TRAVEL IN KYOTO
With stunning temples, Zen Buddhist Gardens and amazing food, it’s easy to see why Kyoto is one of Japan’s most popular destinations. Known as Japan’s ancient city, Kyoto has a palpable sense of mysticism that’s still alive today. Feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you visit Ryoan-ji Temple, home of one of Japan’s most important Zen Buddhist Gardens. Pay your respects to Inari, the god of rice and patron of business, at the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Follow its vermilion shrine gates all the way up Mount Inari before discovering the yokai ghosts of Ichijo-dori street.
It’s not just Kyoto’s shrines that make you feel like you’ve entered another world - its festivals and events are ethereal and rich in heritage. With so many religious festivals on the Japanese calendar, you’ll always find locals participating in some kind of spiritual ritual. From throwing roasted soy beans onto the street during Setsubun to banging on the temple wall for Toka Ebisu, Kyoto locals take great pride in practising and preserving their culture.
Perhaps there’s no better example of this than with Kyoto’s Geisha. With most traditional geisha still living in traditional wooden houses and abiding by strict hierarchies and behaviours, catch a glimpse of their hidden world at the Kitano Odori festival. With beautiful dancing and intimate atmosphere, you’ll definitely want to catch one of these springtime performances.
While it’s easy to find beauty everywhere you look in Kyoto, one of its most under-rated art forms has influenced Japanese taste and aesthetics for centuries: ukiyo-e. Learn more about this dying art of wood carving at the Smallest Ukiyo-e Museum in the World. Meet the man behind the legend who still runs the show, Ichimura Mamoru. If you’re keen to get a broader view of the Japanese art scene, head to the National Museum of Modern Art and the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art.
For an adventure into time and culture, let Contiki show you the best of Kyoto Japan.