Located in a valley between mountains and Lake Biwa, Kyoto – once the capital city of feudal Japan – attracts millions of visitors from all over the world each year. With thousands of temples and shrines to explore, the city is filled with historical treasures. However, after a stroll through the trendy Shijo Kawaramachi area, Gion, or a visit to the modern marvel that is Kyoto Station, it’s easy to see that the city has plenty of connections to the present as well.

In the Higashiyama area of the city, streets lined with souvenir shops and cafes will invite you to try traditional sweets and shop for your own yukata. At the end of the street you’ll find Kiyomizu, one of Japan’s most famous temples, where you can buy charms, take in fantastic views of the city, and venture into a dark cavern beneath the temple to hunt for a stone said to bring good fortune to any visitor who touches it. From there, you can visit a gigantic buddha, Chion-in Temple, and numerous other sites. If you want to leave the other tourists behind, don’t worry; your Pop Japan guide can show you the back roads and passages that lead to other sites and temples where the nature will make you forget that you are in one of Japan’s largest cities.

Venturing into Gion, you’ll discover a classic shopping area where you can shop for Japanese sweets and other goods, not to mention some more modern fashion items. If you are as interested in the history of manga as you are in the history of Japan, you’ll be glad to know that one of the nation’s largest manga museums is downtown, offering guests the opportunity to browse over 200,000 volumes of manga from the past all the way up to the present. Browse all the books and exhibits you want, but if you can, save time for a short trip to Nijo Castle and the Imperial Castle, both of which are a short walk or bus ride from the museum.

the golden pavilionOn the western side of the city, the famous golden pavilion, Kinkakuji, is a great place to take pictures and experience a traditional tea ceremony. The Arashiyama area isn’t far from here, where you can explore shrines and hot springs that overlook the city. If all the temples and shrines start conjuring up images of ninjas and samurai battling it out, don’t worry – the nearby Eigamura theme park is where many historical Japanese films are shot, and it isn’t all that unusual to see a few ninjas hopping from rooftop to rooftop there (of course, they are actors, but who knows – ninjas are all about the element of surprise, right?).

With so much to explore, you’ll see why Kyoto is such a popular destination, and with Pop Japan Travel, you’ll be sure to have an experience as unique as the places you’ll visit.

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