By STEVE MOLLMAN, 21 December 2007, the Wall Street Journal Asia

KYOTO: Chris Rowthorn

Travel writer Chris Rowthorn has lived in Kyoto for 15 years, so he knows how to see the city’s temples while avoiding the crowds. He takes guests to a hill on the east side of town called Yoshida-yama. “It’s not on the itineraries of the big tour companies,” he says, but its shrines, temples and gardens are among the best in the city. At one of his favorite temples, he’s never seen another foreigner aside from those he brings along. “I just sit my clients down there on the veranda overlooking the garden and we soak it up in silence for as long as they want. It’s pure magic.”

In the Gion district, he sometimes takes his guests to “a tiny old wooden teahouse that most Japanese walk right by, but the place is incredibly atmospheric and the tea and traditional sweets are great.” Mr. Rowthorn and his team also provide tours of other parts of Japan and Asia.