Originally, it was thought the kanzashi’s long single pin could ward off evil spirits. There’s even a theory that the pins could be used in self-defence
Kyoto's new hotel is so fresh you can still smell the pale paint.
Without the high-season tourist crush, a wintertime visit to Kyoto offers Zen-like serenity.
A robot instructing tourists in Buddhist thought in a Zen temple may seem odd for those not accustomed to Japanese mores.
Ninja master Izo Ichikawa is upstairs waiting to induct us further into the subtle art of killing people quietly.
I'm wearing nothing but black disposable underpants and a white hairnet.
Most visitors to Kyoto tour temples, but Japan's old capital has outstanding classical gardens too.
Some of Japan's shrine market selling such collectables as fabrics, ceramics, kimono, hair ornaments and scrolls, have been running for hundreds of years.
For first-time visitors to Japan, Kyoto is a perfect, manageable and inspiring introduction to a magical country and its distinctive culture.