Culture-Tripping in Kyoto

Kyoto

Japan’s former capital, Kyoto, has preserved its temples, shrines, and timeless buildings. Thanks to them, the city’s age-old traditions have remained alive! Go beyond sightseeing and partake in art forms passed down through generations. Stroll along Kyoto’s old-school streets clad in a kimono. Find your inner peace through a meditation session; or, learn Japan’s ancient art of calligraphy!

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Updated a year ago

Yumeyakata Gojō

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

Make your tour around Kyoto even more special by donning a kimono! Yumeyakata Gojō has racks of countless high-quality robes and accessories at your disposal. You won’t have to worry about a thing—their friendly English-speaking staff will help you every step of the way. Just make your reservation and they’ll handle the rest, from the makeover to the walking tour. They’ll even cover the outdoor photography session! Take advantage of their interesting itineraries, including a Gojō area tour. This Autumn 2018, they’re offering a special temple visit where you get to view the red maple trees, visit Taizo-in Temple, and dine on Zen Buddhist cuisine!

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Camellia FLOWER

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

Camellia FLOWER is a small teahouse at the heart of Higashiyama, one of Kyoto’s historic districts. Settle into a classic tatami (rice straw mat) room for a special cup of Matcha, prepared through a traditional Japanese ceremony! The host leads with a brief introduction, followed by the tea-brewing rites. Then, it’s your turn! Serve your own cup and savor the bold robust flavors of green tea, paired perfectly with a sweet dessert!

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Calligraphy Kyoto

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

At Calligraphy Kyoto, students recognize the beauty of Shodo or Japanese calligraphy! Choose a word and Teacher Chifumi Niimi, a lifelong calligraphy enthusiast, will assist you through each stroke. You’re free to keep trying and practicing your Kanji (Chinese-Japanese character) throughout the session until you’re fully satisfied. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have a bit of calligraphy history, practical knowledge, and a keepsake to display at home!

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WAK Japan (Wakwak-kan)

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

WAK Japan, run by the Women’s Association Kyoto, seeks to spread the appreciation and knowledge of Japanese arts! The ladies offer a variety of programs suited to introduce tourists to a new skill. Fold a sedge of paper cranes or a bouquet of washi (Japanese paper) flowers through their Origami course; or, tastefully assemble a flowers according to the rules of Ikebana! Get your hands dirty to gain a deeper understanding of the city, its history, and its people through handicrafts passed down for generations.

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Kyoto Cuisine & Maiko Evening at Gion Hatanaka

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

The Gion Hatanaka offers an intimate evening with Maikos (Geishas-in-training) as they perform the Kyo-mai, a Kyoto-style traditional dance! Dine on fine local cuisine while the elegant kimono-clad entertainers take the stage. After, the Maikos join the audience by serving sake and engaging in some drinking games. The world of Geisha and Maiko is mysterious and alluring as they are rarely seen out and about in the city, dedicating much of their time to their discipline. Sate your curiosity by asking them questions through a translator!

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Samurai Kembu Theater (Kyoto Dojo)

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

Masters of the Japanese martial art of Kembu (or Gin’ei-kenshibu) perform Demonstration Shows at the Samurai Kembu Theater. Kembu was a ritual that combined swordplay with dance, done by samurais before battle to sharpen concentration. The performer wields a katana (traditional long sword) and a Japanese fan, moving swiftly with grace and precision. Take up the way of the sword and learn from the true Kembu Masters! Here, they teach practical techniques and end every lesson in full costume.

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Sagano Onsen Tenzan-no-yu

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

Take a dip into one of Kyoto’s few natural hot springs! The rock rotenburo (open-air bath) at Sagano Onsen Tenzan-no-yu pumps mineral-rich water all the way from 365-meters underground. Its sodium and calcium chloride content helps purify and moisten your skin, leaving it silky afterwards! There is also wide a variety of medicinal baths and spa treatments available for head-to-toe rejuvenation after a long day.

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Enkō-ji Temple

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Kyoto, Japan • Recommendation • 

Meditate in a hall used by Buddhist monks and nuns since the Meiji era (1868-1912)! Enkō-ji Temple is on the outskirts of Kyoto, tucked away from the bustle of the city. Its enchanting garden blooms with cherry blossoms during Spring, then red and golden foliage during Autumn! Commune with nature and tap into its tranquility while joining in on Zazen (Zen Meditation). Sessions begin early on Sunday mornings at 6:00AM. Call at least a day ahead to reserve a spot. The monks welcome visitors at every level; you’ll be able to follow along to their instructions, whether you’re a first-timer or a long-time practitioner!

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About Japan

Opposites attract in Japan—ancient traditions fuse with advanced technology while minimalism meets kitsch

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