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Finding Peace in 21st-Century Kyoto

When travelers arrive in Kyoto for the first time, they often are confused and disappointed. Expecting a place that exudes timeless elegance and peace, they instead find a thoroughly modern city of traffic-clogged streets and blocky concrete buildings. Looking at their faces, you know what they’re thinking: Where’s Kyoto?

New Year’s Around the World

Celebrating the New Year and the potential it holds is a tradition dating back millennia. From watching “the ball drop” in New York City’s Times Square to popping grapes on the beaches of Barcelona, our rituals may vary, but the prospect of a clean slate is a universal ideal. Here are four ways people usher in the New Year around the globe.

Japan by Bullet Train

I wanted to cross the country in one day. You can do that now, thanks to the incredibly fast bullet trains that connect Japan’s major cities. The bullet, or Shinkansen, train looks futuristic but celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Since 2011, it has linked the northernmost city of Aomori, on the main island of Honshu, to…

#NGTRadar: Travel Lately

Travel Lately—a roundup of the best new dispatches from the travel blogosphere—is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday. You can play, too. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web.

All Aboard: Great Railway Hotels

Experience the luxury of a bygone era with a wholly modern spin at one of these world-class railway hotels.

Learning to Speak Japanese

I recently returned from the Nat Geo Expeditions journey “Inside Japan.” In my role as an expert, I was to prepare several lectures to deliver to my fellow travelers. The idea of encapsulating everything I know and love about Japan into discrete talks was daunting. But one day near the end of the trip, reality brought home just how important these kinds of discussions can be.

Reader Recs: Life-Changing Childhood Trips

Traveling at a young age can be a transformative experience that leads to a lifetime of wanderlust. To celebrate the power of travel (and perhaps inspire a few parents out there), we asked our @NatGeoTravel Facebook fans to tell us about trips that made a lasting impression on them during their early years.

Letter from Kyoto: Cherry Blossoms in Old Japan

It’s the end of a glorious two-week immersion in Old Japan. When I arrived, Kyoto seemed to have erupted overnight into a sea of brilliant blossoms, fluffy pink clouds massing over canals and rivers. On my first night I wandered in a jet-lagged haze through the Higashiyama-Gion neighborhood that I love, all closet-sized shops, tiny winding lanes, and timeless temples and shrines. Lost in the hushed, lantern-lit passageways, I wasn’t sure what century I’d landed in.

#NGTRadar: Travel Lately

The Radar–the best of the travel blogosphere–is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every other Wednesday. Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTravel and tag your favorite travel stories #NGTRadar to help us find the crème de la crème on the Web. Here are our latest picks.

Wooded Wonderland: Yakushima

In Japan’s epic anime film “Princess Mononoke,” director Hayao Miyazaki shrouds the real-life island of Yakushima with surrealism. Yet this wraithlike landform scarcely needed the extra intrigue. Twenty years ago, the site became one of Japan’s first entries on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Nat Geo Travel Staff’s 2014 Bucket List

The staff at National Geographic Travel is always criss-crossing the globe to uncover the best and the brightest places, but we have travel wish lists just like everyone else. Here’s where we want to go in 2014 and why.

The Radar: Travel Lately

The Radar: The top travel news, stories, trends, and ideas from across the web. Got Radar? Follow us on Twitter @NatGeoTraveler and tag your favorite travel stories with #NGTRadar. Check back on the blog each Wednesday for our Travel Lately roundup.