Trip in Kyoto among traditions, arts & crafts and traditional architecture

February 2015 

Trip in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan and one of the best place in the country to know more about traditions, architecture, crafts and costumes, that are progressively disappearing. A complete tour of Kyoto and city's thousand temples would require many days, but here we will illustrate at least the things that shouldn't be missed even if your time in the city is limited.

Kyoto station Kyoto train station
The visit to Kyoto will probably start its modern train station, recently built and displaying a very particular architecture. The train station in Kyoto is one of the busiest in all of Japan, as it serves both long distance and regional trains, including high speed trains.
Railway in Kyoto Railways in Japan
Train conductor in Japan

How to get around in Kyoto? A dense surface rail network connects efficiently all Kyoto neighborhoods to central downtown and main train station, with tracks running often very close to houses courtyards.
Kyoto subway Kyoto metro
Unlike the other large cities of Japan, Kyoto subway is less developed (in 2015, there were only two main lines), but trains are nevertheless spacious and comfortable.
Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto Sanjusangen-do
Gardens in the temple What to see in Kyoto in a day? Kyoto is an ancient city that was the capital of Japan for more than a millennium. Kyoto attractions are countless, in particular, the city is known for hosting hundreds of temples. For visitors having only one day in Kyoto, the list of things to see should certainly include the splendid Sanjusangendo temple dating back to twelfth century A.D.
Buddha statue in Sanjusangen-do
Sanjusangendo photos. The Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto is known for housing over a thousand life-size statues, dedicated to the Buddhist religion. In the temple it is strictly forbidden to photograph, and some threatening signs warn that the camera will be confiscated in the event of infringement of such rule (these photos are from a brochure, to give a good idea of what to expect from a visit to this temple).
Temple of thousand statues
Tenryu-Ji temple temple Tenryu-Ji in Kyoto
Japan winter gardens Another attraction in Kyoto that should not be missing from the list of things to see, even if you have little time available, is the Tenryu-Ji Temple, a large complex of historic buildings protected by UNESCO, surrounded by beautiful gardens, which are particularly spectacular during the spring blooms (these photos were taken in winter, during the first half of February). The Tenryu-Ji Temple is located on the outskirts of Kyoto, in a neighborhood known as Sagano and Arashiyama, and is easily accessible by train, through various surface lines.
Bamboo forest
The Tenryu-Ji temple is known to be bounded on one side by a thick and colorful bamboo forest, crossed by a trail for pedestrians.
Gion Kyoto
Traditional architecture in Japan Traditional architecture in Kyoto
Photos of Kyoto. The tour in Kyoto continues visiting Gion, an area protected by national laws for its cultural relevance, because the buildings are still based on traditional architecture (which is quickly disappearing from all over Japan).
Alley in Japan

More photos of Gion in Kyoto.
Japanese costumes
Photos of Japanese women in their traditional clothes.
Japanese woman in typical costumes
Japan traditional costume
Traditional japanese dressing
Yasaka temple
Temple in Kyoto
The Yasaka temple is located in Gion district and the sanctuary consists of a complex of buildings originally built in the seventh century A.D. The temple is known to house, usually in late June or early July, the Gion Matsuri festival, one of the most famous events in all Japan.

Some of the faithful ring bells at the Yasaka Shrine, pulling thick ropes.
The Gion district in Kyoto is also known for the tradition of geisha, a woman who has the task of entertaining guests of the house with games, songs and dances, or by preparing genuine green tea. In Western countries, the geisha profession is often still mistakenly confused with the world of prostitution.
Gheisha Japan
Japan geisha
The wooden sandals of the geisha.
Geisha in Japan Green tea (japanese authentic)
In Kyoto there are several houses, basically normal apartments used as "teahouse", where guests can understand more about the world of the geisha. In the top left photo, a geisha is engaged in the preparation of green tea according to traditional methods, which also see a particular "protocol" in the consumption of the drink as well. The green tea is prepared with cold water, obtaining a mixture rather concentrated and strictly without sugar. Before drinking green tea, visitors should eat a sweet candy, which will help to better appreciate the true flavor of the green tea (which has absolutely nothing to do with the drink obtained by industrial green tea bags in Western countries).
Geisha playing
Other tasks of the geisha are play (in photo above) or dance (pictured right) with the guests. The geisha profession is slowly disappearing in Japan and new geishas are less and less. Generally, a geisha start learning around fifteen years and it takes a long time before she obtain the "license". The geisha in these photos was only nineteen.
Geisha dancing
Traditional buildings in Kyoto
The trip to Kyoto continues walking at night through the streets of the historic district, lit by picturesque colorful lanterns.
Italian restaurant in Japan
An Italian restaurant in Kyoto.
Sushi restaurant
The beautiful ind interesting day tour in Kyoto ends with a dinner in a local sushi restaurant.
Sushi in Kyoto

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