The capital of Japan from 794 until 1868, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japanese culture, with more than 2,000 temples and shrines. Among the most celebrated are Kiyomizu-dera, a magnificent wooden temple on the slope of a mountainside; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; and Ryoan-ji, famous for its Zen rock garden of raked gravel. Kyoto is set in a bowl of wooded hills and was built on a grid pattern, which makes finding your way around unexpectedly easy. We particularly recommend the “Philosopher’s Path,” a walkway that skirts the eastern foothills and traces the route of a canal from Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, in the north to Nanzen-ji temple in the south, passing several other temples along the way, as well as an alluring collection of small shops and restaurants.

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that typically features tatami-matted rooms, communal baths and areas where visitors may wear cotton yukata kimonos.

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