Japan, Kyoto: Geisha, temples and street food

Japan is a country with a unique flavor. Its individual inner peace and traditions amaze with its beauty and tranquility. Its special harmony is present in any local detail. Absolutely every city in this beautiful country deserves special attention. But to start acquaintance with Japan is with Kyoto.

This amazing city is located in the central part of Honshu Island, Kyoto Prefecture. It is considered the main cultural center of the country. And it is no accident, there are many historical and cultural attractions.

When to go

The climate is typical for Asian countries – hot and humid summer, winter – dry and cold. The best time to travel to Kyoto is of course from April to May, when the cherry blossom season takes place and from October to November during the red maple season. These are the most pleasant and warm days in Kyoto, with the least amount of precipitation. Of course, the rest of the time there are advantages, for example, the lack of a large number of tourists in popular places of the city.

How to get there

Kyoto is easily accessible from almost any airport in the country. For example, from Kansai International Airport, located in Osaka, there is a Haruka Express, which takes you to Kyoto in an hour and a half. Tickets for it can be purchased at the Airport.

Here you can buy Wi-Fi routers with a package of Internet traffic, SIM cards and many useful things for independent travelers.

Where to stay

In Kyoto, there is no problem with choosing places to stay. Plenty of excellent hotels and apartments. Those who want to save will be pleased with a large number of pleasant, cozy and relatively inexpensive hostels, which are usually located right in the areas of many attractions. For example, the famous Gion district has more than ten excellent hostels.

Another type of housing will appreciate those wishing to live in the traditional Japanese style. They’re the Ryokans. The largest number of them is in Kyoto. Ryokan is a hotel where rooms are made according to all the canons of traditional housing in Japan. The floor in these rooms is lined with tatami, and the sliding doors are made of bamboo. The room has a small table around which it is customary to sit on the floor. Instead of regular beds here are covered futons right on the floor. These rooms usually do not have a bathroom, and guests use a common bath.

What to see

Fushimi Inari Temple

To get to this place, you need to go to the Inari metro station and cross the railway tracks on a special crossing. And then just follow the crowd of people. There are a lot of people who want to visit this ancient Shinto temple all year round. The road to the temple of the goddess Inari, located at the top of Mount Inariyama, has a length of 4 km and takes 2-3 hours in time. It all depends on the speed of your stride and endurance. Thousands of ritual bright orange gates – thorium accompany your way to the Shrine. These famous gates were built on donations. Throughout the road, there are many statues of Titsune foxes. This sacred fox is one of the main symbols of this place. The largest number of believers comes here in the Japanese New Year.

At the foot of Mount Inariyama is a street food market. Here you can try the famous Japanese treat – Takoyaki. These are balls of dough, grilled, stuffed with octopus. This is an incredibly tasty and hearty dish. Also here are prepared a variety of small kebabs of chicken, beef, seafood and many other dishes of Japanese cuisine.

Fushimi Inari Temple

Gion Shirakawa

Gion is the most popular district of Hanamati. It is the most famous area of residence and work of Japanese geisha and their Maiko students. These beautiful women, dressed in ceremonial kimono, can be found leisurely strolling among the sprawling Yves.

Most of Gion’s buildings are old small wooden houses, which house cozy cafes, restaurants and, of course, tea houses. In local shops, you can buy a kimono, as well as buy accessories for it and a variety of incense.

Gion is a great place to walk. There is an amazing atmosphere of traditional Japan and its own individual lurking world.

Gion Shirakawa
Gion Shirakawa

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

On the outskirts of Kyoto is the famous Arashiyama Park. It is home to one of the most popular tourist destinations, the Sagano Bamboo Forest. Its territory is quite extensive. You can walk on special trails. The forest itself is fenced with hedges, the entrance there is forbidden. There are always a lot of visitors. Therefore, the best time to visit this attraction is early morning and late evening, because in this period there are fewer people.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Kinkaku-Ji Golden Temple

In the Area of Kita, near the Sagano Bamboo Forest, there is a Kinkaku-Ji temple. Its walls are decorated with sheets of pure gold. This beautiful temple is easily accessible by bus straight from the bamboo forest. Kinkaku-Ji Temple is located in a picturesque location on Lake Kyohoti. The water in this lake is clear, and the temple is reflected in it. In any weather, it is very beautiful!

It’s a very convenient viewing plan. The guests who came along the path come to the ticket offices, buy tickets and go on to the temple itself. Then on another path return to the exit. Therefore, there is no pandemonium and confusion at the exit and entrance.

There are several shops on the temple grounds where you can buy souvenirs and gifts, which will then remind you of the beautiful Golden Temple of Kinkaku-Ji.

Kinkaku-Ji Golden Temple

Kyoto is a great place to relax the soul, and to find harmony with yourself. Here all conditions are created for a comfortable independent journey, everything is easy and accessible. In the metro, all the names of stations and lines are duplicated in English, and sympathetic local people are always ready to help and tell you the way.

China, Beijing. Harmony of tradition and modernity

Beijing. Railway station

The monotonous thud of the train’s wheels lulls me. It’s 5 a.m., and I haven’t slept all night. Because I am excited about the journey.

In the window of the train I look at the neat rice fields running past, and in the car plays a quiet pleasant Chinese music. We’ll be in Shenyang soon.

In such an earlier time on the street is already light as in the daytime. In China, all live at the same time, so in the east of the country the light earlier, and in the west much later. It’s not the winter sun that shines brightly outside. But a few hours ago, when we boarded the train in the city of Suifenhe, a strong frosty wind was blowing, from which the face was terrible.

