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Exploring Kyoto: On Foot in the Ancient Capital [Paperback]

Judith Clancy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2008
"Exploring Kyoto by long-term resident Judith Clancy is an excellent guide to exploring Kyoto on foot." -Lonely Planet Japan   Among the world's most cherished ancient cities, Kyoto, Japan, is perfect for exploring on foot. Richly detailed and small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, Exploring Kyoto is an essential guide to becoming an enlightened pedestrian in the area once known as Yamashiro ("the back of the mountains").   Thoroughly revised and updated, this edition of Exploring Kyoto offers two new routes and spans a spectrum of geographical and cultural topography, from bustling downtown quarters to remote mountaintops, hip eateries to ancient shrines. Included are:   - Thirty explorations, including the well-known-Mt. Hiei, Arashiyama, Heian Shrine, Ryoanji, Philosopher's Walk-and many hidden corners - Detailed maps tracing each route - Over thirty descriptive photos Essential tips on etiquette and behavior - Full index to all sites and attractions - In-depth information on local history, arts, and festivals

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Exploring Kyoto: On Foot in the Ancient Capital + Kyoto Machiya Restaurant Guide: Affordable Dining in Traditional Townhouse Spaces
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What began as the author's translation of Japanese-language Kyoto street and informational signs grew into a bountiful little book complete with superstitions, legends, history, and popular culture. The map key foretells the natural details used to guide the visitor through 27 walking tours of this beautiful, ancient city. Pagodas, gates, and shrines are marked, along with waterfalls, springs, cherry trees, plum trees, and lotus flowers. Romantic names such as "Sound of Feathers Waterfall," "Moon-Crossing Bridge" and "Teahouse of Clear Rippling Waves" intimate how highly the Japanese regard the natural world. On each clearly written tour, the author reveals fascinating facts about the city: the lattice-windowed wooden townhouses are called eel houses because of their depth and narrowness, and norens are the split curtains that help distinguish businesses from homes, hanging in the doorways of open shops and restaurants to announce the name of the business and the nature of its trade. Whether or not you're planning a trip to Kyoto, this is a fascinating glimpse into the culture of Japan. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Judith Clancy has lived in Kyoto since 1970, and her interest in the traditions of the ancient capital has led her to study and write about traditional music, the tea ceremony, and Ikebana. While acting as the guide and interpreter for various groups, she established ties with many dedicated traditional artists and teachers.

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Customer Reviews

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3.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly look at ancient Kyoto April 2 2002
By Dianne
The author does not try and hide her distaste for the modern aspects of Japanese cities, her focus is on the historical background of the sights and the tone of her writing is dry and almost textbook. If you are the type of person who reads all of the written information available on the plaques in museums and you love to learn about the history of the places you visit you will enjoy reading this book. The information has much more depth than what you will find in a typical tour book but not all of the major sights are covered.
My problem with 'Exploring Kyoto' is that it is tries to be a collection of walking tours that you would carry and use as a guide but it does not work well in that way. For one the book is cumbersome and not organised in a way that is easy to follow on the fly. The maps are poor and the descriptions of the routes are not always clear. Sometimes it is not even clear where you need to start the walk. The text is more suitable to reading in a comfortable location before or after you head out.
On the positive side, I had a really great time exploring the western outskirts of Kyoto with this book, and it gave me a look at the Goin district that was richer than I found elsewhere. It covers some of the 'must see' sights of Kyoto but I found its' strength to be in the lesser known sights in the outskirts of the city. If you plan to be in Kyoto only a couple of days this book may be unnecessary, there is a free pamphlet available at the tourist office called 'Kyoto Walks' that covers the main sights. If you will be in Kyoto a week or longer and want to visit some lesser known, historically fascinating sights, 'Exploring Kyoto' may be of value to you.
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Having just attended both the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages)in Kyoto Imperial Park and Fire Festival in Kurama I wish I brought this book along. I missed some great opportunities to visit some interesting places mentioned in this book! Great on background, history and ancient sites in the Kyoto region! What the book lacks is information on Modern Kyoto which is also is facinating and offers plenty of eye candy too! Perhaps that is asking too much? But Kyoto does offer more historical sites than other cities in Japan due to the Allied forces not bombing this city as other cities in Japan were not so fortunate as Kyoto. And this book certainly does an excellent job in providing self guided walking tours of all of the historical and some modern sites in Kyoto! I would recommend bringing this book along with a modern guide as well but I have yet to find a excellent one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best! Jan. 4 2004
Exploring Kyoto is a wonderful guide for the independent traveler to Kyoto. Thanks to Judith Clancy's careful research, I have found places in Kyoto which I never knew existed and explored them in depth. Last month I spent two days in Ohara, a mountain village on the outskirts of the city, using the book as a guide. No other guidebooks in English cover this area but armed with the book, I wandered about finding temples that even Japanese ignored. I have done the same in Fushimi, a sake-brewing area to the south of Kyoto and at Nanzenji, one of the loveliest temples in the city.
If you are adventurous and want to travel on your own, I urge you to purchase this book before you leave and plan your Kyoto visit to include at least one of her fascinating walks.
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