Stroll like a kimono-clad samurai of a bygone era in the cool, dappled sunlight of Bamboo Street, where towering bamboo forests and stone walls hide sheltered gardens and silent neighborhoods. Your money-saving Kyoto vacation rental home, condo, apartment, townhouse, or traditional machiya puts you in the heart of ancient Japan’s former imperial capitol. Kyoto is still a religious center, with over 1,600 temples and scores of Shinto shrines, gardens, historic buildings, and museums. Kyoto’s riverside cherry trees blossoming in spring, colorful autumn leaves, and winter snows have inspired artists and haiku writers for centuries.
Besides money-savings compared to luxury hotels, your Kyoto vacation rental can bring you closer to a traditional Japanese life style if you opt for tatami mats, rice paper doors, futons, soaking in cedar tubs, and meditative gardens. Though modern comforts like beds, showers, flat screen TVs, and computers are equally available. Enlist a vacation rental host to help fine-tune your sightseeing itinerary of temples, teahouses, theaters, shrines, gardens, shops, and museums. The money-savings from a Kyoto vacation rental can help pay for tea ceremonies, Geisha district entertainment, Kabuki at Minamiza Theater, antiques, fabrics, ceramics, handicrafts, sake, sushi, and noodle house meals.
Explore the roots of modern Japan at the Kyoto Archaeological Museum. Japan’s ancient power struggles are exemplified by the Tokugawa shogun’s Kyoto residence, Nijo-jo Castle, and the emperor’s Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace in nearby Imperial Park. Learn about traditional Japanese ceramics at the Raku Museum. Travel in time to 1940-1970, the pre-plastic Japanese toy robot era, at the Tin Toy Museum. Let the kids gorge on manga comics at the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
Take the kids to Iwatayama Monkey Park in Nishikyo-ku. Kyoto Botanical Garden has a bonsai exhibit, bamboo garden, cherry trees, irises, camellias, hydrangea, and peonies. The garden of rocks, raked sand, and dwarf trees at Konchi-in Temple is a masterpiece dating to 1627. Arashiyama District’s Tenryu-ji Temple zen garden, laid out in the 1300s by Muso Soseki, was the first designed for meditation rather than strolling. Ryoan-ji Temple’s stone “garden of emptiness,” laid out in 1499 and viewed from above like a framed painting, is world-renowned as a device to aid meditation.
Pontocho’s riverside theater and geisha district is near the Nishikoji-dori food and vegetable arcade. The nearby Kawaramachi shopping district has local craftsmen specializing in everything from dolls and kimonos to paper umbrellas and painted fans. Gion, the old geisha and entertainment district across the Kamo River from Pontocho, still has performance theaters and cha-ya (teahouses). The adjacent Eastern Mountain District of Higashiyama-ku has a historic walking route from the cliff-top Kiyomizu-dera Temple to Gion’s Yasaka-jinja Shrine.