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Aneyakoji Bettei

Aneyakoji Bettei, or Aneyakoji Villa, is a small, private hotel in a quiet neighbourhood of Kyoto. Equipped with traditional wooden-lattice windows and fixtures crafted by local artisans, Aneyakoji Bettei aims to provide its guests with the experience of living in Kyoto as a local. Aneyakoji has a bar which serves 20 different kinds of sake…

Type: kyoto  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: ,

Aoi Festival

Like the Gion Matsuri, Kyoto’s summer festival, the Aoi Matsuri has its roots in ritual and began in the eighth century. Properly known as the Kamo Matsuri, the Aoi Matsuri features an impressive parade in the style of the Heian Court. The procession is made up of costumed participants, many riding horses and others leading…

Type: kyoto  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,

Arashiyama

At the base of Kyoto’s western hills, Arashiyama and Sagano are most famous for their bamboo groves, which are spectacular (the most impressive grove is outside Tenryū-ji’s northern gate), but the area is also full of temples and gardens. Although there are many temples to visit, we especially recommend Tenryu-ji, Jojakko-ji, Gio-ji and the Nenbutsuji…

Type: kyoto  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , ,

Arashiyama Dinner Cruise

Enjoy spectacular seasonal views and Japanese traditional cuisine on an elegant boat. River cruising is a wonderful way to discover Kyoto’s rich culture and tranquil scenery. The Oi (Katsura) river runs through the middle of Arashiyama, which is most famous for its bamboo groves. Yakata-bune is an old fashioned popular style of boat and it…

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Chishaku-in

Within this Shingon Buddhist temple is one of Kyoto’s best small examples of tsukiyama gardening, with elements evocative of a mountain landscape, complete with cascade, bridge, and azalea bushes pruned to represent rolling hills.

Type: kyoto  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , ,

Eigamura

Eigamura, or more properly Toei Uzumasa Eigamura, is a movie studio and theme park in one. This provides an excellent opportunity to take a break from Kyoto’s temples and tea houses, and experience the entertaining side of historical Japan. It features a collection of replicas of traditional Japanese buildings, which are used as the setting…

Type: kyoto  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , , , , ,

Four Seasons Kyoto

Opened in late 2016 in the scenic temple district of Eastern Kyoto, the Four Seasons Kyoto is the city’s newest luxury hotel. Centred around an 800-year old ikeniwa (pool garden), the hotel offers guests a tranquil atmosphere in which to relax. In its spacious guest rooms, suites and Hotel residences, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto blends…

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Fushimi Inari Shrine

The best known of Kyoto’s shrines, Fushimi Inari is visually stunning: Thousands of torii gates form an unbroken tunnel of red, leading up to the crest of Mount Inari. Oldest and most famous of all the Inari shrines in Japan, Fushimi Inari Taisha is, like the others, dedicated to the Shinto deity thought to protect…

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Geisha, Maiko or Samurai Makeovers

Fun for both foreign tourists and Japanese visitors to Kyoto, dressing up in traditional style for a photo session is a very popular activity. There are several photo studios around the city offering ‘maiko henshin’; transformation into a maiko (apprentice geisha) – or geisha, ninja or samurai. Some studios allow you to walk around Kyoto…

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Ginkakuji

More properly called Jishō-ji, the Silver Pavilion was, like the similarly named Golden Pavilion, built as a retirement villa and only later converted into a Zen temple. During its time as a residence in the late 15th century, Ginkaku-ji was, again like the Golden Pavilion a century earlier, the very heart of aesthetic Kyoto, playing…

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Gion

Called geiko in the Kyoto dialect, geisha are disciplined artists under an elaborately-coiffed exterior, and Kyoto geisha’s famously rigorous apprenticeship as maiko ensures that the women who choose the lifestyle are talented and dedicated musicians and dancers. Geisha have, for many years, entertained at the most exclusive and important gatherings in Japan, and are proud…

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Heian Shrine

Though one of Kyoto’s newest shrines, the Heian Jingū is also one of the most impressive – the shrine gate is one of the largest in Japan, and the buildings are a replica of Kyoto’s Heian Period Imperial Palace. The gardens are best known for their weeping sakura (cherry blossom) trees, so are most popular…

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Hiiragiya Ryokan

A Kyoto institution, this luxurious ryokan first opened its doors in 1818 and has been owned and run by the same family for 6 generations. Famous for its Kyoto-style kaiseki dinners, Hiiragiya has hosted many famous guests and each room is differently decorated with art and antiques. Most rooms offer views of the traditional garden…

