Last Updated on August 9, 2021 by AIFS Abroad
Want to study abroad in Japan? Look no further than Kyoto! Located on the island of Honshu, Kyoto is home to a large percentage of students from all over the world.
Here are the top reasons why college students who study abroad in Japan will love Kyoto:
1. It’s rich in history…
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over a century! The city avoided most of the destruction of World War II, so its palaces, shrines and temples still stand in remarkably good condition. History buffs should visit Nijo Castle, once home to powerful shogun (or warlords) that ruled the country during the Edo period.
2. … and steeped in Japanese traditions
Travel back in time in historic Gion district, where you can experience traditional entertainment and customs. Visit Gion Corner, where geisha (known as ‘geiko’ in the local dialect) and maiko (geiko trainees) perform daily. You can also enjoy other customs like a traditional tea ceremony and Bunraku puppet theater!
3. Yet the city is still modern
While Kyoto is well-known as being the heart of traditional Japan, parts of the city are strikingly modern. The Kyoto Station neighborhood is filled with large shopping malls, a state-of-the-art transportation hub and lots of stores selling the latest electronics. This neighborhood is home to Kyoto Tower, a skyscraper complete with an observation deck for stunning views of the city. Nearby, you can find the headquarters of tech industry leaders like Nintendo.
4. It’s a sightseeing paradise
Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Included on the list are sites like Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the ‘Golden Pavilion’. This famous Zen Buddhist shrine is one of the most visited sites in all of Kyoto.
There are plenty of sites not on the UNESCO list to visit as well. Don’t miss the famous Shinto shrine, Fushimi Inari Taisha, famous for its thousands of torii gates lining the trail up to the sacred Mount Inari.
5. You can enjoy nature
Hiking options ranging from peaceful strolls on temple grounds to challenging hikes up Kyoto’s mountains (rewarded with amazing views). Hike to Monkey Park Iwatayama to see (and feed!) wild snow monkeys at the top of Mount Arashiyama. While in the Arashiyama area, don’t miss the Sagano Bamboo Grove, considered one of the world’s most stunning forests. There are also plenty of gardens around Kyoto. Home to over 12,000 species of plants, Kyoto Botanical Gardens is the oldest and largest public botanical garden in Japan!
6. Day trips and weekend excursions are easy
Kyoto Station is a major transport hub with access to high-speed bullet trains (Shinkansen) that can take you to other areas of Japan quickly. Take weekend trips to places like Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park or bustling Tokyo (both are about 3 hours away from Kyoto by bullet train). Looking for a closer destination for a day trip? Visit the modern city of Osaka, less than 30 minutes away from Kyoto via train.
7. There’s never a bad time to visit
Kyoto is stunning no matter the season. Springtime brings out gorgeous cherry blossoms, while autumn gives way to a burst of colorful foliage. Summertime in Kyoto is filled with lots of festivals and fireworks to enjoy (plus ice cream to help cool you down). In the winter, Kyoto is peaceful and less busy. January is the perfect time to avoid the tourist rush – if you are lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of Kyoto’s temples and mountains covered in snow!
Ready to immerse yourself in Japan’s history and culture?