Among the many wondrous things about Japan, one of the reasons to love it is the fascinating blend of old and new. Many cities in Japan are the embodiment of all things new, but Kyoto is the epitome of old.
You might associate Japan with things like bright lights, levitating trains, robot restaurants and other new technology. Kyoto is different. It’s a city more slow and deliberate in its step.
Kyoto is zen gardens, samurais, geishas and torii gates, many miles away from the flashiness of Osaka and Tokyo. Granted, modern culture in Japan is indeed mesmerizing, but make it a point to visit Kyoto to fall in love with the old era of Japan.
There are lots of destinations in Kyoto that are steeped in beauty and tradition.
Translated literally to “Pure Water Temple,” Kiyomizu-dera is a wish-making temple and one of Kyoto’s more popular attractions. If you’re single, put on a blindfold and try to find your footing between two stones at Jishu Shrine, which is a matchmaking shrine dedicated to the deity of love.
If you are successful, the shrine promises that you will find true love.
Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
This historic monument is so utterly breathtaking, that it was once burned down by a monk who said that it was “too beautiful.” It’s an incredibly striking temple covered in gold leaf. Every floor of the temple represents a different style of Japanese architecture.
The uppermost floor, gilded inside and out, is capped with a golden phoenix.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
One of Kyoto’s most recognizable sights, it is known for the seemingly never-ending 10,000 orange torii gates, which arch over a scenic walking trail. While you’re there, stop in to savor a bowl of Inari Sushi or Kitsune Udon. They are both signature dishes here.
Walk the streets of Gion
Gion is Kyoto’s geisha district. You will see hostesses wearing colorful kimonos amid several upscale Japanese restaurants and boutiques. Check out a seasonal festival at Yasaka Shrine in a lantern-lit courtyard. The nightlife is buzzing as well, with sake bars izakayas everywhere.
Locals report that the area is safe to wander at night, so take a stroll and take in the richly historic architecture of this wonderful city.