All posts filed under: Kyoto

Places that I have visited in Kyoto, Japan

Nanzenji Temple Autumn - Tenjuan Garden Maple Leaves Rock Path

7 Things to Do at Nanzen-ji // Kyoto’s Roman-Style Aqueduct Temple

Steeped in history and culture, Nanzenji Temple 南禅寺 is one of the 5 great Zen temples in Kyoto and occupies a huge piece of land. It offers many attractions that will enchant travelers: a rare Roman-style aqueduct, the largest temple gate in Japan, Zen rock gardens, and stunning autumn colors.

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Jojakko-ji Kyoto Arashiyama - Autumn Maple Moss Roof

Jojakko-ji // Where Moss and Maple Leaves Meet in Kyoto Arashimaya

Nestled in the quieter part of the renowned Arashiyama district is Jojakko-ji 常寂光寺. A charming temple hidden away at the base of Mount Ogura, its unassuming rustic beauty is often underrated. During autumn, it’s a place where Japanese maple leaves, ginkgo trees, and moss meet in an explosion of colors.

Golden Pavilion Gold Temple Kinkaku-ji - Kyoto Japan

Kinkaku-ji // Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion and Its Perfect Water Reflection

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, glimmers in gold and casts a perfect reflection across a tranquil pond. This iconic gold temple attracts photographers and travelers all over to capture that perfect reflection photo in all seasons. Get travel tips on Kinkakuji – a must-see during autumn in Kyoto!

Kiyomizu-dera Autumn Maple Trees - Kyoto Temple

8 Things to do at Kiyomizu-dera // Kyoto’s Nailless Hillside Temple

Kiyomizu-dera 清水寺 is Kyoto’s most famous temple. Almost every traveler who passes through Kyoto would have made a trip to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site, built on the hillside of Higashiyama, with its nailless main hall and especially during its autumn peak.

Moss Bridge in Moss Garden - Kokedera Kyoto

Saihoji Kokedera // Kyoto’s Magical Moss Garden

Saihoji 西芳寺 or Kokedera 苔寺 is THE moss garden temple to see in Kyoto. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses innumerable moss varieties and you feel like you are wandering through a mesmeric garden of the softest greens. However, visiting this moss temple requires early planning and reservation.

Tofukuji Temple Must-See - Autumn Colors Kyoto

Tofuku-ji Kyoto // A Must-Visit for Spectacular Autumn Colors

Tofukuji 東福寺 is one of Kyoto’s 5 greatest zen temples with a famed landscape garden designed by Mirei Shigemori. The temple garden is one of the best places to admire those gorgeous autumn colors and Japanese maple leaves — on trees or scattered to create a vibrant carpet of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Shirakawa Gion // Kyoto’s Most Beautiful Street

If you are a traveler from overseas on a tour group, tour guides might skip this part of Kyoto and head straight to the busy hub of Gion (祇園) for shopping and . Dubbed by locals as Kyoto’s most beautiful street, Shirakawa (白川) is a few minutes’ walk from central Gion and the Hanamichi (花道小路) area. It is off the beaten path, and there seemed to be no sight of other tourists when we visited it. The street runs into a Y-shape, with a little shrine situated at the intersection. This little red shrine, like the Yasaka Shrine, was frequented by geishas living in that area. And by our lucky stars, we caught a happy couple taking their wedding photos at this picturesque place just when we reached it. A babbling stream runs through this street with shops, restaurants and tea houses lining one side of it. On the other side, you see willow trees, cherry blossom trees, and Japanese maple trees. The majestic willow trees were indeed a sight. Their long strings of leaves …

Shopping in Gion // Buys that are uniquely Kyoto

One place that no tourist would miss in Kyoto is spending an evening in Gion (祇園) – a place best known as the district where geishas reside, entertain, wait to be ‘rescued’ by their patrons, and where maikos learn their art while serving the needs of their bigger sisters. And if you have read or watched ‘Memoirs of the Geisha’, a visit to Gion must be in the cards. There is much to do here – shopping for scarves and superbly made canvas totes, having kaiseki dinner (懐石料理) in the famous geisha quarters at Hanamichi (花道小路), exploring the most beautiful street in Kyoto near the babbling brook of Shirakawa (白川), and watching the sunset over Gion Shrine (八坂神社 / 祇園神社). To leisurely enjoy the sights and experiences that Gion has to offer, I would suggest heading to Gion in late afternoon to get some shopping done, and then enjoy a stroll to catch the sun setting over Shirakawa and Gion Shrine, before dinner at one of those nostalgic restaurants along Hanamichi which will bring you …

Fushimi Inari Shrine // Senbon Torii

If you have been a fan of Japanese animation films, you’ll be familiar with images of foxes often appearing as mystical messengers. But that’s the not reason why Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社 Fushimi Inari Taisha) attracted me and many visitors from afar. Located just 2 stations away from Kyoto Station at the JR Inari Station, this shrine housed the famed and flaming red torii gates (鳥居) in the thousands all the way up the Inari mountain (稲荷山), promising a sight not to be missed. That’s how this sight got its name – Senbon Torii (千本鳥居), literally meaning thousands of torii gates. But, before we get to that… On a beautiful autumn day, we arrive at the entrance of Fushimi Inari Shrine, where young Japnese maple trees lined the avenue against clear blue skies and the Inari Mountain in the background. There are 2 torii gates at the entrance, with the one located at the end of this avenue being the larger one. It was a good day – lots of sunshine, a cool temperature, and …

Nijo Castle // 二条城

Nijo Castle (二条城) is the first castle I visited in Japan. Situated in Kyoto, this Castle is famed for its “nightingale floors” (鴬張りuguisubari) found in the corridors of Ninomaru Palace (二の丸御殿 Ninomaru goten) – a National Treasure that one has got to see, and in this instance, hear in order to experience how it must have been like to live in the 16th century where shoguns ruled the day. The Castle was built upon the order of the 1st Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) in 1603. It was completed during the reign of the 3rd shogun, Iemitsu, in 1626. The Castle served as the Tokugawa shogunate’s center of power in Kyoto. Teamed with the dramatic, stormy skies that day, Nijo Castle appeared like it came right out of a samurai movie. I could almost envision ninjas darting across roofs in a silent attempt to assassinate some officials. This white building, found at the corners of the Nijo Castle, is probably where guards would station themselves to look out for possible attacks. A wide moat surrounds …