Why Kyoto?

Old Oct 13th, 2013, 10:29 AM
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Why Kyoto?

The general consensus here is to split a short visit to Japan—I have ten non-travel days at the end of March, beginning of April—between Tokyo and Kyoto. Why Kyoto? Is it a Zen thing—the modernity of the former juxtaposed to the antiquity of the latter, a matter of balance, a form of modesty, like guessing at the answer to a question rather than refusing to answer at all--or will I be missing something important by staying in and around Tokyo for the duration? I have little interest in early Japanese wooden buildings and none at all in organized religion (all though, were I to find religion at this late date Buddhism would probably be its form). What will I find in Kyoto that will make me glad that I packed my bags and caught a train?
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 11:17 AM
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No one can really answer what will make YOU glad you went, but we can try and share what we enjoy about Tokyo.

Although people often describe Tokyo as modern and Kyoto as traditional, that's not entirely right. Tokyo is thoroughly modern but one can still find pockets of traditional within. Kyoto has swathes of modern as well as the large areas which are more traditional.

I am not interested in religion either, I'd describe myself as atheist or humanist depending on what mood I'm in but I've never understood the human need to believe in deities or spirits. But the temples and shrines of Kyoto are of interest irrespective of one's religious beliefs (or lack of them). Their aesthetic beauty alone is a reason to visit, not to mention the peaceful nature that even non-religious types can enjoy, speaking for myself, anyway. And I love the opportunity they give to observe a culture and set of traditions wholly alien to my own.

What I also liked about Kyoto was the accessibility and scale. Tokyo is so enormous that there's not even an area one could call the centre/ down town. Rather, it has several centres. Planning sightseeing means looking at where everything is and grouping them according to the map or wasting so very much time backtracking back and forth. That's not an issue either, really, and travel itself I found fascinating. But the scale of Tokyo is a little daunting.

There's loads to see, and I only scratched the surface and yet, personally, I'm not as drawn to spend time there on our second visit as I am to return and spend more in Kyoto.

Near Kyoto you can also visit Nara, Koya-san, Osaka and Kobe. We also spent a happy half day visiting Yamazaki whisky distillery. And I am considering a trip to Uji, famous for its green tea. Miho Museum is also not too far out.

Shopping is good in both cities. I found Nishiki Market accessible and not sure if there's an equivalent in Tokyo. There probably is, I guess.

Eating was super in both places.

Both cities have so much to see, one could easily spend 10 days in each, so you can certainly spend your entire time in and around Tokyo without getting bored, if it appeals to you more.
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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Aah, first sentence, I meant "about Kyoto", obviously.
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 04:15 PM
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"Why Kyoto?" For me: gardens, beautiful architecture in a variety of styles (temples, shrines, palaces), an awesome sense of history, tiny details that contribute to the aesthetics....
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Old Oct 14th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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First, whether you have interest in organized religion or not, presumably you are traveling and choose your destinations because you have interest in other cultures -- from what they are like now to how they got that way to what are their underpinnings. Therefore, Kyoto's shrines, the Inari shrine at its outskirts, and Nara should all be curious to you to some degree.

Second, Kyoto is Japan's Florence.

Ultimately, if you do your research, you'll wonder why you have this question.
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Old Oct 14th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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I find Kyoto to be easier to travel than Tokyo, ideally, you can see quite a bit. While you may not like Religion per say, they have some amazing temples and parks in Kyoto. And short trips to Ohara and Nara for small town locations. Or Kobe and Osaka are just train rides away.

Tokyo is awesome too.. Tough choice, but, honestly, can't go wrong with either. I'm actually in Japan in 6 more days.
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Old Oct 14th, 2013, 04:27 PM
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Why Kyoto... well, why not. (Trust me on this one, along with some beloved family members, cousins, relatives, and ancestors -- along with a long-time family friend, 'Mr. Kita', and his wondrous father's Kyoto-based antique shop, which still proudly displays a rather immediate post-WW II era photograph of two cherished ancestors).

Rather early on this Tuesday business travel flying day, but do wish to encourage the 'OP' and others on visiting Kyoto. (Finally, some of you fine Fodorites are venturing off to joyous Japan for initial time; well done.) Mind you, I haven't visited Kyoto for *some* time (going back more than a few years, and that was combined with a July, full-moon, ascent of Fuji-san), but what I saw and experienced, truly loved. (Again, the long-time family connection with the Kyoto Kitas, most beneficial.)

If still Kyoto hesitant, so wish you could have overheard some snippets from a recent family rendezvous and (C. R. Mackintosh) celebration dinner and weekend in *gracious* Glasgow, Scotland. My profile page restaurant review of Glasgow's Ubiquitous Chip only hints at the love my beloved sister #1 and a lovely Japanese-Scottish heritage scholar have for Kyoto (and Takayama, Tokyo...)

Wherever you travel, have fun. Joyous business/pleasure flights this week (SQ, perhaps) to you and all - and for any of you near Tokyo Park Hyatt business or holiday travellers out there, well, she was as fine as ever last week for all-too brief meetings; enjoy,

macintosh (robert)

... Singapore Airlines, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
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Old Oct 14th, 2013, 05:22 PM
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Both Kyoto and Tokyo are quitessentially Japanese, the epitome of Japanese. If you want to understand both modern and traditional Japan culture, go to Tokyo and Kyoto.
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