Kyoto

We say goodbye to our Japan Wish winner and look back on her time in Japan【Video】

Ashley is now safely back in the US after her exciting adventure here in Japan, so it’s time for a wrap-up post!

Our Japan Wish competition winner’s time with us was a whirlwind of fun, food, and typhoons as her dream of coming to Japan became a reality. Go ahead and watch the video below for a glimpse at just some of the amazing things Japan has to offer for a visitor, as well as to see Ashley’s emotional goodbye.

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The quintessential Kyoto experience: becoming a maiko for the day! 【Pics & video】

They say that it’s rare to see a real maiko walking the streets of Kyoto, since these artists usually work at night and live in their own secluded world, far from the rest of Japanese society. In fact, if you spot a maiko strolling around Gion during the day, there’s a good chance she’s a tourist who’s undergone a fabulously elaborate makeover.

We took our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley to a studio in Kyoto’s Gion neighborhood to have a maiko-over and be transformed in an amazing process that yielded completely stunning results. Ashley was able to choose her own kimono and obi sash, and as part of the deal she was treated to a professional photography session and the opportunity to take a stroll around the streets of Gion in full maiko garb!

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Smoking food and sword juggling at Kyoto’s Ninja Labyrinth restaurant【Video】

Time to rewatch Naruto and brush up on your ninjutsu, folks! We took our Japan wish competition winner to experience a modern twist on an ancient part of Japanese culture. Come and take a look at the spectacle inside Kyoto’s mysterious and shadowy ninja restaurant.

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Despite raging typhoon, Gion Matsuri goes on as it has for over 1,000 years【Video】

The Gion Festival, or Gion Matsuri, has been celebrated consistently for over a thousand years and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. The highlight is the Yamahoko Parade which occurs twice, on July 17 and July 24, and our competition winner’s wish was to see it happen with her own eyes here in Japan. This year, with a incoming typhoon, there were rumors swirling about the festival being cancelled, but with hardly any interruptions in its long history, this parade wasn’t about to be stopped by mere weather!
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Ads for JR’s “Seishun 18” rail pass celebrate the isolated beauty of Japan’s most far-flung stations

It seems so easy to plan an entire Japan vacation around a single tour of the Tokyo metropolitan area. The mega city has just about everything a tourist could possibly want to see, from Akihabara’s blinding neon to the breathtaking skyline of Yokohama, to the quiet, old-world charm (and weird poop sculpture) of Asakusa.

But to not venture away from Tokyo, to Japan’s more far-flung and lesser-known destinations is to rob yourself of the grander Japan experience, and Japan Rail (JR) has long sought to encourage visitors, both domestic and foreign, to wander off the beaten path with the Seishun 18 unlimited rail pass. And, if the idea of unlimited access to JR’s vast and far-reaching network of tracks isn’t enough to inspire your sense of adventure on your next Japan visit, perhaps these ads for the Seishun 18 rail pass, which depict the isolated beauty of some of Japan’s most remote train stations, will be.

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Faster than a speeding bullet! Ride the Tokyo to Kyoto “Nozomi” Shinkansen with us! 【Video】

Even if you’re not exactly a trainspotting otaku, chances are you still find the idea of riding a Japanese bullet train seriously appealing. After all, those things get up to some crazy speeds, and the whole process runs like smooth, scientifically adjusted clockwork. Even the cleaning crew get their job done, making the trains absolutely spotless, in seven minutes max!

But if you haven’t quite made it to Japan yet, then we invite you to take a Shinkansen ride with us and our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley. Strap yourself in and feel those G-forces!

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Modern dance and kimono: This will be the coolest dance video you see all day!

As you’ve probably guessed, we’re fans of modern dance, from World Order to enthusiastic otaku to Kenichi Ebina. Of course, traditional dance is very cool as well, but we have to admit we have a particular soft spot for the many modern dance groups you can find around the world, and so we felt compelled to share a new video released this month that shows off some of the coolest modern dancers we’ve ever seen.

Featuring a collaboration between the Dancing Strawhats and Koharu Sugawara, you definitely won’t want to miss this video!

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Kyoto Gakuen University entices students with TV ads featuring official anime character

Thinking of applying for higher education in Japan but don’t know where to start? We’re sending our applications off to Kyoto Gakuen University, the education providers with an official anime character called Sono Uzumasa, who features in TV commercials, billboard advertising and even on city transport cards.

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Japan’s 10 best restaurants, as chosen by foreign travelers

People travel to Japan for all sorts of different reasons. Many are seeking a taste of tradition and history, and plan visits to the country’s most important shrines and castles. Some are drawn by Japan’s natural beauty, heading for its mountains and forests, while still others come to throw themselves into its neon-soaked urban entertainment centers.

But no matter what’s on your itinerary, at some point you’re going to need to get something to eat, and when your stomach starts growling, you can rely on the experience of those who made the trip before you with TripAdvisor’s list of the 10 best restaurants in Japan.

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A beautiful and glittering Kyoto confection perfect for enjoying a starry summer’s night

If you’ve never tried traditional Japanese sweets, you will find that they are certainly very different from those in the west. They are not as sweet and are often made of mochi, azuki bean paste, nuts and fruits. Known as wagashi in Japanese, there are thousands of shops in cities all over Japan that sell these kinds of desserts. One such shop in the old capital, Kyoto, is showing off its history and creativity with a limited-edition summer sweet: “A night full of stars”.

