virtual tour of kyoto
virtual tour of kyoto
Become a Virtual Explorer
This unique virtual walking tour focuses on Kyoto’s magical Gion district, known for being the city’s Geisha area. “Walk” side by side with live tours via Zoom and ask questions using the chat function during the tour.
NOTE: Bookings are scheduled in Japan Standard Time. Use this fun tool to make sure you don’t miss your tour!
The city of Kyoto, Japan is a place like no other. Thousand-year-old temples sit within blocks of modern department stores. Traditional Japanese crafts are made on the same streets where iPhones are sold. It has a bustling downtown and yet, a short walk from its massive train station can take you to a place of silence and reflection.
Walking tours are a popular activity for in-person visitors—tour guides provide helpful explanations about the history and culture of the city. But there are many ways to see the sights virtually as well. Won’t you join us for your very own private tour of Kyoto?
Our First Stop: Higashi Hongan-ji
Our first stop is Higashi Hongan-ji, a Buddhist temple originally built in 1602. Also called ″the Eastern Monastery of the Original Vow,″ this temple burned to the ground several times. The structure that exists today was actually built in 1895.
The main hall is Kyoto’s largest wooden structure and it is home to the ashes of Shin Buddhism founder Shinran. The mausoleum was initially constructed in 1272!
Calling all Gamers
Tourists are often surprised by our next stop, which is an ordinary-looking stone building on a lonely back street. What is this landmark? It’s the home of the Nintendo Playing Card Company, founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi. Originally it began as a way to make and sell handcrafted playing cards but that company, of course, later became more widely-known for its video games. The larger, modern headquarters for the global gaming company is also located in Kyoto.
Traditional workshops remain a part of Japan’s culture and economy and many are operated out of people’s homes. Tofu workshops are one of Kyoto’s specialties and offer guests the chance to make their very own from scratch. Tofu is a soybean curd that can be eaten on its own or cooked in a variety of dishes.
Kyoto-made tofu is particularly popular because of the quality of freshwater in Kyoto. Water is used in tofu-making to create the soy milk that is heated several times in a mold. The tofu then needs to sit for several hours before it is ready to eat. Tofu-makers often work in the early morning, so their fresh tofu is ready to be sold to restaurants or markets before the end of the day.
Honoring the Past
One of the final stops on our Kyoto virtual tour is a cemetery. Japanese graveyards are often located near a temple or shrine. The graves themselves are stone structures with places to rest flowers and incense. Sometimes, the family of the deceased might bring some of the person’s favorite food items to leave at the grave. Wooden planks called sotoba are left nearby to commemorate a special anniversary.
That’s all we’ve got time for today. Fortunately a virtual tour leaves you with plenty of energy to continue exploring on your own. Give Google Earth a try—we recommend the Kyoto Imperial Palace:
About the Writer: Lauren Karcz
Lauren Karcz is the author of a novel for teenagers, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls (HarperCollins, 2017). She’s also a linguist and a former teacher of English for speakers of other languages. Lauren and her family live in Atlanta, Georgia.
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