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Kyoto picked "World's best city, 2015" by TravelAndLeisure.com one of the most trusted sources of travel around the world.
World famous Kyoto... a place everyone should visit in their lifetime. With 17 locations within Kyoto designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, an unparalleled deep history and an atmosphere that can take you back to a time gone by... Kyoto is sure to fill your heart and soul with awe. As the formal Imperial Capitol of Japan for more than one thousand years, Kyoto is filled with shrines, temples, gardens and buildings of ancient times... it is know as "the City of Ten Thousand Shrines". The city has seen wars (most damaging being the Onin War during the mid-16th century), battles and fires but fortunately was not directly targeted during World War 2 so original structures remain from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Not only can you enjoy the beautiful structures, there is great food, festivals and accommodations. Kyoto can easily be reached by Tokyo or Osaka on the Bullet Train within a couple hours.
Kyoto has a wide range of hotels, Japanese Inns and hostels depending on the "Style" you feel like and your budget. Although the 4 and 5 star hotels are extremely nice and the service is excellent, you may want to consider a smaller Japanese style Inn for a night or even your entire stay. There are Japanese Inns for the budget conscious and for those where money is no concern. Sleeping on a nice soft and warm futon after a long hot bath while in the historic city is a relaxing experience you will never forget. Wake up to a Japanese style breakfast and then walk out into beautiful Kyoto.
Since the spots to see in Kyoto are literally all over the city, it doesn't really matter in which part of the city you stay. If you want a quieter part of town, the East or West areas are best but if you want to be able to walk out and about town whenever you feel like it, near the station or downtown would be your best bet.
First on the list for Kyoto is it historic and beautiful shrines, temples and parks. You will need a detailed plan of action to hit all the right spots or you will find your precious hours quickly slip away as there are so many to see. Don't just focus on the temples and shrines though, a simple walk through the back streets of Kyoto or the more tourist "old town" areas make for a fabulous walk for your senses. Attending a Green Tea ceremony or hiring a Geisha for a dinner show are all possible and make for a wonderful experience. Shopping and eating in Kyoto are also two "main events" that can't be overseen. Don't just hit the "tourist" spots, as mentioned previously step into the back streets or get off the standard tourist streets and walk among the locals. If your lucky you may see some Geisha or Maiko on their way to work in the evening.
The graphic above is a simplified "Quick Glance" at transportation options. Due to fluctuating schedules & pricing, Times & Costs are subject to change.
Its very easy to get to Kyoto from Tokyo or Osaka. If your a JR Pass (Japan Railways Pass) holder just jump on any "Hikari" Shinkansen (or even a "Kodama" Shinkansen if leaving from Osaka but DON'T ride a "Kodama" from Tokyo... it will take forever). Without a JR Pass you can pay the fare and ride any Shinkansen you like.
Hotels & Lodging
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Hyatt Regency Kyoto
New Miyako Hotel
The map below gives a great "over-view" of the "main" areas (cities) in Kyoto.
Sumo Town Ryogoku (Ryougoku)
Visit to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
Takoyaki in Osaka
Bonfire Noh Theater: Kyoto
Bonfire Noh Theater: Kyoto