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Elegance of Kyoto’s performing art

Elegance of Kyoto’s performing art

This tour introduces you to Kyoto’s performance and entertainment art, a vibrant part of Japanese culture in the past and present. After watching a performance by actors portraying samurai on the film sets of ‘Eiga Mura,’ this tour takes you to the Gion district where geiko girls demonstrate their dance and music, and then on to a theatre to view traditional ‘kyogen’ and ‘joruri’ plays.
Koryuji temple

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Toei Uzumasa eigamura.

Uzumasa is called ‘Hollywood in Japan’ and has produced a number of Japanese action films. Visitors enjoy learning about the history of Japanese film through their displays, observing actors actually acting in films, and getting their pictures taken with a ‘samurai’. There is also a reputably scary haunted house in which real actors play the role of monsters.

Arashiyama Yoshimura

A soba (Japanese buckwheat noodle) restaurant and dessert café with a great view of Arashiyama. Patrons love their natural and flavourful soba, made with home ground soba flour. They also offer various dessert menu items, all made with their homemade soba, including ‘soba dango’ and ‘soba ice cream’.

Explore the fabric of Nishijin

Explore the fabric of Nishijin

Nishijin is the traditional textile-manufacturing district of Kyoto. The sound of weaving can be heard on the streets even now. Nishijin has developed a unique culture through the years, and you will touch this by visiting studios and shrines and savoring sweets.
Seimei jinja shrine

The name of this shrine came from Abeno Seimei, a legendary fortune-teller in the Heian period. It is said that he could tell the future by his massive knowledge of astrology and the principles of Ying and Yang. Since a novel based on his life was released in the past decade, this shrine became a hot spot for Japanese tourists. Another reason many locals come here is to get pure and tasty water from its spring.

Nishijin textile center.

Nishijin has been a central place for the manufacture of kimono textile and fabrics for many years. This museum allows you to learn and explore the Nishijin traditional dyeing techniques that were passed down by artisans for hundred of years. You can see the production process of kimono textiles through a demonstration by skillful artisans. Its museum shop offers a variety of kimono and traditional Japanese accessories.

Girutohausu kyougasi

This Kyoto-style Sweets Centre offers you a chance to learn about Japanese sweets through a variety of attractions. You will learn that Kyoto-style sweets were developed to fit the elegant lives of aristocrats, as well to complement the art of the tea ceremony. You can join their tea ceremony and enjoy their sweets and tea.

Savouring Kyoto’s delicacies

Savouring Kyoto’s delicacies

Many of the restaurants and dessert shops situated near temples and shrines were established to serve pilgrims. So, why not explore some of the highlights in the city along with nearby local delicacies? Japanese sweets, soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles), and even a glass of local sake and an outdoor hot spring bath will make your day a perfect retreat.
Daitokuji-temple

The view from the approach makes you stop walking. The maple tree bent over the stone pavement like an arch. Inside, the garden composed with minimum elements mainly moss and trees shows the fine contrast of lights and shadow. The simplicity of the design will compel you to spend longer time here than you thought. Powdered green tea is available.

Kazariya

Visitors will notice the sweet, savoury smell on the approach to the Imamiya Shrine. Many follow the smell, which leads them to this traditional Japanese dessert shop. Their famous ‘aburi mochi’ is a small soft rice cake. It is made by covering a rice cake with roasted soy bean flour and charcoal-grilling it for a moment, then covering it with white miso (fermented soy paste). It is simply a delight.

Imamiyajinjya

This shrine is located just north of the Daitokuji Temple, and its red torii gate is unmistakable. The historical background of this shrine concerns the mother of the 5th shogun of the Edo period, who undertook to rebuild this shrine with all her energy, and succeeded. She was from a family of vegetable merchants, yet ended up being the mother of the Shogun. Visitors who hope for a good marriage and ‘tama no koshi’ (to marry someone who is far above him/her in social station) come here to pray and to honour her.

Kyoto Overview

Kyoto Overview

This introductory tour explores the city’s various charms. Visit traditional Japanese gardens, temples perched on a mountainside, wooden bridges over forested valleys and the Gion district where the old culture is still vividly alive-this tour will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the city.
Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower is one of the symbols of Kyoto. Although it looks like a candle, it was designed based on the image of a lighthouse, a beacon from Kyoto. When you are 100 floors up at the observatory, you can see a perfect panoramic view of the city, and notice that the downtown is designed like a chess board with many straight streets.

