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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Drinking and Walking through Kyoto Summer Nights
The best way to enjoy hot summer nights in Kyoto has to be Nomi-aruki, or bar-hopping. After a long day of trecking around smoldering hot sightseeing, nothing beats grabbing some friends and hitting the breezy streets of night time Kyoto for a good, cold drink. Kyoto is home to a slew of Nomi-aruki spots, making bar-hopping a great way to enjoy nights in Japan’s ancient capital. The walks in between the bars can't be understated either, as those late-night strolls through the ancient streets are one of the biggest highlights of bar hopping in this city. The nearly deserted streets lit by the dim light of traditional paper lanterns give off a dramatically different atmosphere from the day, making these walks as interesting and fun as any of the bars you'll visit. In this Nomi-aruki Feature, the writers of Sharing Kyoto introduce you to their favorite ways to enjoy summer nights in Kyoto. So, grab some friends, and with these articles in hand, hit the streets of Kyoto for some summertime bar hopping!
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Perfect guide for autumn leaves in Kyoto
Autumn in Kyoto means autumn leaves. The historic temples of this ancient capital are surrounded by red and yellow leaves, and in this article you can find out which of the temples are the best during the autumn leaves season in Kyoto. I have for you four parts, each divided by how far the temples are and into classics and places off the beaten path.
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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!

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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