It can be really easy to get templed-out in Kyoto, or to otherwise get overwhelmed or tired out by the big-name tourist sites and the feeling of a need to hit them all. As I found a few summers ago, however, when I had the good fortune to get to spend a whole two months in the city, Kyoto is also a marvelous city for cafés, bathhouses, restaurants, and the like.
Kyoto Baths (kyotobaths.info) and deep kyoto (http://www.deepkyoto.com/) are but two of, I assume, a good number of private blogs and personal websites that can help you experience another side of the city.
Kyoto Baths looks like it has just gotten started, but already has some beautiful, thorough, and well-organized reviews of some of the city’s oldest or most famous bathhouses, along with a glossary of bathing-related terms, and blog posts about aspects of the experience, baths-related events, and even restaurants/cafés established in converted former bathhouses.
deep kyoto, meanwhile, offers posts on a wide variety of topics, including restaurant reviews, live music & arts events, and local city news. Some recent posts have covered an art “intervention” tracing in neon-colored vinyl tape, the paths walked by geiko through the alleyways of the Kamishichiken district, plans to build Japan’s largest train museum in the city’s Umekoji Park, announcements for a number of haiku workshops & performances, and, of course, restaurant reviews. More than a tourists’ guide, or even a residents’ guide, it feels like a site where one can find a community – go to some of these events, and you might start finding yourself a genuine “regular” member of at least some sub-section of Kyoto’s art world, its artistic social circles.
The entrance to Funaoka Onsen, one of the oldest and most famous public baths still operating in the city.