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18 Exotic Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan

Ishaan Govardhan Mar 14, 2024
Japan's historical capital has perfected the balancing act between the old and the new. The cultural and traditional roots of this city are allowed to thrive and co-exist alongside the globally relevant identity of modern Kyoto.

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Once in Kyoto, you'll feel drawn to its spiritual side. Start with the stunning Kinkaku-ji Zen Buddhist Temple. This golden pavilion is one of 17 Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.
While you're there, toss a coin at this statue for good luck!
Next on your tour of Kyoto's historical monuments should be the imposing Nij┼Ź Castle.

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For a taste of Shingon Buddhism, check out the Daigoji Temple. The scenic natural settings of Kyoto's Buddhist temples will help you enter a peaceful state of mind.
Not the spiritual type? Kyoto has another way to help you attain peace - go on a quiet stroll down the serene Philosopher's Path, lined by blooming cherry trees.

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Known for its stunning cherry trees, Kyoto is transformed into a pink paradise every spring. For more cherry blossoms, check out the Maruyama Park.

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The Katsura River flows through Kyoto's district Arashiyama. You can rent a boat and drift gently along the calm water.

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Before leaving this district, swing by its main attraction: the towering Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near the Tenryu-ji Temple.
For 400 years, the Nishiki Market has thrived in downtown Kyoto. Shop here for a range of items from traditional hand-crafted knives to raw oysters.
Try a plateful of Gyoza, which is originally a Chinese delicacy. But some restaurants of Kyoto have added a delicious Japanese twist to the recipe.
Ramen is a staple of the Kyoto food menu. In fact, the best restaurants are constantly one-upping each other, trying to prepare the best Ramen in town.
Experience Japan's rich cultural heritage by witnessing Sado - a methodical tea preparing ceremony. This process brews the best tea you'll ever have.

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For a change of pace, spend a lively afternoon cheering on horses at the Kyoto Racecourse in Fushimi-ku.
If you're visiting in July, it won't be possible for you to miss Kyoto's Gion Matsuri Festival. Lasting the entire month, it's one of the biggest celebrations in Japan, and it culminates in a huge parade!

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Meet and feed the furriest residents of Kyoto - the Japanese Macaques at the Iwatayama Monkey Park.
As evening falls, you should ascend the iconic Kyoto Tower (131 m tall) for an unbeatable view of the city's nightlights.
At night after the lanterns have been lit, you should stroll through the Higashiyama District's bustling nightlife till you come across this iconic remnant of ancient Kyoto - the stunning Yasaka Pagoda.
In Kyoto, it's never too late for a traditional Maiko dance show.