Kyoto On the Road

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto is a city surrounded by mountains and lakes, and is an imperial city that used to be the capital of Japan: And she has the famous monuments to prove it, like the Kinkaku-ji (golden pavilion) and the Ginkaku-ji (silver temple). For a taste of what it was like during the rein of emperors you should visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace. To check out the gardens that Japanese culture is known for, try visiting the Ryoan-ji garden, with a beautiful rock display or the gardens at the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa. Then there’s always the Nijo Castle, 275,000 square metres of manicured perfection and originally completed in the late 1620s.

In Kyoto, you’ll find canals that run along the streets, where you can find tea houses, cafes, museums and nooks and crannies to spend your afternoons. For off- beat museums, you should try the Costume Museum, Fukuchiyama Castle Folk Museum or the Japan Hair Museum. However, if you want to take in some art I would suggest Ike Taiga Art Museums or the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Hot springs and meditation in ancient temples allows a feeling of relaxation with a calm beauty. In Kyoto, you’ll find plenty of calm spaces to give you that sensation of peace and harmony. While in Kyoto, you could pick up a book on zen and learn a little more about the culture.

Make sure you try Gion Coner, located downtown. There is a theatre that presents comedy, music and dance at the Yasaka Hall. There you will be able to hear harp music and more. Also try Pontocho Street with its restaurants and geisha houses, (chaya).

There are numerous tea houses around the city - but the Somushi Tea House is known for its desert as well. The local specialities include fish, rice, pickles, vegetables and tofu. There are izakayas which are like diners that are home-styled. In izakayas they serve sashimi and yakitori (sashimi is raw fish and yakitori is barbequed chicken). Don't forget to try some rice wine, sake and Wagashi, a sweet.

On Ponto Cho street, you’ll find musicians playing throughout the evening with people milling around - it’s a perfect area to people watch from an outdoor cafe or bar. However if you’re in the mood to dance I would recommend going to the Club Metro, Club Sekai World. For jazz, try the Candy Club.