In Kyoto, solemn, five hundred year-old temples overlook a decidedly urban landscape bustling with activity. Below are some of our favorite activities and stops in the Eastern Kyoto area:
Be in the audience at Gion Kabuernjo Theater in April to see a performance of the Myako Odori (the Cherry-Blossom Dance).
Sip amazake, a sweet, nonalcoholic beverage served with ginger and traditionally enjoyed by nuns at Bun-no-suke Jaya, a small courtyard teahouse just south of Ninen-zaka.
Indulge the hopeless romantic in you at Kiyomizu-dera. Walk with your eyes closed, between two stones placed 18 meters apart at Jishu-jinja, the temple’s shrine, dedicated to a powerful matchmaker. Do so in a straight manner and Cupid’s bow is sure to strike.
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Browse the wares of Gion at the intersection of Hanami-koji-dori and Shinmonzen-dori, the heart of Gion’s shopping and art district, for that perfect collectors’ item.
Enjoy a little peace and quiet in the Zen-styled gardens of Nanzen-ji, a temple largely ignored on many tour bus itineraries.
Spend the night in a traditional ryokan, but do your homework in order to avoid committing any gaffes, like forgetting to remove your slippers before entering your room.
Feast on kaiseki ryori, an elegant full-course meal, or opt for an exquisite kaiseki bento (box lunch) from Yagenbori.
Appreciate the simplicity of Ginkaku-ji, an unadorned, modest two-story temple complemented by a pair of complex gardens.
Climb to the top of the pagoda at Eikan-do for sweeping views of the grounds below and Kyoto beyond.
Tip toe along the main corridor of Chion-in, a uguisu-bari (nightingale floor), which “sings” at every footstep. The early burglar alarm warned monks below to the presense of intruders.