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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Recommended Places to Visit during Kyoto's Cherry Blossom Season
Every year, spring brings a wave of sentimental feelings to the people of Japan. With many starting new schools and new jobs in April, cherry blossoms have become a symbol of encouragement throughout the country. Cherry blossoms, also known as sakura in Japanese, are often used as the symbol of Japan. Nowadays cherry blossoms can be seen in places across the globe, like Washington D.C., because the Japanese government gives the trees as presents to foreign states to strengthen international relations. In Japan, there are about 300 different types of cherry blossoms. Among them, Somei Yoshino the type most familiar with Japanese people. Interestingly, most cherry trees are planted, so all the trees in a given area are likely to be related and share the same DNA. This means they tend to blossom and lose their petals at the same time as each other. From March until May, the entirety of Japan is swept with cherry blossoms. Nonetheless, you don't want to miss the historical city of Kyoto during this wonderful season. We hope that you'll enjoy the cherry blossom season the same way the people of Kyoto do. From wonderful walks by canals lined with cherry blossoms to feeling the spring breeze on your skin as it swirls petals off the trees, there are so many incredible things ways to experience spring in Kyoto.
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Delve into the World of the Kitano Tenmangu Area - From Basic Info to Hole-in-the-wall Spots; this is the Kitano Tenmangu Area -
Are you planning a trip to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine? If so, then we think there are a few things you need to know to make the most of the shrine and its surrounding neighborhood. The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is one of Kyoto’s many popular sightseeing spots. Especially during the plum season of late Feb-early March, the area’s abuzz with both tourists home and overseas. Blooming earlier than cherry blossoms, Japanese plums call about the coming of spring with their beautifully vivid flowers. However, sadly, outside of this season, the magic of the Kitano Tenmangu area isn’t so well known. Around the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine itself, there lie a swath of hole-in-the-wall spots–including the Kamishichiken district, one of Kyoto’s few hanamachi (geisha districts), the Nishijin district, known for its luxury silks, and the very unique Yokai Street. In addition to these sightseeing spots, the area’s also the birthplace of a number of unique foods even within Kyoto–and in recent years has gained notoriety in the city for its number of trendy new cafes. In this feature, we’ll be delving deep into the Kitano Tenmangu area in four separate parts; Part 1 “Kitano Tenmangu Basic Info,” Part 2 “Model Course,” Part 3 “Recommended Spots,” and Part 4 “Kitano Tenmangu Food”
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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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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 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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