Kyoto is what you might imagine Japan to look like: quiet temples, bamboo groves, tranquil gardens and geishas scurrying down narrow, lantern-lit walkways. It’s a stark contrast to the congested city blocks of Tokyo, with looming department stores and screaming neon signs. Yet Kyoto, once the country’s capital, remains the historic and cultural center of Japan, luring more than 30 million visitors every year. Many make the three-hour trek by train from Tokyo to explore some of Kyoto’s more than 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, spectacular sites during March and April, when thousands of cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. But this ancient city has a modern side, too, with world-class shopping, innovative restaurants and a lively night scene that make it a destination all to itself.