The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Kyoto, Japan

We were sitting on a park’s steps and taking sips from the Sapporos we had just bought at a nearby grocery. Quietly admiring Kyoto’s cityscape, my Japanese friend Tsutomu turned to me and asked: “Do you notice anything?” I wasn’t sure what he was driving at so I quickly surveyed the scene before me and answered: “Uhh, it’s peaceful?” Smiling and turning back to the scene, he said: “There are no tall buildings here. In some parts of the city, buildings can only be a certain height. Kyoto is a special place for all Japanese so we do what we can to preserve it.”

He’s right. In an effort to preserve its cityscape, the historical districts of Kyoto have a maximum building height of 15 meters. After spending a few days in this historically significant city, it isn’t hard to understand why. Once the capital of Japan, it flourished as the country’s cultural, religious, and economic center for centuries. When I visited the Atomic Bomb Museum in…

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