to see.
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These tours & activities make it easy: