Kyoto is the glorious old capital of Japan that is rich in culture and tradition with an abundance of activities and sights, but here are some things you just can’t miss!
1. Get decked out in Traditional Japanese wear
This full yukata and kimono rental service not only rents out gorgeous pieces of traditional clothing, they also have a hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer and photography to help you fully get into the zone. Children and men can also get in on the action as Yumeyukata also has rental kimonos for them too. For a truly authentic Kyoto experience, why not go all the way and get a full Maiko Makeover?
Kyoto Yumeyukata 〒600-8103 Housai Bldg. 353 Shiogama-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto +81-75-354-9110 (English and Mandarin hotline) 10am – 7.30pm (Subject to seasonal change) Rentals start from ¥3,500
2. Watch a Traditional Performance Art
From the popular Tea Ceremony and Flower Arrangement to the entertaining Kyogen Theatre and Bunraku Puppet Theatre, plus the musical Koto Zither and Gagaku Court Music, you can experience seven different kinds of performing arts right in the heart of the city.
Gion Corner Yasaka Hall, 570-2 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Daily 6pm & 7pm Tickets start at ¥3,150
3. Drink in Sake History
Located in Fushimi, Kyoto City, here you can discover the traditions and methods behind brewing the perfect cask of sake. Apart from its nostalgic buildings and educational KIKIZAKE tasting tours, you can also pick up a special retro sake bottle souvenir.
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum 247 Minamihama-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto 612-8660 Open year around (Except middle of Aug. and end of year) 9.30am – 4.30pm Tickets start at ¥300 (includes one door gift)
4. Stopover at a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Also known as the Omuro Imperial Palace, the temple was built in the Heian period and is situated along the foothills to the west of Kyoto. Apart from visiting the temple, gardens and the late-blooming, low-hanging Omurozakura, overnight guests are also given exclusive entry to the kondō, one of Japan’s national treasures and allowed to attend morning service with the monks.
Ninna-ji Omuro Kaikan 616−8092 Omuro-dairi 33 Ukyo-ku Kyoto 81-75-464-3664 Prices start at ¥5,400 *Fully booked for spring 2016
5. Hop on a romantic train ride
Home to Japan’s largest train diorama, the railway is also famous for its gorgeous scenery along the Hozugawa Ravine. This seasonal ride showcases sakura in spring, cicadas in summer and maples in autumn before becoming a snowy wonderland in winter.
Sagano Scenic Railway 601-1248, 31 Kusao-cho Oohara Sakyo-ku, Kyoto +075-744-2917 Tickets start at ¥620
6. One-of-a-kind Theatrical Experience
A moving story set in the future about a toy doll finding her human heart, GEAR is a unique, full sensory theatrical performance that fuses traditional Kabuki techniques with the latest stage technology available. There are usually four performances a week (with two extra performances on holidays) twice a day, at 2pm and 7pm on weekdays and at noon and 5pm on weekends and holidays.
GEAR ART COMPLEX 1928, 3F 604-8082, 56 Benkeiishicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 10am - 7pm Tickets start from ¥2,700
7. Stay at a Minshuku
Housed in a traditional Japanese residence, this casual tourist home is mostly self-service, famous for their miso (味噌) dishes and has goemon buro (五右衛門風呂) that use real hot spring water to pamper your skin and soothe your body.
Oohara no Sato 601-1248, 31 Kusao-cho, Oohara Sakyo-ku, Kyoto +075-744-2917 Stays start from ¥9,990
8. Dig into delicious dishes
Experience authentic obanzai ryori (おばんざい料理, traditional Kyoto home-style cooking) and savour the rich flavours of seasonal dishes made at this traditional Japanese inn hidden in a rustic little street.
Ishibei Koji Mamecha Kyoto Ishibei Koji Yasakajinja Minami-mon Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto +81-50-5868-2788 Daily 5pm – 11.30pm Dinners start from ¥3,500
9. Manga Lovers Paradise
Opened in 2006, this museum holds one of the world’s largest manga collection. As of 2013, there are about 300,000 items including comics from all over the world and often holds manga-related events and workshops throughout the year.
Kyoto International Manga Museum 604-0846 Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto +81-75-254-7414 Daily 10am - 6pm (Last entry 5.30pm) Tickets ¥800
10. Ride a rushing river
Originally a route meant for transporting goods along Tanba-Kameoka to Arashiyama, you can now take an exhilarating ride along the rapids and go past historical and cultural hot spots such as Kameyama Castle, Uketa Shrine and Shishigaguchi.
Hozugawa-kudari 6210-005, 2 Shimo-Nakajima Hozu-cho Kameoka, Kyoto +81-771-22-5846 Daily 10am - 3.30pm Rides start at ¥4,100