In case you still don't know or in case you've missed it, Kyoto is such a wonderful sight. Words can't truly express how one should travel Kyoto once they are on the island of Japan.
Not only you're going to learn about its culture and traditions, but you'll also get to have a glimpse on what their history is like. For the most part, it revolves around the ancient and humble beginnings of Japan because Kyoto is considered to be one of its oldest capitals.
However, there are a lot of interesting and engaging activities as well. There are a lot of free walking tours, day tours, and tourist attractions in Kyoto that you just couldn't afford to miss.
1. Kiyomizudera Temple
First on our list is the Kiyomizudera Temple which gained its popularity by being one of the oldest temples in all Japan since its establishment in the year 790. It's one of the most celebrated temples in Japan because of its rich history. For one, it was originally intended to be associated with the Hosso sect, one of Japan's oldest schools that's dedicated for Japanese Buddishm teachings and in 1994, it has been granted by the UNESCO as a world heritage. The temple is known for its wooden stage which tourists can set their foot on to view the cherry and maple trees that erupt in a sea of color especially when they are in full bloom during spring and fall.
Guests can also get a glimpse of Kyoto that's just lurking on the distance on a clear day. The main hall of the temple was built without the use of any nails as it is intended to be a place of worship. Even though the foundation was built in an unusual fashion, the whole temple stood the test of time and it's now considered to be a shrine that's dedicated to love and matchmaking. The Jishu Shrine is believed to be the place dedicated for lovers and love-seekers alike. Legend has it that if you successfully find your way from one pillar to another (which are placed 18 meters apart) with your eyes closed, then you will have a fruitful love life.
Aside from the Jishu Shrine, there are other shrines you can visit that are well-located inside the vicinity of the Kiyomizudera Temple. There's the Okunoin Hall, Koyasu Pagoda, and Zuigido Hall which was built dedicated to Buddha's mother. Overall, the temple in itself is not only a great sight but is also a one of a kind experiences you shouldn't afford to miss!
If you're in Kyoto, and wouldn't even drop by the Gion area, then why are you in Kyoto in the first place? You should really out to drop by the famous geisha district in all of Japan. It is in Gion that's believed to be the heart and soul of all the Geishas and Maikos. Gion is actually composed of highly dense traditional wooden houses which you can enter and enjoy a Geisha performance, of course, at a hefty price.
Geishas are known to be Japan's most sacred trademark and you couldn't miss it even if it's a bit expensive simply because Geisha performances in Kyoto couldn't compare to anything else in the world. There are also a lot of restaurants and tea houses in Gion if you're looking forward to a great dining experience.
3. Cherry Blossoms Spots
One more thing that you can't afford to miss while you're in Japan is the cherry blossoms. Not only that it's free to look at, but it's also the perfect souvenir for you to have that says "I have been in Japan!" Not all places and country in the world has cherry blossom trees so you might as well take advantage of the place while you're at it. Luckily, Kyoto is known to be a place that has the best and most popular spots for viewing cherry blossoms or hanami. You can view it in the following places:
Philosopher's Path which is a path seated right just before a canal and is lined with hundreds of cherry blossom trees.
Maruyama Park which is located just near the Yasaka Shrine and is home to hundreds of cherry blossom viewing parties. The focal point of the park is a cherry tree that gets lighted at night and there are temporary restaurants and benches you can sit on while gazing at the trees. Indeed, it's such an extremely perfect view!
Arashiyama which is located in the busy streets of Kyoto that you wouldn't need to go somewhere isolated just to view the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
4. Autumn Leaves Spots
Cherry blossoms aren't the only wonders of nature you can catch while you're in Kyoto, Japan. If you fail to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, you probably still have the chance to see the autumn leaves! Again, it's a perfectly picturesque place that will remind you how beautiful it is in Japan. Usually, the best time you can view the autumn leaves is in the second half of November. Here are some of the places you can go to so you can get a good view of the leaves:
Takao during the early autumn season. If you're just in time for the early season of autumn, one of the best places you can go to is in Takao wherein temples are surrounded by hundreds of trees which display the best autumn colors in the city center.
Arashiyama during the main autumn season which you can catch from late November to early December. The place is located at the outskirts of Kyoto but it's still fairly accessible to go to.
5. Kifune Shrine
The Kifune Shrine is a small shrine located in Kibune which is a forested valley in the northern mountains of Kyoto City. Legend has it that the Kifune Shrine was built for a goddess who comes a long way riding on a boat from Osaka to the northern mountains of Kyoto and the shrine was built as a signal for the ending of her journey. With this, the shrine is dedicated to the God of water and rain, and you can experience the magical feel of the place when you get a unique type of fortune paper and dip it into the water. From there, you can see what the gods' messages are trying to tell you.
Indeed, Kyoto is such a wonderful sight and there are actually a lot of things you can do while you're at it. Just make sure that you plan ahead especially for the seasonal events like cherry blossoms and autumn leaves sight-seeing.
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