In the car slowly begins to move. Passengers wake up – the train arrives at its final station.

Shenyang. Railway station

Shenyang is one of the largest cities in northern China. There are a large number of industrial enterprises in a variety of industries. Because of this, there is a pretty strong smoke in the air. The city is also a major transport hub of the country. Its railway station is striking in its scale. Here I am waiting for a transfer on a high-speed train to the capital. This snow-white steel giant on the outside looks pretty promising. Inside are stand-alone seats for each passenger, with folding tables on the backs in front of the standing seats. There are very large windows, air conditioning, clean sanitary rooms in each car, polite flight attendants, exit buffet. There is a cafe in one of the carriages. All ads are broadcast by a running line in Chinese and English. This beautiful train accelerates above 200 km per hour! It’s four and a half hours, and I’ll be at my destination.

Beijing is the third city by the number of inhabitants in the country, as well as a political, educational and cultural center. Beijing is a soulful and harmonious city. For some reason, it feels like a feeling when you leave the building of the capital’s railway station and breathes cool local air. The city smiles at its guests throw a warm plaid into a cage and say, “Ni hao!”

Attractions

Beijing has a lot of great places to go: The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing Shopping Street and, of course, The Great Wall of China. Of course, these attractions are sure to visit any tourist.

You can read about these wonderful sights in my other article here https://travelista.club/guides/china-beijing-temple-of-heaven-tea-and-great-wall/

But in this article, I want to pay attention to other, not so popular, but no less interesting places.

Wax Museum

On the way to the Great Wall of China, there is a wonderful wax museum. In my opinion, this is the best museum of Chinese history in the city. There are countless exhibits here, and these are not just a number of statues, as I used to see in such museums. Here are the whole scenes from the history of the country, from the deep antiquity to the last emperor. Officials and concubines, and tax collectors, and commoners – they all presented here.

I’ve seen a few wax exhibitions, but they can’t match this museum. Wax “people,” even the language does not turn to call them exhibits, look very natural, it seems that now will happen a miracle, and they will come to life. Time seems to have stopped here. Who did say that impossible to travel back in time? Being in this fabulous place, you begin to understand that they were wrong.

Wax museum
Wax museum

“The Legend of Kung Fu” and “The Golden Mask Dynasty”

In low-rise residential neighborhoods there is a cozy small theater. Its outer walls are completely decorated with an intricate red pattern in the form of a lattice, inside this color also prevails. Owing to such a feature, this theater is called Red. It’s the great show “The Legend of Kung Fu. Actors are the true masters of this kind of martial arts.

The heart of the story is a boy who bravely overcomes all the hardships on the way to his goal, to become a great master of Kung Fu. You do not need to know the language to understand the meaning of the plot, and anyway English subtitles broadcasted on the big screens on the sides of the stage will help. The performance amazes its energy watches at one breath. That the artists do on the stage is just a delight, their tricks do not fit in the head. The whole production is imbued with philosophy and wisdom, which should be understood and draw the right conclusions, as well as learn a lot.

Another, stunning beautiful show, can be seen in the capital of China. “Dynasty of the Golden Mask” this water enchanting water performance has gained worldwide fame and popularity. The premiere took place in 2012. For that occasion, a separate theater was built, as this complex show requires special designs and technologies.

Magical music, magic dances… For this show made more than 500 stunning costumes and unimaginable scenery. But all this would be nothing without the colossal work of the artists by themselves.  This is one of the most stunning and large-scale performances in China, which is absolutely necessary to visit personally.

Summer Imperial Palace

The summer imperial residence is truly a very beautiful place, in every corner of which there is harmony, in the full sense of the word. The area of the summer residence is 290 Hectares, where there are a lot of natural beauties: The Mountain of Longevity with its Buddhist temples, Lake Kunminghu. Along the shore there is a long corridor, its length is 728 meters, on the walls hang about eight thousand paintings. Everywhere there are statues of dragons and lions, symbols of imperial power. Here you can walk for hours, constantly discovering something new.

798 Art zone

The art zone 798 is a very interesting and unusual place, it is located in the north-east of the city on the territory of the former factory No.798, which is engaged in the manufacture of electronic equipment. Artists, photographers, and sculptors from around the world have opened their workshops and galleries here.

There are many exhibition halls of contemporary art on the 1 km2 site. In addition, there are also various shops, cafes, and restaurants. Entry to the area and all exhibition halls is free.

798 Art zone
798 Art zone
798 Art zone

Jade and enamel factories

One of the most interesting excursions is carried out to the jade factory. A pleasant guide will tell about the history of this beautiful mineral, about its healing and unique properties. Here you can buy various amulets, jewelry, figurines.

Jade factory
Jade factory
Jade factory

In the suburbs of Beijing is another wonderful factory – a factory of partitioned enamel. The unique products of this factory are one of the heritage of Chinese culture. The spirit is breathtaking from the beauty of the surrounding exhibits.

enamel factory
enamel factory
enamel factory

In both factories, there is a fairly high cost on the products. This is due to the fact that they are all completely handmade by local craftsmen. You can watch how these beautiful products are created right here in the factory. Behind the glass wall near the exhibition halls are workshops. Where talented craftsmen work.

Beijing is a magical city, with its unique atmosphere and attractions. In addition, the city is home to countless parks and gardens, where you can walk for hours and enjoy the local special charm and harmony.