Kyoto is Japan’s ancient capital, best known for its traditional streets, thousands of temples and the chance to catch a glimpse of geiko or maiko (Kyotos’ geisha). It is also fantastically popular, so is it possible to dodge the crowds and queues in search of the quiet appreciation of this city’s charms? The authors invite you to wander with them through their favourite neighbourhoods, finding moments to pause at even the most popular tourist sights and taking detours and and uncovering ‘secrets’ including cosy old-world kissaten (vintage coffee houses), fossicking for precious crafts such as washi (handmade paper) or lacquerware, understanding the tradition of omiyage (giving beautifully wrapped gifts of regional specialities) or seeking mindful experiences among the tranquil temple gardens and groves. You’ll learn of temples where you can join in meditation practice or experience monks performing the Amida chant. It’s a sometimes quirky curation of interests including a chapter of pastimes for early mornings and an itinerary encompassing Brutalist architecture and vinyl stores. There are, of course, plenty of suggestions of where to eat and drink: a 100-year-old eel restaurant; a hyper-chic spot for vegan ramen; perfect yakitori in an old kimono store; one of the most highly regarded tempura restaurants in the world; the ramen alley above Kyoto station featuring eight regional variations. Tea and sweets get their own chapter, including where to find a towering 1950s-style matcha parfait sundae, exquisite wagashi (Japanese sweets) made by the 17th generation of a family business, or a teahouse in a treehouse. So much more than a guidebook, this is slow Kyoto to savour. Tracy Whitmey