Sharing Kyoto’s feature articles

In our feature articles we dig deep into the Japanese psyche,
from seasonal topics like cherry blossoms to staples like soba noodles.

Seasonal Kyoto

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Ultimate Arashiyama guide for beginners
Arashiyama is one of the most famous sightseeing areas in Kyoto. The mountains and the Bamboo Grove, the temples and shrines… there is a lot to see, and it may be hard to decide where to go to. Here you have a classic half-day itinerary for Arashiyama plus some places for those who are feeling more adventurous!
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Extraordinary Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto
What is “Washoku”? When posed with that question, what comes to your mind? Sushi? Tempura? Or ramen? Japanese food comes in many forms. There is a diverse range of popular foods and trendy foods, and Japanese food has also rapidly undergone a myriad of changes in response to the trend of the times. But even so, can new cuisine that have evolved with incorporations of the current culture and trends be really called Japanese food? Does this “Washoku” that was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2013 include ramen and curry rice? UNESCO does not define “Washoku” as a reference to the menu itself. Instead, it refers to a hearty, balanced menu that cherishes the four beautiful seasons, respects nature and enjoyed with customs that seek its harmonious coexistence. These spiritual and aesthetic consciousness is a unique culture of Japanese cuisine and this is what was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. In this way, it is precisely this expression of the transitions of the four seasons and respect for the original flavours of the ingredients that make a meal “Washoku”. So, where exactly should one dine at in order to experience the charms of “Washoku”, the traditional food culture of the Japanese people? The answer is none other than Kyoto. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is because Kyoto is known as the “Home of Washoku”. On that note, this time’s feature will be about the Washoku restaurants in Kyoto that have been loved in the past and is still loved today. I will write about the following four points to showcase the beauty of Washoku: “Kaiseki cuisine,” traditional Kyoto Washoku that more prominently brings out the allure of Washoku, hot and popular Washoku in Kyoto evolving day by day, Washoku that can be enjoyed lightheartedly, as well as ways to enjoy Sake, the perfect drink to go with Washoku.
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The first day of summer in Kyoto
After the cherry blossom season, just when the hot summer is beginning, many people may think of this period as just a time when Kyoto is sleeping and waiting for the jubilant events of Gion Matsuri and Gozan no Okuribi. Kyoto is surrounded by mountains and because of this the summers are extremely hot and humid; so much so that you may be tempted to just stay in air-conditioned cafes and restaurants. But after the cherry blossoms, it is time for spring greenery in Kyoto, and there are many fun events and places where you can enjoy the green leaves! The grand play of nature you get to see at Kifune Shrine and Kurama Temple; the maple leaves almost shining in vivid shades of green; the cute hydrangea flowers you get to see during Japan’s rainy season, “tsuyu;” the beer gardens sure to be make you refreshed… In the four parts of this article, you can find out about the best ways to spend your summer in Kyoto. I hope this article can be of help to you when you come to Kyoto in summer!

Popular spots

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Kiyomizu-dera Temple and its Surroundings
Built in 778, Kiyomizu-dera is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Situated halfway up Otowa mountain, the temple complex covers an area of about 130,000 square meters. Almost all of the buildings in the temple grounds were built around 400 years ago, and are surrounded by lush greenery (including cherry blossom in spring, and red maple leaves in fall), creating spectacular views and stunning scenery that continually attract visitors from all over the world. There is plenty to see and do within the spacious grounds of the temple, as well as attractions to enjoy before you even pass through the temple gate. For a unique, delicious, and traditional Japanese experience, this is the perfect place. If you’d like to know a little more about the best way to enjoy Kiyomizu-dera and its surroundings, please bear with us a little longer. In this special feature article, Sharing Kyoto will introduce a unique perspective on the best way to enjoy the area in 4 parts. We would be extremely pleased if our guide goes a little way to making your visit to Kyoto a pleasurable one.
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A complete guide to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Maybe the most famous among the many sightseeing spots in Kyoto is Fushimi Inari Shrine. Many people head to the shrine to see the mysterious sight of the countless torii gates and the many foxes guarding the shrine. But Fushimi Inari Shrine is not only about torii gates and foxes, there is a lot more to the over 1000-year old shrine. By reading this feature article you will get a better sense of what Fushimi Inari Shrine really is about, like: What is Fushimi Inari Shrine’s history like? Why are there shrines all the way up the mountain? Why are there so many foxes at Fushimi Inari Shrine? And why are there so many torii gates? What are the most popular Fushimi Inari Shrine souvenirs? You will find the answers to these questions and more by clicking on the links below:
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Time to change to a kimono and go for a walk in Gion!
Among the sightseeing spots of Kyoto, one of the most popular ones is Gion. But do you know why Gion is known as the geisha district of Kyoto? And what is the difference between maiko and geisha, or geiko as they are called in Kyoto? We are going to find out, and on the way we are also going to rent a kimono, go to the shrines and temples of Gion, and finish with some fine dining establishments with Michelin stars. So, it is time to start our trip to the traditional hanamachi of Gion!

