About Madison S
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Sep 2014
Hello! I'm Maddie- a native NYer whose Wanderlust has taken her abroad again and again. Having lived in six countries, and visiting others for school, work, leisure, and sport, I've adopted many localities, and am an admirer of a great many more. An avid scholar of language and culture, I hope to keep expanding my travel repertoire, and sharing great stories with the rest of the travel community. To give you some background on my travels, I spent months each year since childhood in Old Montreal, where part of my family lives. Summers were spent visiting folks in Ft. Lauderdale and L.A. My first big trip outside of the US on my own was to Australia & New Zealand at 12- I caught the bug early! I then moved to Japan where I studied for part of high school & uni. I am very familiar with Japanese cities, Sapporo and Osaka especially. Some of my favourite travel destinations include Goreme, Dubai, Marrakech, and Queenstown. (Plans for 2015 include China & Uganda!) Nice to meet you!
Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
Gift & Speciality Shops
Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Built to honor Kannon, the goddess of mercy, Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple overlooking Kyoto from on high. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is the most-visited temple in Kyoto, and with good reason! Its wide breadth and stunning natural environment make it a great place to take kids, where they'll have plenty of room to wander, and just as much to see. Visitors are welcome to drink the sacred waters of the Otowa Waterfall, to view the seasonally dressed Jizō statuettes, and to burn incense sticks. A wonderful introduction to Kyoto's heritage for the entire family.
While at Kiyomizu, a fun and engaging stop to make is the Okamoto Rental Shop. Here, a variety of options are available to try out traditional Japanese kimono, and staff members help guests dress and even style their hair. It makes for some unforgettable family photos, and involves a bit of pampering that even teenagers won't argue with.
Built in the name of Inari, the Shinto god of rice, the Fushimi Inari shrine rests at the base of Mt. Inari, which looms in the distance as an impressive backdrop. The main attractions here are the thousands of brightly-coloured 'torii' gates, each donated by a Japanese business to bring luck and fortune. For a family that enjoys the outdoors, Inari Shrine's 'Senbon Torii' climbs all the way up the mountain. You can hike the trail for as long as you like — it takes about three hours total to arrive at the summit!
Iwatayama Monkey Park, located on scenic Mt. Arashiyama, is home to over 150 Japanese macaque monkeys. Though the animals are wild and live in carefully cared-for habitats, the draw to Iwatayama is that visitors can purchase food to feed the animals themselves. Kyoto is a very traditional city, and the Monkey Park is just the place to take a break from shrines and nature walks (which are sure to pack your itinerary), to have some family fun and interact with furry friends.
While not everyone's cup of tea, if you and your family would like to see more than just monkeys, why not spend a morning at the Kyoto Zoo? The second oldest zoo in Japan is home to over 170 species, and boasts interactive exhibits as well a section called 'Fairy Land:' an amusement park with a Ferris wheel and other fun attractions that riders of all heights (and constitutions) can enjoy.
Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum first opened its doors in 1972, and today houses 19 such steam locomotives. Built to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Japan Railways, the center of the museum boasts a historic 20-track roadhouse (circa 1914) and classic trains that make their way around the tracks three times each day. Sure to be a wonderful stop for a hands-on historical experience.
Toei Kyoto Studio Park is an interactive film set where guests can view the taping of period dramas. Over 200 per year are shot on this re-created Edo period street, where ninjas, samurai, and geisha run amok over the ancient landscape, and everything from magic shows to sword demonstrations awaits on each corner.
Be transported back to old Japan on the traffic-free streets of Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka, where restored traditional teahouses and shops boast atmospheric wooden frames and geisha and maiko can be seen gliding by in full regalia. A wonderful place to eat, explore, and imagine.
At the heart of Maruyama Park is the weeping cherry blossom tree. Especially beautiful in bloom during the spring, this tree is also lit up at night to add a mysterious air to the location. The park is popular with nature lovers, as it has wide open spaces to roam and beautiful foliage any time of the year. A great spot for a picnic or to relax among natural beauty.
Tucked into downtown Kyoto, Nishiki Market is a historic site where Kyoto's traditional local foods, drinks, and spices can be bought fresh. It's open until late, but go early for the fishmongers' best catches, and stay to explore the colorful wares on sale. The market is atmospheric, with its big wooden pots and its food frying openly on classic-style griddles. You may have a difficult time convincing your kids to try squid on a stick ... but trust me, they'll thank you for it afterwards!