Known as the cradle of Japan's cultural heritage, Kyoto was Japan's capital. Today it's the country's seventh largest city, thoroughly modern while remaining Japan's most traditional city.
Day 1: Kyoto in a dayTake a one-day sightseeing tour to acquaint yourself with the layout of the city and its highlights, such as Nijō Castle, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Handicraft Center.
Day 2: Sushi and NaraTake a guided walk through the mile-long, covered Nishiki food markets and eclectic back streets of Kyoto, then learn how to make Japanese home-cooked food from market ingredients. Follow that up with a visit to a sake brewery museum to really cover all your Japanese gourmet bases.
Day 3: Bamboo groves and neon lightFor a totally tranquil start to the day, stroll the rural bamboo groves and mountain temples of the Arashiyama and Sagano districts just outside of Kyoto.