If you’re wanting the authentic Japanese culture experience without it feeling too watered down then you should strap on your backpack and head on over to Kyoto. A city on the island of Honshu, less than an hour from Osaka, Kyoto is an absolute gem of Japan and an unmissable destination on any trip to the land of the rising sun.
Kyoto has more culture than an American diner has grease in its food. It’s an epicentre of Japanese history and culture, with a unique feel to the place with its having some modern spots mixed with traditional Japanese shrines, temples and architecture. Literally everywhere you go in Kyoto there will be some form of shrine or temple with it being home to 400 Shinto shrines and roughly 1,000 temples. The amount of shrines and temples may be overwhelming and, unless you’re there for a couple of months, impossible to see every single one on a trip to Kyoto but there are a few that you will be kicking yourself if you missed them.
Arguably the most famous landmark in the city is the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, where you can see not only the main kami Imari shrine but numerous of other shrines in what can be described as a theme park for shrines and temples, however it’s more known for the Senborn Torii. The Senborn Torii is the rows of torii gates that lead up to the Fushimi Imari Taisha that have became a focal point of tourism for Kyoto. To put into simple terms it’s those those rows of the mad wee orange Japanese gates. The Senborn Torii is a captivating sight that will be one of the highlights of your trip to not only Kyoto, but your whole trip to the land that gave the wee babe that is Pikachu.
Kyoto may be the shine and temple capital of Japan, but it’s also the home to many cultural activities, as well as the artefacts. If you have an interested in seeing some Geisha in person, the area of Gion within the city is the perfect place to go. In the Gion area you will see plenty of people dolled up in their Geisha attire and people walking around in traditional Kimonos, whilst also having the opportunity to dine at traditional establishments and tea rooms where you can be entertained by the Geisha entertainers. To dine at such places may be more expensive than dining at a Yoshinoya whilst watching some Geisha entertainment on YouTube, but if you’re really desiring to experience the traditional Geisha experience then it’ll be worth all the yennies it cost.
Other sights to see and experiences to witness in this incredible city include, Kiyomizu-dera: a shrine with some gorgeous views, Nishiki Market: a historic marketplace for authentic Japanese items, Kinkaju-ji: a golden temple with some picturesque views, and Nijō Castle: a wooden castle with some lovely gardens. If it hasn’t been hammered home yet then surely it will now, the former capital of Japan has more things to do than a CEO of a major company.
Kyoto is just fucking incredible, let’s put it bluntly. It’s home to so many spectacular sights and entities that you will be gagging to go back and see. It’s got incredible places to eat and drink, it’s got the shrines, it’s the the traditional Japanese life and culture, it’s got its modern day parts and the only flaw it has is that it’s rather expensive purely because Japan is an expensive place for all, especially backpackers. To not think of Kyoto as one of the best places you will visit in Japan would be more criminal than a convicted armed robber with prior convictions for drugs, assault and not looking both ways as they crossed the road. Kyoto is a city that should be definitely on your bucket list, or will be soon after you’ve done some research or people have held you up against a wall by your neck until you agree to have it placed on the list.