Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan. This is the best place to sense the soul of the Japanese people and experience their unique friendliness, customs, and costumes.
Walking around the east side of Kyoto, you can detect real-life Geisha among the kimono dressed locals roaming the streets and temples. This is where I would recommend everyone to spend their first day in Kyoto, exploring the Japanese culture.
To do the east side cultural experience, I would recommend walking or renting a bike. Make your way to Goji station and walk east, there is a bike rental just before the river Kamo, called Kyoto Gojo Cycle. they have maps to explain how to get there. Get on the bicycle and bike yourself east, cross the Kamo river and continue for a few minutes until you find the entrance to the temple Ontani hobby. Follow the gardens, temple areas and graveyard from there, all the way up to Kiyomizy-deira. At the top, there is a beautiful view of the city, and even though this temple is touristy it is worth the visit – you will agree when you get there.
Make your way from the temple down Matsubara-dori and turn right into Sannen street. Wandering around the narrow streets is a delight for your eyes. Go Geisha hunting among Japanese families, or girls with their friends in traditional kimonos, walking along the streets, taking selfies or posing for, or with tourists. If you are lucky, you will meet a real-life Geisha rushing gracefully along the streets for their next appointment in this area.
Japanese affection is not uttered in words; it scaresely appears even in the tone of voice; it is chiefly shown in acts of exquisite courtesy and kindness
Cited from Out of the East by
The narrow streets have stores selling Japanese specialties and souvenirs. Sit down at one of the many coffee shops and be amazed watching life go by while sipping a good cappuccino, or sake if you’re up for their specialty rice wine. Maybe it is time for lunch in one of the traditional restaurants to get a taste of Japan!. This is also a good place to wander around the Zen gardens, taking in beautiful temples through your eyes and learning about the history of Japan and their mindful approach to life. Just make your way through the narrow streets to Maruyama Park. This huge park has shrines, temples, and gardens to keep you going for hours.
Zen gardens with their stone arrangements are usually the first association people have when thinking about Japanese gardens. Reduced colors and little vegetation lets the eyes rest and calm the mind, giving the garden a peaceful and serene atmosphere. The perfect place to meditate after being inspired by this peaceful and kind culture all day.
Make your way back to the city center along the canals leading back to the river. You will see more traditionally dressed people, beautiful houses and the vegetation along the channel that changes colors with the seasons. Try the cacao marked cafe here at the end of the canals. If you like mysteries and books, ask the staff to use the cafe and get a code to enter the secret angel cafe hidden under the cacao marked. The entrance is out back.
Japanese people are amiable and polite. I had people follow me to where I wanted to go on numerous occasions when I asked for directions. Kyoto is the best place to get a feel for the culture. This is where you get the ancient history – both visually and verbally. You will also experience the core of Japanese friendliness if you ask for directions, and the politeness as they line up behind each other going off or on trains, escalators or anywhere else there will be queues. Us westerners certainly have a lot to learn from this amazing culture.
Even the smallest kindness, shall not be forgotten