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's World Heritage Level Autumn Leaves – What’s Your Plans? 2019 Kyoto Autumn Feature
Have you seen autumn in Kyoto? When most people in the west think of autumn, they usually think of the yellow maple leaves of places like the maple road in Canada and the Westonbirt, National Arboretum in England. However, in Japan, autumn is marked by the vibrant, warm, and mainly red colors of Japanese maple trees. These bright red maples are such a staple in Japan that they have come to be thought of as the symbol of all of Japan’s four seasons. Due to its natural basin like terrain, Kyoto sees sprawling areas of tree-covered hills and mountains. This leads to one of the best things about Kyoto, the fact that you’re sure to catch the vibrant autumn leaves somewhere around the city. In early November, you will see slight tinge of color on the leaves, but if you want to see the full-blown deep red tones of Kyoto’s autumn, then we recommend coming in late November to early December. However, as there are years when the temperature and weather make the leaves suddenly all change color over a single week, specifying the best time to see the leaves is tricky. Known for its sprawling greenery, temples, and shrines, Kyoto is also home to a great number of different autumn spots. In this year’s autumn feature, we’ve compiled Sharing Kyoto’s top picks for the best autumn leaf spots around Kyoto and categorized them by the different ways to enjoy them. So this year, pick an activity that suits you and let's go stare at some leaves!

Seasonal Kyoto

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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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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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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:

Popular spots

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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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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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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!

Culture of Kyoto

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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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Kyoto's delicious sandwiches & burgers
The words "sandwiches" and "burgers" should be familiar to everyone! However, have you ever tried eating sandwiches and burgers in a place as atmospherically time-honored as Kyoto? You may feel a slight sense of inconsistency. Sandwiches and burgers that originated in Europe have been introduced to Japan and undergone a baptism by the local culture. As a result, they have developed and transformed into a variety of different styles. European-style sandwiches tend to use hard bread, while Japanese-style sandwiches tend to use soft white bread. Of course, the fillings are also Japanese in style and have their own unique delicious taste. In this special report, let us uncover the mysteries of Kyoto's sandwiches & burgers and explore this delicious culinary world!
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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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