Kyōto

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There are many beautiful sights in the city of Kyōto, which is just a few hours ride on the Shinkansen from Tōkyō. When planning, we aimed for our trip to coincide with the blooming of sakura. Luckily, we arrived right on time, and Kyōto offered a myriad of places to view them.

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The wooden lattices and paper dividers in our room at Hotel Kanra create an atmosphere of elegant simplicity reminiscent of the ancient capital. There was even a wooden bathtub made of Japanese cypress that we soaked in each evening we were there.

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A great place for hanami (the viewing of sakura) is the Shirakawa Canal in the geisha district of Gion.

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The path to Kiyomizu-dera through Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka is absolutely breathtaking. Traditional machiya line the narrow stone lane as it slopes up the hill from one pagoda to another.

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Ishibei-koji is a beautifully preserved quiet lane in the Higashiyama district that feels like something out of a painting.

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There are said to be over 10,000 torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha.

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Nijō-jō is a castle that was built as a residence for the Tokugawa Shoguns when they took trips to see the Imperial Court. We were able to go inside the castle and view the gorgeous wall and ceiling paintings found throughout. The castle is also famous for its nightingale corridors that make gentle chirping sounds as you walk on the wooden floors.

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Around the castle are gardens with meticulously composed stones.

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The Philosopher’s Walk is a serene path lined with sakura that travels past many temples and shrines.

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We were so fortunate to catch the sakura bloom at just the right time, but regardless of the season, Kyōto is wonderful. The city gave us a tranquil experience that was an interesting contrast to the high energy of Tōkyō.

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