Full of Hidden Beauty

Nestled among the mountains of the Tanba highlands, Kyoto is a city rich in culture and history. As the capital of Japan for over 1000 years, the city accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns and monks.

Despite being destroyed by many wars and fires, Kyoto was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II, leaving many historically priceless structures scattered around the city. Commonly referred to as Japan’s most stunning city, the beauty of Kyoto is largely hidden from casual view. However, if you take a little time to explore, you will find that the city has much more to offer than immediately meets the eye, with hundreds, perhaps thousands of pockets of incredible hidden beauty in the temples and parks, which ring the city centre, and 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

One of the city’s most popular districts to visit is Higashiyama, in Eastern Kyoto. Be sure to head to the famed entertainment area of Gion, where you may be able to catch a glimpse of a real-life geisha. Explore by foot and see the Yasaka Shrine and Nanzenji before following the Philosopher’s Walk to Ginkakuji.

Insiders' Tips

  • Spot a Geisha: See if you can catch a glimpse of a geisha scurrying along the narrow streets of the Gion entertainment area.
  • Visit the Jidai Matsuri Festival: Also known as the Festival of the Ages, this grand parade showcases the history and customs during the period when Kyoto was the capital of Japan.
  • Visit Nishiki Market: A traditional market that displays Japan’s lesser known cuisine ingredients, and often gives free samples.

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