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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …