The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is a city of history. While parts feel very modern, it’s one of the most traditional cities in Japan. There are over 2000 temples and shrines, many historic artisan districts producing traditional crafts and Kyoto is also where many geishas come to learn their trade.

Two temples stand out in Kyoto over the rest. The Kinkaku-Ji is also known as the Golden Pavillion as it is covered in gold leaf. The building sits next to a lake in beautiful gardens. Glimpsing the golden building through the trees and reflected in the water makes this a truly stunning place to visit. Next up head to Fushimi Inari-Taisha, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the gods of rice. The complex consists of several sub-shrines spread around the hillside, but the paths are what many visitors remember. They are lined with thousands of red torii gates, with the most popular paths becoming more like tunnels.

Head to the Gion district of an evening to get a taste of what life in shogun-era Japan would have been like. Traditional teahouses and exclusive restaurants line the streets, and it’s not unusual to see geishas walking from one appointment to another. Geishas are trained in several arts, such as traditional dance, playing classical music or reciting poetry as well as being experts in polite and witty conversation.

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Read more on Kyoto below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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