The city of Kyoto attracts millions of local and international visitors seeking traditional Japanese culture, yet not far away are also expansive tea plantations, stunning hiking spots, villages of thatched-roof farmhouses, and pristine coastline.
Kyoto is accessible on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo, Shin-Osaka (Osaka), Nagoya and beyond. Frequent JR trains and buses also serve Kyoto. The nearest airports are Itami International Airport and Kansai International Airport. Both are in Osaka, and located between an hour and an hour and 20 minutes away.
Kyoto City is a prime destination for most travelers, and is linked to many other major cities in Japan. To reach other towns in Kyoto Prefecture and the Tango Peninsula, you'll need to take local trains and buses. For even more fulfilling explorations of the area, it is helpful to rent a car. For example, it takes just over two hours from Kyoto Station to Miyazu on the coast at Tango, where buses take you on to Ine and the beaches. Remember that you can use your JR Pass on any rail or bus journeys that are JR-operated.
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From late March to April is the time to enjoy exquisite performances by Kyoto’s geisha communities, cherry blossoms and the fresh green of maple leaves in shrine and temple gardens.
During the hottest season, Kyotoites enjoy riverside dining, cormorant fishing performances, beach excursions, the month-long Gion Festival, and fire displays to honor the spirits of their ancestors.
Kyoto’s autumn foliage attracts visitors from the world over, crowding the special night-time light displays. Fall also marks the harvest moon and other must-see festivals, such as the Jidai Matsuri. Many people head for local onsen or on hikes to Mt. Ponpon and Mt. Atago.
Kabuki’s biggest stars come to perform, plum blossoms emerge after the snows and countryside onsen offer a comforting retreat from the chill. Winter festivals like Arashiyama Hanatoro, an annual celebration of lights and flowers, illuminate the city of Kyoto.