Kyoto is romantic. It’s hard not to feel just a little bit squishy when you walk the streets of Old Kyoto or stand gazing at an ancient shrine or temple. Of course, if you are looking to ramp up the romance for that special someone then there are steps you can take to ensure your romantic Kyoto experience hits the right notes…but be careful, you could just as easily fall for the city itself.
Time your visit
Kyoto is at its most popular during the spring and fall – and for good reason. Nothing says romance more than hundreds of cherry blossom trees in bloom or the golden tapestry of colors that appear each fall in parks, gardens and temple grounds. Take your lover for a stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji for the ultimate romantic walk.
Where to stay
Forget generic, ‘could be anywhere’ hotels, make your accommodation of choice a ryokan – preferably in the old district close to temples and shrines. Waking up on a cloud-like futon in a traditional Japanese room with views over a Japanese garden or to temples beyond is the perfect way to begin each day in Kyoto.
Dine on Kyo-ryori
Traditional Kyoto cuisine is all about seasonal ingredients and exquisitely presented dishes prepared with love and attention. In some cultures it is believed that if a chef prepares the food with love and tenderness then those qualities are absorbed into the food and the person eating it. Whether you believe that or not, experiencing this unique and refined cuisine is a special and memorable experience.
Walk the streets of Gion
As dusk falls, wander the narrow streets of Gion past the lantern lit machiya (old wooden townhouses) and teahouses. If you’re feeling flush, treat your special friend to a top-notch meal at one of Gion’s exclusive restaurants or simply stroll by the Shirakawa canal under the willow trees.