Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto stole the title of best city in the world from Bangkok, in the much-awaited annual poll carried out by Travel and Leisure magazine, jumping four places from last year, to become the world’s favourite city.
Kyoto recently topped the ranks as the most liveable city, proving that the capital is very popular.
ANA, Japan’s largest airline, recommends the top five experiences in the world’s favourite city. The attraction of Japan’s ancient capital goes beyond its cherry blossoms, temples and gardens and Zen lifestyle.
Renowned for its centuries-old temples and shrines and traditional “woshuku” Japanese cuisines and cultural traditions, here are the top five experiences during a visit to Kyoto.
1. Walk at the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
If you are a ‘Memoirs of a Geisha' film and novel fan then this stunning, vibrant shrine is a must-visit as it appears in the motion picture. Take in the 10,000 Torii gates. They form covered trails up the mountain and you can walk for hours under the enchanting roof. Inari is not only the god of rice but also the patron of business and having a Torii gate here is believed to bring good fortune to locals and visitors.
2. Explore the Gion District
Gion is one of the best known and most exclusive geisha districts in Japan, and another famed location from ‘Memoirs of a Geisha.' Guided tours are organized around it, showing curious visitors the places mentioned in the book. If you wander the streets of Gion long enough you can even meet a geisha!
3. Savour a Maiko dinner
In the summer season, you can enjoy kaiseki cuisine along the river with Maiko. During the many courses, beautiful porcelain-faced Maiko women will come by to serve you umeshuu or beer before preforming a serried of traditional Japanese dances and songs.
4. Take in the stunning views at Kinkakuji
The most iconic remnant of the city’s imperial past is the outrageously gilded Kinkakuji, once a shogun’s retirement villa and now a Zen Buddhist temple. Perched on the bank of a serene pond, Kinkakuji casts a famed golden reflection in the water.
5. Relax in an Onsen
Japanese locals love to unwind after a stressful day in the hot sulphur smelling waters that have a soothing effect and some healing powers too. These onsens are normally found in the mountainous regions and are a very popular activity with the Japanese but there are umpteen number in and around Kyoto. Do as the locals do!
How to get there:
ANA flies from London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda from £843 return with easy access to the city centre in just 13 minutes to board the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto.
For more information visit: www.ana.co.uk
If you have visited the Capital or other cities in Japan, tell us about your experience below.