I'm travelling to Kyoto tomorrow with my husband and baby and would be grateful for your tips on the following ... particualry as we'll be there for 3 weeks!
1. Running - is it safe to go running in Kyoto as a woman alone? I'll be staying near the station and it looks like there are park grounds of 2 shrines nearby - is it ok to run in those or is it disrepsectful?
2. Shopping for fashion and homewares - what's great Japanese design and great value?
3. Anything you think I absolutely shouldn't miss?
Have you looked through the Japan forums here, too?
I haven't been specifically to Kyoto, so can't help you there, but I will say that I've always felt safe as a single woman walking at night in Tokyo. Just keep your wits about you, just as you would anywhere else.
If there are rules against running at the shrines, they will likely have some sort of signage as Kyoto is a tourist destination and they are used to foreigners. You can also ask at your hotel.
As far as fashion goes, will Japanese clothing fit you? Even with "free size" clothing items, I didn't always find items that were long enough for me (5'8", size 8 back then). Shoes weren't so much of a problem, although they weren't always wide enough.
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I don't know if this is too late either, but I LOVE Japan. I came back from Tokyo two weeks ago and all I want to do is to go back again. I didn't go to Kyoto this time, but was in Kyoto 2,5 years ago. As everybody else said, it is safe to be a woman alone in Japan. 2,5 years ago I found it very difficult to find clothing for me, a size M, but this time, it looked like it was easier, although I didn't buy anything....
If you are interested in Makeup and beauty-products Shiseido and Kanebo is from Japan and they have their own Japanese names. I don't remember the names, but you will find it. Lunasol is Kanebo's makeup in Japan. Very nice!
If you have read "Memories from a geisha" you can visit all the places from the book, also the tea-house. If you haven't read the book I can highly recommend reading it while in Kyoto. I did.
I envy you.... I want to go back, and we are planning a new trip (with my husbands work) in springtime. Can't wait. Have a safe trip!