Kyoto: A Must-Go
Kyoto is called Japan’s most beautiful city almost universally, but until recently it was also Japan’s most important city. From 794 – 1868 CE, Kyoto housed the seat of the Japanese emperor was in Kyoto – making it Japan’s capital. Tightly knit roads housing almost 1.5 million people and more than 2,000 sacred shrines sprawl across this city nestled into a valley.
The Richest History
Kyoto was more than just Japan’s capital on paper. It was, and still is, home to so many quintessential tenets of Japanese culture – and with its diverse sightseeing and preserved culture, it tells a chronological story of Japan. For example, the “old town” called Gion has hardly changed since the Feudal era. On top of the 2000 shrines that have popped up over 2000 years, it houses Tofuku-ji Temple: the headquarters of Japan’s own Pure Land Buddhism. The city has built itself around the Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no Michi), which was named after a famous scholar who took the same walk every day and crosses most of the Eastern side of the city from top to bottom.
Plentiful Natural Resources
While the architecture is incredible, the natural habitat of Kyoto is a testament itself to Japan’s quintessential climate. The city is surrounded by lush forests. Big rivers and small canals force their way through it, and have been built around in areas such as Kurashiki (nicknamed the Venice of Japan) and the Ukyō-Ku ward. A magically massive bamboo forest borders the city in the northern Arashiyama area, and just nearby is the equally impressive Gio-Ji moss garden. Although the city is large, it’s recommended to travel around by foot, because there is so much to see on the way to anywhere – and there are hundreds of natural hot spring bathhouses, called Onsens, to wind down in after a long day.