We haven’t visited a city in Japan that failed to impress, but there is something special about Kyoto’s history and natural beauty that enchants visitors in a different way than the glittering lights of Tokyo. Japan’s cultural capital transports visitors back to old-world Japan, where samurais and geishas roamed the streets of the historic Gion district.
Thanks to Japan’s second-to-none high-speed rail network there are several wonderful options for easy day trips from Kyoto. Nara, a mediums-sized city known for the palace and its hundreds of domesticated deer can be reached in just 35 minutes by train. Osaka, Japan’s second largest city, is just a quick 30 minute train ride. Aficionados of traditional Japanese green tea shouldn’t miss stopping off in Uji, a small town that is the world’s epicenter of matcha production. The town’s two main streets are lined back to back with tea shops selling any and every product imaginable that could be made with matcha!