In this episode of the Tips For Travellers podcast Gary Bembridge visits the historic city of Kyoto in Japan.
Kyoto is packed with 1,000s of temples and historic sites, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is one of the few key cities in Japan spared major damage and destruction during World War II that wiped out much of Japan’s historical sites. As you will hear, it is an amazing experience and Gary highly recommends you visit it. However, unless you have days (or weeks) you cannot hope to scratch even the surface of what is available to see – and so making informed choices is key – hopefully this episode will help you.
Must-see sights in Kyoto covered in the podcast
- Review the UNESCO lists and decide which of the 17 you really want to see. But Gary suggests:
- Visit at least one Buddhist Temple like the spectacular Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion).
- Visit at least one Shinto Shrine like the Heian Shrine as it has spectacular gardens behind, even though not on the UNESCO list. For more http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3904.html. Alternatively, visit the more famous Shimogamo-jinja Shrine (family shrine of the Kamo clan, who inhabited this area before the transfer of the capital to Kyoto) or Kamigamo-jinja Shrine (One of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, dating back to the 7th century).
- Visit Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period. After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell it was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site.
- Visit the old Imperial Palace area. The Kyoto Imperial Palace used to be the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, when the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. The palace grounds can be entered only on guided tours (in English or Japanese) and the podcast explains how to get on one of these.For more: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html
- Dress up in a kimono. Lots of hire shops around the city.
- Explore the Geisha culture by going to an event, although it can be very expensive and so the podcast suggests some more affordable options. Kyoto is the heart of Japan’s geisha world. They are highly skilled entertainers who appear at high-end dinners, private parties and special events to add a special touch to the proceedings. They are not prostitutes but have trained for years in the traditional Japanese arts to become the perfect entertainers.
Resources and links referred to in the podcast:
- Official Tourist Site
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan (USA Listeners) (UK Listeners)
- The Art of the Geisha: Private Dinner in Kyoto by Viator
- Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto
This episode was supported by DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Guides