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.

What’s happening in Kyoto

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Kyoto is full of excitement as New Year approaches
This year is almost over. How are you going to spend the New Year holiday season? Everyone in Japan is very busy. During this time of the year, people get serious about preparing for the New Year. So, how do people greet the New Year? They do this by welcoming gods that bring good fortune for the year into their homes on New Year’s Day. To have a happier year, they welcome in the gods and celebrate. At the end of the year, people are very busy getting ready. They buy food and household supplies, clean up their surroundings, and cleanse their minds, of which “Joya no Kane” is a good example. The preparations are to make sure they welcome the gods in the cleanest possible state, as well as to spend a relaxing time with family. New Year’s Day is about family. Relatives get together and celebrate around the dinner table. They eat lucky foods like mochi (rice cakes) and kamaboko (fish cakes). They also go out for hatsumode. Hatsumode is the first visit of the year to a shrine or temple to pray for good health. Though it can get extremely crowded, it is an important custom. One cannot forget the great deals you can get at big New Year sales. The crowds are big as well, but the sight of the entire town buzzing with excitement is something you only see this time of year. The old capital of Kyoto has a history stretching back 1,300 years. As a city that respects tradition but is always trying new things, Kyoto has many unique customs, ceremonies, and foods for New Year. People going out to enjoy them make Kyoto’s streets even more flamboyant than usual. We want you to enjoy the New Year holiday season just as much as the locals. This time we will introduce some spots that will help you do that.

Seasonal Kyoto

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Winter in Kyoto is cold but actually great for sightseeing!
January and February are the coldest months in Kyoto, and you can even get to see snow here. But if you wear the right clothes, this period is great for sightseeing. If you want to know what to wear in January and February in Kyoto, and what to eat, look no further! We’re also going to say cheers with a glass of hot sake!
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The Sticky Rice Cakes the Japanese People Can’t Get Enough Of!
Have you had “mochi” (Japanese Rice cakes)? Since there are a lot of famous Japanese confectionery shops and teahouses in Kyoto, you may have already tried Warabi-mochi or dumplings. However, these are not exactly mochi. Then, what is mochi? It is food made from mochi rice, and looks white, and has a sticky texture. The white object is bland as it as, so they are often eaten with some seasonings or broth soup after grilling or boiling. It might be not familiar to you if you are from out of Japan, but for Japanese, traditional ingredient from an ancient time. We will feature “Kyoto’s mochi” in this article. Kyoto has many Japanese confectioners, not to mention temples and shrines, no wonder classic, recommended rice cake or events are found. This time, we are going to introduce mochi rice cake from 3 different points of view, “learn”, “eat”, and “make.” In Part1, you can see the representative mochi-food “zoni” and also Kyoto’s local zoni. Part2 shows you sweet mochi at Kyoto’s teahouses. Then Part3 comes, get to know mochi-related events take place in temples and shrines. Finally Part4! Sharing Kyoto members have actually practiced mochi-making! We are very happy if you find “mochi” attractive through our features.
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Eat hot food to get through the cold winter of Kyoto!
When the cold winter winds howl in Kyoto, and the temperatures drop below 10 degrees, it truly starts to feel freezing. But worry not! With a hot pot dish and some hot noodles, you’re going to be able to get through the winter in Kyoto. There are udon and soba noodles, yudofu, hot pot, and hot drinks for you to enjoy here, so there is something for everyone, so come join me on my trip to find out about the most heart and body warming dishes in Kyoto!

Popular spots

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Cleanse your mind and body at the Japanese gardens of Kyoto!
Kyoto’s temples are always a popular sightseeing destination for tourists. Getting to admire beautiful gardens at these temples is an experience that is bound to leave a lasting memory! But how are these gardens categorized? What are the differences between garden types? I think that this is a question most people can’t answer without looking at Wikipedia! In this feature article, we will take a look at the defining characters of different types of Japanese gardens, and also take the Randen tram to see some gardens. And lastly, we will go find some great restaurants with nice gardens! I hope you will enjoy the profound world of Japanese gardens!
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Renovated machiya-style townhouse fun in Kyoto! Eat, drink, and have fun in machiya!
When you walk on the historic streets of Kyoto, you will undoubtedly notice all the old houses lining the streets. These houses are actually called “Kyoto machiya townhouses.” Do you know what this word means? It’s the townhouses that the people of Kyoto used to live in, but, sadly, with the advent of modernity, the number of houses like this has gone down dramatically. Luckily, there is now a movement to restore these Kyoto machiya townhouses to their former glory. So now you can find all kinds of restaurants and shops located in machiya, so keep reading if you want to know what kinds of machiya townhouse restaurants, shops, and experiences you can find in 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!

Culture of Kyoto

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Soba and udon have always been loved by the people of Kyoto
Soba and udon noodles are Japanese comfort food. The history of soba and udon in Japan is actually really long, Japanese people have known soba and udon for around one thousand years. I don’t know but maybe it is because of this history that I sometimes just really want to eat soba or udon. I run into a restaurant to taste those fragrant noodles with the delicious dashi soup that goes down so well. I smell the fragrance of the bonito and kelp stock and slurp the noodly deliciousness. Mmm… yummy! I wonder why soba and udon make my heart flutter. In this feature article I am going to find out what makes Japanese people love soba and udon. Of course there are many famous and long-established restaurants in Kyoto. I am going to introduce many long-established restaurants that have been loved by many generations of Kyotoites, but I am also going to establish the latest and hippest in the world of soba and udon. In part two I am going to introduce to you the cool and fashionable way of using soba restaurants as pubs. Drinking at soba restaurants was called “sobayanomi” in Japan 300 years ago. Nowadays many young people don’t even know about “sobayanomi”. But drinking at soba restaurants is not like drinking at pubs, it is cooler. I am going to introduce you the best places to do “sobayanomi” and how to enjoy it to the fullest. Welcome to the profound world of soba and udon. After reading this feature article I am sure you will want to fly to Kyoto and enjoy the fragrance and taste of soba and udon. Let’s all get immersed into the world of soba and udon!
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The tea culture of Kyoto
The tea culture of Kyoto is very old, and you can even find the oldest tea field in Kyoto in the area of Takao, at the World Heritage Site of Kosan-ji Temple. Tea ceremony and matcha are maybe the most important part of tea in Kyoto, but there are also many other types of delicious teas in Koyto, some with a lot of umami, some with a more grassy taste, and some that have a nice smokiness to them. Read below if you want to know more about the types of teas you can find in Kyoto, like gyokuro, kabusecha, sencha, hojicha, and many more.
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Traditional handicrafts from Kyoto
Kimono, Kyo-yaki, Kyo-zogan, and many other words for different types of handicrafts are something you quite often hear in Kyoto, a place famed for its temples, which in turn then became patrons of art, which then lead to the birth of the “dento koge,” traditional handicrafts of Kyoto.

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