Shoseien

This garden, which belongs to the Higashi Honganji Temple, shows us beautiful seasonal views throughout the year. Locals enjoy strolling in this garden, while adoring the pond, and some architectural treasures in this tranquil setting. Free admission.

Tofukuji temple

The Tofukuji Temple has many highlights in its precincts. Among them is their ‘Tsuten’ Bridge, from where visitors can enjoy a beautifully designed garden which highlights different aspects of seasonal change, and the uniquely designed ‘hojo’ garden. The refined composition of colour and design, and the harmony with nature, is quite astonishing.

Cozy, rustic Ohara

Cozy, rustic Ohara

This tour takes you on a day trip to Ohara, a quaint rural hamlet one hour north of Kyoto. Nestled between several mountains, Ohara is a picturesque destination. Visiting temples famed for Buddhist chanting, walking on the narrow streets, soaking in one of the ‘onsen’ (hot spring bath) makes for a perfectly relaxing day.
Sanzenin

The Sanzen-in temple is a symbol of Ohara, and many people associate the two. There are several highlights in the precincts, including two different gardens and the temple building. You will also enjoy the surrounding landscape of Ohara. The best time to visit Sanzen-in is in June when its 3000 hydrangeas bloom, and in autumn when the maple leaves change colours.

Hosenin

Their garden is known as ‘framed garden’. The appropriate way to enjoy this garden is to use columns as if it is a frame. Visitors can enjoy this picturesque view while relaxing with a cup of tea. Ohara is a place where ‘shomyo’ (Buddhist chanting) was developed. You can hear this unique chanting in this temple.

Motoshiro.

If you are interested in Japanese paper, you can learn how to make it by hand in this studio. You will enjoy designing, making and finishing paper with help from their knowledgeable staff. (The whole process takes about thirty minutes.) There are various Japanese paper products on sale in their shop, such as postcards, letter pads and flower vases.

The austere refinement of ‘The Tale of Genji’

The austere refinement of ‘The Tale of Genji’

Uji, a place beloved by aristocrats in the Heian period, is known as the main stage of the Japanese literature classic, ‘The Tale of Genji’. You can glimpse the world of these aristocrats through Uji’s unchanged beautiful scenery. This area is also famous for its production of fine Uji tea, and provides many dessert cafes where they serve a cup of Uji tea in the vicinity of some splendid temples.
Sanju-sangendo temple

Sanjusangendo’s 120-meter-long main hall houses 1001 statues of Kannon, the Boddhisattva of compassion. Among them is a Kannon statue designated as a national treasure. The view of these thousand statues, each uniquely shaped, is simply astonishing.

Ohtanien-chaho

This traditional Japanese dessert café offers high quality tea and dessert items made with fine tea. They take pride in being a part of the tea culture, which had its foundation in Kyoto. You can taste their refined tea through the popular desserts such as ‘Uji parfait soft’ (parfait with powdered green tea flavour).

Tofukuji temple

The Tofukuji Temple has many highlights in its precincts. Among them is their ‘Tsuten’ Bridge, from where visitors can enjoy a beautifully designed garden which highlights different aspects of seasonal change, and the uniquely designed ‘hojo’ garden. The refined composition of colour and design, and the harmony with nature, is quite astonishing.

Gion–elegance in past and present

Gion–elegance in past and present

The Gion district is deservedly the most popular spot in Kyoto for tourists. With the narrow streets, maiko girls in colourful kimonos and wooden sandals, temples and traditional buildings, you will feel as though you are being drawn into the past. The evening in Gion gives you a sense of old time nightlife.
Koudaiji

The air in the Kodaiji Temple feels lighter, and you will find your shoulders relaxing and your back lengthening naturally. Its garden has 2 ponds, and is composed in a way to balance these ponds. Each season gives this garden a special effect, and you will appreciate the excellent view offered by special illuminations in during evenings in the spring and autumn. This fantastic view will stay your memory.

Thion-in temple

The Chion-in Temple will impress you with its main gate, the largest such gate in Japan. Chion-in is also said to possess seven wonders. The story of one such wonder concerns a sparrow that is said to have flown away from the sliding screen it was painted on; another more accessible wonder is a painted cat that stares at you wherever you go. Take some time to enjoy the wonders of Chion-In.

Tenshuu

This restaurant is popular among locals. Their lunch dish ‘anago don’ (a bowl of rice topped with a grilled conger), comes in a large portion and is the most popular item. The crispy grilled conger covered with their special homemade sauce is a fine match with a bowl of rice. There are only counter seats in this restaurant, because the owner believes it is important to serve the tempura dishes right after they are deep-fried.

