,, For the Japanese people, Kyoto is the heart of Japanese culture. For the visitors, Kyoto's (or at least some parts of it) is a place as they imagine traditional Japan to be. The city lies in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains."
“We totally overdosed on Kyoto. This is a city with temple forests, its own bamboo park, Japanese-style rafting, fake geishas – we even got cherries. On the other hand, we avoided like the plague those crowded streets near the temples, where everyone dresses like they’re in a masked ball.
Kyoto is the celebrated center of traditional Japan. At first glance, it wasn’t completely clear why there’s so much hype around this place – even though it was the capital of Imperial Japan for more than 1,000 years.
After drinking a Illy mocha latte (after a lot of swill, finally a decent coffee!) at Kyoto Station, which is lost in the middle of an enormous shopping mall, we set off towards our accommodation. On our way we saw a lot of the same kind of anonymous, gray apartment buildings you see in every country.
Kyoto Tower didn’t look too appealing either, and even the buds on the cherry trees, ever closer to erupting, didn’t set the city off. Then, like the famous sakura, Kyoto blossomed for us.
The city is famous first and foremost for its religious monuments and geisha culture. It’s a big city, though not massive by Japanese standards: about 1.5 million inhabitants. The sights are spread across a wide area, and include some 1,000 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, beautiful gardens, palaces, as well as the Gion geisha district, where geisha are trained in a closed world off-limits to tourists. Still, we’re permitted to stroll among the beautiful temples, and the wooden machiya houses from the 17th century. Many of these are now shops, tea houses or restaurants which cater to tourists, where you can eat a kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, at a pretty steep price.
Kyoto is one of the most touristy, expensive places in Japan – you can get accommodation in nearby Osaka for a much lower price.
“Kyoto is one of the most famous cities in Japan, and also one of the most charming, since it is one of the few which wasn’t bombed to smithereens by the Americans (yes, in Japan the Americans were the bad guys, not the liberators) in the Second World War.
Kyoto, the oldest, most elegant city, the imperial seat, which for a thousand years was the nation’s capital, and where you can still see geishas walking the streets today. Unmissable.
Charmed and a little mystified from the first moment. The city is on a much more human scale than skyscraper-studded Osaka. It seemed smaller and more predictable, though our first expeditions into the city soon disproved this.
We took a bus towards the center, and got off on a street that looked pretty central, then started back. We admired, pointed, and took plenty of photographs, and when we spotted a park-like place where many tourists were standing about, we decided to go in too. We exactly we were, however, we never found out during our two-hour walk, nor even what the function of this space might be. We just walked about, relaxed and admired the scenery.” (2016)