JAPAN Inspiration Gallery 11 Japan
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This now modern city is filled with historical treasures, seventeen of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At first sight, it’s not the picture postcard perfection one might imagine but if you look a little deeper, it’s full of sublime delights.

Renowned for being the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is rich in exquisite temples, shrines and gardens that were mercifully spared in the Second World War. One could spend a week exploring this extraordinary city and still not have enough time to take it all in, but suffice to say a few days gives the finest flavour of the country’s long heritage. With its lovingly landscaped havens, atmospheric side streets and central canal, there is always something beautiful to catch the eye in the world’s second most-visited city. Home to the largest Geisha quarter in Japan, Kyoto is the ideal place for spotting graceful Geisha flitting by in elegant kimono, intricate wooden sandals and flawless hair and makeup. If one is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these fabled women, it really is a magical sight.

It’s no wonder that the main hotspots attract visitors from far and wide, for they really are astounding up close. While the manicured Ryoanji rock garden, atmospheric Bamboo forest of Arashiyama, seemingly infinite orange 'torii' gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kinkakuji Golden Temple are all extraordinary, we recommend visiting off-the-beaten-path gems too. To fully admire Kyoto in all its glory, head to the more secluded sights; our favourites include the lesser-known Gio-ji Moss Temple, Katsura Imperial Villa and Daigo-ji Temple.

The Old District, Higashiyama, is a beautiful puzzle of historic streets lined by traditional teahouses, merchant shops and tucked away temples. In particular, the well-preserved roads that lead back to the modern city – Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka – lend an Edo-period feel with their cobbled paths and charming wooden lattice-fronted buildings. Kiyomizu-dera Temple stands proud at the top of the hill, complete with a vermilion pagoda and immense viewing platform. The panoramic view of the city offered here is especially impressive in the spring and autumn months when vibrant foliage abounds. If visiting on a weekend, you might be lucky enough to witness a quintessential Shinto wedding at this temple, believed by many to bring about long-lasting love.

Follow in the footsteps of old academics by strolling down Tetsugaku-no-michi or ‘Philosopher’s Path’, a small scenic canal renowned for becoming a wonderful cherry blossom walkway in the spring. At the end of this footpath, find yourself at the humble but equally striking Ginkaku-ji Temple and its celebrated garden.

Giant Buddhist figures and the grand wooden temple of Todai-ji is a short distance away in Nara park where tame deer will be looking out for snacks! Located only an hour away by train, Osaka is also easily reachable from here and makes for a perfect evening’s entertainment with its fabulous food scene and buzzy Downtown.

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Travelling is like flirting with life. It's like saying, 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.
Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

Client Testimonials

Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
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- Matthew Nicklin, North India

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