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5 Ways to Go Native in Kyoto

Kyoto is the Geisha capital of JapanFor all her cutting age technology, Japan guards her cultural traditions jealously.  Nowhere is this more palpable than in the ancient city of Kyoto.   The exquisite palaces and temples make Kyoto a highlight of any trip to Japan, but it is the ancient traditions and institutions that are still very much a part of the fabric of modern life which make visiting Kyoto such a unique experience.

1.  Stay in a Ryokan:  Kyoto abounds with historic Japanese inns or ryokans, where few nods to Western ideas of comfort or hospitality are extant.  Visitors slip into cotton kimonos and comfortable slippers, enjoy traditional Japanese fare sitting on tatami mats on the floor, sleep on comfortable futons, and enjoy a luxurious bath in deep, wooden ofuro soaking tubs. 
2.  Make a Memory of a Geisha:  Kyoto is the geisha — or geiko, as they are known locally — capital of Japan.  The delightfully quiet neighborhood of Gion is their headquarters, filled with narrow cobblestone streets and wooden houses lit with paper lanterns.  Evening is the best time to catch a glimpse of the geiko and maiko (trainee geisha) along the streets, exquisitely dressed for their evening’s engagements.  You can also get dressed up like a geiko and take your own walk around the neighborhood!
3.  Enjoy a Japanese Tea Ceremony:  for over a thousand years, the Japanese have been perfecting the subtle art of the tea ceremony.  Visit one of Kyoto’s picturesque tea houses to learn more about this very disciplined and formal ritual, which is filled with spiritual and philosophical meaning.
4.  Visit a Sentō: A Public Bath House.  Join the locals for a quintessentially Japanese experience by visiting one of Kyoto’s many public bath houses.  Lather up in the showers, and then bask in the warmth of a traditional wooden soaking tub.  Emerge squeaky clean and heartily refreshed!
5.  Visit the Nishiki Market:  rub shoulders with Kyoto’s chefs and gourmands as you browse market stalls heaving with fresh fish and seafood, produce, and sweets. Nishiki’s old wooden stalls are a photographer’s dream, just as are their contents are irresistible to discerning shoppers: this is a great place to find authentic chopsticks, Japanese ceramics, porcelain, lacquer, and super-sharp Japanese cutlery. 

Alexander+Roberts offers numerous ways to enjoy Kyoto’s cultural highlights including private city tours or its escorted group tour From Japan’s Inland Sea to the Alps.

Posted: 6/29/2015 11:28:27 AM by Alexander + Roberts