Kyoto is the former Imperial capital of Japan and a true One-of-a-Kind city. Its historical sites are incomparable and you are likely take more pictures here than anywhere else.
Known as the thousand-year capital, Kyoto offers a mix of old and new environments. Shopping malls and Starbucks cafes line up on the main street taking you from the city center to the district of Gion in the east. Here you can catch a glimpse of a young maiko or an old geisha in their colorful outfits as they step into a taxi or walk the streets late at night. If you really want to meet a geisha or a maiko in person you can attend a tea house ceremony or watch them perform a dance routine at the Gion Corner.
In Eastern Kyoto you will also find a number of famous temples, including the stunning Kiyomizu-dera on top of the mountains in Higashiyama. Further north lies Ginkaku-ji, the silver pavilion, while the golden pavilion, Kinkaku-ji, is located in the west. Many temples feature beautiful gardens and wonderful pieces of art. Ryōan-ji, for example, is a Zen temple with a distinctive rock garden. In the southwest of Kyoto you can enjoy the amazing bamboo forest in Arashiyama. Not far from Kyoto station stands To-ji, the five-story pagoda. Next to this Buddhist temple stood Rashōmon, the southern gate to the old capital that provided the setting for Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s short story Rashōmon (1915) and later Akira Kurosawa’s critically acclaimed film in 1950.
Kyoto is a city to visit all year around. If you are new to Japan, you probably want to see the cherry trees in full bloom between March and April. Many Japanese visit Kyoto during holiday seasons like Golden Week (early May) and Obon (August). Autumn in the city can be just as beautiful as spring, with trees in red and gold spreading across the mountains.