10 reasons you will love Kyoto
- 1.5 million local population
- 14 million booked nights
- 55 million visitors yearly
- 17 World Heritage Sites in and around town
Kyoto in 2017
What is it that drives visitors in ever growing numbers to this little gem?
After Nara Kyoto became the 2nd capital of Japan in 794 and remained the center for more than thousand years until 1869. During these centuries hundreds of magnificent temples and shrines were built, for the Emperor, for the Shoguns, for monks – the whole life of the town and its surrounding was determined by the presence of the emperor and the court and refined the way of living finally up to the cuisine. So it always was – and still is – the cultural heart and spirit of Japan, regardless of Tokyo, Osaka and other metropolitan areas growing bigger and economically more powerful. The fact that during World War 2 Kyoto was not destroyed and kept its treasures fully intact then still added even immeasurably more to its worldwide attraction.
The main 10 tourist spots likely are :
- Kinkaku-ji the Golden Temple
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- Fushimi Inari Shrine
- Tofuku-ji Temple
- Nijo-jo Castle
- Kyotogosho Kyoto Imperial Palace
- Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Kameyama train and boat tours
- Shimogamo Jinja Shrine
- Kamigamo Jinja Shrine
- Ginkaku-ji Temple
And while during the main tourist seasons worldwide recognition and growing visitor numbers at times also result in overcrowded main sightseeing spots, heavy traffic and lodging issues there are still many of Kyoto’s treasures which can be experienced quietly without huge crowds.
But Kyoto is not all about just visiting particular World Heritage sites and cross them off your list as done. The whole town is a taken care of gem, walking around Gion with its old japanese townhouses called machiya, its old teahouses where you actually might see a Geisha walking to her next appointment or the Higashiyama district in the eastern part where Kyotos ancient traditions live on with wooden buildings and old family owned merchant stores serving tourists as well as pilgrims in the same location since hundreds of years.
For food lovers there is no way to avoid the Pontocho district – here Ryokans and restaurants are lining up with the authentic Kyoryouri or Kyoto Style Kaiseki Ryori on the menu. A kaiseki meal comes in a set order of courses depending on the cooking method of each dish and is not only one of the most delicious ways to enjoy dinner in Japan but also a pleasure for your eyes.
There are so many things to see and experience that it feels overwhelming to go on writing about Kyoto myself – instead the best may be to do us and yourself the favour and see and read how Kyoto describes itself: