“Amazing Kyoto” shows us sides of Japan’s old capital we’ve never seen before — in two languages!

Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, is one of those cities that looks beautiful no matter what time of the year it is. But out of all the seasons, autumn is by far the most popular time to visit, and now that the leaves are beginning to change people are also starting to plan trips to catch a glimpse of Kyoto’s gorgeous fall scenery.

If you happen to be one of those tourists, we have just the book for you, a unique insight into city by foreigners who now call Kyoto their home, called Amazing Kyoto.

Read More

See a whole other side of Kyoto in this beautiful, quintessentially Japanese train, coming soon

With all the sights, sounds, and history Kyoto City has to offer, from the Golden Pavilion to the thousands of torii shrine gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine, most people forget that there is much more to Kyoto outside of the bustling capital city. Kyoto Prefecture actually reaches farther north, with its northernmost cities bordering the ocean on the Sea of Japan side, earning the area the nickname “Umi no Kyoto“, literally meaning “Kyoto of the Sea”.

For travelers looking to explore more than the usual tourist spots, there are trains departing from Kyoto Station which will take you for a scenic ride through the northern part of the prefecture to view other famous sites such as the beautiful Amanohashidate land bridge in Miyazu City. And now, Japan Railway (JR) has teamed up with a well-known designer to make the travel experience much more unique in this old-style Umi no Kyoto-themed train, set for departure soon!

Read More

Brilliant Art Aquarium takes over Nijo Castle in Kyoto for a spellbinding nocturnal event

Kyoto is, of course, one of Japan’s most loved and visited sightseeing destinations, so it doesn’t really need any extra help drawing crowds. But that doesn’t mean something a little extra-special would hurt anything! This year marks the 400th anniversary of Rimpa, a traditional school of Japanese painting that came from a community of craftsmen founded in 1615. In honor of the anniversary, the Rimpa 400 Year Celebration Festival is being held in Kyoto, and one of the events is the Art Aquarium, making an appearance in Nijo Castle!

Read More

Kyoto’s Rurikoin Temple to offer stunning views of autumn leaves for a limited time next month

Tourists flock to Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto during the cherry blossom-viewing days of spring, but equally stunning are the sights of brilliantly colored autumn leaves amidst ancient structures that have remained undisturbed for hundreds of years.

One particular temple, Rurikoin, stands on the edge of the city and is a paradise for photographers during the autumn months, as well as visitors who didn’t even know they had an artistic side yet spend hours playing with different lighting effects there. While Rurikoin is not always open for general admission from year to year, we’re in luck because this year the building will indeed open its doors for the span of one short month.

Read More

Mounted police officers in Kyoto get Heian Period outfits to match their ancestral colleagues

Though the Heian Period probably evokes more images of poetry and courtly love affairs than daring action, there was still plenty of work for the kebiishi, the peacekeepers of the time. Though the Heian court’s police force is now long gone, they remain a fixture of Japanese police history, and, in fact, served as the inspiration for the new uniforms to be worn by the Kyoto mounted police at this year Jidai Festival!

Read More

Dine like a samurai on the night of the Ikedaya Incident at Kyoto-themed restaurant in Tokyo

If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Kyomachi, the old streets of Kyoto, there’s a special dining establishment in Tokyo that will take you there. The Kyomachi Koishigure restaurant features private dining rooms, red bridges, bamboo corridors and a running stream so you can enjoy all the traditional beauty of Kyoto without having to leave the nation’s capital.

And now, for a limited time only, the restaurant will take you back in time to the late Edo period, with a special “fair” that recreates the infamous Ikedaya Incident, a significant moment in Japan’s history when a group of masterless samurai were ambushed at Kyoto’s Ikedaya Inn.

As part of the experience, diners can enjoy a specially designed menu inside a recreation of the inn, and staff dressed as members of a sword-wielding police force who “ambush” your private room every time you place an order.

Read More

Turns out 15 seconds a day is enough to document a two week trip to Japan【Video】

After living in Japan for long enough, you might find yourself occasionally forgetting the beauty and wonder you felt when you first arrived. Being surrounded by it all the time, it might alip your mind that Japan is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. That is why when photographers or filmmakers come to Japan and capture the essence of the country through fresh eyes, it really reminds us of how awesome it can be.

