EXPERIENCE A CULTURAL CHRISTMAS IN KYOTO
This December, escape the UK and enjoy an alternative Christmas break with a trip to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto. The home of over 15 UNESCO world heritage sites is transformed over the holiday period into a twinkling haven for shopping and sight-seeing alike, and Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau (KCVB) has rounded up the city’s highlights for a December break this year.
In Japan, Christmas Eve and Christmas day are not celebrated in the typical Western fashion, however, couples in Kyoto tend to head to their favourite restaurants for a special, romantic meal in the evening. The occasion has become a central event of the city’s dating scene and evenings at leading hotels have become particularly popular at this time of year. Favourite spots for tables among loved-up pairs include the restaurants at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Noku Roxy, Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto and Kyoto Hotel Okura, besides others. The Hotel Granvia Kyoto has proven popular for celebratory feasts at Christmas in recent years and 2016 is bound to be no different, with its various restaurants offering set holiday menus and festive live performances – which have previously included gospel groups and balloon performers – for diners. For more information on Kyoto cuisine, visit http://kyoto.travel/en/food.
Shopping is another popular pastime during the Christmas holidays and it’s easy to see why, with the stunning light displays and decorations that adorn the streets and shops at this time of year. The larger department stores in downtown Kyoto are particularly special to visit and take in the festive atmosphere, while the independent boutiques selling their hand-crafted gifts from the region are perfect for authentic Japanese shopping: visitors can pick up beautiful woven textiles, personalised wooden signs and traditional paper fans as gifts for loved-ones and when a break from strolling the pretty streets is needed, the traditional tea ceremonies in the city will restore and revive the most weary shoppers. For more information, visit http://kyoto.travel/en/thingstodo/shopping.
Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in Kyoto in the run up to Christmas, one of the most memorable activities to take part in is Arashiyama-Hanatouro – an incredible light festival that illuminates the city’s most popular attractions. Every evening from 9 to 18 December 2016, a 5km route in the Saga Arashiyama district will come to life as the blossom pathway by the riverside, bamboo walk and Togetsukyo bridge, foothills and waterfront are lit up to glow softly in the night’s sky. Open air lanterns and enormous ikebana flower displays will add to the magical atmosphere, which thrills visitors of all ages each year. For information on other events in Kyoto, visit http://kyoto.travel/en/planyourvisit/events.
To experience the charm of Kyoto this Christmas, winter packages include:
Japan In Luxury 11 night itinerary, from £4,975 per person
Commencing in Japan, this tour heads to Kyoto on day six, where visitors will get to pay homage to the city’s stunning temples and shrines. A three night stay at the luxury 5* Kyoto Okura Hotel provides guests with a wonderful place of rest and solace after a day out exploring, while any last-minute Christmas gifts can be purchased in Gion, the old geisha quarter. This spiritual journey also includes a visit to Nara, home of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For more information, visit www.japanjourneys.co.uk/site/item/japan-in-luxury/.
For travellers who have a specific list in mind of the festive Kyoto locations they’d like to visit, OutOfOffice.comwill design a bespoke winter tour package, customised to your every wish. For more information, visit www.outofoffice.com/ .
For more information on Kyoto, visit kyoto.travel/en.6