Japan’s cultural heart, experience the charming traditions of this fascinating country while in Kyoto. Discover the art of authentic Japanese cooking at a culinary workshop, or witness a traditional tea ceremony, in which matcha tea is prepared and presented in a centuries-old ritual. Bathe in a traditional onsen spring, learn calligraphy, try your hand at flower arranging or visit a sake brewery.
The district of Gion’s atmospheric cobbled streets are lined with wooden houses, 17th-century buildings and glowing lanterns. Visit antique shops, art galleries and traditional tea houses, while the scenic Shirakawa Canal is fringed by willow trees and high-end restaurants. Of course, Gion is where the traditional Geisha (Geiko in Kyoto dialect) undergo strict training, work and reside. Some Geiko host guests at teahouses, serving drinks and performing traditional music and dance. This ultra-exclusive event can be arranged by our Luxury Concierge service.
Fushimi Inara-Taisha Shrine
This vast shrine complex is a truly impressive site to behold. Thousands of torii gates create the Senbon Torii, surrounding a mesmerising network of walkways and hiking trails that lead into the sacred forest of Mount Inari, home to five shrines that were built in dedication to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and sake.
The Golden Pavilion
Among the thousands of temples dotted about the compact city, Kinkaku-Ji – or the Golden Pavilion - is the most iconic. Originally built in 1397, the Zen Buddhist temple was burnt down by a young monk, followed by a full reconstruction. Today, the striking main hall is covered in gold leaf, brilliantly reflecting in the pond that surrounds the building. Inside, each floor represents a different style of architecture with ornate carvings, while outside, pretty gardens house the traditional Sekkatei Teahouse in which you can enjoy a cup of matcha tea.
One of Kyoto’s most popular temples for good reason, this hilltop building dates back to the 8th century. Absorb views from the main hall’s veranda, drink sacred water from the waterfall, and explore the number of shrines housed here. Not as tranquil as some of the city’s other temples, this bustling building is one of the most enjoyable to visit, offering an interactive experience that truly represents the expression of faith in Japan.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Enchanting in every way, this unique park houses tall, thick green bamboo stalks that endlessly line the pathway, creating a sense of otherworldliness that is difficult to describe and magical to experience.
A dream destination for foodies, Kyoto is the place to experience authentic Japanese cuisine. Embrace Japan’s love affair with food, sampling delicacies including fresh sushi, delicate tempura, steaming ramen and matcha tea desserts. Dedicated food tours around the city showcase the delicious gastronomy that is loved by locals, while a saunter through the weird and wonderful Nishiki Market will take you past a wealth of confectionary, seafood and pickled vegetables. Kyoto is also home to a great number of world-class, Michelin-starred restaurants. Sushi Wakon, located in the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, serves stunning Japanese cuisine using the freshest ingredients.
Around 45 minutes by road from Kyoto, Nara is a fascinating historical city. Though compact, it is filled with traditional gardens, striking temples and ornate shrines, a particular highlight of which is Toda-ji Temple, a must-visit masterpiece that is home to the largest Buddha statue in Japan. Established in 1880 and one of the country’s oldest parks, Nara Park houses hundreds of deer, considered in the Shinto religion to be messengers of the gods.
London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda with British Airways, Haneda to Itami with Japan Air.
11 hours 50 minutes from London to Tokyo, 1 hour 10 minutes to Itami (Kyoto) - excluding layover time in Tokyo.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
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Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance.
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.