It has been one of those years in which, if I didn't have any photographs,…
If Tokyo impresses visitors with its futuristic look, Kyoto is actually the historical and cultural centre of Japan. Surrounded on three sides by wooded hills and mountains, bisected by the Kamo River, the city occupies an exceptional site. With its unique geography comes a unique history! The ancient capital of Japan – from 794 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868 – Kyoto is bathed in a soft atmosphere, lulled by the tranquil flow of the river Kamo. Located about three hours away from Tokyo, Kyoto is easily accessible from any major city in the world and is often the main reason for people to book a trip to Japan.
There’s no need to pay a fortune for parking when travelling to a faraway country such as Japan. When planning the budget for your trip, check out airport parking, as it can save you a lot of money. If you’re travelling from London, Heathrow airport parking is a secure service with really good rates, and the same can be said for the nearby Gatwick airport parking.
Walking around Kyoto just like walking through eleven centuries of Japanese history. Spared by the Allied bombing during World War II, the city is known to contain 20% of all the country’s national treasures. Many monuments and neighbourhoods in Kyoto evoke the heyday of the city: the Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle, the country’s political hotspots, the famous geishas and the unforgettable theatres. Many of them still give numerous performances of Noh, Bunraku (puppet theatre) and Kabuki. As a proof of the rich heritage of Kyoto, ten sites in the city are inscribed on the World Heritage List UNESCO.
Many temples and gardens present a remarkable architecture, so you should not miss the Kinkakuji Temple, the Ginkakuji Temple, Ryoanji Temple and the Daitoku-ji Temple. These are all places where you can indulge in meditation and Zen, with your mind taking the path of the ancient philosophers. Only the station, with its grand lobby, shops and restaurants reflects a modernism comparable to that of Tokyo. You’ll soon understand that a visit to Kyoto is the surest way to approach the more traditional aspects of Japanese culture. Moreover, the Kyoto National Museum is a marvellous way to understand the process of manufacturing a kimono and discover all the refinement of Japanese traditions.
Kyoto is easily accessible from both Osaka and Tokyo by air, rail or bus and getting around the city once you are there should not be a problem. The extensive network of subways, buses and private railways links all the major important neighbourhoods and sightseeing spots. Since the cityscape of Kyoto is quite flat and compact, many of the sights that are worth visiting are locates close together. For this reason, you can conveniently discover Kyoto by bicycle or on foot.
Finally, you can get most of your trip to Kyoto by discovering some of its surrounding areas. Some of them most popular ones with tourists include Nara, Osaka and Hiroshima. For instance, you can take a day trip to Nara in order to explore some of the oldest buildings in the world as well as a magnificent and colossal Buddhist statue.