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Japan Kyoto

. . . Twelve Hundred Years of History . . .


When friends ask, “where should we visit in Japan”? my advice is always, “if you have time to visit only one place, you go to Kyoto”. In addition to Kyoto and its surrounding regions, Kyoto is centrally located in the Kansai district—from Kyoto you can make easy day trips ( via train—don't waste your time driving a car ) to Osaka, Nara, and Kobe.

Kyoto was the Imperial capital of Japan from the year 794 AD through 1868 AD. The period during which Kyoto was capital overlapped with what was known as the Heian period, which spanned the years from 794 AD through 1185 AD, a time when Japan saw massive flowering of culture, literature, art, music, learning, and religious thinking.

Heian means—more or less—Peace and Tranquility, and in this time, Kyoto was called Hei An Kyo ( Tranquil Peaceful Capital ), represented by the beautiful golden characters in the title above. Early in the Heian era the Lady Murasaki Shikibu wrote the epic literary work known in the West as The Tales of Genji.

Kyoto is home to some 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, museums, gardens, places of historical interest, and hundreds of fine dining establishments.

Visit Kin Kaku Ji

Arguably, the most recognisable symbol of Kyoto is the beautiful garden of Roku On Ji, which in its turn contains the equally fabulous temple of Kin Kaku Ji, otherwise known as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

Visit Gin Kaku Ji

An almost equally recognisable symbol of Kyoto is the beautiful garden of Jo Shi Ji, which contains the temple of Gin Kaku Ji, otherwise known as the Temple of the Silver Pavilion.

Visit Sai Ho Ji

For our tastes, an absolute “must-see” (and experience) venue in Kyoto is the ethereal temple garden of Sai Ho Ji (the Moss Temple) where the ground cover is composed entirely of 120 varieties of moss.

Visit Ten Ryu Ji

Not far from Sai Ho Ji in the Arashiyama district of western Kyoto is another world-class temple and garden of Ten Ryu Ji (the Temple of the Heavenly Dragon). Ten Ryu Ji is one of the more photogenic gardens in Kyoto.

Visit Uji

Slightly further afield you can visit the town of Uji, home to the premier tea growing region of Japan.

Visit Kiku No I

For a meal to remember for decades, we had the rare privilege of dining in a Kyoto ryotei named Kiku No I—a Maruyama establishment that has been in operation since 1912, where the chef is the third generation of the family to preside over the kitchen.

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Page Updated 2011 December 10