Category Archives: General Information

Deep Kyoto on CNN Travel

In case you missed it, my recommendations for what to see, do, buy, & eat when in “Japan’s most photogenic city” are now up on the CNN Travel site.

Inside Guide Best of Kyoto

Everyone should visit Kyoto at least once.

It’s Japan’s best preserved ancient city.

Shrines, temples, palaces, gardens … the city is home to thousands of architectural wonders, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Geisha and locals wearing traditional kimonos aren’t unusual sights.

But Kyoto is a modern city with a dynamic music and arts scene, lively markets and restaurants serving the best Japanese cuisine.

There’s too much to see on a single visit — so we have whittled down the best of Kyoto.

Click to read the rest of: Inside Guide: Best of Kyoto

I had to put this piece together in a bit of a hurry last July, so it was a HUGE help that Jeffrey Friedl, Travis Seifman, and Mario Cacciottolo let me use some of their photos. By way of thanks, I encourage you all to visit their websites:

Jeffrey Friedl’s blog:
Mario Cacciottolo’s photography:
Travis Seifman’s “musings on the arts of Japan and beyond”:

Thanks also are due to Chris Rowthorn who put CNN in touch with me in the first place.

A Change of Tack

The March issue of Kyoto Visitor’s Guide is now available and with it my piece recommending other useful websites for online information on our great city. One of the sites I recommend in the article is the new Kyoto Journal site, whose ever shifting deadline for release has now moved from “the end of January” to “spring” (so I’m thinking maybe August). Though the new site isn’t available as yet, I have had a sneak preview, and can tell you that it will be something really quite special (hence the endless faffing around by the web designers as they try to get it absolutely perfect). Ken Rodgers has, however been good enough to construct a page on the old site where he collates a lot of very good general information on Kyoto and Kyoto museums.You can find that here:

This will be my final piece for Kyoto Visitor’s Guide, as I have decided to focus more on working and writing for Kyoto Journal in the near future. My first mission on their behalf is to write a fresh article on our local disaster relief volunteer group IDRO Japan. After interviewing Rob Mangold for that purpose, it became apparent to me that I can’t really do the article justice unless I go up to Tohoku and do a spot of volunteering myself. So, I’ll be taking the night bus north this evening and heading off to Ishinomaki for a ten day stretch. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with some of the local heroes and dedicated volunteers that I have been hearing so much about.

For more insight into my departure from KVG, please refer to Harlan Ellison.

Sakabe International Clinic

I’m starting a new job soon and so had to have a general health check-up; blood test, blood pressure, x-ray, electrocardiogram, height, weight, the full works. I went to Sakabe International Clinic and it was fast, efficient and the doctor as well as being a fluent English speaker has an excellent bedside manner. No matter how good your Japanese ability is, when it comes to health matters, it’s comforting to have someone explain matters to you in your own language. So if you have any medical problems or emergencies while you are in Kyoto, I recommend Sakabe International Clinic.


To find it go north from Oike on Gokoumachi Street. It’s on the west side just south of Nijo Dori. Here is a most convenient map.
Tel: 075-231-1624
Opening hours: 9:00 – 12:30 (for mornings please book ahead)
Evenings: 6:30 – 8:30

Kyoto Prefectural International Center


KPIC is a free resource and information center for foreign tourists and residents in Kyoto. The friendly staff speak fluent English and there is also a free counselling service available in five different languages for those needing advice about employment, housing, medical care or… pretty much anything really. Whether you need to find an English speaking doctor, or you are interested in practising zazen, they have all the info you need. There is a library of books, magazines, videos and DVDs available for your perusal. And in the Exchange Salon you will find a very useful message board with information on language exchanges, homestays and items for sale. Internet access will set you back ¥100 for 15 minutes but you can watch world news on the wide-screen TV for free! Counselling is available from 13:00 ~ 17:00 in English (Monday), Spanish (Wednesday), Portuguese (Thursday), Chinese (Friday), and Korean (Saturday). Their spiffy little website (also in five languages) is worth a look too. KPIC is on the 9th floor of the Kyoto Station building. Use the elevator on the south-east side of Isetan department store. It’s cramped, but it gets you there.
Open: 10:00 ~ 18:00
Closed: Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month and from December 29th ~ January 3rd.
Tel: 075-342-5000
Here is a handy map.

Kyoto International Community House

Situated in eastern Kyoto, not far from Nanzenji is Kyoto International Community House, an essential stop for all foreign visitors to the city. Here you can ask at the information desk for any information you might need; whether you are looking for an English speaking dentist or a martial arts dojo, they can help you. Other facilities include: a library, internet access (¥200 for 30 minutes), a lobby area with a TV screening international news, and a large lounge area looking out onto some pleasant gardens. KICH also organizes various language and culture courses both within and without the building itself. Probably most useful of all however, is the message board where you can advertize goods for sale, accomodation, language exchanges or private lessons. I have actually found a lot of very profitable work this way. Many people also use the lounge area for teaching. Here are some pictures.

KICH is open 9 a.m. ~ 9 p.m. every day but Monday. Telephone: 075-752-3010
Click here for an access map and transport information: KICH Site Map

KICH on Google Maps