Kyoto is famous for its temples and especially the gardens within them, typified by austere expanses of raked white gravel and ancient maple trees.
However, busloads of tourists know this too. Visiting some of the popular temples (for example, Kinkaku-ji and Kyomizu-dera) can be like going to a football match. If you want to get away from the crowds for some more zen-like calm, pick up one of the many small books of Kyoto's courtyard and zen gardens (in bookshops for around 1200 yen). These are a fabulous guide (usually with maps and directions) to the less-frequented temple gardens often not in the guidebooks - and cheaper to visit than the big temples too. Favourites include Ryogen-in, Tofuki-ji and Chishaku-in.
If Japan to you means Akihabara electronics and Shibuya neon at night, then this probably won't do it for you. Otherwise, highly recommended.
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