5 days in Kyoto

When they say that Kyoto is a real treasury of history, have no doubt: just to give an example, they have a dumpling shop that is over 1000 years old. Considering that it’s a family business, this means that somewhere in this city lives a dumpling cook in 25th generation…

Just walking around the city, you will discover lost of interesting places hidden around the corner, be it an old building, or an ancient statue, or a temple. Because of that, you will probably want to include in your itinerary some free roaming time outside touristic areas.

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A day of fresh air in Arashiyama

At Kyoto’s western border, a small but scenic Hozu river separates the city from pure, forest-coated hills of Arashiyama which also gave their name to the nearby Kyoto outskirt. The area is a great choice to visit on a sunny day as it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as forest or river walks, monkey park and a cruise down the river with a traditional boat.

It’s not surprising that Arashiyama experiences a huge inflow of tourists to its best assets. It will take careful planning and willingness to wake up at dawn to avoid the crowds, secure all the tickets and get the most out of your visit to this place.

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Geisha experience in Kyoto

To many tourists an image of a Japanese geisha is still coated with mystery and enigma. At least I definitely had that feeling, so of course I really wanted to get a glimpse on their very special culture. Fortunately, Kyoto has the most geisha in all Japan, so it was a good place for trying to unravel the mystery of geisha (or geiko, as they call them in Kyoto).

Two maiko – geisha apprentices; picture: japan-guide.com

For many years and decades a geiko-hosted dinner and her performance was a luxury and a privilege that tourists could not even think about. But the recent multiplication of tourist influx to Japan encourages geiko to provide their services to foreigners too, and nowadays it is not an impossible task to meet a geiko or even hire her to host you at dinner.

There are multiple ways for Kyoto visitors to get an understanding of geisha history and see what modern geisha look like. What you choose must depend on your itinerary, time allocation, and, of course, your budget 😉

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Visiting Kyoto temples

No one really knows how many temples are exactly in Kyoto, but most estimates lie between 1600 and 2000. Even a very strict sample of the biggest and the most famous counts a few dozen, so it is quite difficult (and pointless) to try visiting all of them within one trip.

So here’s my list. Each temple here has its own specialty which differs it from the others. I ranked them by my subjective impressions after visit =)

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