Japan Series: Kyoto

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I had quite a difficulty composing this part of the #JapanSeries. This post holds the record of most number of sighs in one sitting. Why? Because out of my 12-day holiday, I spent just one night in the old Imperial capital of Nippon. One. *Sigh

It was too short. One Vienna-sausage-kind-of-short day when I could’ve stayed German-Frank-kind-of-long. Don’t be misled now 😉

So here’s my 24-hour perspective of the historic city of Kyoto.

Kyoto has that subliminal character for its historical value with about 20% of Japan’s National Treasures and 14% of Important Cultural Properties exist in the city proper alone. I was in different levels of amazement discovering a country with a symbolic past. *Sigh

First stop, the Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavillion.

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Pond reflection of Kinkaku-ji.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a Zen Buddhist Temple officially known as Rokuon-ji but most popularly known for the golden pavillion. Originally a villa, this site was founded in 1397 but was burned down during the Onin War followed by arson of a monk in 1950. The current pavillion structure dates back to 1955 when it was rebuilt.

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Second stop, the Fushimi Inari Taisha famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates.

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Portrait of Trust. This is where a solo traveler asks a random person for a make or break shot. This’ll do, i suppose? 🙂

The shrine is at the base of the sacred Mt. Inari which stands at 233 meters asl. The torii gates along the trails are donations by individuals and businesses. You will find the donator’s name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. Cost of the gates depends on the size, starting from around 400,000 yen to over one million yen.

[Related Post– Japan Series: Nagoya]

Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds.

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A giant torii gate at the shrine’s entrance where the Romon Gate stands. It was donated in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

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I was not at all expecting a hike going to Fushimi Inari but I’m glad I did. My tropical body needed the sweat from the average 3 degrees winter temperature. There were trails where I was semi-left alone and semi-lost giving me that geisha moment of silence to reflect on my life plans. Lastly, had it not been for that accidental ascent, I wouldn’t reach the Yotsutsuji intersection a.k.a. view point.

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Roughly half way up the mountain summit is where this nice view can be seen. That’s Kyoto City, everybody, from Yotsutsuji intersection.

It was the New Year holiday and a lot of people go to Shrines and Temples for their rituals. I saw several ways on how they practice faith, celebrate new beginnings, and wish for continuous fortune.

“Ema” or small wooden cards are symbolic to Shinto worshipers. This is where they write their prayers or wishes then will be left hanging in the shrines where the spirits/gods are believed to receive them. There were intentions that are written in paper folds, lighting of candles, incense, tossing of coin. I’m a Catholic and it’s not everyday that I get to spend an important celebration of other beliefs so as observance and respect, I did what I had to and hang my own wood and light candles for several wishes this 2016 🙂

Tips

1. Getting around

kyoto_bus_tn2

What the Kyoto City Bus One-day Pass looks like (front and back).

It is advisable for travelers to avail the Kyoto City Bus pass to move around major attractions in the city. I only had a day to spend so I purchased the one-day pass for Y500, no worries as most hostels/hotels offer this upon check-in.

2. Highlighted places to visit

  • Nishiki Market
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kinkaku-ji
  • Kibune
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Park

For an official guide on traveling Kyoto, you might want to check this out: http://kyoto.travel/en. This page has a detailed information about the city, from the best time to visit to places including shrines and temples to visit (per area) to, of course, food!

3. Accommodation

I stayed at Piece Hostel Kyoto. This hostel is by far the best hostel I’ve stayed at. And after an endless travel from one city to another, this is where I had the most decent breakfast in Japan. You will get a superb service for a very reasonable price!

There are capsule accommodations too. It will be quite an experience but it’s winter when i visited. The luggage drag doesn’t help as much.

My travel video for Nagoya-Kyoto can be found in this post right here.

Lemme know how was your Kyoto experience too! 🙂

Konichiwa,

Charlene

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