Kyoto

Kyoto is where Japanese people go to see Japan. The capital from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is home to Japan’s best known Buddhist temples as well as many famous Shinto shrines, and streets corners are dotted with jizo statues and paper garlands decorating sacred trees and stones. Kyoto is quite simply a must-see destination.

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Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple

Adashino Nenbutsuji is a small temple near the end of the Saga Toriimoto Preserved Street at the northern end of the Arashiyama sightseeing district, near its sister temple, Otagi Nenbutsuji. There are 8000 buddhist statues placed in memory of those who died without family dating back to the Heian period. These lost souls are remembered…

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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…

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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…

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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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Byodo-in

This stunning temple in the small town of Uji near Kyoto combines Heian Pure Land style Buddhist gardens with Chinese-influenced architecture. The Phoenix hall was built in 1053 and is famously featured on the 10 yen coin. Various Buddhist treasures are on display throughout the temple and garden complex and especially in the small though…

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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.

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Daikaku-ji Temple

Located on the site of a 9th century palace, Daikakuji was converted to a Shingon Buddhist temple in 876. Although the original buildings are long gone, the architecture and courtyard gardens retain the Heian Period style described in the Tale of Genji, and a large lake creates sweeping views across to the nearby mountains. Originally…

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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…

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Four Seasons Kyoto

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

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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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Garden Terrace Hotel Miyazaki

Garden Terrace Hotel Miyazaki is a luxury boutique hotel, with peaceful bamboo surroundings, designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma to blend with its environment. It is conveniently close to Miyazaki Station. The hotel has 10 Western-style twin rooms and 2 Japanese-style rooms, as well as 2 restaurants and a bar.

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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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Gio-ji Temple

Tiny Gio-ji Temple is often overlooked by the throngs of sightseers in Arashiyama but what it may lack in size, it more than makes up for in charm and it’s one of our favourite temples in the area, not least for its fascinating history. The temple was named after Gio, a dancer from long ago…

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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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Gion Festival

Although Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto, is said to celebrate a festival every day somewhere in the city, the Gion Matsuri is generally believed to be the best, and marks the highlight of the Kyoto festival year. Dating back to the ninth century, the Gion Matsuri has its roots in a purification ritual intended to clear…

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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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Hotel Kanra

One of Kyoto’s newest hotels, the Kanra creates an exquisite blend of traditional Japanese design and contemporary boutique sensibility. Kanra is well located to the subway station, making an attractive and convenient place to stay in Kyoto. It’s quirky too: there is a cafe located in the lobby (which serves delicious, local coffee) and there are many…

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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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Iwatayama Monkey Park

Iwatayama Monkey Park is a smallish wildlife park in Arashiyama. It is home to a troop of over 170 wild Japanese macaque monkeys. To get to the park, there’s a hike of about 20 minutes or so up the mountain. The monkeys roam freely around the area and will happily mingle with their human visitors…

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Japanese Tea Ceremony

Japanese Tea Ceremony is perhaps the most enigmatic of the traditional arts. Unlike the more familiar daily brew of steeped green tea, or o-cha, tea for the ceremony is made from bright green powdered matcha, and served with the utmost care during an elaborately restrained ceremony. Also called chanoyu, sado, or chado, the ceremony is,…

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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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Jojakko-ji Temple

Famous for its beautiful Autumn colours, Jojakko-ji is situated on the side of a mountain in Arashiyama and was established in 1596. The Taho-to pagoda, which is designated by the national government as an Important Cultural Property, was constructed in the 17th century. It is built in the gorgeous 16th-century Momoyama style and affords a…

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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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Kimono Dressing Experience

Have your photograph taken with traditional Japanese costume, Kimono. You will have a professional photo shoot to capture the best image of you dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. There is a range of costumes to choose from for men and women, from opulent imperial style juni-hitoe of the Heian period to more contemporary kimono and…

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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

Kyoto is where Japanese people go to see Japan. The capital from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is home to Japan’s best known Buddhist temples as well as many famous Shinto shrines, and streets corners are dotted with jizo statues and paper garlands decorating sacred trees and stones. Kyoto is quite simply a must-see destination. Known…

