In-the-know experts and locals help us get behind the screens of Japan’s former imperial capital. By Chris Rowthorn
The Japan of your imagination can be found at the base of Kyoto’s Higashiyama (Eastern Mountains). Against this forested backdrop lies the nation’s richest concentration of historical sites. From the rioting colors of Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the south to the serene beauty of Shoren-in Temple in the north, you can walk for hours without leaving sight of an ancient shrine, temple, or garden. Along the way, you’ll pass through some of Kyoto’s most atmospheric old lanes, like Sannenzaka, and Ishibekoji. After a day of exploring Higashiyama, it’s a short hop to nearby Gion, Kyoto’s traditional entertainment district. The streets of Gion look as if they were built to frame the beauty of Kyoto’s geisha, and each night the district comes alive as they scurry to appointments in exclusive teahouses and restaurants. Here, we ask Kyoto experts about some of their favorite spots in Higashiyama and Gion.