Japan's ancient capital, Kyoto, attracts visitors from all over the world. They come for its temples, shrines, shops, and possibly a bit of karaoke too.
Most people enter the city via its ultra-modern train station, completed in 1997. The 15-storey construction houses trains, tracks, ticket offices, and a large shopping mall.
Just across from the station you'll see Kyoto Tower. Opened in 1964, two years before England won the World Cup, the tower gives visitors a view over the ancient capital from its 100-meter-high observation deck.
When the idea for the tower was first proposed, many protested as they believed its modern look to be out of place in the historic city. However, since then, many more modern buildings have been built throughout Kyoto, so no one complains about it anymore.
Many tourists head first for Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto's most famous temple. On the approach to Kiyomizu-dera, you'll pass Jishu Shrine.
Jishu Shrine contains a pair of love stones, placed 18 metres apart. Legend has it that if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed, you will one day find true love. However, if you miss the other stone and end up falling down the many steps leading down from the shrine, legend has it that you will be admitted to the nearest accident and emergency ward.
The advice given to those who want to attempt the walk is: "ask a good friend to keep an eye on you".
Kiyomizu-dera is an extraordinary feat of engineering. Not one nail was used in its construction, making it one of Kyoto's few glue-only temples.
The temple provides a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and is a popular destination for visitors throughout the year.
If you're really lucky, you might even see a geisha in the temple grounds!
Just across from Kiyomizu-dera, nestling in the hills which surround the city, you can see the exquisite Koyasu-no-to three-storey pagoda.
But Kyoto isn't all temples and shrines. Though mostly, it is. There's also the gently flowing Kamo River, ideal for a leisurely stroll, or a run if you're in a rush.
The Kamo River
If you suddenly find yourself itching to get your wallet out to help the economy along in these difficult times, head to the centre, where you'll find shops galore willing to take your cash in return for a variety of goods.
"Hankyu very much for shopping with us today"
Back on the temple trail, consider a trip out to Kinkaku-ji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion Temple. It was originally built in 1397, 569 years before England won the World Cup, though the current structure dates from 1955.
Kinkaku-ji is set in peaceful gardens in which visitors can admire this beautiful temple from a variety of angles.
No trip to Kyoto would be complete without a saunter around the famous geisha district of Gion. The quaint little streets in this unique area are lined with traditional tea houses, restaurants and tastefully restored wooden buildings.
Keep your eyes peeled and you'll most likely catch sight of a geisha apprentice scurrying from her living quarters to her next geisha lesson....
A geisha apprentice legging it along a Gion street
But to think that Kyoto can only be matched with adjectives such as exquisite, quaint, pretty, ancient, and charming would be a somewhat misguided belief.
Scratch the surface and, like most ancient capitals in the world, you'll soon get a whiff of the city's sordid underbelly. Indeed, even in a place with as much history as this, there are still places where men pay money to meet ladies....
A bit of sordid underbelly.
It's probably best to stay away from the underbelly as it could result in more than just the surface you'll be scratching. Instead, immerse yourself in the city's olden days, which is what it's most famous for.
End your trip with a stop at Ryoan-ji, the historic Zen temple with its stone garden where you can sit and ponder all the wonderfulness of the city that is Kyoto.