Kyoto is a glorious city. For more than a thousand years, it served as Japan’s imperial capital and home of the Emperor. Though it has relinquished that status to Tokyo in the late 1800s, Kyoto has remained the centre of Japanese culture. If you’re a fan of Japanese culture, Kyoto is the place to immerse in it, and these are the ten best ways to do it. Thus, fill our Kyoto holiday with these 10 must-do excitements.
Visit Kyoto’s shrines and temples.
Kyoto has over 400 shrines and a thousand temples. While you may think that one shrine or temple is the same as the rest, it doesn’t hold true in Kyoto. Each of these holy places is unique and worth a visit, if only as a respite from the crowds.
Meditate in a Zen garden.
Meditation is the act of clearing your mind and easing your spirit of its burdens. You can meditate wherever you wish, but there’s nothing like meditating in an actual Zen garden. There are many Zen gardens in Kyoto, the most famous of which is the rock garden at Ryoan-ji Temple.
Go on geisha watch.
Kyoto is one of the last Japanese cities where true geisha still thrive. With their elaborate costumes, makeup and hairstyle, these women are a sight to behold. It’s a bigger treats to be able to watch them perform the traditional arts – singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments – that they were trained to do.
Take part in a tea ceremony.
There is more to a Japanese tea ceremony than simply sitting down and drinking tea. It’s an elaborate, Zen-influenced ritual designed to promote good grace, etiquette and patience. The tea ceremony follows a specific procedure according to the season. It may also vary on the degree of formality.
Dine on haute Kyo-ryori.
Kyo-ryori or Kyoto cuisine is designed to whet the appetite not just through taste but through all the senses. The flavours are subtle, the plating and appearance of the food sublime and arranged to match the season and the dining environment. Dining on Haute kaiseki-ryori is like savouring a poem or gazing with the thought at a painting.
Munch on street food at Nishiki Market.
If you don’t feel like consuming an elaborate and artistically prepared meal, you can always go for Kyoto’s street food. When it comes to Kyoto street food, the most scrumptious of them are found at Nishiki Market, fondly referred to as Kyoto’s Kitchen. There you’ll find a wide array of Kyoto specialities, from mochi to dango to grilled tofu on skewers, and you can walk while eating as you please.
See at least one of Kyoto’s three major festivals.
Kyoto has three big festivals that form the backbone of its social calendar: the Aoi Matsuri in springtime, the Gion Matsuri in summer, and the Jidai Matsuri in autumn. These festivals are spectacular in their pageantry and are highly steeped in ritual and cultural symbolism.
Shop for authentic Japanese handicrafts.
Because Kyoto is at the forefront of all things authentically Japanese, the city prides itself in the quality of the traditional handicrafts its shops sell. This city is, hands-down, the best place to buy Japanese souvenirs like kimono and yukata, green tea, lacquerware, woodblock prints, fans, cooking knives, weapons, and many others. Include shopping for the stuff on your Kyoto holiday budget.
Ride a bike down The Path of Philosophy.
Kyoto is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. You can explore the city on a bike if you have the desire and stamina for it. The Path of Philosophy is one of the best routes to take on a bike, as it will take you cycling along a canal lined with cherry trees.
Go on a hiking day trip outside Kyoto.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Kyoto has many opportunities for day trips that involve hiking up these mountains. You have many choices when it comes to these hiking day trips. One of the most popular is the hike from Kurama to Kibune on the foothills of the Kitayama Mountains. This hike will take you through some charming woodland scenery, with a stop at Kurama-dera Temple and a few other shrines.
Don’t forget to fill our Kyoto holiday with these 10 must-do excitements. But before that check out top things you need to know before you travel to Kyoto. So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Kyoto today.