“Kansai people are way more friendly than Kanto people.” You might hear this a lot in Japan, but what does it mean?

Well, the Kansai region consists of seven prefectures: Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Nara, Shiga, Wakayama, and Mie. The area’s residents have a reputation for being warmer and more outgoing than those of the Kanto region (including Tokyo and Kanagawa).

So essentially, people often assume someone from Kyoto is nicer than someone from Tokyo. Perhaps that means you can have an even more enjoyable trip to Japan if you interact with the locals in Kansai, but even if not, Kyoto has its own unique culture – taking most interactions to the next level.

Please note that these are simply the personal opinions of those who responded to our questionnaire, but here are a few cultural points that surprised some non-Japanese when visiting or living in Kyoto. (Photos for illustration purposes only.)

1. “I thought everyone would be wearing a kimono”

Many Japanese traditions trace their roots to Kyoto, where much of the old cityscape remains, dotted with shrines and temples and full of emotion and nostalgia. An American man with a romanticized image of Kyoto and its inhabitants was surprised when he visited for the first time exclaiming, “Wow! Everyone is wearing Western clothes!” Apparently, he thought that wearing a kimono was still the standard among the citizens of Kyoto.

Certainly, pictures of Kyoto often show maiko dressed in bright kimono, but most Kyoto residents are ordinary people and usually wear modern clothing unless they work in a kimono shop or are kimono hobbyists.

And, it’s rare to see a real maiko while walking in the city. The author, who has lived in Kansai for over ten years, has never seen a maiko by chance!

2. The so-called “Kyoto landscape” isn’t everywhere

Kyoto is an ideal place to see attractive Japanese scenery and architecture from shrines and temples to the magnificent mountains located on three sides of the city. However, that view can only be seen from parts of Kyoto city. According to an Indonesian man, “I thought that every place in Kyoto would have typical beautiful Japanese scenery, but when I traveled around Kyoto prefecture, I felt that there was a completely different kind of scenery.”

Fukuchiyama, Ayabe, Kyotango, and Maizuru, cities in the northern part of Kyoto prefecture, have a different, calmer atmosphere than Kyoto itself. The rural atmosphere is leisurely and with the sea nearby, delicious seafood is plentiful and prices are reasonable compared to those in Kyoto. After experiencing the history of Kyoto Ci…

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