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Kyoto

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Realized that we don't have a thread for this amazing city.
Any recommendations for restaurants and sights?

For those who haven't visited, this bit of prose captures the spirit of the city:
When we say in the West, that a town is attractive, we usually mean that, viewed from a point of vantage, it presents a pleasing prospect; one in which each building, square and spire contributes, by design or otherwise, to a whole. Few Japanese cities or towns do that. Bombs and fires and earthquakes and storms and the separate attentions of 510,000 busy construction companies have ensured that they do not. When a Japanese person tells you that Kyoto, the former capital, is a "beautiful" city , he does not mean that if you climb Mount Heia and looked down at its roofs, you would be struck - as you would be by Florence from Fiesole or Oxford from the tower of the University Church - by a sense that the whole was magically greater than the sum of its parts. When you view Kyoto from any point of vantage, such as the elevated platform where the bullet train deposits you, its ugliness can make you weep. Its tangled utility-cabled skyline is indistinguishable from that of any other Japanese city of comparable size, and every bit as jolting. The attractions of Japanese cities - if they have attractions - lie in what they contain, not in the prospect they present. Kyoto is "beautiful" because within it there are beautiful things; subtle, sometimes tiny details that resist the cacophony around them and may require a lifetime to unearth.

Alan Booth in Looking for the Lost

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Edited by Alter - 8/9/11 at 8:16am
post #2 of 11
There's almost too much to see in Kyoto, but for sights I recommend to at least check out the following:

Nijo Castle: get an idea of how the Shogun lived in Kyoto. Although he didn't use the place much, it is rare to be able to see a castle/residence still intact, as most of them around Japan were bombed or burned down for some reason.

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Katsura Imperial Villa: Modern architects received a lot of influence from this house.

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Kiyomizu Temple: looks to me like this is where they got the idea for the L.A. case study house.

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post #3 of 11
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post #4 of 11
Slight thread revival/threadjacking... Any recommendation on where to live (long term) in Kyoto? I've only visited, so I don't have a good sense of the city overall.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arced View Post

Slight thread revival/threadjacking... Any recommendation on where to live (long term) in Kyoto? I've only visited, so I don't have a good sense of the city overall.

Where will you be working/studying? You want to be close to a train or subway station if it is outside the city center.
post #6 of 11
^^ thanks. Being near Doshisha would be ideal (as we might have access to their facilities). The other issue is that we have kids who'll be going to the local elementary school (although they don't speak any Japanese), but we don't know if there's any particular criteria for picking an area/its elementary school. Lastly, the dream is to live in a converted townhouse, or kyomachiya.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Doshisha has a couple campuses so you should confirm which one. Those machiya look great but can be freezing cold in the winter (and deathly hot in the summer) unless they ave been over-hauled a lot.
Will you have someone here that is Japanese to help you find accommodation and arrange the school situation? I expect it could be very complicated. Feel free to drop me a pm with any specific questions.... I am in Osaka/Kobe and don't know the Kyoto situation exactly but have some friends that live there that I can ask. I also have kids in the public school system so I can explain about that a bit.
post #8 of 11
Hoping to go to Kyoto soon, maybe the beginning of October or sometime. Haven't been but my gf says she can take me to some secret invitation-only restaurants in Kyoto.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Great city. The hotel situation is poor on the high end but the atmosphere is really special. Plan a trip to osaka if you want to get some non- trad food. I hear Hajime (***) is good.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alter View Post

Doshisha has a couple campuses so you should confirm which one. Those machiya look great but can be freezing cold in the winter (and deathly hot in the summer) unless they ave been over-hauled a lot.
Will you have someone here that is Japanese to help you find accommodation and arrange the school situation? I expect it could be very complicated. Feel free to drop me a pm with any specific questions.... I am in Osaka/Kobe and don't know the Kyoto situation exactly but have some friends that live there that I can ask. I also have kids in the public school system so I can explain about that a bit.

Thanks for the tips on the Machiya. It makes sense that they'd be rough to live in, so I guess I might have to get my tatami fix another way.

I think we're going to have to negotiate the housing/school situations ourselves. We've renting apartments in Japan before, so it should be somewhat straightforward (except for the dreaded 'reikin'). I've been surfing chintai-kyoto to get the lay of the land.

The school is another matter. We're not sure where to start, or what the 'start' is exactly, especially as it'll be the middle of their school year.
post #11 of 11
I had an amazing lunch at Kichisen - highly recommended. The chef won Iron Chef and was really nice.

http://www.kichisen-kyoto.com/en/
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