The larger cities of Japan have long been associated with the stigma of being extremely busy and over populated however; in the case of Kyoto we couldn’t be more wrong.
Having visited this city at the height of its peak season (March- April) otherwise more affectionately referred to as “Sakura Season,” I was astonished at how they have still managed to preserve their laid back, chilled out atmosphere.
The city boasts of beautiful and serene surroundings. The most breathtaking trees blossom with lilac flowers that form arches, creating roofs of Sakura over the glistening waters.
Kyoto’s world renowned Sakura trees are only second in beauty to its many UNESCO world Heritage sites, 17 to be exact. The city is embellished with the most breathtaking jinja or temples that are then strategically light up with colourful lights at night. This allows tourists to see these temples in two very different lights, both literally and figuratively!
Some of my top must see temples during this season are:
1) Kiyomizu dera
2) Toji Temple
Tip: I would recommend going to these temples at dusk and then staying on till nightfall. That way you can see both the colorful evening skies acting as beautiful backdrops to the temples, as well as the beauty of Kyoto’s architecture while it’s being lit up with colours.
Despite its traditional and culturally rich reputation, I must say partying in Kyoto is a whole lot of fun too. Bars and clubs are very uniquely decorated and the locals seem to be more outgoing than you might imagine. However, if you want to stick to what you know linguistically, then you are sure to bump it to other travelers who are looking to have a good time (which was what I did.) If you find the right crowd, Kyoto will show you a good time! Many bars are run by foreigners who are residing in Japan, or by locals who have English skills, so asking then to whip up a cocktail for you, or bring you some double apple shisha will not be difficult.
Some of my recommendations would be:
1) Zaza Pub
2) The Joker
3) Club Ibiza
Tip: Word on the street is that there is an underground Club in a metro station, if you are able to find it, I’m sure that will be quite an experience!
The city is also full of different culinary experiences, meals ranging form the classic Tofu Dishes, Tokoyaki or Yakiniku to more bizarre meals like Snail and tongues of various Animals.
However, sightseeing, partying and dining aren’t the only things you can do in this city. One of its most captivating characteristics to me was its very easygoing atmosphere, almost similar to a quiet European City. If you are a coffee (or tea) lover and appreciate the joy it brings to stroll through a city with some Indie music playing in your ear and a cup of freshly brewed coffee in your hand, Kyoto is the city for you. My evenings here were spent wondering and getting lost in its quirky streets and it's the feeling you get in that moment that I refer to as “Kyoto Vibes.”