If there is a city that we should not miss in Japan is Kyoto. In Kyoto, we will find the magic of traditional Japan where people still wearing kimono, mixed with the modernity of Japan raging current.
Not for nothing Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over a thousand years. The legacies of that era are still seen in its streets, its culture and its exquisite culinary traditions.
Kyoto is a city that hardly a tourist will end: with over 1,600 Buddhist temples, hundreds of Shinto, the imperial villas, 200 gardens listed and some of the best museums in the country. But do not be overwhelmed, because in a couple of days we can enjoy the best of Kyoto, but we will surely eager to return.
One of the most impressive for the Western traveler is the Gion district, dates back to the middle Ages and today is the most exclusive geisha district across the country. It consists of a classical building beautiful houses and its streets you can see real Geisha that are attacked by countless flashes as tourists tread the road.
If you want you can go to a ochaya (tea house) and retain the services of these ladies, but it is highly recommended to be accompanied by a Japanese, but will be very difficult for us to provide access to their facilities for true, contrary of what many Westerners believe, geishas are prostitutes not only entertain their artistic gifts to businessmen.
Anyway, if we want to enjoy Japanese arts without spending a lot of money, there is a theater called “Gion Corner”, where performances are classics, dance, kabuki … and also shows visitors the secrets of the famous tea ceremony.
Another visit is that we should not miss a walk down the street Pontocho. Like Gion, its architecture, which runs parallel to the Kamogawa River, has remained intact over time. Today, most businesses on the street are all kinds of restaurants that offer delicious traditional dishes.
If you want to enjoy one of the most classic culinary arts and wealthy from all over Japan, we must not forget to try the kaiseki, a type of traditional food originating in Kyoto where the guests are offered a variety of small dishes with delicate morsels . In Japanese culture it is considered a banquet, and enjoy it on the best restaurants in Kyoto is usually not cheap, but many ryokan in the area also tend to serve their residents to kaiseki more reasonable prices.
If we choose to visit a temple, one of the most common choice is the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple), an impressive temple covered in gold with a spectacular garden. Inside the temple are relics of the Buddha, but more unique is the integration of the temple in the landscape.
Another common choice after visiting the Kinkaku-ji, is going to Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver). Today is a Zen temple is also noted for its architecture and gardens that surround it.
But if what you want is to enjoy a few hours strolling peacefully, the best place to do it is the Tetsugaku no michi (Philosopher Walk), a road alongside a canal with local artisan shops on one side and a small temple to another. If you visit these temples can be found impressive Zen gardens, bamboo groves and some of these churches offer their visitors with a sweet tea to finish the visit.
Although what most attracts tourists and natives, this area of the city are the cherry trees that bloom in spring when, makes a wonderful ride unforgettable.
This walk covers a distance of two kilometers, but you can leave at various points along the way if we become too long.
Finally, another essential visit is the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. As is the case with Tokyo, you should make an appointment to visit it in advance. But its architecture, such as works of art in its interior and gardens are worth the effort and planning.
These are just some notes on Kyoto as a city where there are always new things to discover, where tradition blends with modernity raging in the country by creating an overwhelming contrast to the visitor.
Kyoto is no longer the capital of Japan but may still be his soul and his face more seductive, so that loss is nothing short of unforgivable.