K Y O T O  ・ 
The Ancient Capital of Japan

I will never forget my very first trip to Kyoto in the 1970s. I left the bustling capital of Tokyo on the Shinkansen bullet train and three hours later (now it takes just over 2 hours) I was in the ancient capital of Japan - KYOTO. I can vividly remember making my way from Kyoto Station to the inner compound of the Katsura Detached Palace and feeling as though I had traversed back in time. The grounds and buildings were immaculate and I felt as though one of the princes of the Hachijo-no-Miya family would make a surprise appearance at any moment. Later in the day at the Zen Rock Garden at Ryoanji Temple, I remember being told that no matter one's vantage point, you can never see all 15 rocks. After more than 30 years and countless visits to the famous Zen rock garden, I still go to a different place in the garden in hope of seeing all 15 stones!

Kyoto is home to over 1,200 temples, 400 shrines and countless gardens. The city served as the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 to 1868 and for over 1,200 years the city has played the pivotal role as custodian of Japan's artistic traditions. What I find most fascinating about this very traditional city is the way in which the people of Kyoto incorporate new ideas into the artistic fabric of this rich cultural city. The artisans of Kyoto have been at the forefront of introducing innovative ideas thereby invigorating age old traditions and allowing them to flourish in the modern era.

Unlike Tokyo and other major urban centers in Japan that lack any sense of city planning and order, Kyoto was designed on a grid pattern and modeled after the great Chinese city Chang'an (Xian). The city is easy to navigate and I encourage my clients to get lost - as this is the best way to get to know this magical city of the old and the new. Kyoto is also home to great cuisine and whether you are in the mood for a multi-course kaiseki meal or just a bowl of noodles, you are in for treat. 

Below is a collection of some of my top picks in hotels, restaurants and interesting places to consider when you visit KYOTO




Western-style
- Hotel Granvia Kyoto TOKU10
- Hoshinoya Kyoto TOKU10

Traditional Japanese-style
- Tawaraya

Designer Capsule Living
- 9hours






- Tempura Matsu (Kaiseki/Tempura) TOKU10
- Gion Okumura (Kyoto French)
- Sushi Iwa (Sushi)
- Arashiyama Kitcho (Kyoto Kaiseki)
- Sushi Man (Sushi) TOKU10
- Sepporai (Kyoto Vegetable/Traditional Japanese)
- Hanayashiro (Kyoto Kaiseki)
- Omen (Noodles)
- Shigetsu Tenryu-ji (Zen Vegetarian)
- altretanto (Italian)
- Kichisen (Kyoto Kaiseki)




- Imperial Villas: Katsura & Shukakuin
- The Philosopher's Walk from Ginkakuji Silver Pavilion to Nanzenji Zen Temple
- Daitokuji Zen Temple, Daisen-in & Ikkyu Zen Buddhist Cuisine Restaurant
- Entsuji Temple (founded 1678) and its magnificent "shakkei" borrowed landscape
- Okochi Sanso, Sagano Bamboo Grove, Tenryuji Temple & Shigetsu Tenryuji Restaurant
- Exploring Kyoto Station
- Nishki Market and Teramachi Shopping Street
- Shinmonzendori Antique and Fine Art Shopping Street and Hiroshi Yanagi Art Gallery
- The Garden of Nijo Castle
- Saihoji Moss Garden
- Arashiyama and the Hozu Rapids
- Nishijin Textile District, Ryoanji Temple & Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion
- Side trips to Nara, Uji and Fushimi in the south of Kyoto
- Side trips to Ohara just north of Kyoto to visit Jakko-in and Sanzen-in
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