If you have to pick one beautiful place to visit in the amazing country of Japan you can go to Tokyo and be amazed by the neon and the skyscrapers, or you can visit the calm city of Kyoto a completely different experience but one not to be missed.
Japan is full of wonderful places to visit. Kyoto is the Zen-like capital of old Japanese culture. The busyness and the sheer vastness of the capital city contrast wonderfully with this low profile and calm place. Kyoto is serene and undeniably beautiful. And there are many interesting places to visit including important temples (there are over 2000 in Kyoto) and some historic landmarks. Here’s where we suggest you go when you come to Kyoto.
1) Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
This is one of the most iconic places in Kyoto, the location for part of the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”, and a stunning place to visit. This is a shrine and made up of over 10,000 vermilion Torii gates, set up in different rows. The gates are set up to lead into the mountains and make for a peaceful path to survey the city. Written on each gate is the name of the company that made a donation to the shrine. You can get to this shrine by taking the JR railway line out of Kyoto Station. In addition, it is easy to combine a visit here with a trip to the Sake Brewery, where you can take a tour.
2) Gion District
The Gion District is one of the most famous geisha districts in the whole country. You can take a tour around the area and immerse yourself in the vital history of Gion. After dark, the many historic teahouses take in guests, served by the impeccably dressed geishas. You can also watch a geisha performance at the Hatanaka Cultural Center while indulging in some of the local delicacies.
3) Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
You cannot come to Japan, and especially not to Kyoto, without visiting the bamboo grove. It is not exactly in the city but it is easily reached by train. The bamboo grove is a truly tranquil place that is made up of a set of footpaths towered over by the famous bamboo plants. A grove is a beautiful place that attracts many different kinds of people. It is best explored at a gentle pace, with plenty of time to stop and admire the view and take in the atmosphere that makes the whole city famous.
4) Kinkaku-Ji Temple or the Golden Pavilion
This is clearly one of the places in Japan that draws the most visitors. It is one of the most popular sites, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the golden pavilion is highly photogenic and also houses relics of the Buddha. The gardens surrounding the temple are great for walking in and you can see the pavilion from a set of different angles.
5) Ginkaku-Ji Temple or the Silver Pavilion
Following a visit to the Golden Pavilion, the Silver Pavilion is next on the list. This pavilion is built on the model of the Golden Pavilion and is also surrounded by stunning gardens. The gardens themselves are intricate and interesting, with woodland and delicate features that show the attention to detail that characterize the temples in Japan.
6) Kiyomizu-Dera Temple
This is another site on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The main hall in this temple is constructed completely out of wood – including having no nails and no other fixings apart from wooden stakes. The temple is built on a cliff and overlooks the city including the nearby waterfall. You can take a personal tour around the temple which will give you a greater insight into the history of the temple.
7) Ryoan-Ji Temple
This place is also known as the Temple of the Dragon at Peace, and it is the site of one of the most beautiful rock gardens in the country. It is another UNESCO site. The gardens are beautiful too, and you can look out over the countryside from the covered porch. The temple is accessible to the public but the gardens are the real draw.
Are you looking to take a trip to the stunning city of Kyoto? It is a good place to visit combined with a stay in Tokyo. There are many guesthouses to choose from in Kyoto, available in a range of budgets. Many of the best choices are in elegant and traditional hotels, where you can enjoy a relaxed stay combined with sampling some of the unique delicacies of the region.
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Image credits: Moyan Brenn at Flickr