HEAR KYOTO, AND YOUR IMAGINATION GOES RUNNING WITH CHERRY BLOSSOM, GEISHAS, JAPANESE GARDENS AND TEMPLES. THE CITY, JUST OVER AN HOUR DRIVE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OF OSAKA IS ONE OF THE MOST VISITED SITES IN JAPAN.
Most will want to visit the city in April for the world famous cherry blossom. All those trees turning pink are stunning, but be warned, it will also be difficult to find a decent hotel room at a moderate price, and you will be surrounded by thousands of tourists during any of your visits. So why not choose the middle of the Japanese winter to visit Kyoto. Winter weather can move pretty fast here and there is nothing more romantic than one day under the snow and the next with a beautiful blue sky.
Kyoto offers a myriad of temples to visit, but not only. You will enjoy visiting local markets, the city’s famous bamboo forest or the old city streets known as geishas’ former place of residence. Moving around the city is pretty easy; buy a cheap day pass ticket on the local bus or rent a bicycle to explore the remote areas.
You will need at least two or three days to experience a decent visit. My preferred three places could be your starting point. The most famous attraction site in Japan is the Kinkaku-ji temple. Also known as the Golden Temple, it is a Zen Buddhist temple. Make sure you do come early here to avoid the crowds.
Next, you would head to the Ryoan-ji temple known for its world famous Japanese Garden. The Rock Garden is simple, so peaceful. Everything is about the art of contemplation here. By the time you will leave Ryoan-ji, you will want to find a nice, easy lunch spot. Why not try a bowl of delicious ramen, the local rice noddle soup? You will find ramen everywhere in the city, and during the cold months of winter, this is a blessing!
In the early afternoon, head to the southern part of Kyoto, to the Fushimi Inari Taisha. The Shinto shrine is at the base of the Inari Mountain. You will have already seen pictures of the thousands of wooden orange gates, a walk around there is just a dream…
If you visit Japan in winter, don’t forget that the Northern is-land of Hokkaido offers some of the best snow in the world. The skiing resort of Niseko receives over 18 meters of snow each winter, and it is only a short flight away from Osaka.