If you think geisha, castles, samurai, and sushi, you’re thinking Kyoto—the heart of historical and traditional Japan. My second time to this wonderful prefecture was in the middle of the summer when the cicadas roar loudly and the hot summer sun makes matcha ice cream taste like a million yen. The busy summer holiday brings many people, but here’s how to love and see Kyoto at the height of tourist season.
Ah, the golden pavilion! How lovely art thou! This golden temple reflects magnificently off pond waters and projects shine everywhere. Even though Kinkakuji flows with people, you can still capture great moments… Textually, visually or some way else if you like. The Japanese are great when it comes to taking turns.
2. Fushimi Inari
Has anyone seen Memoirs of a Geisha or read the book? This 10,000 torii gate shrine is guarded by the kitsune or white foxes. It’s free to enter and the hike is worth the views. I recommend going during the morning hours before it gets too hot and overcrowded.
A World Heritage Site located in western Kyoto, Ninnaji truly is a hidden gem. From 888 to 1869, emperors would send a son to the temple as head priest when a vacancy arose. The North Garden’s soothing water sounds and the South Rock Garden are incredible and large. Ryonaji has got nothing on these exquisite grounds. Inside the temple, there are many doors painted gold with designs of cranes, cherry blossoms and aristocratic women.
Instead of going to a more popular temple and not getting as many great views and pictures, Ninnaji is your temple.
4. Kyoto Traditional Arts Museum
Ever wondered what it would be like to see a Maiko dance for free? Every Sunday maiko showcase dances and you can watch craftsmen make traditional furniture to fans. Depending on the season, the dances will change. Information is also provided in English.
5. Gion Festival
The most popular festival in all of Japan took place coincidentally as we were there. The parade showcased floats of boats, flutes, tanabata trees, and children dressed as old war lords. Make sure to get there early to secure a spot and stay away from creepy grandpa’s perving on your kid sister.