Kyoto Travel Guide
Kyoto, situated among mountains of Western Honshu, has an account as Japan's most beautiful city and is the heart of traditional Japan. It's abounding with its hundreds of temples and beautiful gardens, shrines, traditional wooden homes and imperial palaces. Urban sprawl of central Kyoto is the first impression between most travelers. Well-preserved architecture and relics are what put Kyoto on the sightseeing map.
As the ancient and spiritual capital of Japan, it is a paradise for sightseers, essentially a living museum of Japan's great artistic bequest. It is an appealing and advantageous experience that creates unforgettable memories as you stroll leisurely to view the treasures of Kyoto on foot. The city also has exciting entertainment and nightlife. It is a place where you will never see enough and never be disappointed.
The Imperial palace, with its beautiful dun coloured walls, is the first stop in anyone’s travel guides and there is no question why when you see it. Situated in a vast expanse of gardens, the palace was first built 2km west of the city but then relocated to its current position during the latter part of the 12th century. On first glance the palace is simply overwhelming with its ascetic Meji-style architecture. The Shishin-den is the key building here; this was the spot where emperors from the Meji, Taisho and Showa periods were crowned. The palace is full to the brim with other important buildings, artefacts and artworks, each embellishing its beauty and gracefulness. There are palace tours here in English and takes an hour.
The True Pure Land sect of Buddhism (Jodo Shinshu) has been popular in Kyoto for centuries and was founded by a priest named Shonin Shinran who was from the city. Due to the sect’s popularity, a number of temples were constructed. Nishi-Hongan-ji is the original out of two temples and the most striking out of them. Located about a 10 minute stroll from Kyoto Station, this Founder’s Hall, dating back to 1636, was built to honour Shinran, the Amida Hall on the right was constructed in 1760. Both halls blaze in a glory of real gold and in the right hall you will find screens made by various Kano artists. You will need to book a tour here, at least two weeks in advance.
This is not the only temple in Kyoto; if you get the chance you should definitely not miss out on visiting the glorious To-ji temple. Commissioned in 794 CE by Emperor Kammu, this temple is home to some of the most beautiful Buddhist art and sculpture. The tallest pagoda can be found here; built in 826, you will find the Ko-do and Kon-do here. But it is the Lecture Hall which is the most important building here. With red-lacquered tiles, you will discover a circle of 21 statues along with five Buddhas and other Buddhist sculptures. On the 21st of every month there is a fantastic flea market where you can browse and hunt for bargains.
Restaurants in Kyoto are a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Matcha, or in English, green tea, is the city’s most famous local product and as such, there are a wide variety of green tea foods. Green tea ice cream is a particular favourite.
There is a wide choice of hotels in Kyoto, many designed for international travellers. During the cherry blossom period in April, hotel rates can go up sky high so book well in advance. Most of the hotels can be found in the city centre, although there are several inexpensive options around the train station.
Kyoto is a wonderful city and it is little wonder why people flock from all around the world to visit here. Sophisticated, full of grace, beauty and charm, Kyoto will stay forever in your heart.