If you visit Japan for the first time it’s quite possible that Kyoto is on your bucket list. Well, I will not talk you out of it because there are several good reasons why Kyoto should be one of the places you wanna see on your trip and that will make you want to come back (like I want to do for sure).
I will share my personal top 5 reasons why you should visit Kyoto as well.
1. Temples and Architecture
Let’s start with the obvious: The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Kyoto is probably “temples” – lots of temples actually. With about 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines there is a good chance that this might be enough for your whole vacation. So if you visit Japan to see temples you have come to the right place. In the temples it’s often possible to attend a tea ceremony so don’t miss this opportunity if you like green tea.
The most impressive (but also most crowded) temples are in the Higashiyama district. If you don’t mind all the other people this will be a good place to find the best temples in Kyoto.
The sign says: “No parking!”
Kinkakuji – The Golden Pavilion
The landscape in places like the Higashiyama district is so spectacular that it’s almost unreal. I was lucky enough to visit this area on a perfect, sunny day and it looked like straight from a fairytale.
Arashiyama is famous for the bamboo forest and besides Higashiyama this will be a place you don’t want to miss either. The two days I spent in the Higashiyama district were the most memorable ones of my trip to Japan and that says a lot.
Beautiful and calm. Just sit down and relax in Kyoto.
3. Shopping and Downtown
Besides the traditional temples and the beutiful landscape Kyoto offers a nice shopping district where you can find lots of cute things and interesting food. In the main street Kawaramachi there’s nearly nothing you can’t find and if you want proof that Japanese people react a little sensitive to alcohol you can see some of it here later in the evening. ;)
I stayed in a ryokan during my time in Kyoto and they offered sake tasting on one evening. Sake has an interesting history and production process with a great variety of taste, so if you have a chance to taste some don’t miss the opportunity.
A typical Japanese shotengai (shopping street).
A teddy bear dressed up as a Geisha. How adorable is that?
Cute souvenirs are everywhere in Kyoto.
The people of Kyoto (and Japan in general) were the real highlight of my travel to Japan. They are very friendly and polite and I didn’t have a single negative experience. Japanese also like to take photos so I came to right place.
Before visiting Japan I was not into Street Photography that much but that changed on this trip and now I like taking pictures in the street wherever I travel.
In summer you’ll see a lot of ladies wearing a yukata.
Japanese students taking a photo with a Maiko.
5. Visit Kyoto to Hang out With Cats
Let’s face it: Every picture looks better with a cat in it. Yes, Tokyo has more cat cafés (and some of them are great) but chances to see street cats are way bigger in Kyoto and the combination of the beautiful landscape with cats makes the perfect picture to win the Pulitzer Price.
Well, maybe not quite, but still you can take great pictures of cats in Kyoto.
A cat chilling out in Kyoto.
One last recommendation: Visit a Geisha Dance if you have the chance and if you are lucky you’ll be able to catch one (or two) of the gifts the Geisha / Maiko throw into the crowd. Even if you don’t understand a word this will be quite an experience.
I think sometimes it’s really important to hear how a first-time visitor to Japan experienced her/his trip. I cannot share these kind of impressions with you anymore as I’ve just been in Japan for too long. Thus, Pierre did it instead. Hope you enjoyed it.
“The Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kyoto” is a guest post. Information, opinion or photos are provided by Pierre. Therefore Zooming Japan doesn’t take any responsibility for the content.