One day Kyoto tour example:
JR Kyoto station start = Kiyomizu temple(from 9:40am / 70min）＝Ninenzaka (from 10:50am / 20min) ＝Philosophers’ walk（from 11:40pm / 30min）＝Lunch near Ginkakuji temple（from 1:40am/ 50min）= Ginkakuji temple(from 1:40pm / 50min) = Sanjusangendo temple (from 3:00pm / 40min) = Nishi-Honganji temple (from 4:00pm / 40min) = Return to JR Kyoto station
The big difference between the tour spots in Kyoto and that of other city is that Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for around 680 years such as from 794 to 1185 as Heian era, from 1300 to 1590 as Muromchi era comparing with Nara as 84 years (710 – 794), with Kamakura as 136 years (1185 – 1321), with Osaka as 10 years (1590 – 1600) and with Edo as 264 years (1603 – 1867). Also, the period emperors had lived in Kyoto as around 1400 years (794 – 1867), comparing with Nara as 84 years and with modernized era as around 151 years (1868 – 2019). Therefore, there are so many important sites of Temples and Shrines that are related with lots of great emperors, top Samurai worriers , Temples monks and so-on.
I would like to introduce the various tour spots in Kyoto for each direction area so that you can select the best for your Kyoto tour.
Kyoto tour spots area can be roughly divided by areas that are located in East, West, North, South and Center of Kyoto down-town.
In each area above, you can find lots of historical architecture , beautiful scenery of nature and time honored atmosphere of downtown with mostly consumed local foods of Kyoto, culture such as Maiko & Kimono and various type of souvenir.
Following are the representative of Kyoto tour spots for each direction in Kyoto.
<East area>: Kiyomizudera-temple, Ginkakuji-temple, Heianjingu-shrine, Sanjyusangendo-temple, Philosophers’ walk, Ninenzaka,
<West area>: Arashiyama, Togetsukyo, Tenryuji, Bamboo forest (Chikurin), Mt.Iwata Monkey park, Kinkakuji-temple, Ryoanji-temple,
<Central area>: Gion, Nijyojo-castle. Kyoto Imperial Pakace, Kodaiji temple, Nishiki market, Higashihonganji-temple, Yasaka shrine, Maruyama park,
<South area>:Toji-temple, Fushimiinaritaisha-shrine, Byodoinhouodo-shrine, Tofukuji-temple、
<1> Kiyomizu temple
Kiyomizudera temple is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto, which is listed as one of the 17 World heritage sites in Kyoto. This temple was originally built in 798 and rebuilt in 1633. Kiyomizudera or Kiyomizu Temple, literally means “Clean Water Temple”. This temple was founded in 798. (End of 8th century). Kiyomizu Temple burned down many times and most of the present temple structures were reconstructed in 1633 (Middle of 17th century).
From here we have to walk up a slope to the temple.This lane leading to Kiyomizu Temple is lined with shops selling porcelain, pickles, sweets, souvenirs and so-on.This area is famous for Kiyomizu-yaki which is glazed porcelain with a white translucent body.
In front of the Nio-Gate (Gate of the Deva Kings) This is the Gate of the Deva Kings. It is built in the “hip gable roof” style with a cypress bark roof. Please look at the pair of Deva Kings. They are checking to see if you are good visitors to the temple or not.
In front of the Hondo (Main Hall) This is the main hall. The main hall was rebuilt in 1633 by the third Tokugawa Shogun. The main image is the Eleven-headed, one thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva. Its one thousand arms and eleven heads help mankind in many different ways. It is displayed to the public every 33 years.
On the Kiyomizu Stage The main hall is famous for its platform projecting over a cliff. You can enjoy the Kyoto city view. In front of you, you can see the Koyasu-no-to which literally means “ Easy birth Pagoda”. Otowa waterfall is at the foot of the cliff. There is a famous expression in Japan, “You must act as if you were jumping off the stage of Kiyomizu” It mean that in a sink or swim situation, you have to run a risk. In another word, “Take action when you are taking a risk.”, “Do something with strong determination” and “You have to take a risk to make your dream come true.” In 1882, a regulation was issued which banned jumping. Actually, up to then, 234 people had jumped off and the survival rate was 85%.
At Otowa Falls in front of Koyasu Pagoda
This waterfall is one of the ten most famous clean water streams in Japan. The water is channeled into three streams from this waterfall. There are said to be three interpretations for this. The first is that the streams symbolize devotion to Buddha, the law and the priests. The second is good health, academic achievement and finding a good match in marriage. The third is purification of your actions, your words and your mind.
If you pray before drinking this water, it is said that your wish will come true. This water is free of any contamination. Over there, the ladles are sterilized with ultraviolet rays.
<2> Ninenzaka & Yasaka pagoda
Ninenzaka is located along the sloping road with stone pavements from Yasaka shrine to Kiyomizu temple. There are lots of old style town houses, souvenir and gourmet shops lined up on both of the sloping road. Also, you can the Five-stories pagoda named “Yasaka pagoda” on the road. You will be able to feel traditional atmosphere of Kyoto.
<3> Ginkakuji temple
Ginkakuji means “ Temple of Silver pavilion” even if actuially, this is not coated with silver due to financial difficulties in the Shogunate era. Howver, this wooden pavilion attractive people by the expression of “Wabi Sabi” which is based on the idea that beauty lies in simplicity. This sensitive feeling come from Zen Buddhism.
<4> Philosophers’ walk
Side road of Lake Biwa canal whose length is around 1.5km where a famous Japanese philosopher used to stroll.
This Tetsugaku-no-michi ( Philosopher’s Walk) is a narrow way along Lake Biwa Canal. It runs from north to south along the foot of Higashiyama mountains. The path was named ” Philosophers Walk ” from the fact that a famous philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945) used to enjoy strolling along the path to think his philosphy during the walking and enjoying the beautiful scenary around the area. In 1921, about 300 cherry trees were planted along the canal and the path has been one of the greatest spots for Sakura viewing in early April ever since.
<5> Sanjusangendo temple
This temple was originally founded in 1165 by the instruction of Goshirakawajoukou (retired emperor) by asking Kiyomori Taira ( top of worriers)to support with his funds. There were several fire and disaster occurred and a few re-constructions has been made up to now. This temple consists of 33 numbers of column spacing in the inner temple. The figure of 33 is related with Kannon Bodhisattva. Hokekyo sect of Buddhism teach that Kannon changes his figure 33 times differently and save mankind. The principal image of Buddha is seated figure statue of thousand armed Kannon whose height is around 7 meters that is made by joint block construction used by cypress. 1000 units statues of thousand armed Kannon stands on tiered alters 10 deep in two 50 row sections to the right and left of the principal deity with one more standing behind to make a total of 1001.
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