Destination: Kyoto

January 24, 2018
The front of a book kiosk in Japan
Browsing the antiquarian book fair / Photo by peter-rabbit / Flickr

I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity. – Pico Iyer, Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East

Kyoto, the city of history and home to seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites, offers a unique travel experience, melding the traditional and the modern in perfect harmony. Famous for its beauty in every season, Kyoto welcomes visitors year-round, featuring a flurry of pink cherry blossoms in the spring, lively festivals and fireworks in the summer, breathtaking foliage in the autumn, and a tranquil blanket of snow in the winter.


Boasting over two thousand temples and shrines, Kyoto’s ancient treasures can be found anywhere from in the mountains to in between the narrow alleyways of the city. Make your way to the prime geisha district of Gion and catch a glimpse of one of the traditional entertainers—if you’re lucky.


Bibliophiles can partake in the annual Kyoto Antiquarian Book Fair held under the shade of the ancient trees of Tadasu no Mori just outside the Shimogamo Shrine. Countless treasures lie hidden among the stalls filled with novels, encyclopedias, art books, and everything in between.


Risa Wataya
I Want to Kick You in the Back
(One Peace Books, 2015)

Kyoto native Risa Wataya became the youngest recipient to receive the Akutagawa Prize for I Want to Kick You in the Back, a novella that explores the subtle emotions of a young teen who must learn to navigate social barriers and communication to find a meaningful relationship.



Haruki Murakami
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
(Knopf, 2014) 

Born in Kyoto, Japan, to two literary teachers, Haruki Murakami skillfully weaves a story of a man haunted by loss and loneliness who comes face-to-face with the past in order to fix the present in his newest bildungsroman.




Yukito Ayatsuji
The Decagon House Murders
(CreateSpace, 2015)

When the members of the Kyoto University Mystery Club take up residence on an abandoned island, they find themselves targeted by an unseen murderer and picked off one by one in a mystery that evokes Agatha Christie.


Jieun Song is an intern at WLT and undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma studying English and Japanese. In her free time she enjoys translating song lyrics, video games, and long naps.