Blogs from Kyoto, Japan, Asia

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Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Higashiyama May 23rd 2020

Which country has the most Michelin-starred restaurants? The Michelin guide was founded in 1900 by brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin as a way to encourage drivers to take more road trips. It included maps and recommendations on where to sleep, fuel up, and eat. The hope was that it would encourage people to put more wear on their cars and thus buy more tires from their company. Today, restaurants covet Michelin stars. Even a single star is a tremendous honor as it denotes a quality restaurant. Excellent restaurants are awarded two stars, and the crème de la crème receive three-stars. Despite France's reputation for fine food and it being the home of the Michelin guide, France's 600 odd starred restaurants only put it in second place. The most Michelin star restaurants can actually be found in ... read more
Wow, I would love this!!!!
My favorites!!
n/naka in Los Angeles

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 20th 2019

As we disembark from the bullet train after a remarkably comfortable and smooth 2 hour journey speeding across the 400km from Hakone, we finally set foot in Kyoto - our last stop in Japan. Kyoto used to be the old seat of Japan’s Imperial Court; it is home to ancient emperors, the mysterious world of the Geisha, numerous breathtakingly beautiful temples and shrines and is known as the cultural capital of Japan as well as an internationally renowned center for higher learning. We step into this dazzlingly historical and culturally rich city and into the beautiful sunshine... “Looks like Calais,” says Charlie. He sniffs. “Smells like it too.” As we strolled through the Kyoto streets and along the river Charlie was forced to admit that his first impressions were wrong, but it’s fair to say that ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 15th 2019

You can’t arrive at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove too early. Set your alarm and get there at sunrise and not a moment later; it’s totally worth it. The light is magical and you’ll have the grove almost to yourself for a few moments, before tourists join you to visit what is one of Kyoto’s top sights. You’ll take lots of pictures but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to capture on film the surreal atmosphere on standing beneath the swaying stalks of bamboo. Try not to be too disappointed. There’s one path through the grove, which leads slowly uphill from outside the north gate of Tenryū-ji to just below Ōkōchi Sansō. After this you’ll definitely want to make a visit to Tenry-ji Temple, right next to the grove, and ideally have lunch at Shigetsu. Note that you ... read more
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 14th 2019

Probably the most rewarding day trip from Kyoto is the hike from Kibune to Kurama to visit the temple followed by a trip to the onsen. The train ride is a highlight in itself, especially with the changing autumn leaves, but likely all year round. This adventure would only be improved as an overnight trip or even a long weekend; Kibune itself is an incredibly cute little village with several beautiful inns that would be well worth a stay, and there are some great restaurants here too. The hike between the two towns is not overly long or strenuous, with a chance to visit some lovely shrines along the way, and it’s nice to get out into the mountains and away from the crowds. If you’re not interested in the hike you can take the train ... read more
Kifune Shrine
Kifune Shrine
Kifune Shrine

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 13th 2019

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto's famed 'Golden Pavilion', is one of Japan's best-known sights. The main hall, covered in brilliant gold leaf, shining above its reflecting pond is spectacular. Arrive on a weekday as soon as it opens and still expect to be rubbing shoulders with tour groups. The original building dates from 1397 and was a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. His son converted it into a Zen Buddhist temple. In 1950 a young monk consummated his obsession with the temple by burning it to the ground. In 1955 a full reconstruction was completed that followed the original design, but the gold-foil covering was extended to the lower floors. The gold employed was intended to mitigate and purify any pollution or negative thoughts and feelings towards death. Each floor represents a different style of architecture. Although it ... read more
Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 12th 2019

You can't arrive at Fushimi-Inari Temple too early; head out before sunrise so you can watch the sun break though the vermilion torii gates either near the temple entrance or through the trees higher up the mountain of Inari-san. The higher you go the thinner the crowds, and you'll still encounter seemingly endless arcades of gates, mostly large but also small ones, and tiny ones, all bright red against the dark green foliage and gray stone foxes, scattered by the hundreds throughout the shrine and sub-shrines. It's a beautifully surreal experience. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794. Fushimi Inari was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake by the Hata family in the 8th century. The fox is considered the messenger of Inari, the god of cereals, ... read more
Fushimi-Inari
Fushimi-Inari
Fushimi-Inari

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 11th 2019

Our day started early at Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains. The temple began in 1482 as a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, and after his death it was converted into a temple. The interior of the building is not open to the public but it is supposed to contain a statue of Kannon. The shogun's ambition to cover the elegant building with silver (if this was his intention – it’s also possible that the name arose because the moon light reflecting on the building's dark exterior gave it a silvery appearance) was never realized but it is still lovely to behold. In front of Ginkaku-ji is a dry sand garden with a large cone of white sand and ranked undulating sand which is supposed to be symbolic of a ... read more
Dry Sand Garden at Ginkaku-ji
Dry Sand Garden at Ginkaku-ji
Ginkaku-ji

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 9th 2019

One of the first train tickets we reserved when we arrived in Tokyo was our ticket to Kyoto; at nearly a week out we got some of the last seats on the right side of the train (it’s essential to get a window seat on the correct side of the train in order to view Mount Fuiji). Fortunately, we had already seen Mount Fuji earlier in our trip as this time it was shrouded in fog. After an early and still-amazing (if Fuji-san less) bullet train ride we arrived in Kyoto, the pinnacle city of Japanese culture and tradition. Full of thousands of temples and gardens and hundreds of teahouses it was a highlight of our trip and even after a week there is much I want to return to see. Our first sight was Nijo ... read more
Ekiben
Kamo River
Birds on Kamo River

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto October 27th 2019

By this point we have the trains down so none of that WHY DIDN'T you get off the train?! that was our stop!!nonsense! that we experienced getting to Hakone. Getting to Kyoto was easy breezy from Tokyo. We did a quick luggage drop at our hotel as we have also figured out that the check-in time in Japan IS THE CHECK-IN time and headed over to Nishiki market. Which can I say that I LOVE that the pasmo card I use for public transit works in a completley different city and that is freaking awesome. Anyhoo, I have never been a fan of street meat even when it comes nicely packaged as stall meat. So this market was cool, but I really only tried one thing and snagged a bag of cucumber kimchi at this spot ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto September 21st 2019

On 4 September we were off travelling, first stop Kyoto, taking the Shinkansen which departed from Tokyo station. It was a journey of about four hours and, as we'd booked a room at the Kyoto Tower Hotel which was just opposite Kyoto Station, as soon as we arrived it was a case of leave our luggage in our room and head off to the Kyoto subway where we'd organised to meet up with Keiko Kiriyama who I last saw at the Dickens International Conference in Eastbourne, UK. Keiko is an Associate Professor at Kyoto University who gave a talk at the Eastbourne Conference on 'Dickens and Dance' so it was lovely to see her again. With the skies darkening the three of us headed off to the Shokokuji Jotenkaka Museum which entailed walking through a garden ... read more
Garden at the museum
Temple in the Karasuma Higashi area
Temple in the Karasuma Higashi area




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