Traditional Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and makes a wonderful contrast to Tokyo, offering visitors an insight into the Japan that once was. With over 2,000 temples and shrines the city is a great example of Japanese architecture and plenty of time should be dedicated to exploring these different sites. We can arrange a guided tour which will really bring the history and culture of the temples to life, but if you prefer to explore independently then some of the must-sees are Kinkaku-ji, whose gold plated exterior overlooks a large, tree lined pond, and the Fushimi Inari shrine, which is
reached via snaking avenues of bright red torii gates. Kyoto is also the home of the geisha and around 200 geiko (mature geishas) and 100 maiko (apprentice geisha) still live and practice in the city. A really unique Japanese phenomenon, spotting the painted white face of a geisha is a memorable experience, for the best chance, head to the Gion area where the geishas live.
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As opposed to the skyscrapers, busy streets and big city industries in Tokyo, the low rise buildings in Kyoto are complemented by an array of lush gardens and a traditional arts and crafts culture. Ornate tea shops and traditional paper factories are found nestled between the traditional townhouses.
Cuisine also plays a big part in shaping a Kyoto stay, though unlike the rest of the city's highlights, the food has moved with the times. Michelin starred restaurants, cool cocktail bars and sushi spots in food halls now serve up fresh and flavourful Japanese cuisine with a contemporary twist, and to wash it down, there are abundant traditional sake bars and breweries to choose from.