All posts tagged: United Nations World Heritage Site

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.

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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 …

Bamboo Groves // Arashiyama

I still recall the first time I saw this place – in a picture gleaned from the Internet. It was then, that I made a mental note that it will be one of those must-visit places if I ever set foot in Japan. And so, there I was, one cool morning, in Kyoto, Arashiyama (京都, 嵐山). Little drizzle accompanied my day in Arashiyama, but it didn’t dampen my spirits or hinder my stroll in this breathtakingly beautiful, and almost unreal place. Standing at the start of the trail into the bamboo groves (嵐山の竹林), or sometimes known as the Sagano Bamboo Forest, I was astounded with how cinematic this place looked. Towering bamboos lined both sides of the trail (竹林の小道). As you looked into each side, you see such dramatic colors – greens so fresh, yellows so vibrant, and oranges so rich that makes this all seemed surreal. Bamboo shoots were sprouting from the moist, fertile soil. Sunlight was lightly streaming in as you tilted your head to look at the leaves atop these bamboo. Yes, some rain …

Tenryu-ji Zen Temple // Sogenchi Garden

Located in the Arashiyama (嵐山) district in Kyoto, Japan, Tenryu-ji Zen Temple (天龍寺 or “Temple of the Celestial Dragon”) with its beautiful landscape garden, Sogenchi Garden, is a must-go before heading to the nearby famous bamboo groves. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tenryu-ji was considered first among the five great Zen temples in Kyoto. You can read more about its history here. Head here early in the morning to avoid the crowd and truly enjoy the spectacular views that the garden offers. Entry fees are ¥100 for the temple and ¥500 for the garden. Before heading to the entrance of the temple and buying the entry tickets, there is already beauty to behold – smaller shrines with exquisite gardens and the striking Torii (鳥居). Don’t miss looking into each enclave. Get your tickets at the entrance to the Temple, and leave your shoes at the shoes’ pigeon hole before stepping into the tatami-laid grounds of the Temple. For the temple, you can sit and admire the landscape garden with its koi pond, rocks, trees and …