The beautiful city which was once a capital and is lesser known to tourists

For many first-time visitors to Japan, Tokyo is the obvious first port of call –  but those looking for a taste of the country’s more traditional side should try out its former capital.

Kyoto in Japan’s Kansai region was the country’s capital for more than 1,000 years until Tokyo took over after the Onin War, which saw it totally flattened.

The city is considered the country’s cultural capital, where the dazzling lights and bustling streets most would associate with modern Japan meet its rich tradition of temples and shrines.

In the city’s Higashiyama district, the Yasaka Pagoda and the quaint traditional streets surrounding it are among the most photographed scenes in Japan with plenty of places to stop for a traditional drink or meal.

But just a 15-minute walk away is the city’s more modern centre, packed with noisy pachinko parlours and a plethora of brightly lit shops.

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In Kyoto’s downtown area, markets and shopping arcades dominate, with Nisiki Market offering a range of Japanese delicacies from Kobe beef to fried shrimp and takoyaki.

Its historic Teramachi Street offers a wide array of independent stalls, shops and cafes including the Mipig micropig cafe which allows visitors to watch a pig roaming its floor while enjoying a coffee.

Those wishing to learn a bit more about Japan’s history can visit Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum, a very small museum with a good tour which culminates in a lesson on how to throw ninja stars.

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There is also plenty to enjoy on the outskirts of Kyoto, such as the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest which features picturesque walks and a particularly unpredictable climate.

Also in the city’s outskirts is the Fushimi Inari Taisha Sembon Torii temple, which features 800 orange torii gates which lead up to the temple itself, its unique features have made it one of the most visited temples in Japan.

The imposing Nijo Castle is also worth a visit with its flamboyant entrance, the site was once home Tokugawa leyasu, one of the most powerful men in Japan during the 1500s.

Those wishing to extend their trip can also travel to Osaka in just an hour to take in its florescent streets which look like a scene out of Blade Runner and provide a stark contrast to Kyoto.

Travellers wishing to visit can book a round trip for about £600 in January next year to Kansai International Airport in Osaka, from there tourists will just need to hop on the train.

Accommodation can be booked for £57 per night at the Hotel Resol Kyoto, located in the heart of the city’s old town.

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