Walking through time–Kamigamo Shrine to Kitayama Stree

Walking through time–Kamigamo Shrine to Kitayama Stree

The Kamigamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in the city. This tour leads you through the area surrounding this shrine. You will explore the shrine, which is surrounded by a pleasant forest; a street lined with the former residences of priests; and a traditional shopping district. This area gives you a feeling of tranquility in the midst of the city.
Kamigamo jinja shrine

The Kamigamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, and is located in a splendid natural setting. Surrounded by many ancient trees, situated between two rivers, the air here has an invigorating and refreshing quality. Visitors enjoy taking pictures of the torii gate, with a glimpse of the sand pile heaped up in a shape of cone. You will encounter these and many other unforgettable views.

Jimbadou

This traditional Japanese sweet shop is located in front of the Kamigamo Shrine, and offers only one item; its well-known ‘yakimochi’. This sweet is made of grilled mochi (soft rice cake) which contains smooth bean paste inside. People come here from a quite a distance for this refined taste. Eat this sweet shortly after buying it, since it will not even last to the next day.

Syake

The streets in this district are lined up with traditional houses that used to be inhabited by the priests of the Kamigamo Shrine. One of the houses, Nishimura-ke, is open to the public and informs us about the life of a Shinto priest. The water in the garden, brought from the river and returned to the river, has a profound meaning in Shintoism. Another attraction is a pickle shop nearby, where they deal in ‘suguki’, a pickle made widely in this area.

Philosopher’s walk-contemplating in tranquility

Philosopher’s walk-contemplating in tranquility

Some of the Kyoto’s finest temples are embraced by the beautiful fringe of the Higashiyama Mountains. Take a stroll on the tranquil path that connects these temples, and enjoy the seasonal views of this area. You will also enjoy finding nice cafes and restaurants after your long walk.
Nanzenji temple

The garden of the Nanzenji Temple depicts a scene of mother and son tigers crossing a river. Visitors can find themselves connecting to this ‘karesansui’ (a garden composed of rocks and sand, without using water) garden in a deep sense. There is also tastefully designed brick architecture in the precincts, and this modern design adds a nice complement to the view of this traditional temple.

Eikando temple.

As if embraced by the Higashiyama Mountains, the Eikando Temple stands in the midst of nature. In the main hall, there is a famous statue of ‘mikaeri amida’ (Amida Buddha turning backwards). There are other excellent pieces of art, including paintings on a folding screen and on a sliding door. Autumn is the best time to visit this temple when the surrounding maple leaves change their colours. This exquisite scenery has been the inspiration for countless works of art in Japan.

Tetsugaku-no-michi

The Philosopher’s Walk is a 2 km path located at foot of the Higashiyama Mountains. The name comes from Nishida Kitaro, a philosopher in the early Showa period, who used to walk this path while contemplating. The surrounding environment of small fishes in the stream beside the path, and leaves rustling in the breeze, gives you a sense of beauty and tranquility in nature. Some cafés and restaurants are situated alongside the path.

Saga, Arashiyama-A pilgrimage in nature

Saga, Arashiyama-A pilgrimage in nature

Sagano, Arashiyama is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. Its beautiful scenery, woven by mountains and rivers, has been described by many poets and writers throughout Japan’s history. This tour will take you to spots that are not so well known, and which still give us a sense of the mystic atmosphere of ancient times.
Tenryuji

The Tenryuji Temple is a Zen temple that is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its garden makes use of the surrounding landscape of Arashiyama as borrowed scenery. It is composed of a pond, mountains, trees and rocks, making a rare and sacred harmony. Depending on where you stand to view the garden, it presents a different character.

Chikurin

Arashiyama was the place where aristocrats of the Heian period enjoyed observing seasonal change. The landscape of forested mountains and a wide river offered cherry blossoms in spring, new leaves in the early summer, fall colours in autumn, and snow-covered bamboo in winter. All of these scenes were admired and written about by Japanese poets. Walking into the bamboo forest will take you to the heart of Heian era elegance.

Okouchisansou

This garden was the lifelong passion of a famous actor from the early Showa period. He put most of the money he made from acting into creating this garden, and the result of his devotion is a widely lauded masterpiece. It truly is a perfect garden, incorporating the surrounding landscape of the Arashiyama Mountains.