Although many of my friends had been telling me prior to my arrival in Kyoto just how amazing the city was I didn’t really know what to expect from Kyoto. It had a lot to contend with as I loved Tokyo from the get go. However any doubt in my mind was readily removed almost immediately as I fell head over heels for the ancient city. My only regret is not having more time there.
Kyoto is a very different city to Tokyo in almost every way and is instantly noticeable from the moment you enter the city. Tokyo is the hectic, high raised, modern capital of Japan whereas Kyoto is traditional, old-fashioned, and has many beautiful scenic streets that are made to slow down the passing of time.
Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years and is full of history along with countless temples and shrines on what it feels like every street corner. The sheer amount of sights to see can be very daunting and where to begin can prove a challenge for even for the hardiest of travellers.
Like much of Japan I found Kyoto to be a walking city – or if you prefer a bicycle city – and considering I prefer to walk whenever I can it was just another reason to love the city. The great thing about Kyoto is walking it is fantastic as every street is unique, interesting, and it feels although each street holds many new adventures just begging to be explored.
Although the main draw of Kyoto is the old, romantic feel of the city it also has a busy city centre with all manner of shops from luxury brands to local brands which proves to be an interesting contrast to much of the traditional areas of the city. Kyoto is also – like Tokyo – home to many fine eateries serving up some of the finest Japanese cuisine money can buy, although you can always find a Sushi restaurant were a plate will only cost you ¥150 each – yet the food is still of very high quality.
Kyoto has a lot of popular tourist attractions and although I didn’t get a chance to get around all of them what I did see blew me away. Sadly I missed some of the big draws to the city such as the Golden Pavilion and the Kyoto Imperial Palace to name just the most popular.
Another thing that enthused me about my time in Japan was being their over the Japanese Fire and Light Summer festival. It was a serendipitous accident that put me in Japan over this summer festival but it help bring many of the places I visited alive, especially in Kyoto. By night many of the temples where illuminated and along the west bank of the Sanjo-oohashi Bridge many globes with candles inside them were displayed during the night time illuminating the bank by bathing it in a wonderful orange glow.
If you can only visit two cities in Japan make sure Kyoto is one of them as it provides a striking contrast to that of Tokyo and many of the newer modern cities. Kyoto at its heart is a city for artist and creative alike, it is filled with areas that will inspire you no matter what the mood and one place you are sure to be sorry you missed.