When folks first consider the concept of a holiday in Japan, their thoughts customarily turn to Tokyo. Now, there's nothing wrong with Tokyo - its exploding skyscrapers perfectly contrasting with its sombre churches - but there's a lot more to Japan than the bright lights of its well known capital. Take Kyoto, for example. The city is the historical and cultural capital of Japan - a fine mixture of urban stretch and cultural gems. Indeed, Kyoto provided a home to the Japanese Imperial family from 794 all the way up to 1868 when the Emperor decided to relocate to Tokyo. Kyoto is one of the few major japanese towns to avoid the destruction of aerial raids during World War two, and except for anything more that makes it an interesting part of any holiday in Japan. what kind of time you want to spend in this amazing city is generally down to your tastes in sightseeing. Outside of the shopping and only commercial aspects of the city the main sights are virtually completely made up of by cultural sights such as Buddhist churches and Zen gardens. Due to the quantity of historic and cultural sights, it is very easy to overdo Kyoto sightseeing if done too fast. Thankfully , walking from sight to sight through the marvelous city tempers this nicely and permits visitors to enjoy the rich contrasts an Eastern vacation in this region can offer. Still, if you only have the time or energy to go to 10 of Kyoto's cultural and historic treasures, these are what I'd recommend ( in no special order ) Heian Jungu This Shinto shrine is known for having the largest torii in all of Japan. The shrine was built in 1895 to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto ( formerly Heiankyo ), and is dedicated to Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei. If you chance to be on holiday in Japan on October 22nd, you may have the opportunity to see the 'Festival of Ages' ( Jidai Matsuri ) which takes place here and celebrates the time when Kyoto became Japan's capital. The festival contains a huge procession of around two thousand folks which stretches for many kilometers. Gion Gion is the district of Kyoto renowned for its geisha homes and is the best area of the town to see geisha and maiko going about their day to day business. Gion was built in the middle ages, but due partly to some areas being declared a state historical preservation district, some of the design and entertainment remains similar to how it was when first established. To clarify a well-liked misconception - geishas are not prostitutes, and Gion hasn't ever been a red light district. Kinkakuji ( Golden Pavilion church ) The most striking feature of Kinkakuji ( and where it is getting its name ) is from the gold leaf that entirely covers the top 2 tiers of the pavilion. It is a surprising site and one that jap vacation makers cannot help but associate with Kyoto. The church is placed next to a pond, allowing a sparkling mirror image of the structure to be viewed by all who visit, making a dynamic picture of a connection between heaven and earth. Though the gold leaf covering makes the church highly valuable, its value is not entirely monitory, but also non secular : inside its walls it houses relics of the Buddha.Ginkakuji Listing this right below the Golden Pavilion temple is a touch misleading, because while the previously mentioned temple's golden covering makes it something of an ostentatious monument, this church is comparatively minimalist. This is because while the first plan was to make this temple a silver accompaniment to its golden cousin, the plan was never carried out and it is still a delightful example of minimalism and restraint.
The temple itself is an easy two-story building, but its lovely appeal is in the encircling serenity of the 2 gardens. The first is a pool garden composed of rocks and plants - the aim being to grant a different perspective from each angle. The second garden includes two carefully sculpted sand mounts which offer a sense of perfect serenity. Kyoto Imperial Palace Kyoto's Imperial Palace ( Kyoto Gosho ) was once the home of Japan's Imperial family, but when the capital shifted to Tokyo in 1868, the rulers followed. The structure has burned down on numerous occasions and the present reconstruction was only built in 1855. The complicated itself is encased in a long wall and is made from many halls, gardens and gates. Although the enthronement ceremonies of Emperor Taisho and Emperor Showa were held inside this palace's main hall, the prevailing Emperor was inaugurated in the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Kiyomizudera Kiyomizudera ( or'Pure Water Temple' ) is one of the most famous temples in Japan with both travellers and locals. Founded in 780 by one of the oldest sects in jap Buddhism ( the Hosso ), the temple is a UNESCO world heritage site. located in the wooded hills in eastern Kyoto, the temple offers a fabulous view over the city from its wooden terrace. The spring below said terrace is claimed to have water with healing properties and is the reason the temple has its name. Fushimi Inari Inari is the Shinto god of rice, and foxes are supposed to be his messengers. Because of this, the Fuhimi Inari shrine is dotted with many fox statues. The many tori gates make for a unforgettable experience, but if you can manage it, visiting the shrine in the evening is a total must - the dim lights and sounds of the wildlife make for a superbly atmospheric walk through the shrine's tori gates. Tenryuji church Tenryuji temple is regarded the most vital Zen church in Kyoto, and the literal interpretation of its name is'heavenly dragon temple'. The building started out its life as a personal villa of Emperor Go Daigo, and was later converted after his demise to a church in his memory. Legend has it that a Buddhist clergyman had a nervous dream where a dragon rose from a nearby stream, making him believe that Go Daigo's spirit was nervous and a temple should be built to appease him. The church has been damaged by fires a not likely 8 times, though the last instance was over 150 years back. As a result, the current incarnation of the building is only a hundred years of age, but the garden is one of the oldest in the country, dating from the 14th century. Ryoanji temple The Ryoanji temple has been appointed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The name means 'temple of the peaceful dragon' and it belongs to the Myoshinki school of the Rinzai branch of the Zen cult. The garden itself is known as one of the most pure examples of Eastern culture. Perfect in its simplicity, the garden is composed of clay walls, raked sand and fifteen rocks.
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