If you’ve experienced Kyoto’s traditional vibe and untouched historic streets and temples in the spring and summer seasons, it’s time to return to the city in winter when the scenery transforms into a snowy wonderland.
To offer inspiration on things to do in Kyoto during the chilly season, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Airbnb Experiences – and, even better, Airbnb is offering 10 TW readers ¥2,000 discount off any of these activities (scroll to the end for details).
Ikebana Workshop in a 200-Year-Old Ryokan
Participate in a hands-on introduction to ikebana and create your own beautiful winter-themed compositions, all while learning about the history, theories and techniques of ikebana. Ikebana is the delicate and ancient Japanese art of flower arrangement, with each branch, leaf or petal creating a crucial silhouette and a carefully selected color palette to express emotion and the beauty of the seasons. Ikebana is also deeply steeped in Shintoism as it is believed there is a kami (“spirit”) in each plant and flower, with the art showing reverence for nature and life. The practice thus calls for meticulous thinking and precise placement, with a sensitivity to the seasons. In winter, the art focuses on winter flowers such as the Amaryllis, as well as the muted, earthy shades of the winter leaves.
Book here: hyperurl.co/TWairbnb-ikebana
Guided Tour of Kyoto’s Zen Gardens
Have you ever let your mind wander and find peace through the calming designs and greenery of a Japanese zen garden? In winter, the zen gardens seem less zen and more eerily desolate yet enchanting when they are covered in snow. Explore a different side to the zen gardens on this guided tour of these carefully arranged spaces. Andrew, your host, will guide you around some of the most beautiful zen gardens in Nanzen-ji, formed hundreds of years ago by artists, nobles and Zen monks. Along the way, he will give in-depth explanations and pieces of history regarding these sacred places, while you lose yourself into the patterns of the raked sand, resembling ripples of water.
Book here: hyperurl.co/TWairbnb-zengardens
Encapsulate Kyoto Through Your Sketchbook
Give your camera lens a break and capture Kyoto’s winter beauty in a slower but more memorable fashion — through a compact watercolor kit and a sketchbook. Painting will give you a whole new perspective as you scrutinize the winter scene for every detail and color to reproduce in your piece; you might even discover something you would not have noticed through digital capture. Rachel, your host, is an artist who has been recording her travels through her sketchbook for years. She specializes in teaching beginners how to paint with over a decade of experience under her belt. Rachel will guide you through shrines and the gorgeous red gates of Fushimi Inari, all while teaching you tips and tricks to finding your own artistic style.
Book here: hyperurl.co/TWairbnb-sketchbook
Tea Ceremony in a Town House
Warm up with a hot cup of matcha in traditional fashion. With her experience abroad, Mari, your host, is an excellent teacher with whom you can perfectly communicate in English, and who aims to transmit the spirituality and intricacy of the tea ceremony. A tea ceremony isn’t just about mastering the technique of making matcha; it is a performing art with centuries of history and philosophy behind it. Mari will teach you about the basic concepts and ideas of the tea ceremony, how to properly conduct yourself in the tea room, and about the complex yet minimalist decoration that accompanies the tea room. Watch Mari work her magic in making matcha and then have your own go at it! Enjoy matcha paired with some traditional Japanese sweets, all while enjoying the serene atmosphere of a tea room nestled in a corner of Kyoto.
Book here: hyperurl.co/TWairbnb-teaceremony
Photos in a Kimono with a Pro
Let a photographer capture you and your travel partners strolling around the beautiful winter scenery in kimonos. A Sony licensed photographer will first take you to a kimono shop where the employees will match you with the most suitable kimono and expertly go through the dressing process, such as tying the obi into a complex bow, in approximately an hour. You can ask the staff to set your hair and makeup to complete the look at an extra charge. The photographer will then guide you around Kyoto and snap some memorable pictures in more private areas that aren’t overflowing with tourists. Although the photo session lasts a little longer than an hour, you can keep the kimono and wander around town until 19:30.
Book here: hyperurl.co/TWairbnb-kimono
GET ¥2,000 DISCOUNT!
10 TW READERS WILL RECEIVE ¥2,000 DISCOUNT OFF ANY OF THESE KYOTO AIRBNB EXPERIENCES
Airbnb is offering 10 TW readers a discount of ¥2,000 each off any of the above Experiences. To receive your special coupon code, email your full name to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 31, 2019. Coupons will be offered on a first come, first served basis and need to be redeemed before February 20, 2019.