Kyoto, Japan - Stein Travel
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Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan's most historically important town, is the country's sightseeing capital, packed with 1,700 Buddhist temples, 300 Shinto shrines, imperial palaces, gardens and traditional wooden homes, all well preserved and presenting a picture of traditional Japanese culture. The city lies in the mid-western Kansai district on the island of Honshu, surrounded by plains full of rice paddies.

Visitors arriving from the Kansai International Airport or on board the famous Shinkansen bullet train at Kyoto's modern central station may be disenchanted to initially discover a thriving, overcrowded industrial city with a straight grid of uniform streets presided over by the futuristic Kyoto Tower. The city may present a modern face, but explore behind the scenes in the outer districts or off the beaten track in the old merchants' quarters and you will glimpse cameos and images of traditional Japan, from cherry blossom to geishas, and bonsai trees to shoji screens.

Apart from the architectural legacy, which was fortunately spared the heavy bombings inflicted on other Japanese cities during World War II, Kyoto also boasts some of Japan's most significant art works, a culturally traditional way of life, and superior cuisine. No visit to Japan is complete without devoting time to experience Kyoto.

Information & Facts

Climate

Kyoto has four distinct seasons, its climate ensuring very hot temperatures in summer and winter weather characterised by temperatures below freezing and occasional snowfall. Kyoto summers are hot and humid, with very little wind, and the temperatures can rise to 104°F (40°C).

Getting Around

The best way to access Kyoto's tourist attractions (which are not located near subway stations) is by bus. The city is served by multiple bus companies with direct lines from Kyoto Station and several points in the city centre. An English map of the Kyoto City bus network is available from tourist offices, and signs are in English as well as Japanese. Fares are paid on leaving the bus. The only drawback to the buses is that traffic density makes them slow and they can become very crowded. For getting around the city centre the subway is recommended. Two subway lines cross the city, from north to south and east to west. Kyoto has a high concentration of taxis, particularly in the city centre.

Language

Japanese is the official language. Most Japanese people will have studied English at school, but few can speak it well or understand what is said to them.

Money

The currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY), which is equal to 100 sen. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, but most Japanese operate with cash. Cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency exchange bureaux. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and are best taken in US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit cards; only the international ATMs in post offices, airports and some major stores.

Time

Local time is GMT +9.

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