One such filmmaker is Francisco Fuentes, better known online as Birdo, who visited Japan in May 2015 and captured his 14 days of travel through unique video clips that altogether only amount to 15 seconds of video per day. As a testament to his artistic vision, those 15 seconds are exhilarating to watch, even when his subject matter is normal, mundane tasks. Those who have never been to Japan before will be greeted with an excellent “amuse-bouche”, while people who have lived in Japan might get a little nostalgic for all their favorite places.

Read More

Five nature hikes and trail runs just off Japan’s bullet train

Japan’s major cities offer just about everything, but did you know that includes great nature trails? From forests and waterfalls to ancient temples and shrines, many of Japan’s best hiking trails are literally just a step off the bullet train. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you’ll find it even harder to resist these hikes near Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Got a day–or even a half-day–to spare? You can still get your hike in!

These hiking routes make it convenient to explore Japan’s natural surroundings. No long drives to get out to the countryside, no great changes in altitude, and there’s always a good view waiting at the top. The trails are sign-posted, well-maintained, and many pass through historic districts and are tailored for sight-seeing by foot. You’ll find eating establishments, public toilets, lockers and even hot springs along the way on some of them. In short, Japan is a day-hikers dream! And if you like to run, these hiking courses make great running trails too.

Read More

Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project: craftsmen make ornate watch inspired by Kyoto temple

Kennin-ji is one of Japan’s most historic landmarks. Founded in 1202, it’s the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto and its founding monk, Eisai, is credited with introducing the philosophy of zen to Japan. To celebrate the temple’s 800th anniversary in 2002, a pair of dragons were painted inside the Dharma Hall, with instructions from the Abbott that they be “rampaging across the ceiling”.

The beauty and power of these dragons has inspired an experienced collector to commission a timepiece featuring the very same artwork, calling on the expertise of four of the very best master craftsmen in the business to come together in what’s being called the “Kennin-ji Master’s Project”. Helmed by acclaimed English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin, experts are saying this is one of the most exquisite and ornate watches ever made in the history of the craft.

Read More

Breathtaking video captures the beauty of traditional Japanese washi paper making【Video】

The traditional art of Japanese paper making has a history that dates back well over 1,000 years. Kurotani in Kyoto is one of the oldest paper-making villages where the tradition continues in earnest, with artisans continuing the ancient practice of paper skimming, classed as an intangible cultural asset by Kyoto Prefecture.

Like all Japanese arts, the process of creating washi has a precise and meditative quality about it. From collecting and preparing the raw materials to filtering and pressing the paper, the movements of these craftspeople and the life they lead is truly a sight to behold.

Japanese filmmaker Takashi Kuroyanagi has captured these moments in a beautiful five-minute film that takes us through the process from beginning to end and the result is breathtaking in its meditative beauty. If you’re looking for a way to take five minutes to relax in a busy day, this video is the calming tonic you need.

Read More

Kyoto store makes embroidered badges, tests our knowledge of traditional Japanese sweets

How well do you know your wagashi (Japanese sweets)? If you’re struggling to put a name to any of the traditional delectables pictured above, there’s a store in Kyoto that can help.

By creating decorative embroidered versions of some of Japan’s most popular confections, Kyoto-based Kyototo is giving us an education in the names and background of the hand-crafted treats that are often seasonal but always delicious. Come with us as we take a look at twelve of the most beautiful wagashi you can find in Japan.

Read More

Kyoto has had enough of rude tourists, created an infographic to show how to visit politely

With thousands of temples, beautiful gardens, geisha and maiko (geisha-in-training), and more history than you can shake an encyclopedia at, Kyoto is the place to be when visiting Japan. So with so many tourists from around the world crowding into the city, a few are bound to step out of line.

Thankfully TripAdvisor Japan created a handy infographic showing how to politely visit Kyoto. Kyotoites are understandably protective of their city and its cultural and historical treasures, and some will not hesitate to correct you if you’re doing something rude or wrong. So to be sure that everyone is on the same page, here are a few simple rules to keep in mind when you visit this wonderful city.

Read More

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.

Read More

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!

Read More

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.

Read More

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!
Read More

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.

Read More

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!

Read More

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!

Read More

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.

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 21,996 other followers