Kyoto in winter can be magical when its gardens, shrines and temples are veiled beneath a delicate covering of snow, and footfalls and noises are reduced to a minimum. There are winter events to thrill the visitors, tea parties with geishas, special menus, Hanatouro lantern festivities and more events yet to be announced by the civic authorities. All this plus the breathtaking beauty of the area.
Kyoto Winter Special
Kyoto’s wintertime attractions are less known than those of say, Tokyo and Hokkaido, but it is gaining a reputation as a winter holiday resort to rival that of the others.
Winter in Kyoto
The word often used about Kyoto’s winter is austere, but this is to do it an injustice because what is conveyed to the connoisseur of Kyoto is a sensation of serenity and mystery in this favored time of the year. The machiya-style houses, unique to Kyoto, that lie beneath veils of white glistening snow look like something out of a picture book. Plants and trees, their bare branches delicately festooned with snow and icicles, present an unrivaled opportunity to study and appreciate the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’, that difficult to translate word that means “sense of the aesthetic”.
Events during the Kyoto Winter Festival
Artistic senses are well to the fore in the ‘Hanatouro’ festivities, an event where Kyoto’s evening scenery is bathed in lamplight, while ‘Tea Party with Maiko’ offers the visitor a chance to get up close and personal with maiko (apprentice geishas), masters of traditional performing arts. Then enjoy the wholesome cuisine offered at modest prices, during the ‘Restaurant Winter Special’.
Kyoto is justly famed for its rich and divergent culinary expertise and it is one of Japan’s Michelin-starred cities, the other two being Tokyo and Osaka. Not only are some of the restaurants sporting Michelin stars, but for the first time, Michelin has starred three ryokans in Kyoto. (Ryokans are traditional Japanese Inns).
Three Top Places to Visit in Kyoto
The visitor to Kyoto will find more sightseeing than can be accommodated in one short holiday, but there are some places that need prior booking.
One of these is The Imperial Palace which can only be visited on guided tours held by the Imperial Household Agency. Anyone wishing to go on one of these tours must apply in advance, with passport, at the agency’s office in the Kyoto Imperial Park.
A tour of The Sento Imperial Palace (in the same area) also needs prior booking (same place). The tour takes visitors through the Sento, beautiful examples of Japanese gardens.
No modern city these days can be without its tower, and true to form Kyoto has one standing 131 metres, making it Kyoto’s tallest building. It is one of only a few modern landmarks in this city of ancient temples and shrines. From the viewing platform 100 metres above the ground there is a 360 degree view of the whole of Kyoto and on clear days it is possible to see Osaka Bay.
Wintertime in Kyoto has a lot to offer the visitor/tourist and with the discounts on accommodation, food and tours, now is the perfect time to go there.