Letters from Hidden Kyoto

Whether it's your first time here or your hundredth, you'll find that Kyoto is full of little-known locales. I'm an American expat living in Kyoto. Come explore the city with me!

Ohara: Tranquil Getaway to the North of Kyoto

In Ohara, the northwestern region of Kyoto City, I find a pastoral getaway, from the mossy paradise of Sanzen-in Temple, to the twisted trees of Jakko-in Temple. The surrounding land is peaceful, rolling countryside, but it is land steeped in history, once walked by figures from the medieval samurai epic, “The Tale of the Heike.”

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The Deep Mountains of Kyoto

Though still within the city limits, the beautifully pastoral Keihoku is located deep in the mountains of northeast Kyoto. I got a taste of the authentic country lifestyle with the Tanaka family, who run several guest houses out of traditional Japanese country homes, and was surprised to see the extent of the local’s artistic talent at a closeby café and glass-making studio.

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Escape to the Outdoors in Takao

I visited Takao, the mountainous area northwest of central Kyoto, to see not only its great outdoors (the area is very popular with hikers), but its history. I visited Jingo-ji and Saimyo-ji Temples, whose remarkable history connects them to the development of Buddhism and tea in Japan, and Japan’s “first manga.”

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