The imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years (794–1868), Kyoto remains Japan’s capital of culture. The city of about 1.5 million people boasts more than 1,500 Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and three imperial palaces (including Nijo Castle with its squeaking floorboards designed to warn the ruling shogun of intruders). Not to miss: the stunning Temple of the Golden Pavilion at sunset and Fushimi Inari Shrine with its thousands of vermillion torii gates ascending the forested mountain.
Machiya (wooden Japanese townhomes) line many of Kyoto’s well-preserved streets, especially in Gion, the city’s most famous neighborhood. These centuries-old, lattice- fronted structures once housed craftsmen and merchants. Now they contain restaurants, teahouses, tiny specialty shops, galleries and workshops where skills still pass down through generations. Look for Kiyomizu pottery, red-and-gold lacquerware, indigo- dyed denim, silk kimono designs and woodblock printing … but with a distinctly modern twist.
Kyoto is the birthplace of kaiseki — a hyper-seasonal, multicourse, haute cuisine meal. Hanamikoji Street hosts the city’s most celebrated restaurants. Many small eateries, like renowned 12-seat Kyoto-Gion Nanba, book months in advance. Food tours offer a popular alternative. Stroll the lantern- lit streets, stopping in small bars, hole-in-the-wall ramen joints and amiable little eateries. Food Tours Japan offers several in Kyoto.
Many visitors to Japan place seeing a geisha top of the list, and Gion’s narrow cobblestone lanes prove the best place to spot kimono-clad geishas flitting like brightly colored butterflies on their way to an evening’s appointment. If you want more than a glimpse, visit a traditional teahouse to enjoy ochaya-asobi (teahouse play). You can make arrangements through Weft Hospitality, which specializes in unique experiences like traditional tea ceremonies and private meditations with a Zen master. Or book a geisha makeover, complete with beautiful kimono, porcelain-white makeup and a photo shoot. (Find details at kyoto-maiko.com.)
Cruise ships dock at Osaka Port, about one hour by taxi from Kyoto. Other neighborhoods to explore: Nishijin, the city’s famed silk-weaving district; Higashiyama, known for its historic temples; Arashiyama, notable for its sky-high bamboo grove; and Fushimi, a saké-brewing district along the willow-lined Horikawa River. Best times to visit are during cherry blossom season (March–May) and in October and November, when the ubiquitous Japanese maples show off their brilliant autumn foliage.
Read This Next
FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
DailyJun 5, 2023
Rafael Nadal’s ZEL Mallorca to Open July 1
ZEL, the new lifestyle hotel brand from tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and Meliá Hotels International, is set to open its first hotel. Located in Mallorca, Spain, the hometown of both Nadal and Meliá, ZEL Mallorca debuts July 1.
Hit the High Notes in Nashville
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
Diego Rivera’s America Presents the Most In-Depth Look at Artist’s Work in More than 20 Years
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville, Arkansas, presents Diego Rivera’s America, the first major exhibition focused solely on the Mexican artist in more than 20 years, on view until July 31. Crystal Bridges is the second and final stop for the exhibition, the only remaining opportunity for visitors to experience Rivera's expansive vision of America.
San Antonio, Texas, Preserves Architectural Beauty for Future Generations
In San Antonio, Texas, old buildings are seldom destroyed. When they fall into disrepair, they are instead repurposed and restored to maintain the city’s history and traditions for future generations to appreciate. Whether it’s a former brewery or bank transforming into a chic hotel or a candy factory evolving into stylish lofts, this Texas city embraces both history and sustainability.
Plan Your Escape to Arizona
Indulgent escapes are made even more enjoyable by fast, easy access — and that’s what Arizona offers. Quick, non-stop and direct flights to one of two international airports put all the luxury of The Grand Canyon State within easy reach.
Here’s How to Arrive in Style to the World’s Most Unforgettable Hotels
Make a grand entrance to these equally grand hotels:
Protected: MORE TO TRAVEL
SponsoredJun 1, 2023
Park Hyatt Tokyo Prepares for Its New Look
London Concours Displays Golden Age Coupes
DailyMay 31, 2023
Pick These Resorts and Destinations for a Day of Self Care on Global Wellness Day
Celebrate Global Wellness Day on June 10 with a visit to one of these resorts or destinations.
Fill Your Heart with Ireland
Whether it's the people, the craic (fun) or the coasts, travelers always find something to love about the island of Ireland. What fills your heart?
eFlyer ReviewsMay 31, 2023
Homer and Janet by Homer Review
The Marais District, covering swaths of Paris’ 3rd and 4th arrondissments, has a distinctively gritty glamour that reveals it to be one of the city’s great incubators for new French food, fashion and lifestyle trends. It is here Moïse Sfez took on the challenge of creating street food establishments Homer in 2017 and Janet by Homer in 2022, doing it in such a way they both transcend the novelty of being regional American comfort food offered at stylized lunch counters matching up with New England lobster shacks and New York delis. Overwhelming local response and Sfez winning the 2018 Lobster Roll World’s Championship title in Portland, Maine, solidified him as a Paris restaurateur and one of France’s hottest culinary stars.