Culture of Kyoto

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The shrines and temples of Kyoto and their traditional Japanese sweets!
There are many shrines and temples in Kyoto, many of them World Heritage Sites, so a huge number of tourists visit them every year. But did you know that some of these places of worship have their own Japanese sweet they’re famous for? In Japanese, these treats are called “Sweets sold in front of the temple gates,” which as you can probably guess, is where most of the places selling these sweets are located. These sweets are great to have when at the temple, or you can eat them later at your hotel. In this article, we take a look at what kinds of shrine-sweets you can have in Kyoto, and what they have to do with the shrine! So come with Vanessa and find out which are the best shrine-sweets in Kyoto!
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Enjoy out Matcha in Kyoto!
Matcha and Green tea have recently become one of the icons of choice favored by many health-conscious people, going as far as featuring in the popular latte menu of Starbucks. In recent years, Japanese tea has continued to grow its fan base around the world thanks to its healthy image and the great versatility found in its preparation. Matcha (whole Japanese tea leaves that are processed and converted into powder form) has nowadays become more accessible and it is no longer used only for tea ceremonies. In modern Kyoto, customers are able to relax and drink Matcha at many Japanese confectionery cafes and the like, and it is also commonly used as flavoring for western confectionery such as parfaits and cakes (there is sure to be many people around the world whose favorite snack is the Matcha Kit Kat!). Furthermore, Uji, the country's most prominent production area of high-quality Japanese green tea, is located south of the center of Kyoto. During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), a Buddhist monk named Eisei brought over some varieties of tea from China. These varieties were then planted in the Uji area, marking the start of tea production in Japan. Here we will outline our special recommendations for places where you can enjoy a special cultural experience as could only be achieved in Kyoto, the land of the origins of Matcha. If you fancy tasting exceptional Matcha tea as you enjoy the views of a Japanese temple garden, or if you are interested in listening to the trustworthy staff from a Tea leaf shop with a history of many hundreds of years as they share their extensive knowledge of Kyoto's green tea culture, or if you want to try a number of cute and delicious Matcha sweets... then we will introduce you to an amazing event that will give you the opportunity to stand in the middle of a large tea plantation, feel the trees and pick up tea leaves with your own hands! Enjoy some freshly poured Matcha tea as you wish it to relieve the fatigue of your soul and body after your long travels.
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For Curry lovers, from Kyoto.
There’s no doubt that “curry rice” can be considered a Japanese soul food. More than a few Japanese households have the tradition of eating curry rice on Sunday evenings, and many a curry-loving Japanese restauranteur has traced the same path of traveling to India — the home of curry — then returning to Japan to open a restaurant where they serve curries made with their very own recipes. Curry, first brought to Japan by the British, underwent its own special evolution once it arrived on these shores, and has grown into a part of Japan’s own unique food culture. The abundance of varieties on offer, as well as the level of attachment Japanese people have to their curry, is truly something to behold. Additionally, recognition of curry rice has spread throughout the world thanks to the advances of the Japanese curry rice chain CoCo Ichibanya to America, China, and Thailand. There are many restaurants offering delicious curry rice right here in Kyoto, but it is our sincere hope that curry lovers from all over the world will try the selection we have recommended upon their arrival in Kyoto. For those of you who have never visited Japan but feel an incredible yearning for curry rice, for those of you who just aren’t satisfied with the “katsu curry” served in your own countries, and even for those of you who have never even heard of it (let alone tried it), we truly hope that you’ll enjoy reading this article. It’s been written with love by the curry lovers of Kyoto.

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