Kyoto is Japan’s ancient capital of capitals, it was from here that the Japanese emperors ruled the country through the ages until eventually the capital moved to Tokyo. Awash with temples and ancient history, Kyoto was deliberately spared from the air-raids by the United States during World War II because of it’s cultural importance. So while Kyoto is obviously the perfect destination for history buffs and temple lovers, what does it offer the whole family? Is this somewhere you would take your children while on holiday to Japan? Absolutely. I’m going to share a few hints and tips as to why I believe Kyoto is one of the world’s great destinations for a family expedition.
One of the great things about Kyoto is that it is flat and everyone cycles everywhere. The city is situated in a basin surrounded by mountains so cycling around the city streets is easy. The pavements are wide and everyone cycles on the pavements (it is what you are supposed to do). There are plenty of bike hire places so hire some bikes and hit the streets – you will have a lot of fun and soon be navigating the city like locals.
Even if your kids are not the most adventurous eaters, there is so much to choose from within Japanese cuisine that you will have a lot of fun tasting and trying the different options available. Kyoto has a lot of great cuisine to try – one of the most popular local dishes is Shabu Shabu which is a steamboat style of cooking (where you cook your own food at your table). Your kids will also love Tempura (deep frying in a light batter) – definitely the only way to eat vegetables; and of course there is sushi – Kyoto has a couple of really good sushi train restaurants where you carefully watch the plates as they trundle past, keeping an eye out for something that is going to take your fancy.
Kyoto is one of the best places in Japan to experience the spectacular cherry blossom season referred to locally as Sakura. It is hard to describe just how overwhelming cherry blossom season is in Kyoto until you have actually experienced it. There are cherry blossoms lining every street and surrounding all of the temples and key buildings. The exact timing of when the trees will blossom varies depending on the weather – in the lead up to cherry blossom there is a daily cherry blossom forecast, predicting the start of the blossom, the peak of the blossom, and the end of the blossom, it is about a two week period in total. Streets and stores are decorated, hotels are completely booked out, special food is served, and there is a tangible sense of excitement and anticipation throughout the city. The blossom really is spectacular and your kids will be in awe.
Embrace the history and culture of Japan as you take your family on an expedition that they will never forget. Kyoto is fascinating, exciting, and surprising.