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Honen-in Temple

A lovely and secluded temple just off the Philosopher’s Path, Honen-in was established in 1680 to honour Honen, the founder of the Jodo Buddhist sect. Set amongst a wooded hillside, the temple has a beautiful raked sand garden, moss gardens and a tranquil pond filed with koi carp. The main entrance to the temple is…

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Honganji Temples

Nishi Honganji (西本願寺) and Higashi Honganji (東本願寺) are two large temples in the centre of Kyoto. As headquarters of the two factions of the Jodo-Shin Sect (True Pure Land Sect), one of Japan’s largest Buddhist sects, they are a good place to experience contemporary Japanese Buddhism. Nishi Honganji (West Honganji) was built in 1591 by…

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Hoshinoya Kyoto

The resort is located in the hills to the west of Kyoto, in Arashiyama, an area favoured as a nature retreat by the people of Kyoto since the time of the first emperors of Japan. All 25 rooms offer a view of the Ooigawa River flowing through a deep gorge. Only accessible by its own…

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Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Located in the upper levels of Kyoto’s recently rebuilt railway station, the Granvia Hotel Kyoto is the most convenient as well as one of the most luxurious of Kyoto’s hotels. The Granvia offers excellent service, impeccably comfortable rooms, and a desirable selection of restaurants and bars from which to enjoy the city lights at the…

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Hyatt Regency, Kyoto

The Hyatt Regency opened its stylish doors in 2006. Just minutes from JR Kyoto Station, the Hyatt Regency is located in the heart of the richly cultural Higashiyama area, amidst the famous Chishakuin, Sanjusangendo and Yogenin Temples. With rooms blending Japanese and Western luxury, the Hyatt Regency excels at comfort, and brings already high levels…

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Jidai Festival

The Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) is one of Kyoto’s three great festivals, along with the Gion and Aoi Festivals. Held every October 22nd, the festival dates back to the Meiji Period, and celebrates Kyoto’s inception as Japan’s capital in 794. The festival features an impressive procession of around 2,000 costumed participants, who wear…

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Katsura Villa

One of Japan’s most important cultural treasures, the Katsura Imperial Villa is considered to be one of the greatest examples of classical Japanese architecture, and its minimalist designs have inspired many Western architects. Completed in 1631, the Palace lies in Kyoto’s western suburbs, and the gardens are a masterpiece of traditional garden design. Today, the…

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Kinkakuji

Generally known as the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji was built in 1398 by Shogun Ashikaga, and served as a flourishing centre of the arts before becoming a Rinzai Zen temple in 1419. Though the gardens are superb, featuring a large pond with islands representing the landscape of the Buddhist creation myth, it is the Golden Pavilion…

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Kiyomizu Temple

Overlooking Kyoto from the base of the eastern mountains, Kiyomizu Temple takes its name from the pure water of the cascade which runs down the hill behind the complex. Founded in 780, this temple of the Buddhist Hossō sect is older than Kyoto itself, though Kiyomizu-dera has been rebuilt many times over the years –…

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Kodaiji Temple

Kodaiji is an outstanding temple, established in 1606 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan’s greatest historical figures. Its main buildings were constructed in the lavish style of the era of Japan’s unification with the financial support of Hideyoshi’s successor Tokugawa Ieyasu. You can visit Kodaiji’s main hall (Hojo), which was rebuilt in a…

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Kurama Fire Festival

Japan’s fire festivals are spectacular and Kurama’s is no exception. A small town just outside Kyoto, Kurama literally lights up every October 22nd, when giant watch-fires are lit throughout the town at night. The festival starts at dusk, and features a parade of torches carried through the town from the Yuki Shrine to the Kurama…

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Kyoto International Manga Museum

More archive than exhibition, the Kyoto International Manga Museum has a huge collection of of over 30,000 manga (mostly Japanese, with some foreign publications), many of which can be read either inside the building or taken out into the courtyard, where you’ll find others sprawled on the grass engrossed in the stories. There are displays…

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Kyoto National Museum

Opened in 1897, the Kyoto National Museum, is one of Japan’s oldest and most distinguished museums. The museum’s permanent collection is presented to the public in rotating exhibitions and consists of a wide variety of cultural properties, including archaeological relics, sculptures, ceramics, calligraphy, costumes and paintings. Highlights of the Kyoto National Museum’s huge collection include…

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Lantern-making in Kyoto

On her latest trip to Japan, Into Japan’s Karan decided to get creative in Kyoto. With such a rich culture and history of tradition and creativity, Kyoto is the perfect place to turn your hand to something artistic. Lanterns abound not only in Kyoto but in Japan as a whole, providing a wonderfully soft, glowing…

