Kyoto Things to Do
Cherry Blossoms in Spring
If you have not seen the cherry blossoms in Kyoto during springtime, add this to your “bucket list” right now. Take a calm stroll down the Philosopher’s Path, which is a stone path that follows along a water canal in an area full of cheery trees. The natural beauty of this area during springtime when the cherry trees are in full bloom will take your breath away. This simple stroll will give you a memory that will last a lifetime. Let all your troubles fade away.
Breathe in three deep breaths of the wonderful aroma of the blossoms from the cherry trees as you chant silently to yourself, “Nam myoho renge kyo.” This is the chant used for Buddhist meditation in the Japanese Zen style. In English, this means “I dedicate my life to the mysteries of cause and effect.” This is not a religious practice, but more like a mental exercise. It is about taking the time to rest your over-active mind and enjoy the peacefulness. If you just go to Kyoto for this experience, it is well worth the trip.
Castles, Temples, and Shrines
Kyoto has the marvelous Nijo Castle and the stunningly beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine. There is also the amazing Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Temple), which is a Zen temple built in 1482 that survived the bombings during World War II. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and sits very elegantly beside a small lake. Because it is clad in gold leaf, the appearance is really exquisite and there is an excellent photo opportunity from the path across the lake.
The Kiyomizu Temple is a Buddhist temple that is a popular attraction. You climb up some steep steps to enter the temple grounds by passing through a massive brightly red-colored, pagoda-style gate that is very ornate. Many consider this to be the best temple in Kyoto.
The Ryoanji Temple and the Heian Shrine are popular sites to see as well.
Gion – The Geisha District
Gion is located between the Yasaka Shrine and the Karno River. You can stroll down the pedestrian-only streets that have wooden buildings, which are reminiscent of the Japanese architecture of over 200-years ago. The buildings are all two stories and on the bottom floor are the geisha clubs where men go to be entertained by the most exotic and beautiful, as well as refined, women in Japan.
The geisha and the maiko (geisha in training) serve tea in a very ritual way and entertain the male (and women tourists are also welcome now) guests with performances. This is a rather expensive night out and has nothing to do with prostitution, only the refined company of beautiful women in the most traditional ways of elegant Japanese style.
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