I get as much joy from helping a friend plan travel as I do when I plan my own. The research, especially the photographic side of choosing where to go, send endorphins running through my body. When you put a good trip plan together- leaving room for spontaneity of course- everything feels relaxing by the time you board for your destination.
My friend Nicole, who I mentioned earlier, is on her way to Japan next week. One of her destinations is Kyoto. I’ve been there twice now, so although I am not an expert, I will help her and you discover the places that are a MUST go in Kyoto through pictures. Each picture is one I took (unless it was taken of me) and has been edited in Adobe Photoshop CS4 to give it a postcard quality. I love sending postcards wherever I go, so I figured, “Why not begin making my own?” If you’d like a personalized postcard from me, email me your information at email@example.com.
Kyoto has more than 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. Suffice to say, you aren’t going to see everything in Kyoto in a week or even a year. The city is very spread out as well, so the best thing to do is divide it into 3-4 zones (Northern, Central/Eastern, Western and Southern), and concentrate on one zone per day.
Your central hub will be Kyoto Station. From there you can easily take a bus or train to your sight-seeing destinations. The buses there are very tourist friendly and have English fonts and announcements to let you know when you approaching your stop of choice.
I recommend bookmarking THIS (links to Kyoto guide) great English website about Japan to help further your planning. By clicking on where you want to visit, it will give you detailed directions on how to get there.
Your must-see places in Kyoto:
While you’re on the Philosopher’s Path, take a relaxing break with matcha green tea at Yojiya Cafe.
Kiyomizudera Temple in Eastern Kyoto. One of Japan’s most celebrated temples.
I highly recommend taking part in a green tea ceremony while in Kyoto. A great English speaking/foreigner friendly one is En in the Gion area.
Gion is also where to go to see Geisha (prefer to be called geiko here) and their Maiko apprentice. Best time to see them is after 16:00. Just don’t act like the Geisha paparazzi. Be respectful, use a long focal lens if available.
Path that takes you toward the Higashiyama District in Eastern Kyoto. The district is a great place to experience old Kyoto and shop for souvenirs.
Genko-an Temple with its wooden riddle. The riddle ask, “What is the difference between our ordinary way of looking at the world and the way of one who is enlightened?” You must visit this temple, look out the windows and determine the answer for yourself.
There are many, many more sights to see and things to experience while in Kyoto. Enjoy them all, and remember that you are sharing your world with people you will meet for the first time. Make friends, memories and treasures that will last a lifetime!