Kyoto has a big reputation of being one of the most beautiful and traditional cities in the whole of Japan. We personally didn’t fall madly in love with Kyoto like most other travelers. We in fact struggled to find its most appealing side to us, mainly because all the main attractions are super crowded, which I guess is to be expected considering how popular Kyoto is nowadays.
So we still have some tips to whoever is planning to visit the former Japanese capital, feel free to add them to your ‘Kyoto’s to do list’ if you don’t have them already.
Tip #1 – Jidai Matsuri Festival
This festival happens every year on October 22, so if you happen to be there at that time it’s a must. It’s almost like going through history by watching the parade of people of all ages dressed in original typical costumes from past years past. It’s a great alternative to the other popular Kyoto’s events like the flourishing of the cherry blossom during the spring or the leaves’ colour changing in autumn.
We liked it because of the diversity of the ancient costumes, so different from the Europeans’ ones. Be aware though that Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto is still one of the biggest which attracts many people (locals and not), be ready to be in the crowd.
Tip #2 – Kyoto Station
As you might now by now, we are always looking for interesting architecture so that’s why we loved the futuristic design and architecture of the Kyoto Station together with its modern atmosphere. It differs to many tourists’ image of Kyoto only as the capital of traditional Japan.
There’s nothing wrong with the traditional architecture, but a gorgeous building like this seems to give a new image of a Kyoto that tries to balance old with modern.
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Tip #3 – Hunting for geishas
If you are willing to catch a glimpse of an original Japanese geisha or maiko (apprentice) the best place to go in Kyoto is the Gion district.
It’s very likely to bump into one of them on their way to ‘work’ all beautifully dressed up. If you are lucky to see either a geisha or a maiko, please be respectful and not invasive.
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Tip #4 – Stop at Boulange Okuda Bakery
If you are on your way to or back from the Kyoto’s famous Golden Pavilion treat yourself to one or more of the delicious baked goodies we found and devoured from the Boulange Okuda Bakery.
There is plenty of choice for every taste and it’s all freshly baked daily. Yummy!
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Tip #5 – Day trip to Nara
If you need a break from Kyoto and have a day to spare why not to go to Nara just for a day?
Nara is only an hour train trip from the Kyoto Station and if you own a JR pass, being on the JR Nara line, is very easy to get to.
In Nara you can enjoy the sight of gorgeous temples scattered in a very big park where deer are freely roaming around, such a bonus!