KYOTO, the old imperial capital and cultural heart of Japan, attracts millions of local and foreign visitors each year as its refined culture, dining and the charm of rural Japan are only a short bullet train ride from most major cities in Japan.
The nearest airports are Itami and Kansai International, both in Osaka Prefecture and between 1 hour and 1 hour and 20 minutes away. Kyoto Station, which lies on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, is a convenient gateway to Kyoto’s sightseeing spots.
Kyoto is one of the most historic and culturally rich destinations that offers a generous serving of traditional Japanese culture.
The Kinkaku-ji Temple, or The Golden Pavilion, is an impressive structure that reflects beautifully in the large mirror pond which used to be the retirement villa of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. This Zen temple in the northern Kyoto has two floors, each with different style of architecture, adorned in gold leaf.
Its first floor is built in the Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period and this is where one will find the statues of the Shaka Buddha (historical Buddha) and Yoshimitsu. The second floor is built in the Bukke style used in samurai residences where a seated Kannon Bodhisattva surrounded by statues of the Four Heavenly Kings can be found. It is capped with a golden phoenix.
Gion, located at the heart of Central Kyoto, in an area near Yasaka-jinja Shrine, is a famous geisha district in Kyoto that attracts tourists with its traditional wooden machiya merchant houses, now converted into high-end restaurants and bars that are open to the public.
It is filled with traditional shops that sell local food, crafts and souvenirs. There’s also the ochaya (wooden teahouses) where patrons are entertained by the geiko (art professional) and maiko (apprentices) who sing, dance and play traditional instruments. They can also be seen in traditional kimono walking through the streets of the district.
Gion-Shijo and Kiyomizu-Gojo stations on the Keihan subway line offer easy access to Shijo and Gojo streets. One can reach the geisha districts, temples and ceramics areas within 15 minutes by walking eastwards along these streets.
Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” Nishiki Market, thriving for 400 years, is a fresh food market street in Kyoto that is often packed with locals and tourists alike who spend hours to shop and eat.
The 1,500-meter-long market is a great place to sample and find seasonal food, Kyoto specialties and delicacies, as well as souvenir shops and boutiques. There are a handful of eateries inside the market.
Nishiki Market is easily accessible from JR Kyoto Station by subway or bus. It is an undercover arcade on Nishikikoji Street, just north of Shijo Street and running parallel to it.
People gather at Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, one of the most iconic sights in Kyoto and in Japan as a whole, to pray for their bountiful harvests or business prosperity. The shrine was dedicated to Inari, the deity of a good harvest and success in business, and is the head of all of Japan’s Inari shrines.
The path leading up the 233-meter-tall Mt. Inari is dotted with many smaller shrines and marked by approximately 10,000 vermillion-colored torii gates. Dedicated to the god of rice and sake by the Hata clan in the 8th century, the shrine also features dozens of statues of foxes said to be the kindreds of Inari Okami.
Before entering the shrines, tourists must pay respects by performing the temizu (hand-washing and mouth-rinsing ritual act) to purify their body and soul. They also have to cleanse themselves by ringing the bell in front of the main shrine, gently offer coins, and have to bow twice, clap twice, then bow again.
Located in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha is easily accessed from Kyoto Station via t1he JR Nara Line to Inari Station. The shrine is a five-minute walk from there.
Alternatively, it is a 10-minute walk via the Keihan Line to Fushimi Inari Station.
When in Osaka, on the other hand, the 36-storey Swissotel Nankai is a deluxe hotel ideally located in the heart of Namba, Osaka’s most exciting entertainment, shopping and dining district. It has 546 well-appointed guestrooms, including 42 executive floor rooms and 28 suites with upgraded amenities including Swiss Executive Club Lounge access.
The hotel sits above Nankai Railway’s Namba Station and offers direct train access to Kansai International Airport and all major tourist attractions such as Kyoto.
Hotel guests can walk down Shinsaibashi-suji to experience Japan’s love of consumer retail and head south down Shinsaibashi-suji to reach the neon-lit Dotonbori Bridge for a break from the shopping hustle and bustle. There are shops to suit every budget and taste from high fashion to traditional crafts.
Meanwhile, AirAsia, the world’s best low-cost airline, is celebrating 600 million guests flown with a “BIG Sale” and 6 million promotional seats.
Travelers can enjoy promotional all-in AirAsia BIG Member fares for as low as P60 for flights from Manila, Clark and Cebu to Iloilo, Caticlan, Puerto Princesa and many more.
Karen Chan, AirAsia Group chief commercial officer, announced the AirAsia BIG Sale across its network as a show of appreciation to its 600 million guests flown. As AirAsia further transforms into a travel tech platform company, the sale will become more than just flight promotions.
Travelers can rent and use the personal wireless router FLYTPACK Pocket Wi-Fi to stay connected with their friends and families while touring Japan’s top destinations, sans outrageous roaming charges. They can share the connection with up to five devices simultaneously.