I was in love with Tokyo and decided to stay there the 10 days my boyfriend and I had to stay in the land of the rising sun. My sister-in-law, born in the Japanese capital, advised us to spare a few days in Kyoto – the most beautiful city in Japan, according to her and some Japanese friends we have. The disappointment was evident when I told people I preferred Tokyo over Kyoto.
Of course, Kyoto is (extremely) charming and holds a lot of the oriental traditional culture in its daily life. People say it is common to see geishas on the streets, and we could spot a few. Besides, commerce and restaurants are more rustic and it is a bit difficult to establish communication, since not everybody speaks English as they do in Tokyo.
Leaving the capital on our way to Kyoto, it was interesting to testify how abruptly the view changes from modern to rural; how such a small country can have so much contrast. In Kyoto people are much more shy and reserved than in Tokyo – even in the clothes they wear.
However, I noticed that Kyoto is far more touristic than Tokyo, and it bothered me the fact that we cannot tell the authenticity of things. How much can tradition be masked? Like the Golden Pavilion, one of the main attractions in the city, “not all that glitters is gold”. Even though the top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf, this Zen temple is only a replica, rebuilt in 1955.
In fact, one cannot disguise beauty and Kyoto is full of examples. I can assure you.
Eating out – The restaurants in GION have high reputation for keeping the Japanese traditional cuisine. The most interesting fact is that they do not remind western restaurants at all. Wooden structure, dimly lit and the impression that they are always closed. You must take off your shoes and sit on the floor to eat, sometimes at huge rectangular tables.
Curious fact – The local special treat is the candy made of beans. We also found green tea ice-cream very frequently. In the most popular restaurants, the dishes are displayed by the window.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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