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Patrick Schwarzenegger comes under fire in Japan after pranking stranger at Kyoto temple

Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Schwarzenegger is currently visiting Japan with his famous mother Maria Shriver, and has so far enjoyed a dip in a traditional hot spring, faced off with a sumo wrestler and eaten enormous amounts of sushi. So far, so fun.

But he’s also come in for some heavy criticism after uploading a video of himself pranking an unsuspecting visitor to a Kyoto temple.

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

Just in time for the peak summer travel season, website TripAdvisor has released its annual list of the highest-rated spots in Japan from its foreign users. With 30 amazing locations on the list, you’ll want to start your journey as soon as possible if your goal is to see them all, so let’s dive right in and take a look at this year’s picks.

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Kyoto’s newest anime mascot has a stinky name, is worried about garbage, and is a fairy

The Japanese are rather enthusiastic when it comes to recycling. In most Japanese cities, domestic waste has to be separated into a minimum of three categories: combustable “raw” garbage, recyclable plastic and recyclable paper. Some areas have their residents splitting their trash into as many as 10 categories.

Even with that said, there’s probably no place in Japan more outreach than Kyoto when it comes to recycling plastic, as they’ve had a little magical help from a handsome new mascotGomi no Yousei (Fairy of the Garbage). Check out the bizarre recycling enthusiast after the break!

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Mother Duck and her 14 ducklings stroll the streets of Kyoto to get home 【Videos】

Why did the chicken cross the road? We don’t know, we don’t speak Chicken. But we do know why the ducks in Kyoto cross the road. To get to the Kamo River!

Don’t be mistaken, we don’t speak Duck either, but that’s what the ducks have been doing for the past decade or so, and this year they’ve completed the procession again with a record number of baby ducks in tow!

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Heading to a Shinto shrine soon? You might not want to read these ghost stories before you go!

If you’re spending even a short amount of time in Japan, visiting at least one Buddhist temple and one Shinto shrine should definitely be on your list. It doesn’t matter too much which one you go to — they all tend to be lovely places with great atmospheres. Of course, some are bigger and fancier than others, and some just have better locations, like on top of mountains or in forests.

However, it turns out that, according to certain legends flying around on Twitter right now, you might want to be careful about which shrines you visit, or something spooky could be waiting for you…

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These three Kyoto sushi restaurants target women, but we think everyone will enjoy them!

Sushi is one of those foods that really grabs the imagination. Whether you’re in a kaiten-zushi joint in Akihabara or one of the $300-a-meal restaurants you read about in the news, there’s something almost captivating about the ritual of it all.

Of course, anyone is welcome at pretty much any sushi restaurant, but these three Kyoto-based restaurants have received a bit of attention online for specifically targeting women. From do-it-yourself sushi to tiny, round delights, these places have really piqued our curiosity. Check out some photos below and start making your plans for a trip to Kyoto now!

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Timeless beauty: Color video of 1930s Kyoto shows how women of the day got their hair done

There’s something almost magical about old videos. They’re like looking through a magic mirror with bad reception into the past. It kind of makes you wonder what people in a few hundred years will have to say about our Vine videos.

But even better than old videos, are old color videos! They’re probably as close to time travel as we’ll ever come. Take this lovely video of Kyoto from 1934 for example. Though it’s not the oldest color video in existence, this video still manages to captivate us with its depiction of mageyui, the process of putting one’s hair up into one of the traditional mage hair styles.

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Nine things that may shatter your dreams of living in Kyoto

Kyoto now welcomes 50 million tourists a year who come to experience Japan’s traditional culture and architecture, plus catch a glimpse of the city’s famed geisha. But, as anyone who lives in a tourist hot spot knows, living there is not the same as a short visit.

As such, the following is a list of some of the things that Kyoto locals probably have the urge to remind tourists of from time to time, so allow us to shatter your illusions with some of the realities that come with living in Japan’s ancient capital.

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Experience Japanese culture in a new way, inside a glass teahouse at an ancient temple

Imagine yourself nearly floating in the sky, surrounded by green trees and fluffy clouds. Now you sip some green tea and feel completely at peace. Does this sound too good to be true? It isn’t, because now you can actually experience this in Kyoto.

At the Blue Dragon Hall of Shorenin Temple, artist Tokujin Yoshioka has designed a clear glass teahouse sitting amongst the trees of Higashiyama, one of the city’s famous mountains.

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Strapped for cash, 1,400-year-old Kyoto shrine leasing part of its grounds for condo development

One of the things that makes Japan such a compelling place is the country’s long cultural history. The upkeep of centuries-old buildings can be extremely expensive, however, especially since traditional Japanese architecture is mainly wood, reed, and paper, which aren’t exactly the sturdiest building materials.

As we’ve seen before, sometimes even sites of historical significance can struggle to make ends meet, and Kyoto’s famous Shimogamo Shrine is no exception. That’s why in order to raise the funds it needs, the institution, which was founded some 1,400 years ago, is planning to lease a section of its grounds for the construction of a condominium complex.

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