Top Reasons to Go to Kyoto

Architecture: Despite modernization, about 27,000 traditional houses still grace the Kyoto cityscape. The preservation districts include Sannen-zaka, Gion Shin-bashi, the sake brewing district in Fushimi, and the canal street leading to Kamigamo Jinja.

Gardens: Chinese-influenced gardens symbolize paradise on Earth. The karesansui (rock gardens) of Zen temples signify the quest for wholeness; the most famous of these is at Ryoan-ji.

Crafts: There's no shortage of art and antiques shops; secondhand kimonos are a bargain; and ceramics, lacquerware, and woven bamboo make great souvenirs.

Living culture: With their opulent kimonos, hair ornaments, and artistic skills, the professional dancers and performers known as geisha are revered as an embodiment of Japanese culture.

Festivals: Kyoto is known for its elaborate festivals.

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