A recently started early morning English-language guided tour to lesser-known places in Kyoto has received favorable reviews from visitors who have taken it.

The tour, organized by the Kyoto City Tourism Association and Shirakawa Community Management Co., takes foreign tourists to places such as the Shirakawa area and the Furukawa shopping district, both in Higashiyama Ward, in less-busy morning hours.

By doing so, the tour is aimed at offering new experiences in the ancient city. English-speaking guides have been trained by the City of Kyoto Visitors Host office to lead the tour offered every Thursday for the time being.

The very first tour on Dec. 7 attracted a total of 12 foreign tourists from Belgium, Italy, South Korea and the United States.

The tourists visited Awata Jinja, a Shinto shrine, and Chion-In, a Buddhism temple, after having breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at a coffee shop near the Furukawa shopping district. They also had a chance to taste croquettes as well as broth made from well water.

When the tour dropped by a roadside shrine and a small statue of Talisman to ward off evil, a female guide explained about the meanings and origins of those objects.

Violette Delvoye and Chloe Allies from Belgium said they had quality time together and learned many things through the tour, such as how to behave when visiting a shrine.

"We would like to draw more tourists to the tour and tell them about the attractiveness of sites other than famous temples," said Atsushi Suzuki, vice president of Shirakawa Community Management.

The Kyoto Shimbun