KJOTO – Where Tradition Meets Modern Splendour

City Where the Past Lives in Everything that Meets the Present

With an exceptionally rich cultural heritage, magnificent temples, traditional teahouses and a vibrant modern scene, Kyoto offers its visitors a unique opportunity to experience the essence of Japan’s past and present

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As one of Japan’s most precious gems, Kyoto radiates history, tradition and exceptional atmosphere that cannot be replicated anywhere else. Through the magic of cherry blossom season, deep-rooted geisha culture, extraordinary gastronomic scene, and festival vibes, Kyoto enchants visitors with its unique beauty and extraordinary harmony.

Kyoto was built with great care and respect for traditional Japanese architecture. Temples like the Golden (Kinkaku-ji) and Silver (Ginkaku-ji) pavilions are architectural masterpieces adorned with gold and silver. Every stone and every wooden beam testify to the precision and artistry that has been nurtured for centuries.

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In Gion, the geisha district, history is alive. With traditional wooden houses, stone paths and beautiful gardens, Gion is a place where you can experience the authenticity of the Japanese way of life. Geisha, traditional Japanese performance artists, walk the streets in their elegant kimonos, giving visitors the feeling of time travel.

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Spring in Kyoto brings the magical transformation of the city into a spectacular field of cherry blossoms. Hanami, the traditional Japanese spring custom of enjoying the beauty of blossoming flowers, becomes the central part of the cultural calendar. Every spring, millions of Japanese go to parks, where they spread out mats in the shade of cherry trees and spend a few hours with their friends or colleagues outdoors enjoying conversation, drinks and a light meal.
This beautiful flower, vulnerable to wind and rain, fits well with the Buddhist understanding of the transience and fragility of all existence. That is why it has symbolized the impermanence of life and the illusory world for centuries.

Photo by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Kyoto is home to the Japanese tea ceremony, known as sadō or sometimes chanoyu. By visiting teahouses, visitors have the opportunity not only to enjoy the flavours of traditional Japanese tea, but also to experience the rituals and spirit of this artistic expression. Every detail of the ceremony has its own meaning, from the choice of cups to arranging flowers, representing the harmony between man, nature and art.

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Kyoto maintains its unique spirit through a variety of traditional festivals, bringing vibrancy and colour to the city’s daily life. The Gion Matsuri, held in July, is one of the largest festivals with a grand parade, traditional costumes, music and dance. The light festival, Higashiyama Hanatouro, is organized twice a year. During the festival, the historic district of Higashiyama is illuminated with traditional lanterns, and visitors can enjoy strolling through the narrow streets and observing the traditional architectural beauty of the city. The Aoi Matsuri in May celebrates the tradition of dressing up, while the Jidai Matsuri in October showcases the historical development of Kyoto through a procession. Kitano Odori, part of the annual geisha performance, is held every April.

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Kyoto not only inspires the souls of visitors, but also satisfies their palates. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal that stands out for its careful and precise arrangement of dishes to achieve a balance of flavours, textures and seasonal ingredients. This culinary style has deep roots in Japanese culture and is often associated with tea ceremonies.
Kaiseki consists of a sequence of several small dishes that are carefully combined to create a whole that reflects flavours of the season. Dishes are traditionally served in a specific order, with special attention paid to the aesthetics, colours and arrangement of food. This philosophy of culinary art encompasses a variety of food preparation techniques, including boiling, baking, frying, and often involves using fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Photo by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Kyoto has a rich and fascinating history that spans over centuries. It was founded as the capital of Japan in 794, during the period known as the Heian period, and was then named “Heian-kyo” which means “The Capital of Peace and Tranquility”. For a period of over a thousand years, Kyoto was the beating heart of Japan as the political, cultural and religious centre of the country.
In its turbulent history, Kyoto has witnessed various wars, political intrigues and changes of dynasties. During the Kamakura and Ashikaga periods, Kyoto continued to be the hotspot of Japanese culture, art and literature. However, in the 16th century, the city suffered serious damage during conflicts and civil war.
During the Edo period, that is, the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), Kyoto lost its political importance in favour of Edo (today’s Tokyo), but it was still the centre of culture and art. This period was characterized by relative peace and prosperity, and many traditional aspects of Japanese culture flourished in Kyoto.
With the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which marked the end of the samurai era and the establishment of the modern Japanese state, Kyoto lost its capital status in favour of Tokyo. Nevertheless, the city retained its cultural importance and became a focus of tradition preservation.

Photo by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Despite the strong focus on preserving its historical heritage, Kyoto also stands out as the epicentre of contemporary Japanese culture. Gracefully bridging past and present, the city pulsates with contemporary energy through its modern designed art galleries, innovative workshops and dynamic art scene. Arashiyama, a beautiful district with its awesome bamboo forests, has become an irresistible destination that not only celebrates natural beauty, but also experiences the fusion of traditional and contemporary design. This harmony between the magic of the past and the modern is what makes Kyoto not only a guardian of its rich history, but also a vibrant habitat for the modern spirit.

Photo by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Cover photo: Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

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