Kyoto, Japan 京都Kyoto, Japan is one of my absolute favorite cities! Full of history and culture, Kyoto is the former capital city of Imperial Japan, and is located three hours away from Tokyo by bullet train, in the Kansai region of the big island of Honshu.
If you only have a short time in Kansai, here are the top sites in Kyoto that you should not miss!
Temple-hoppingIf for nothing else, Kyoto is world-famous for its temples, some of the most stunning and atmospheric in the whole country. Here are the top three temples in the city; three of the top sites that you absolutely should not miss.
Pick up a temple stamp book, and visit these three top sites!
Kiyomizu-dera 清水寺One of the first temples you should visit in Kyoto is Kiyomizu-dera, one of the city's most popular places.
The entire temple complex is full of beautiful shrines, and there's a lot to do. Get there early, because it can get very crowded!
Pick up a temple prayer tag for an extra blessing.
Drink from the natural spring shrine out front to make a special prayer.
Go deep inside the pitch black of an underground tunnel to find a holy rock inscribed with a symbol said to grant a wish.
Kiyomizu-dera is said to be especially beautiful in the autumn when the trees surrounding the temple turn beautiful shades of red.
Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion Temple, is one of Kyoto's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It can get crowded, but as one of Japan's most atmospheric and beautiful temples, it's well worth it.
Besides the pagoda itself, there's a little tea house where you can participate in a Japanese tea ceremony, and a small market area where you can buy all sorts of gold stuff, including ice cream with gold leaf, and sake with tiny flakes of gold floating in it.
Ginkaku-ji 銀閣寺Unfairly overlooked in favor of its golden brother, the Silver Pagoda is a quieter, more reverential zen temple. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 1460 and was restored in 2008.
|The Silver Pavilion|
Other Amazing SitesThere's more to do in Kyoto than just visiting temples though! Take a half day and visit one of these awesome sites.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove 嵐山If you want to explore nature in a quintessentially Japanese setting, look no further than Arashiyama, a suburb area of Kyoto, and home to one of Japan's most famous and beautiful bamboo groves.
It's not uncommon to see women and men dressed in their traditional kimonos enjoying an afternoon in the beautiful grove.
Fushimi Inari 伏見稲荷大社Get up early and take the fifteen-minute commuter train from Kyoto Station to Fushimi Inari, a mountain shrine dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, money, and sake.
The trail is not too difficult; plenty of elderly Japanese walkers enjoy climbing Mt. Inari as exercise.
|foxes of Inari|
Along the way, you'll pass many statues of foxes, the vehicle of the god Inari.