The Cultural Capital of Japan: Kyoto – The Lone Wonderer

One of the major touristic destinations of Japan and home of many temples, shrines and gardens listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites, Kyoto was the capital of the Empire of Japan for more than a thousand years (794-1869). I absolutely loved Kyoto, I stayed there for 4 days only but it wasn’t enough to see everything I wanted to see. It has a very rich history, it would take too long to go through everything. So we are only going to talk about the main places I’ve visited here.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a natural Bamboo forest. Consisting mainly of Moso Bamboo,a specie native to China and Taiwan, this is one of the favorite attractions for tourists visiting Kyoto. There is many pathways throughout the forest that you can take to visit it.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha is the head shrine of the Kami Inari who is worshipped for prosperity and success by many. Those red gates are called torii, it is said there is over 10.000 including Mt Inariyama. It takes around 2 hours to get to the top. This place is magical, it’s really hard to get pictures with no one on it, it can get really crowded. This is probably the best hike I ever had.

Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) is one of the most visited buildings in all Japan. Built in 1397, the temple was burned down in 1950 to be rebuilt as a copy of the original one 5 years later. You cannot visit the inside of the temple but you can go close enough to take decent shots and then wander in the garden around the temple.

Kiomyzu-Dera was one of the finalists  in 2007 for the New Seven Wonders of the World but wasn’t selected as one of the winners. The inside is beautiful but you are not allowed to take pictures. Unfortunately, the temple was in renovation when I went there with my best will to take a great shot of the temple with the city in the background. So these scaffolds were the sightseeing instead.

The building of Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle) started in 1601 under the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu who asked all the feudal lords of western Japan to contribute to the construction of the castle. It will be finish in 1626. The two palaces of the castle are Honmaru and Ninomaru (left picture). Once again, any pictures are forbidden inside. The particularity of Ninomaru is when you step into the temple. The floor is made in a way that when you walk, it sounds like nightingale’s chirping. The many gardens surrounding it are worth the visit.

All the wonders of Kyoto cannot fit on a single page, there is so much to see. I was starting my visits at 9am until 7pm for 5 days in a row and it wasn’t enough time to see everything. You can see here all the main activities and the ones I’ve enjoyed the most.

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