Type: Kyoto  |  Category: Kyoto  | 

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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Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden

Measuring over 240,000 square meters and filled with over 12,000 different varieties of plantlife, Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden is considered Japan’s premier botanical garden. Originally built as part of an exhibition for the coronation of Emperor Taisho in 1913 but not completed until 1923 due to lack of funding, Kyoto’s botanical gardens were the first…

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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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Miho Museum

Designed by the famed architect IM Pei, the Miho Museum was the dream of Mihoko Koyama (after whom it is named), the heiress to the Toyobo textile business, and one of the richest women in Japan. The museum houses her private collection of Asian and Western antiques, as well as other pieces with an estimated…

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Nanzenji

Even to the casual observer it is obvious that Nanzen-ji is one of the most powerful temples in Japan – indeed, since 1381 it has been named the principal Zen temple in Kyoto. The kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden of crushed rocks and shrubs with a backdrop of ‘borrowed’ scenery from the nearby hillside is said…

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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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Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market – a long, narrow covered street packed with shops selling local specialties – is sometimes called Kyoto’s kitchen, and it’s easy to see why; barrels of fresh and pickled vegetables spill out into the street, and the air is fragrant with the savoury smell of grilling sembei crackers and steaming fish dumplings. Many…

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Noku Roxy

The idea of a boutique hotel – small, intimate, upscale accommodation, where guests are made to feel at home – is a growing trend in Europe. In Japan boutique hotels are less common, but Noku Kyoto certainly fills this gap. The hotel’s style is very simple, and in this sense it is typically Japanese, yet…

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Origami Making

Origami is the traditional art of folding paper. Square sheets of paper can be folded into a wide variety of shapes, without the use of a scissors. Some of these shapes, such as the crane, box and ship, are well known and the art or origami is practiced around the world. With a home visit…

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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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Ramen Class

Enjoy a fun and informative lesson in how to make tasty ramen in the kitchen of a real ramen restaurant. Learn how to blend the ingredients to make the stock, discover the different types of noodles, garnishes and toppings and the secrets of the ramen professionals! This is a mid afternoon activity and lasts for…

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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,, the Ritz-Carlton is a great fusion of modern and tradition, with…

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Ryoanji Temple

Nestled at the base of Kyoto’s Mount Kinugasa, Ryoan-ji Temple dates back to 983, though the temple was officially founded in 1467, and a number of the present buildings are reconstructions dating to 1800. More importantly, Ryoan-ji is home to Japan’s first, and arguably best, kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden. The garden is a masterpiece of…

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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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Sake Tastings

Do you enjoy the occasional cup of sake? If so, this is the perfect opportunity to find out more about this traditional drink. Even if you have never tried this Japanese rice wine, a sake-tasting experience is a great chance to try this type of alcohol. In Kyoto, enjoy a tour of a former sake…

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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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Taiko Drumming Experience

A private lesson of the exciting art of Taiko drumming. You will learn how to play the Taiko, or Japanese drum. Unlike western drums, Taiko are often played standing up; this is because the Taiko player uses their entire body to hit the drum rather than just their arms. The drumming style is almost martial…

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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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Tenryu-ji Temple

Tenryu-ji is the most important temple in Arashiyama. It was ranked first among the city’s five great Zen temples, and is now registered as a world heritage site. It is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism. Built in 1339 by the ruling shogun, the temple”s buildings…

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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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Wedding Kimono Photo Session

If you’re travelling to Japan on Honeymoon – or even if not! – why not create a wonderful souvenir of your trip with a wedding kimono photo session in Kyoto? You’ll both be dressed in traditional wedding attire; for her, a beautiful shiromuku white wedding kimono or perhaps a brightly coloured iro-uchikake kimono. For him,…

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Yoshikawa Ryokan

Located in the heart of Kyoto, Ryokan Yoshikawa is proud to welcome its guests in the most authentically Japanese style. Its squeaky floors and narrow corridors and most of all the traditional tatami mat rooms with views directly into its delightful quiet garden, are part of Yoshikawa’s heritage since the ryokan was built more than…

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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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