Kyoto is the cradle of the historical & cultural exchanges of Japan, with many great buildings greatly preserved. A visit to Kyoto is full of interesting places & ideas to try out.
Imperial Palace of Kyoto
A visit to the Imperial Palace can be arranged with a guided tour which requires advance reservation. During our visit, the guided tour is the only way of entering the Imperial Palace. However, it is indicated that recently individuals are allowed to freely roam around the Imperial Palace.
The guided tour is actually quite informative, in different languages too. Most of the buildings in the Imperial Palace has been rebuilt from scratch, with apparent modern vibes. As the Japanese uses sliding partitions called shoji, it is interesting to observe that the old partitions have interesting drawings.
Wooden buildings are sparse, with pathways leading from one place to another. In between the pathways, the Zen gardens are always a delight to be strolling about, bringing in calming effects. Combining the 3 key elements of stone, water & plant, the acute greeneries are soothing to the eyes while the slight sound of running water provides a constant to our senses.
There are at least a couple of entrance, but the guided tour is by the side entrance. Taking public transport easily leads to the entrances.
Nijo Castle of the Shogun
Nijo Castle (or Nijojo) is surrounded by a moat, almost like the typical olden castle. Wooden buildings with stilt, nicely carved pathways, gardens along the pathways.
During our visit, it is still summer whereby greens are everywhere. Apparently, Nijo Castle is a popular place to take in the cherry blossom season, with the beautiful trees lining the pathways.
Kiyomizudera Temple is known as the Pure Water Temple. Situated uphill, the temple offers a slightly different vibes and feel especially with its famous wooden terrace overseeing the views of Kyoto below.
Take the public bus to the nearest stop, huff and puff uphill towards the entrance. Start off with a cleansing ritual with the water, before heading upwards towards the terrace for a great view. There are shrines & walkabouts around to be explored on foot. Spend your leisurely time to explore the temple especially at the terrace, and the surrounding areas.
The Golden Kinkakuji
Kyoto has not one but two temples – one golden and one silver. We paid the golden template @ Kinkakuji a visit. Right in the middle of a lake, the golden reflection of the temple is a sight to behold.
Bamboo Trails @ Arashiyama
Tracking through the bamboo trail in Arashiyama is a delightfully quiet walk. Trip down to Arashiyama can be done in half-day but a leisurely visit will be better in a full day. Take the train to the nearest train station Saga-Arashiyama station.
Walk towards the bamboo grove, enjoying the normalcy of the surrounding housing areas. Stop by for a tea break, which is extremely welcoming during our visit on a fairly wet rainy day. Once crossing over the bamboo grove, you’d still be greeted by the ever zen-like gardens always welcoming visitors everywhere.
Visit Tenryuji Temple next to the grove. There is a scenic train ride on the olden style train, with wooden seats. There are also boat rides, which we skipped due to the weather.
There are so many other places of interests in & around Kyoto including the famous red torii gate at Fushimi Inari Shrine, temples, olden districts etc. Conclusion – spending a week in Kyoto is really inadequate to fully immerse in the many sights, history, food & culture. Not to mention other nearby interesting sights too. To be continued on day-trip away from Kyoto.