Day 1: Mon, Nov 23, 2009
Day 2: Tue, Nov 24, 2009
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarrySanjusangendo stands out among the temples of Kyoto as something clearly different. A rectangular hall filled with 1,001 carved and gilded statues of a standing Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Mercy). The temple dates from 1164 and the present building from 1266 after the original was damaged by fire. The multi-armed figures are arranged in ranks and each Kannon with its subtle differences in expression and accoutrements is a testimony to the originality and skill of the Momoyama wood carvers. An archery contest dating from Edo (1600-1868) times is held outside the temple annually around the 15th of January. Photography is prohibited inside the hall.
657 Mawari-cho Sanjusangendo, 605-0941 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 525 0033
Added Oct 31, 2009 by BarryFounded by shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa in 1602 as a rival to break the power of nearby Nishi Honganji, the Higashi Honganji temple covers a vast space close to Kyoto Station. Complete with massive gates, monumental buildings and a sizable colony of pigeons to rival Trafalgar Square in London, it is a 'must-see' location on every visitor's itinerary. Look for the black rope made from female devotees' hair used in the reconstruction of the buildings in the 19th century. Admission is free.
3 Karasuma-dori Shichijo-agaru, 600-8167 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 371 9181
Added Oct 31, 2009 by BarryHome to the headquarters of the prosperous Jodo Shin-shu (True Pure Land Sect) school of Buddhism, founded in the thirteenth century by Shinran, Nishi Honganji is the center of a vast empire of millions of followers, who believe that the chanting of "namu amida butsu" will lead to future salvation. The two halls open to visitors in the spacious compound contain wall and screen paintings by the Kano school of artists and intricate carvings. More treasures are displayed in the shoin, but reservations must be made in advance. Of particular note, the southern gate, Karamon, is beautifully constructed and carved.
26 Monzen cho, 600-8358 Kyoto, Japan
+81 075 371 5181
Added Oct 31, 2009 by BarryThe five-story pagoda, Japan's tallest, illuminated at night is one of Kyoto's most enduring images. Founded along with the city in AD 794, Toji is a treasure trove of tantric Buddhism and associated with Kobo Daishi, the founder of the mystical Shingon sect. The admission fee allows you access to the various halls holding numerous esoteric Buddhist statues. This large temple also hosts a vast flea market on the 21st of each month and a smaller antiques fair on the first Sunday of every month.
Kujo-dori, 601-8473 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 461 5786
Day 3: Wed, Nov 25, 2009
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryThe "dragon" temple of the Rinzai sect has several sub-temples whose gardens are accessible, although the buildings are not. The main buildings were rebuilt in the early 1900s, one of which is reminiscent of Yoshino's Daigoji palace. Bamboo, maples and pines are other features of the compound. Tenryu-ji is well known for its dry landscaped garden (kare sansui), which dates to 1339 and is representative of the best in Muromachi design, replete with a pond with islands, a stone bridge, and a waterfall, elements of borrowed scenery. The garden's architect is believed to be the icon of the "rock-placing monks", Soseki Muso [1275-1351].
68 Susukinobanba-cho, Sagatenryuji, 616-8385 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 881 1235
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryKinkakuji is probably Kyoto's most famous and certainly most photographed temple garden. The three-story Chinese Zen-influenced Golden Pavilion has delicately curving roofs and the walls and eaves of the second and third stories are covered with fine gold leaf. On a clear day the villa is reflected in the mirror pond which lies in front of the building. The present structure, dating back to 1955, is a copy of the original built in 1397 by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It was razed to the ground in 1950 by an infatuated young monk, providing the theme for Yukio Mishima's novel Kinkakuji. Arrive early to avoid the crowds.
1 Kinkakuji-cho, 603-8361 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 461 0013
Day 4: Thu, Nov 26, 2009
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryFamous for its maple leaves in autumn, this major Rinzai sect Zen temple was established by Michiie Kujo in 1236. We are told that he wanted to boost the reputation of the Fujiwara family, his ancestors, and incorporated the kanji (Chinese character) "fuku" from "Kofuku-ji," a temple associated with them, into Tofuku-ji's name.
Noteworthy is the main gate dating to the Kamakura era, which is a national treasure, as well as the building housing the monks' lavatories (14th century), and the covered corridors which link the temple's buildings. The abbot's residence, the Hojo, is surrounded by four gardens, re-landscaped in 1938.
