Kyoto is considered one of the most historically significant cities in Japan. It is the only major Japanese city spared from the bombs of World War II, leaving it the country's most preserved urban area. This former capital is brimming with more than 2,000 temples and shrines, a trio of palaces and dozens of gardens and museums. Its well preserved architecture and relics are what put Kyoto on the sightseeing map, but one could spend years exploring its hidden treasures and still keep turning up more surprises. Once you've had your fill of temples, you can easily go for a hike in the surrounding mountains, browse the shops or best of all enjoy some of the finest food in all Japan.Find Cruises Sailing to This Port
Kinkakuji (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
One of Kyoto's best known attractions, Kinkakuji was constructed in 1397 as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. This impressive palace features a three-storey pavilion covered in gold leaf with a roof topped by a bronze phoenix, and was said to evoke paradise on earth. Kinkakuji was converted to a Zen temple after Yoshimitsu's death in 1408. If you come here on a clear day, the Golden Pavilion shimmers against a blue sky, its reflection captured in the waters of a calm pond.
Though it's not technically a sport, you can witness some of the fittest athletes in the world: Kyoto's rickshaw drivers. These men are capable of pulling several passengers up the steep hill to the Kinkaku-ji temple.
Kyoto is full of restaurants serving both kaiseki (meals fit for an emperor) and simpler restaurants specialise in Obanzai (home-style Kyoto cooking). Kyoto cuisine, known as Kyo-ryori, is probably most famous for the vegetarian dishes created to serve the needs of Zen Buddhist priests making the rounds of Kyoto's many temples. These vegetarian set meals (shojin ryori) may include tofu simmered in a pot at your table, filmy sheets of soya milk curd and an array of local vegetables. Kyoto is also renowned for its own style of kaiseki, an elaborate feast enjoyed by the capital's nobility with its blend of ceremonial court cuisine, Zen vegetarian food and simple tea ceremony dishes.
As the nation's capital for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto became home to a number of crafts and exquisite art forms that catered to the elaborate tastes of the upper classes. There are several crafts specific to Kyoto. Kyoningyo are display dolls, kyoshikki is lacquerware with designs formed using gold or silver dust, and kyosensu are ritual fans made from bamboo and Japanese paper. And Kyoto's markets are the best place to find antiques and bric-a-brac at reasonable prices. Make sure you bargain for better prices. The markets are the only places in Japan where you are able to do so.
Japan's currency is the yen.
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Learn more about this port city with these tourist information guides.