Posted August 4, 2010 by Kate HammanKyoto combines Old World traditions with modern-day conveniences, making it an ideal place to immerse yourself in both sides of Japanese culture. Take a stroll along the famous Philosopher's Path exploding with cherry blossoms in the spring, brew your own green tea, and relax in a traditional Japanese-style inn. Plus, you don't have to spend a fortune to experience true Zen.
Tetsugaku-no-michi Street (Philosopher's Path): Follow in the footsteps of many famous philosophers, including the well-known Nishida Kitaro, who have come here to contemplate the meaning of life. The path runs alongside a canal between the Ginkaku-ji Temple and the Nyakuoji Bridge, and passes two lesser-known temples. Each spring, Mother Nature covers the walkway with canopies of white cherry blossoms, making it quite the sight to behold. It's free to wander and be one with your thoughts.
Ippodo Tea Company: With nearly three centuries of expertise in blending and selling high-grade Japanese green teas, Ippodo is the place to go for a lesson in tea-ology. Choose from 40 different types of green tea in the Kaboku tearoom and a salesclerk will show you how to steep it properly. You can also buy loose-leaf teas to take home with you. Teas start around 400 yen (about $4.63 US; check XE.com for current exchange rates).
Yachiyo Ryokan: The Yachiyo Ryokan may be more expensive than other area hotels, but experiencing the tradition and tranquility of Japanese culture is priceless. Once you arrive, you can put on the yukata (kimono-style robe) in your room, and then wander the lush gardens and enjoy the views of the Higashiyama mountains. Guestrooms in the Honkan building are designed to replicate tea ceremony rooms, with lanterns as the only source of light. You can also find more modern accommodations in the newer Shinkan building.
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(Photo: Kyoto Convention Bureau/Japan National Tourist Organization)