Unlike is common in Japan, I took the week of Christmas off for a brief vacation in the Kansai region. Never having been in this area before, I wanted to make sure to have enough time to visit Kyoto, Osaka, and also Nara – all of which are major cultural hubs.
After two full days Kyoto, it honestly feels like you bump into another shrine, temple, or pagoda every five minutes. This place has so much history, you’d be hard-pressed to see all of it if you’d spend a whole week in just these city limits. During a Monday in mid December, the famous sites also seem surprisingly devoid of tourists. Of course, there are still quite a number of people around, but you don’t need to wait for minutes just to get an unobstructed view to take a picture. When visiting the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) today, the weather was perfect as well, adding to the beauty of the gold leaf exterior.
Other must-see places include numerous zen gardens, bamboo groves, and the like. I was positively surprised that all of this still looks so beautiful at this time of the year. But that’s probably due to Japan’s obsession with moss, fern, and pebble, which make up a great part of these traditional gardens.
Before heading to Nara soon, I’m determined to partake in a strange Japanese tradition that has been around for 45 years – Kentucky Christmas. It may seems crazy but when KFC ran a huge ad campaign to promote its chicken dishes as a meal for the Christmas time back in 1974, people just went with it and practice it ever since. Nevermind the amazing Japanese food you can get all year around, let’s grab some chicken wings and feel like proper Americans!