Next to Tokyo, Kyoto is Japan's top must-see destination. More than any other city in the country, Kyoto offers visitors a taste of traditional Japan: raked pebble gardens, tranquil shrines and temples, geishas and sophisticated kaiseki cuisine.
With its hundreds of temples and gardens, Kyoto was the imperial capital between 794 and 1868, and it remains the cultural center of Japan. The city is Japan's cultural treasure house, with an astonishing 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of gardens and museums. Seventeen of Kyoto's ancient structures and gardens have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites.