Kyoto Feb 2013

I love Kyoto, every time I go there I think I should spend more time visiting.. Kyoto sort of epitomizes ancient Japan, to the visitor anyway.  It’s full of tradition, temples & shrines, glorious food and Geisha.. 
It sort of starts at Kyoto station, this huge great modern glass and steel building, with so many escalators up,  I can’t remember how many..  Just screams modern,21st century and then you get on a bus, or go for a walk and you are in the middle of Geisha territory, with all the old world charm that encompasses.
Kyoto served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country’s seventh largest city and a wonderful mix of old and new.
The castles and temples here are just amazing, lots of legends and stories to go with them..

This trip we visited a couple of favorites

Kiyomizu-dera – This ancient temple was first built in 798, but the present buildings only date back to 1633. The steep walking road to the temple is known as Chawan-zaka (Teapot Lane) and is lined with shops selling Kyoto handicrafts, local snacks and souvenirs.


Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site. The castle was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.  The Ninomaru Palace was  the residence and office of the shogun during his visits to Kyoto. Surviving in its original form, the palace consists of multiple separate buildings that are connected with each other by corridors with so called nightingale floors, as they squeak when stepped upon as a security measure against intruders. The palace rooms are tatami mat covered and feature elegantly decorated ceilings and beautifully painted sliding doors .  The gardens are traditional Japanese landscapes with a large pond, ornamental stones and manicured pine trees.

Gion  is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, It is filled with shops, restaurants and Tea houses where geisha and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.  Gion attracts tourists with its high concentration of traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were originally based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street.


There is so much more to see, I really want to go to the Golden and Silver Pavilions again, Fushimi Inari (and walk it all this time!). 

Thanks to wikipedia, and the official Kyoto guide for background info

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