One of Black Tomato's must go 2013 destinations has to be Kyoto. With so much to offer Kyoto is really giving Tokyo a run for its money. A visit in November guarantees spectacular views, like this, as the leaves turn to their vibrant autumnal shades. Spring is also an excellent time to visit as the blossom trees overflow in full bloom. Either way, whenever you choose to visit one thing remains certain, the views are set to be spectacular.
What springs to mind? Vibrant colours, historic temples, blossom trees, traditional houses, delicate flowers, fresh sushi. You’re not far wrong. <a href="http://www.blacktomato.com/country/japan/kyoto-holiday/">Kyoto</a> has some of the most exciting diverse scenery, our favourites have to be: Maruyama Park; a must…must… see in early April when the locals hold “Hanami” (blossom viewing parties). The park transforms as the trees fill with blossom and the festive spirit erupts, it really is an incredible atmosphere that we couldn’t get enough of. Kiyomizudera Temple is the place for simply stunning views of Kyoto. The steep and busy lanes are all part of the atmosphere on the way up and we’re sure the view from the top won’t let you down.
<a href="http://www.blacktomato.com/country/japan/kyoto-holiday/">Kyoto</a>; the hub traditional Japanese cuisine, so much so that Nishiki Market has been dubbed “Kyoto’s Kitchen”; it spans one long road lined with over 100 food venders and stalls. An experience made for foodies all over the world to immerse themselves in Japanese favourites; sweets, pickles, dried seafood and of course, sushi. Make the most of samples and tasters, your unlikely to have a culinary experience quite so raw to this real deal again soon. Along with the classic sushi and tempura dishes be sure to test out sukiyaki, kaiseki-ryori and shojin-ryori. Sukiyaki incorporates thinly sliced beef in sizzling pan along with seasonal veg and a soya sauce broth, mouth-watering stuff if we don’t say so ourselves. Kaiseki-ryori “the ultimate Japanese cuisine” is just as much about the presentation as the food. Using seasonal veg the dish is arranged in impeccable Japanese style and seasoned to perfection. Shojin-ryori, probably the most out there dish of the three. Eaten mainly by Buddhist followers prohibits any ingredients that will die as a result of harvesting, meaning all meat and root veg are of the menu. Instead beans and fruits are used to produce delicious dishes, a must try for the real Japanese experience.
Our absolute favourite has to be <a href=" http://www.blacktomato.com/country/japan/hoshinoya-ryokan-luxury-kyoto-hotel/">Hoshinoya Ryokan </a> in West Kyoto. The place to escape Kyoto’s hustle and bustle for a few days and soak up some natural beauty. Situated along the Ooigawa River its peace and tranquillity is quite something. You know it has to be good when even local city dwellers use it for their weekend escapes too. However if a modern essence is more up your street then Hotel Granvia is the place for you. Its modern take creates a hotel with simple clean rooms that stand tranquil and still amongst the buzz of Kyoto. And the best bit? Well, that has to be the cooking class they offer teaching you the skills of Kyoto traditional cuisine.
These mysterious beauties of <a href="http://www.blacktomato.com/country/japan/kyoto-holiday/">Kyoto</a>, Geiko as they are known locally, remain largely misunderstood. They are women trained to entertain guests through an array of talents that include singing, dancing, engaging in conversation and serving sake. As you wonder the streets of Gion, Kyoto’s most famed Geisha district be sure to look out for their elegant presence. But make sure you treat them with the respect they so highly command, touching is a no no, so restrain from the temptation and take their beauty in from a far. Kyoto’s geishas are some of the most esteemed across the land, seeing them wander the streets going about their daily business is a sight not to be missed.
Bamboo forests as high as the eye can follow, gravel swirled traditional gardens or “karesansui” as they are more locally known, autumnal colours ready to awaken your senses, you would be mistaken to think Kyoto’s surrounding country had little to offer. Hop on a boat trip to picture perfect Arashiyama Pier where our exert guide will be waiting to show you around. Head to the northern part of the <a href="http://www.blacktomato.com/country/japan/kyoto-holiday/">Kyoto</a> Prefecture where you’ll discover one of the last thatched farm districts of Japan. Then journey back to your retreat through the mountainous terrain, showcasing Kyoto’s spectacular landscape. If you’re feeling really adventurous and don’t mind another journey on the bullet train escape to art lovers paradise; Naoshima island in the Inland Sea. An island dedicated entirely to art with two main museums and plenty of quirky art projects dotted over the island to intrigue and excite you.
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