By Lensay AbadulaOnce the capital of Japan, Kyoto is a city full of beauty and famous for its classic Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, and traditional wooden houses. HEBS Digital’s Senior UX Designer, Lensay Abadula, recently escaped to the city and returned with insights on everything you need to know.
What did you love most about this city?
Famous Japanese organizer Marie Kondo describes something that brings joy as creating an indescribable feeling, sparking every part of you upward. As she often describes it creates an audible ‘ky-yung’, as if a little charm were to go off. This may be the only appropriate way to explain Kyoto, Japan. It just has that special magic.
What I loved most about Kyoto, which is just 2.5 hours from Tokyo by bullet train, was its special balance of unassuming small-town charm and incredible significance as home to some of the world’s most popular tourist sites.
Where would you take a first-timer in this city?
There are so many must-sees in Kyoto, like the Fushimi-Inari Shrine or the Golden Pavilion. However, my most memorable experience was visiting the Shoren-in temple at night. Drawing fewer tourists than most other daytime sites, the temple feels uniquely your own and lights throughout the space create a beautifully haunting, mesmerizing experience. I would encourage anyone visiting Kyoto to make this special visit by night.
What is your favorite dish from here, and where might we find it?
Although Japan is known for its cuisine, I abandoned any illusions of a food nirvana before arriving (I don’t like seafood and I only eat halal meat). But in Kyoto’s Gion neighborhood (also known as the Geisha district) I found the unexpected: a halal ramen shop! I enjoyed an amazing Japanese beef dish (with rice instead of noodles).
Tell us about the locals.
The locals in Kyoto were very kind, especially when asked for directions. Several people went out of their way to help me find a location or a tourist site. They also almost always tried to speak as much English as they could to communicate.
What is something they have in this city that you wish you had at home?
A strong sense of order. One thing that stood out in Kyoto, and Tokyo as well, is that commuters wait for the train in queues, instead of crowding across the platform. Since the train consistently arrives in the same place along the platform, travelers always know where the car doors will be. When the train arrives, everyone files in without pushing or shoving. Can you imagine that in New York? Our commutes would be so pleasant!
What are five words that describe this city?
Peaceful, traditional, unassuming, significant, short (re: buildings).
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