Japanese Attractions

Release Date: July 01, 2009

Author: Mark Fassler

The inperial capital of Japan - the beauty of Kyoto

Kyōto (京都) was the capital of Japan for over a millennium, and carries a reputation as its most beautiful city. However, visitors may be surprised by how much work they will have to do to see Kyoto's beautiful side. Most first impressions of the city will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station, which is itself an example of a city steeped in tradition colliding with the modern world.

Nonetheless, the persistent tourist will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has much more than immediately meets the eye.

Understand

Nestled among the mountains of Western Honshu, Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. During its millennium at the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion, it accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, and monks. Kyoto was among the few Japanese cities that escaped the allied bombings of World War II and as a result, Kyoto still has an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional townhouses known as machiya. However the city is continuously undergoing modernization with some of the traditional Kyoto buildings being replaced by newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Station complex.

See

Kyoto offers an incredible number of attractions for tourists, and visitors will probably need to plan an itinerary in advance in order to visit as many as possible.

Japan National Tourist Organization's self-guided "Kyoto Walks" pamphlet is available in a ready to print PDF format here. The guide enables first time visitors to tour the city with ease and with minimum fuss by providing bus numbers, names of bus stops and clearly marked walking routes. There are a variety of self-guided walks in different districts to sample Kyoto's various sites. If you see the browser's dialog box popping up, just click on it till the entire PDF document opens.

Do

Meditation

Well-known for its abundance of historical sites, visitors to Kyoto are often eager to experience traditional Japanese culture. Buddhist meditation sessions are one of the most popular of these activities, and multiple options are available. In Northern Kyoto, Taizo-in and Shunko-in (both sub-temples of Myoshin-ji) offer authentic Zen meditation sessions, complete with explanations of the meaning and significance of such meditation. Reservations are necessary.

Blossom Viewing

Kyoto is arguably the most well known place in the country to view cherry blossoms, and there are certainly an abundance of places to go.

Eastern Kyoto is particularly beautiful during the cherry blossom season. A walk from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji along the Philosopher's Path, lined with cherry trees, is enjoyable, as there are a variety of temples and shrines to stop at along the way. The famous cherry tree in the center of Maruyama Park is often the center of attention, particularly in the evenings when it is lit up. Vendors line the pathway leading up to it, creating a festive atmosphere. Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji also have extended hours during this season offering visitors the opportunity to view them at night, lit up against the blossoms. The garden of the Heian Shrine is also a great option. Blossoms can also be seen along the Kamogawa River. The entire area literally blossoms in the spring!

In Central Kyoto the northern section of the Imperial Park is home to a variety of different types of cherry blossoms and the grounds of Toji Temple bloom beautifully below the towering pagoda. Nijo Castle hosts its own Nijo Light-Up, in which visitors can walk the grounds of the castle at night among the cherry blossoms. You cannot enter the castle during the light-up, so those who want to enter should visit during the day to see the castle and the blossoms.

In Arashiyama, the mountainside is bright with cherry blossoms, along with the area around Hankyu Arashiyama Station. This area is lit up at night and food stalls are set up with a variety of delicious snacks.

Northern Kyoto offers cherry-blossom scouts worthwhile experiences at Hirano Shrine and Kyoto Botanical Gardens, and a walk inside the large grounds of Daigo-ji in Southern Kyoto is certainly made memorable when all the blossoms are in full bloom.

So, Attracted Properties of Kyoto is here.

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