15-778 Honmachi, 605-0981 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 371 5649
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryKiyomizudera which translates as the "Temple of Pure Water," is a popular temple with young people who come to pray for success in finding a suitable partner at a Shinto shrine inside the complex. Built in 798 and set in an historic hillside location, the temple is a Kyoto landmark and must-see for most visitors. The main hall is set on a huge wooden terrace which commands a good view of the city and the pleasant temple grounds and pagoda.
294 1-chome Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, 605-0862 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 551 1234
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryHideyoshi Toyotomi's widow took vows as a nun and went to live at Kodai-ji Temple established in 1605(thanks to Ieyasu support). The sacred Kannon is accompanied by symbolic images of Kita no Mondokoro and her husband Hideyoshi. The sanctuary's altar is made of lacquer. Other features are two teahouses, one with its distinctive umbrella-shaped roof believed to have come from the castle at Fushimi. The legacy of Mitsunobu Tosa is represented with his 36 Immortal Poets and Pines at the Beach.
526 Shimogawahara-cho dori, Yasakatoriimae-Sagaru, 605-0825 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 561 9966
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryThe month-long Gion Festival is Kyoto's most famous and colorful festival, dating back to 869. Over 30 tall wooden floats, or hoko, are paraded slowly through the streets of downtown Kyoto, pulled by hundreds of white-clad volunteers. Others perch precariously on the floats themselves providing encouragement, directions and musical accompaniment. Subsidiary events centered on Yasaka Shrine take place throughout July, including Yoyoiyama and Yoiyama on the evenings of the 15 and 16 July. The streets around Shijo Karasuma are sealed off and thousands of people, many dressed in summer yukata and carrying fans, come to admire the floats.
625 Kitagawa Gionmachi, Yasaka Jinja, 605-0073 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 561 6155
Day 5: Fri, Nov 27, 2009
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarrySituated a little way out of the city, this delightful Tendai temple was founded in 784 by Saicho (who also established Enryakuji on Mount Hiei). It is justly famous for its beautiful mossy gardens and halls, which attract a host of visitors year round to see the hydrangeas (a distinctive blue shade) and cherry blossoms. They also flock to view the fiery red maples in the autumn. Important cultural properties are in the shinden, rebuilt in 1926. These include a Kannon, an Amida and the Fudo Myo (engulfed in flames), believed to have been carved by Genshin, author of Essentials of Salvation, which he completed in 984. Genshin was responsible for the center of the shinden, the Ojo Gokuraku-in, dating back to 985 (but rebuilt in 1143). It contains images of lacquered cedar, which are also important cultural properties. Call ahead for hours.
540 Raigoin-cho Ohara, Sakyo-ku, 606-1242 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 744 2531
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryGinkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, was constructed as a retreat by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in 1489 after the destruction of much of Kyoto in the Onin Civil War of 1467. Its rather somber feel contrasts with the dazzling Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, on which it was modeled. The story goes that Yoshimasa ran short of funds to coat the building with silver so that it could reflect the moonlight. Now a Zen temple, the elegant grounds contain a tranquil pond, a stone garden with raised cones, again to reflect moonlight, and a moss garden all designed by master gardener, Soami.
2 Ginkakuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, 606-8402 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 711 5725
Added Oct 18, 2009 by BarryDating from the thirteenth century, Nanzenji is an important Zen temple of the Rinzai sect. Nanzenji sits on a large hillside, complete with tranquil ponds and impressive gardens. Before entering the vast wooden entrance gate, San-mon, there is a sublime dry stone garden in the sub-temple, Konchi-in. The main building, or Hojo, contains famous painted screens depicting tigers by the Kano school of artists and more gardens. The temple area is also famous for a number of vegetarian restaurants specializing in Yudo-fu (boiled tofu). Call for hours.
Nanzenji-Fukuchi-cho, 606-8435 Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 771 0365
Day 6: Sat, Nov 28, 2009
Added Oct 18, 2009 by Barry
Nestled among the mountains in Western Honshu, Kyoto has a reputation worldwide as Japan's most beautiful city. However, many tourists may be surprised by how much work it takes to see the beautiful side. Most visitors' first impression will be 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. 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, Kyoto accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines built for the privileged classes.
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.
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