Kyoto showcases all the elements of ancient Japan that one could imagine- fine architecture, stunning gardens, world-class cuisine, vibrant festivals, tea rooms and sake breweries, elegant geisha, and rich arts & crafts.
Like most large cities in Japan, the beauty of Kyoto lies in the details and on the surface, the city looks surprisingly modern.
Over 40 million visitors visit Kyoto every year. Its must-see sights include the Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji, the famous rock garden of Ryoan-ji- one of the most important Zen temples in the city.
Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu-dera and the shops of Higashiyama District, Sanjusangendo and its landscape garden, Nishiki market with its incredible food shops and restaurants, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Fushimi Inari Shrine with its incredible torii gates and traditional geisha district of Gion.
A short journey by train from Kyoto brings you to the historic ancient capital of Nara, one of the friendliest and greenest cities in the country. The main attraction, Todai-ji Temple is the world’s largest wooden building, housing the mighty Daibutsu bronze statue of Buddha.
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Another famous feature of Nara is the sacred deer, approximately 1,200 of them, who the locals believe are the messengers of the gods. They are therefore protected by city law and allowed to wander freely. The city is best explored on foot and can be visited as a day trip from Kyoto.
Further popular excursions from Kyoto are to Mount Koya, also known as Koya-san in Japanese. One of the holiest mountains in the country, Mount Koya is home to more than 100 temples and monasteries and is the centre of the esoteric Shingon sect of Buddhism.
For those interested in Buddhism, an overnight stay in a simple temple lodging would offer a profoundly spiritual experience along with an opportunity to savour delicious vegetarian cuisine prepared by the monks. The village has recently been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream – Discover - Mark Twain - You can view clips of some of our own favourite discoveries here.
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By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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