Monday, April 26, 2010

36 Hours in Kyoto

Yesterday's New York Times Travel section carried an article by Jaime Gross on how to spend 36 hours in Kyoto. It confirms something I said in an earlier post...that the city offers something for everyone. Interestingly, Gross does not send readers to the Kyoto must-sees: the Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji, Sanjyusangen-do, etc.

I cannot comment on Gross's restaurant or hotel recommendations because I've had no personal experience with any place he suggests. I have had lunch at the Hyatt Regency Hotel's Touzan restaurant; it was elegant and not expensive. The hotel is close to both Sanjyusangen-do (the 33-bay temple) and the Kyoto National Museum.

I second Gross's suggestion for walking around the Gion to obtain a taste of what traditional Kyoto nightlife was like. He does not mention, but Gion Corner offers tourists—primarily foreign tourists—a taste of traditional cultural arts: an hour of dance, tea ceremony, Edo-era comedy, puppet theater, and koto music. (The picture above is from a Gion Corner performance.) It is the closest most of us will get to the real thing.

Gross suggests visiting Maruyama Park...and if you visit the Gion you are practically there. It is an oasis of tranquility when it is not cherry blossom season. During cherry blossom season, when the Yasaka Shrine and the trees are lit at night and throngs of Japanese are partying under the blossoms it is a carnival.

All of this is to say that with planning, one can have an exceptionally full and rewarding weekend in Kyoto...or week...or month...or more.

1 comment:

  1. I always take my visitors to a walk in Gion, and in the Yasaka-jinja at night, a nice walk after dinner...

    I second the suggestion of the Gion corner, even if the touristy (and noisy) ambiance is a minus, still it's the occasion indeed to get close to the real thing. In April-May and October-November, check what dances are presented in their respective theaters by each of the five geisha districts, too.