Tourist Information Center, Kyoto
There are so many things to see in Kyoto. The temples and shrines are very beautiful. I actually stayed there for two days and one night and it was not enough to see all the shrines and temples.
If you go to Kyoto, make sure to plan at least three days in Kyoto and side trip to Nara and Osaka. It is just about 30 minutes away by shinkansen.
Kyoto has the old beauty of Japan. Some of the residents still wear their old costumes and it is so much fun to see them. It is very good to know that despite the modernization of Japan, you can still see how their people value their culture, tradition and values.
I love Kyoto. The locals are very courteous and polite. Kyoto is also a very safe place to travel-no worries about thieves and crimes.
Fondest memory: I love the food in Kyoto! I also love shopping in most of the stores! My sisters and I had a great time walking around the temples and the shrines which are mostly nestled on top of the hills! It was like walking three-miles per day! It was exhilarating and invigorating!
Kyoto has a JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization) office across the street from JR Kyoto Station. There is a WEALTH of information about Kyoto & other parts of Japan as well. The staff speak English but the brochures & pamplets are in English as well as some in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, etc. They have daily local event listings as well.
The office is open M-F 9am-5pm. 9am-12pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays & on national holidays. Also closed from December 29 to January 3.
Kyoto Tower Bldg, 1st Fl, Shichijo-Karasuma Sangaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8216. 075-371-5649.
I would strongly recommend stopping into the Tourist Information Center as soon as you step off the train! It is directly across the street from the JR Kyoto Station. They have more information there than you'll ever need!
I came into Kyoto with no hotel reservation. At the Info Center, several very nice people were staffing the desk. They all spoke fluent English. I told them how much I wanted to pay per night for accomodation, and they showed me several options from a binder they keep. The woman helping me then called up to find out if they had vacancies, and she booked me into a fantastic ryokan that was about a 5 minute walk away.
She also supplied me with maps, bus info, and info about different sites in the city and showed me how to get there on the map.
I also booked a city tour for the next day that was 1/2 day in Kyoto and 1/2 day in Nara.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory was hiking up the hill through the Gion district, seeing Geishas in training, and ending at Kiyomizu temple to watch the sun set over the city.
The Kyoto SGG Club,Goodwill Guide Volunteer Services of Kyoto, and the Rotary International District 2650 Club of Kyoto are giving away free maps to tourists in Kyoto. The map is in black and white and back to back.
The tourist map can be taken at the Information Center at the Kyoto Station where you buy the bus tickets.
Fondest memory: The front page of the map is the map of the train and the list of the hotels in Kyoto. The back of the map is divided into six sections. It shows the areas in Kyoto and the drawings of the temples.
Favorite thing: If you want good tourist information, pick up a copy of the Kyoto Visitors Guide (KVG), which has not only standard stuff to do for the quick trip but also a wealth of little-known shops and unusual places. The monthly publication is in English, has good maps, phone numbers and even a "survival Japanese" page. Indispensible! At hotels, tourist info centers, etc.