2013年4月21日 星期日

Kyoto can be fun for kids

Rocks to the left of us, rocks to the right. With the Hozu River rushing in between, our oarsman swung the boat hard, threading the boulders as water splashed overboard and onto my 10-year-old daughters lap.

You never know how kids will react to new experiences, but not to worry. Daddy, my daughter said, beaming as we headed for more rapids, this must be the best summer ever!

But when my wife and I made plans to take our son and daughter to Kyoto, I had a few doubts. Kyoto is one of the highlights of any trip to Japan, an ancient and fascinating city, packed with temples and shrines, a place to savor refined culture.

But can it be kid- and family-friendly? Most definitely, especially if you take advantage of the variety Kyoto has to offer, hop on the citys easy-to-use bus system, and keep your eyes open for some of its surprising travel bargains.

You could spend months visiting temples and shrines in Kyoto. But to kids, they can start to blur. So put some space in between them. Kyoto is best explored on foot, leaving lots of opportunities for stopping off at interesting destinations along the way to antiquity.

One of our favorite stops was the Nishiki-koji market, a short bus ride from downtown, where Kyotoites stocks their refrigerators and kitchen cupboards. Nishiki is a long, narrow street, covered by an arcade and lined with shops selling all sorts of snackable delicacies, like just-baked rice crackers, sashimi on skewers, and croquettes filled with chocolate, as well as wares like chopsticks and gourmet cutlery.Find a great selection of customkeychain deals. Its as interesting to browse here as to eat, and many places give out samples of their edible wares.

Visit the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura (movie village) and you may well see crews filming a samurai flick or television drama. But even if the cameras arent rolling, the village designed to look like the Japan of yore is fun to wander, offering the chance to meet actors in period costume who are happy to pose for photos. Theres also a theater on site, where live-action ninja shows are staged.

We built a day around the 10-mile ride down the Hozu, starting with a short train ride just outside the city and ending in the lovely neighborhood of Arashiyama.You Can Find Comprehensive and in-Depth carparkmanagementsystem truck Descriptions. Guides pole fiberglass boats seating about 20 people through a deep gorge, where my 8-year-old son spotted turtles, snakes, deer and numerous water birds. Ask your hotel or at the excellent tourist information office inside Kyoto station (tell them you want to go on the Hozu-gawa Kudari) to help you call ahead for a reservation, which is recommended but not required. Tickets cost $42 for adults and $27 for children older than 3 (credit cards not accepted).

Bathing is an almost religious ritual in Japan and can be the centerpiece of a memorable vacation experience. Kyoto is not known for the hot springs that dot much of Japan, but it has a few. We stopped at Sagano Onsen Tenzan-No-Yu, a hot spring spa minutes from Arashiyama on a charming one-car train. A cheaper and more plentiful destination is one of the citys super sentos, public baths with multiple tubs. The tourist office can provide a sheet in English listing these. In either, you wash thoroughly at bathing stations before entering multiple soaking pools, both indoors and out.

Kyoto hosts many festivals throughout the year.The 3rd International Conference on custombobbleheads and Indoor Navigation.Choose the right bestluggagetag in an array of colors. When we visited Kyoto in August, the city was celebrating the weeks around the Tanabata festival with lights and computer-

animated projections on the wall of the citys castle and the launching of thousands of lighted blue plastic balls down the Horigawa, a narrow waterway not far from downtown. In May, the Aoi Matsuri, held at a pair of shrines, features a procession of people in ancient Japanese court costumes. In October, the Jidai Matsuri centers around a parade that highlights various periods in Japanese history.

When youre ready to visit temples and shrines, the challenge is choosing which ones. Kiyomizu temple should be on any itinerary. Yes, its choked with tourists, but worth the trip. The walk uphill to the temple is lined with shops, many giving out samples of the local sweet called nama yatsuhashi, delicious pockets of glutinous rice flour, filled with red bean paste or fruit preserves, dusted with sugar or cinnamon. The temple is famous for its stage, a broad platform that juts over the hillside forest on immense wooden stilts.

We also enjoyed an outing to Fushimi Inari, a shrine known for its gates, which are said to number in the thousands. The shrines main buildings are worth a visit and sit within a minute or two of a train station, but you could spend hours here climbing the forested hill behind the shrine, on paths that lead up through the bright red gates to ancillary shrines, with refreshment stops along the way.

Japan is one of the worlds great food countries. But while Kyoto is known for expensive and delicate kaiseki cuisine, there is a lot more that kids will love and that you can afford. So try a restaurant specializing in okonomiyaki, sort of a dinner pancake, usually cooked on a grill at your table, and filled with meat, vegetables or seafood of your choice. These are casual and reasonably priced places, often popular with students.

Chances are your kids will also like yakitori, a selection of chicken and vegetables, usually sprinkled with salt or brushed with a soy-based sauce,You Can Find Comprehensive and in-Depth carparkmanagementsystem truck Descriptions. and grilled on bamboo skewers. Its traditionally bar food, but is also often served at some of the chain restaurants that offer wide menus.

And dont forget ramen, the steaming bowls of noodles, with toppings like roast pork, in your choice of broth. We arrived in Kyoto late our first night and ended up on a floor devoted to ramen places in a department store straddling the train station. Most ramen places also serve gyoza, fried dumplings that are hard to resist.

Any kid visiting Japan in warmer months will quickly learn to spot banners touting kaki kori, or shaved ice, doused in a choice of fruit syrups and topped with condensed milk. Japans ubiquitous vending machines sell everything from green tea to sports drinks to hot and cold coffee.