Kyoto City: The Abode of the Gods

After my adventurous stay in the capital of Japan, my next destination was Kyoto city. Kyoto would be an entirely different experience than the city of Tokyo, in every possible way. The city of immense culture and heritage was waiting to be explored and after all the parties and night outs in Tokyo, I was looking forward to the peaceful and quieter side of Japan.

After visiting Mount Fuji (read my post about Fuji here), I took the bullet train to Kyoto. It took me three hours because I was apparently on the ‘slow’ bullet train. My experience in Kyoto was unique from the very start. For the first time in my history of travelling, my habit of being extremely flexible had almost led to me being shelterless for two whole days. I hadn’t pre-booked at any hostel in Kyoto, thinking that since it’s not a major city, finding a bed at some hostel wouldn’t be too hard. But this n turns, ended up becoming a major challenge as it turned out that a local festival was being celebrated in the city and that all the hostels had been pre-booked by locals and travellers alike. Not a single place was available in the city and when I got off the train at Kyoto Central station at 7 pm, I had no place to go. After persevering through with extreme patience, my continuous efforts paid off when a guy replied to my text on Airbnb and I finally found a place to spend the night. So the last leg of my Japan trip started off with a rough patch, but being the extremely optimistic man that I am, I decided to take a lesson out of my experience that day and move on.

Here are the things that I did in Kyoto during my two-day stay:

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove:

Arashiyama is a district located in western Kyoto and has been a famous attraction ever since the Royals first embraced the beauty of the area during the early 7th century. The area peaks its beauty during the cherry blossom season when nature seems to come to life. While walking through the area, you’ll find that the paths cut through a striking Bamboo grove. Neatly aligned bamboo trees adorn the sidewalk, making it the most incredible site in the area. It looks even more beautiful in the evening with the bamboo trees lit up, becoming beacons of joy and cheer for the swarming crowds. The place was so full of people that we could hardly walk around without being squished. I did manage to get some nice pictures but this site is a must visit for you, in Kyoto.

Tenryū-ji:

Located within the same area as Arashiyama, wandering through the bamboo groves will eventually lead you to the Tenryu-Ji temple. This 14th-century temple is the largest temple in the Arashiyama district and has been proclaimed as a World heritage site by UNESCO. Surrounded by attractive gardens filled with multicoloured trees,t the temples looks like a stunningly encrusted gem. The temple has many pathways which you can walk on to explore the gardens and take great pictures.The Tenryu-Ji temple and it’s surroundings were so picture-perfect that even I had to pinch myself to check whether the place was a figment of my imagination or not.

Ninna-Ji Temple:

Another World heritage site located in Kyoto is known as the Omuro Imperial Palace. There are many temples in Kyoto but due to the limited time I had in my hands, I had to prioritise the places to visit based on the popularity of the temples there. This was one of the most famous temples and certainly worth the time. The older buildings within the temple complex date back to the beginning of the Edo Period in the early 1600s, including the main hall (the Kondo), the Kannon Hall, the Niomon front gate, the Chumon inner gate and the five-storied pagoda. Just like the other temples in Kyoto, the Omuro Imperial Palace is also adorned with beautiful gardens and pathways to walk on and enjoy the picturesque beauty of the temple.

Kinkakuji Temple:

Probably the most unique and famous temple in Kyoto, the Kinkakuji Temple is also known as the Golden Pavilion. The temple is situated in northern Kyoto. Although the temple covers a huge area, there is only one main building located on the side of a large pond within the temple complex. What makes this temple so famous and unique is that the top floor of the temple is completely covered in gold leaves.  There is a lot of history associated with the temple and its makers, which you can discover for yourself.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine:

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is probably the most photographed temple in Kyoto. To my bad luck, my last day in Japan was a rainy day but I decided to visit the temple in spite of the heavy rains, even if it meant that I’d have to hold onto my umbrella the entire time. The endless orange and black painted shrines are just too lovely to not fall in love with. Fushimi Inari is the most important out of the several thousand shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto God of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers and the shrine grounds are decorated with numerous fox statues. You will never get tired of clicking pictures in this magnificent shrine. I loved every bit of it despite the fact that I wasn’t able to get good pictures due to the incessant rain.

These attractions sum up my quick stay in Kyoto city.There are a lot more things to do in the city but due to the heavy rains and the time restrictions, I couldn’t explore much more. I have a list of many more cities to visit on my next trip to Japan, so this is definitely not the end of the Japan Diaries. Do stay tuned.

In the meantime, get ready to enjoy my next adventure as I explore more of Asia with a trip to Sri Lanka coming up soon.

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