People who know me know that my favorite city in Japan is Kyoto. As a result, whenever I have long vacations from school, I would explore Kyoto for a day. Then I would talk about my trip to my co-workers, students, and family, and friends on social media. So why do I keep going back to Kyoto? Here are my reasons.
Almost every city in Japan is easily accessible. I live in central Japan, and Kyoto is only a 2-hour car drive or three by trains. I usually take the train. At five in the morning, I take the first train to Maibara and take another going to Kyoto. By 9:30, I’d be in Kyoto station and start my adventure there. I first traveled by myself six months after I came to Japan. I only had “eki ha doko desu ka? (where is the station?)” and “kore ha ikura desu ka? (how much is this?) in my vocabulary. I couldn’t travel alone when I was in the Philippines, so that experience was truly freeing. And that is one of the reasons why I love being in Japan.
Best of both worlds
Traditional and modern. Kyoto has them both. I like learning about Japanese culture and I think Kyoto is the best place for it. I went to the Gion district and it was fascinating. It was like I was transported to an ancient Japan but still in a modern world. Besides that, I also learned a little bit about the geisha and maiko culture. I was also able to spot some maikos going to school to train. Knowing that there are still geisha performances, schools and tea houses where they work and serve, surprised me. Someday, I’d like to watch their shows, admire their very demure behavior and learn more about Japanese arts and history. Of course, you can also see skyscrapers, shopping malls, and electronic stores in Kyoto. But I like it even more because Kyoto, being an established and a business city, was able to preserve its culture and traditional beauty.
Temples and shrines
Kyoto has thousands of beautiful temples and shrines. You can’t go there and not see at least one or two of them. It’s what Kyoto is known for. It is one of the main reasons why I love it. I try to go to one or two temples or shrines every time I visit. I haven’t been to a lot yet. And I know it’ll take me years to be able to see them all. But that’s what makes it exciting. There are new things to see and do each time. My most favorite sights are Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkakuji temple, Toji temple and Nanzen-Ji temple. I have yet to visit Ginkakuji and Kiyomizu temple and some more, hopefully, this year.
I love that I can go to Kyoto in any season, and it is still going to take my breath away. The beauty of the sights filled with sakura or cherry blossom trees and other gorgeous flowers in spring is amazing. I love pink and sakura. It will never not be stunning to me. I went around Nanzen-ji temple with my mom in early April two years ago. We took photos on an old railroad filled with cherry blossom trees. I loved it!
In summer, you can see how green the trees are, wear a yukata, and go to a summer festival. It was summer when I toured the Gion District. If you’ve never been to Japan in summer, be aware that it gets scorching and humid, especially in August. But other than that, everything is lovely.
In autumn, you can go to temples and fall in love with the vibrant colors of the leaves. I went to two temples in November, and the autumn foliage there was absolutely gorgeous. That day, I had three places to visit in my itinerary. I was supposed to go to the Eikando temple too. When I got there, it looked splendid and romantic from the outside. Then I looked around and saw that most people were couples or groups of friends and families. So I decided to cut short my trip and go back with my family, friends or maybe a special someone.
I haven’t seen Kyoto in winter. But it’s going to be stunning for sure. I love snow! I hope next winter it will be safer to travel because I really miss going on adventures in Kyoto and continue to discover what it has to offer.
Do you know any good places to see and do in Kyoto in winter?