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Old Kyoto: The Updated Guide to Traditional Shops, Restaurants, and Inns Paperback – April 1, 2005

37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Whenever anyone says he or she wants to see the 'true soul of Kyoto,' I say, 'Buy this book!'" -- Pico Iyer

From the Author

DIANE DURSTON is a writer, lecturer, and consultant on Japan and Asian cultures. She has written three books on Kyoto, where she lived for eighteen years, KYOTO: SEVEN PATHS TO THE HEART OF THE CITY and THE LIVING TRADITIONS OF OLD KYOTO are her two other publications. Durston now lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; 2 edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770029942
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770029942
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Stepping off the train in Kyoto for the first time can be a disappointing experience for many travelers. People who have fallen in love with the fairy tale of Japan's old capitol, who have absorbed "Memoirs of a Geisha," and swooned at photographs of golden temples, paper lanterns, and beautiful, elusive Geisha fleeing quickly through close, wooded back-allies, are shocked to discover a modern, dirty city, overrun with power lines, buses and hotels. Furthermore, it is stacked to the gills with tourists, each seeking their own Kyoto-of-my-dreams. Where are the secret spaces, the ancient houses and quiet tea houses steeped in history? Diane Durston can tell you.

If you are anything like me, "Old Kyoto: A Guide to Traditional Shops, Restaurants and Inns" is the guide to the Kyoto you are looking for. A fascinating and delightful guide to the relics of old Kyoto, the stuff that you see on the post cards but can't seem to find in the city itself, Diane Durston has dredged the sludge of a modern city to find things like Nishiharu, a small tatami-room shop selling authentic Ukiyo-e prints with a proprietor who greets each guest with a cup a tea and a smile, or Ippo-Do, a 140-year old tea shop who's name ("One Promise") and business is based on a promise to an old customer that they would never sell anything but tea, and Tawara-ya, an inn so beautiful that when the King of Sweden stayed there, he was late for his official tour do to lingering too long in the morning light of the garden.

As a guide, "Old Kyoto" is divided into regions, Central Kyoto, Eastern Kyoto, Western Kyoto, Northern Kyoto and Southern Kyoto, and then showcasing a few treasures of each region, splitting evenly amongst craftwear, antiques, Japanese-style hotels, restaurants and food-sellers.
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103 of 111 people found the following review helpful By taka(Japanese on April 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
In Japan, the most famouse city will be Tokyo. But I as Japanese do not recommend Tokyo very much, because Tokyo is the city like N.Y or London, big city but can not feel Japanese truth historical things.
If foreigners go to Japan, I recommend Kyoto. Though Kyoto is the big city more than 1000thousands people are living, but the scenery will be felt Japanese history to us, there are many temples or the Japanese statue etc.
For instance, in Kyoto the bulding like 10 floor is banned. Because the scenery will be bad for high building.
And Japan have four seasons, winter fall spiring summer,called to Siki. The place that we can enjoy the four seasons must be Kyoto.
In spring, cherry bloom here and there, in summer fresh green trees will help the contrast to Japanese temple color like the gold color of Kinakakugi. In winter snow will add shiny white color to the historical temples.
The historical foods in Kyoto is good too. For instance Yatsuhashi, that will be unfamiliar foods for foreigners. But that is very dericiouse and sweety. should eat that.
Thank you for reading poor English.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on October 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Are you visiting Kyoto? You'll find that this book will help you to see the old traditional Kyoto. It gives some history, background, and cultural information on old Kyoto. The meat of this book gives information on shops, restaurants, and inns which represent old Kyoto. Each one covered gets about two or three pages of description, so you can get a lot of information about each place featured, and you can really understand why each place is special. Because the descriptions are so complete, you can enjoy reading about these places even if you aren't going to Kyoto.
I'm a resident of Kyoto, and I find that most of the places listed in this book aren't in the mainstream guides, so if you pick up this book in addition to a mainstream guide, there won't be much overlapping. Also the places list here really give you a feel for old Kyoto. If you have a few days in Kyoto, you should definitely stop by a few of these places.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Laura Lynne Ohata on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dealing primarily with food, lodging, and traditional shops, Diane Durston's guidebook is a good starting place when planning a trip to "the Old Capitol" of Kyoto. Maps divide the city into sections,which overlap and can be difficult to follow. Still, the restaurants and shops listed were some of the best I have visited in Japan. Used in conjunction with the "The Lonely Planet Travel Guides," containing information about temples, shrines and palaces, Diane Durston's book, "Old Kyoto," helps round out the Kyoto experience.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Nancy F. Piianaia on April 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Old Kyoto is a gem of a book. On numerous visits, it has enabled me to discover shops, restaurants, and inns that I could never have found on my own. Through Durston's book I was able to find a small inn in Higashiyama where I have stayed on several occasions, enjoying the warmth and friendliness of the innkeeper and her delicious food -- at a cost much lower than other inns. It is not listed an any other guidebook. This book also has the best description of Fushimi, a wonderful place south of Kyoto which is rarely visited by tourists. If you are going to Kyoto and like to travel independently, this book is a must for your trip.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Watanabe on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
I wanted to visit the old shops of Kyoto, where they have been doing their craft for generations. I was able to find the few shops that I picked out ahead of time. They were all open and many had English literature on their products and history and some even had English speaking employees. So, don't be afraid to visit these charming shops.

I gave it 4 stars because although accurate, the book did not give very detailed directions. The articles provided a small map of the cross streets but when you get into the smaller streets, the signs are not in English. I bought a Osaka-Kyoto Atlas before I went and that was a great help in finding the smaller streets.

The book is full of traditional shops and inns and I would highly recommend buying it. Just do a little planning the night before and buy a good atlas and you will be fine.
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