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
Scenic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Spas, Onsen Resorts
Historic Sites, Mountains, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
Bodies of Water
The Fushimi Inari shrine sits at the base of Mt. Inari, where its hundreds of vermillion torii gates welcome visitors to begin their climb. The hike, which leads to the apex of the mountain at 233 meters, follows a winding pathway of hiking trails and stone steps, through dense forest scattered with Shinto shrines. It's worth making it to the top: the view is breathtaking!
Maruyama Park, with its verdant landscape and sunbathing turtles, is perhaps at its most impressive in the springtime. The explosion of April cherry blossoms is crowned by the shidarezaruka, a 'weeping cherry tree,' which is lit to a brilliant glow in the evenings. But during other seasons, Maruyama is a more peaceful, lakeside setting dappled with greeneries, statuary, and scenic pathways. Beautiful to visit at any time of year, a lovely spot for a picnic, a stroll, or a tranquil break from the inner city.
Arashiyama, the 'storm mountain,' is one of the most scenic locations in all of Kyoto. Towering across the mild waters of the Ōi River, the mountain's famous bamboo grove has a fairytale-like quality to its sky-high stalks. The surrounding area is home to a number of attractions, from the main temple of the Rinzai Zen Buddhists, to direct paths to quaint shops and restaurants by the mountain base, where visitors can rest and refuel. Arashiyama is a designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty.
Ōkōchisanso Garden, at the base of picturesque Mt. Ogura, is surrounded by parkland and bamboo-lined paths which lead to the Ōkōchi Mountain Villa at its heart. Home of once-famed actor Denjirō Ōkōchi, the villa-curated grounds offer a sprawling vista of Japanese redwood trees, manicured trails, and tasteful stone architecture. The views of Kyoto from the villa are also breathtaking, and the shrines and tea house in the immediate area provide visitors with a sense of peace and tranquility.
In contrast to Ōkōchisanso, Tenjuan Garden is a tucked-away hidden gem that draws less of a crowd into its nestled space among the tree tops and tranquil waters in the Nanzenji area, nearby the popular Nanzenji temple. If you aren't in the area for the Nanzenji temple, consider making the trek to the base of the Higashiyama mountains nonetheless — you won't be disappointed. Waterfalls, Zen architecture, and koi-dotted waters create an ambiance of complete serenity, and visitors can lose themselves in the pure art of the well-kept grounds.
Not every outdoor adventure has to involve scaling a mountain or strolling through a garden. After so many days or hours on your feet (it's Kyoto, after all — how many temples have you visited by now?), why not treat your aching bones to a soothing afternoon off, in the open air hot springs of Kurama Onsen. Located between Hanase and Kyoto, on the charming outskirts of the city, the hot springs straddle the waters of the Kurama River at the base of a craggy mountain, resplendent with the scent of cedar trees and indoor and outdoor bathing options.
The site where Reiki alternative medicine is said to have been born, Mount Kurama can be perfectly combined with a day trip to Kurama village, a visit to Kurama Onsen, or just on its own. Prominent in Japanese myth and history, the hauntingly beautiful landscape is home to a temple that is a designated national treasure, and the meditative peace of its wooded slopes call visitors to try their luck at a lengthy climb.
Daimonjiyama is one of Kyoto's most famous hiking territories. Shake off your Onsen legs and head into the heart of the Higashiyama Mountain range to scale to the top of Daimonjiyama and be rewarded with one of the greatest views of Kyoto's sprawling cityscape from above. (Victorious hikers of this relatively easy-going trail may even spot the distant skyscrapers of Osaka in fair weather.) A trek to the top should take roughly an hour, so grab a water bottle and slap on your comfiest shoes, it's time to take in the fresh air and keen vistas!
Shosei-en Garden is designated a National Historical Site, and its manicured grounds are tended to by the curators of its affiliate, the Higashi Honganji Temple. Shosei-en brings together all of Kyoto's best traditional elements: the elegance of its Zen aesthetic, the introspective tranquility of its waterfall pond, and the high artistry of its tea houses. A short walk from the travel hub of Kyoto Station, it is easy to add this stop to a busy itinerary.
The riverbanks of the Kamogawa are popular with locals and visitors alike, with a wonderful foodie culture and a bustling nightlife. Open-air restaurants and outer terrace are features of the summer months, while all seasons boast intervals of street performance and sightings of geisha and maiko on their way to entertain at tea houses. Walk the banks and enjoy the scenery, especially at night, when the area is lively and lit up.