Kyoto is Japan’s City of Solitude where old traditions heavily cling on to the unstoppable blocks of modernity. It gives you both the best of the past and present worlds, a testament that there is no need to sacrifice art and culture in order to embrace modern society. You’ll find that the past and present exist with ease and harmony.
Even with the thrive of technology and concentration of crowd, the city’s urban landscape has not abandon the beauty of and benefits from mother nature. Parks, gardens, clean waters and forests are in sync with the shrines, temples and old houses creating a beautiful façade for the city. These should be replicated to urban cities – to have green spaces while allowing arts and culture to flourish with modernity.
The combinations of these attractions make it one of the most photographed city in the world. It is cloaked with a sublime but not necessarily melancholic feeling. This is possibly because the city is the emperor’s residence for more than 1,000 years. You can really feel the serenity and simplicity of their living.
Visit Gion district to spot some geishas and hike all the way to Kiyomizu-dera temple. Be prepared to walk a lot to be immersed with their art, culture and way of living. The golden Kinkakuji temple is not to be missed. The entrance fee is worth it. Arashiyama bamboo grove is a little bit out of the way so make the most of it by visiting the Hozu river and the shrines surrounding the grove. One of my favorites is the Fushimi-Inari temple because it is a 2-hour hike from the base all the way to the top and back! We were fortunate to witness the sunset descending upon the whitish landscape of the city.