Kyoto captivated my imagination when two other Senior friends visited the city last year. It’s a trip to Japan’s history and an experience of its rich and unique cultural heritage.
We stayed in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel, which was an experience of Japanese hospitality. A young couple with experience in Europe owned it and welcomed us like guests in their own homes. We arrived, and as usual, they received us with tea slippers and cleaned our suitcases before bringing them to our room. It is a regular practice in Japan, as in many other Asian countries, to leave your shoes at the doorstep and use slippers. Not only do you go the dirt from outside, but it’s also an expression of respect to the homeowners.
After the check-in, we went to our room, which was quite spacious for the three of us. The bathroom was big, so it was easy to move around, and the seating area provided a perfect place for us to hang out after a busy day.
Our first outing was to a traditional Japanese restaurant. We wanted to taste Japanese dishes that we enjoyed in our own countries. To our delight, the restaurant did not disappoint us but brought us a taste of what truly is authentically Japanese.
Our guide picked us up the next day to explore some of Kyoto’s famous attractions. We booked a tour just for us, and it’s very affordable because we shared the expense. For Seniors, I recommend this as you could go at your own pace rather than be catching up all the time with a more extensive group tour. We had a very knowledgeable guide who brought us to these famous attractions:
- Araashiyama Bamboo Grove: A serene bamboo forest that provides a unique atmosphere for a peaceful stroll.
- U Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion): A Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
- Fushimi Inari Taisha: Famous for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates that lead to the sacred Mount Inari.
- Kiyomizu-dera: A historic temple offering panoramic views of Kyoto, especially during cherry blossom and autumn foliage.
- No Gion District: Known for its traditional wooden machiya houses and being the center of the geisha culture. Our guide brought us there and left us to explore the place. Geishas are walking the streets, but visitors can no longer take pictures with them as they’ve been harassed in the past, hurting them seriously sometimes.
- Nijo Castle: A UNESCO World Heritage site with beautiful gardens and historic buildings, including the famous “nightingale floors.”
- Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion): A Zen temple known for its stunning gardens and a unique dry sand garden.
- Katsura Imperial Villa: An exquisite example of traditional Japanese architecture and gardens, often visited through guided tours.
- Philosopher’s Path: A scenic walking path along the canal with hundreds of cherry trees, gorgeous during spring.
- Nishiki Market: A bustling food market with various stalls offering fresh seafood, local produce, and Kyoto’s traditional snacks.
We left days to explore the city and soak in its charm. Jaded with metropolises that look exactly like each other, Kyoto, with its traditional feel, gave us an experience distinct from visits to other cities.
So, for Seniors thinking of going to Kyoto. Drop your hesitation and go. It’s easy to explore and quite affordable.
Enjoy your time exploring Kyoto!