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Maiko Odori

Geisha Dances More than any other place in Japan, Kyoto is known for geisha: both Gion and Pontocho, Japan’s best known geisha quarters, lie within the old capital’s boundaries, and exclusive tea houses are tucked in amongst the houses and restaurants of Kyoto’s more traditional areas. Though visiting a tea house is traditionally very difficult…

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Nijo Castle

Construction of Nijo Castle was begun in 1601 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and it is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture was ostentatious for its day – designed to illuminate the Shogun’s growing strength in contrast to the emperor’s dwindling power. Don’t miss the ‘nightingale floors’,…

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Ninnaji Temple

One of Kyoto’s most interesting temples, Ninnaji was founded in the year 888 as an Imperial Residence but, like many historic buildings in Japan, has suffered repeated destruction in wars and fires over the centuries. Today, Ninnaji is the headquarters of the Omuro school of the Buddhist Shingon sect and features a large variety of…

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Nishijin Textile Centre

Long considered to be symbolic of Kyoto, the beautiful fabrics of the Nishijin district have a history dating back over a thousand years. The Nishijin Textile Center, centrally located in Imadegawa, is a modern building where demonstrations and exhibits are held on the theme of the traditional Nishijin textile industry. In addition to regular kimono…

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Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsuji, like its sister temple Adashino Nenbutsuji, is a small but charming temple, hidden away at the far end of the Arashiyama neighbourhood and featuring 1200 stone sculptures of rakan, the Buddha’s disciples, all with different facial expressions and poses. The statues are scattered amongst a few small temples and pagodas. The statues themselves…

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Pottery Class

Experience traditional Japanese pottery making classes in Tokyo, Kyoto, Bizen and several other locations. What you make is usually up to you but you can try your hand at sake cups, bowls, chopstick rests or whatever takes your fancy. In Kyoto, learn the difference between Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki. Works created by highly skilled potters and…

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Ritz Carlton Kyoto

Kyoto’s newest and most luxurious hotel, the Ritz Carlton opened in early 2014. Just 15 minutes from JR Kyoto Station, it is located in the heart of the city alongside the Kamogawa River and is well placed for sightseeing. Designed by Remedios Design Studio, this stunning hotel has 134 guest rooms and suites. The ideas…

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Saihou-ji Temple

Commonly known as the Moss Temple, or Koke-dera in Japanese, the fee of 3000 yen and the complicated booking procedure keep this cultural jewel blissfully free of tourist crowds. Saihō-ji is possibly the earliest Zen garden, and, as in many Zen gardens, elements of the landscape are reflective of Buddhist philosophy. One example, a large…

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Sanjusangendo Temple

Sanjusangen-do is officially known as Rengeō-in. A Tendai Buddhist temple, it was built in 1164 to house 1001 statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. A fire in 1249 destroyed the hall and most of the statues, and reconstruction was completed in 1266. Though the golden statues are said to have one thousand arms…

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Sanzen-in Temple

Sanzen-in Temple is located in the Ohara district, about an hour north of central Kyoto. There are a number of smaller temples in the vicinity and Sanzen-in Temple itself has large temple grounds and a variety of buildings, gardens and walking paths. Sanzen-in is a temple of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism and was…

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Suiran

Opened in Spring 2015, Suiran is a luxury ryokan-style hotel situated in the grounds of Tenryu-ji temple, to the west of Kyoto, and overlooking the beautiful scenery of the Hozugawa River. Two nearby structures, which are more than 100 years old, have been renovated to be the café and restaurant, thus providing guests with the…

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Tawaraya

A Kyoto institution, this historic ryokan, established in the 1700s, has been run by the same family for 11 generations. The building is not large, and neither are the rooms, but despite this – and the rather uninspiring exterior appearance – each room is a work of art in itself, and a stay here is…

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The Philosopher’s Path

Roughly 3km in length, the Philosopher’s Path is one of Kyoto’s classic strolling routes and is named after a Kyoto University Professor of Philosophy who would meditate as he strolled along the path on his way to work each day. The route follows a cherry tree lined canal and passes a number of interesting temples…

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The Screen

A striking example of modern Japanese design, Kyoto’s Screen Hotel is only a short walk from both the ancient temples of Teramachi-dori (“temple town street”) and the shops and bustling nightlife of the Sanjo and Shijo districts. Each of the hotel’s thirteen guest rooms were conceived by a different artist or designer, so no two…

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Yoshinoya Ryokan Kyoto

Located in the heart of Kyoto, Yoshinoya is a ryokan specialising in Kyoto cuisine. Both as a restaurant and ryokan, Yoshinoya has been introduced in the Michelin Guide for several years. The “yuba” (bean curd) is the specialty and delicacy of Kyoto, which of course is the specialty of Yoshinoya for you to enjoy! The…

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