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Japan Regional Information

Chubu    Chugoku     Hokkaido     Kanto     Kansai     Kyushu     Okinawa     Shikoku    Tohoku

Hyogo     Kyoto     Mei     Nara     Osaka     Shiga     Wakayama

 

Kyoto

Three geographical features, saw-toothed coast, Tamba Mountains and Kyoto Basin - Capital of Japan flourished for 1,200 years
Kyoto stretches from southeast to northwest in the central and northern Kansai Region (Midwest Japan). It has three geographical features, the saw-toothed coast area around the Maizuru Bay in the northwest, the Tamba Mountains around the center and the Kyoto Basin in the southeast. Kyoto became the capital of Japan in the 8th century. It had flourished as the center for Japanese politics, economy and culture for some 1,200 years until the capital functions were transferred to Tokyo in the mid 19th century. There remain many temples and shrines that had been built during this long period. Seventeen historic sites including the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Nijo-jo Castle are designated as World Cultural Heritage sites.

You may meet Maiko, young dancing entertainers who walk in long hanging sleeved kimono in the Gion, see the townscape characterized with popular 19th century style latticework, and visit the Nishijin where they weave traditional nishijin-ori textiles with vivid colored threads. The festivals are famous not only in Japan but are known worldwide. The three major festivals of Kyoto are Aoi-Matsuri Festival in early summer, Gion-Matsuri Festival in summer and Jidai-Matsuri Festival in autumn. There is also the Okuribi in five hills of Daimonji, where torches shaping a letter or figure are ignited into flames on the night of August 15, in a Buddhist ritual called O-bon or Urabon-e.

Getting there
Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station or a Rapid Train on JR Tokaido Line from Shin-Osaka Station for 25 minutes to Kyoto Station.
 

  • Yamashina and Daigo
    Mt. Daigo- famous for its cherry blossom - Kiyomizuyaki pottery with its distinctive and formal beauty
    The area of Yamashina and Daigo lies to the southeast of Kyoto City. Its location on the Narakaido Road, which connects Kyoto and Nara, has made it an important pivotal point as the eastern entrance to Kyoto for many centuries. Daigo is renowned for the Daigo-ji Temple, home of many precious cultural assets.

    The Daigo-ji Temple is the head temple of the Shingon-shu Daigo-ha Sect. The grounds of the temple cover the whole of Mt. Daigo, and are famous for their beautiful cherry blossom in spring. A number of priceless structures remain within the temple, including a 50-meter five-storied pagoda founded in 951, the oldest structure in Kyoto City, the Aoi-no-ma Chamber and Akikusa-no-ma Chamber, whose murals and fusuma doors (framed and papered sliding doors) date back to the Momoyama Period in the late 16th century, and the Chokushi-no-ma (Chamber for the Imperial Messenger) in the Sambo-in.

    In the 15th and 16th centuries, many kilns for the Kiyomizuyaki pottery were built in northwestern Yamashina. Over 80 potteries and wholesalers line the streets of Kiyomizuyaki-Danchi, and the area produces tableware as well as pottery for ikebana (flower arrangement) and the tea ceremony, and various other ornaments. Kiyomizuyaki pottery, distinguishable by the variety of techniques used and a brilliant but formal beauty, is displayed and sold here, and a pottery festival is held in summer.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station, change to the JR Sanyo Honsen Line, 6 minutes to Yamashina Station. From Osaka Station, 35 minutes by JR Tokaido Honsen Line Rapid Train to Yamashina Station, then from Yamashina Station, 8 minutes by subway to Daigo Station.

     

  • Fushimi and Momoyama
    A famous location for quality spring water used in the brewing of Japanese sake - Sake cellars along the moat retain the atmosphere of the 17th century
    Momoyama is located in the southernmost hills of the Higashiyama-rempo Mountains in the south of Kyoto, with the Ujigawa River to the south. Momoyama developed as an important strategic point for land and river transportation connecting Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. Fushimi Castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous warrior of the 16th century, however it was torn down twenty years later by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who unified Japan. After that, many peach trees were planted in the ruins of the castle, and thus the hills came to be known as Momoyama, or "Peach Hills".

    People pray at the Fushimi-inari Taisha Shrine for success in business, good luck and better skills. The shrine is also the head shrine for 40,000 Inari-jinja shrines all over Japan. Red torii gates (shrine gates) donated by worshippers line the path so close together that they resemble a tunnel, all the way to the top of Mt. Inaris, rising high within the grounds. The winding four-kilometer path to the summit is called the Oyama-meguri (Oyama tour) and is always crowded with worshippers.

    From ancient times, Fushimi has been an area rich in good quality spring water, and thus is known for Japanese sake (rice wine) brewing. More than 40 sake cellars still stand along the moat today, and retain the atmosphere of the town in the Edo Period, which lasted from the 17th to the 19th century. Streets with bars and restaurants unique to this brewing town are another attraction for tourists.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto. From Shin-Osaka Station 25 minutes by JR Tokaido Line Rapid Train to Kyoto. From Kyoto Station to Momoyama Station, 12 minutes by the JR Nara Line.

     

  • Higashiyama
    The sightseeing center of Kyoto, located at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountain Range
    The eastern part of Kyoto is generally called Higashiyama, located at the west end of the Higashiyama Mountain Range. As early as the middle of the 14th century, many shrines, temples and aristocrats' villas were built in this area, where a variety of architecture and gardens, artistic and cultural masterpieces such as paintings, crafts and many artistic activities, such as flower arrangement (ikebana), the tea ceremony (sado) and Noh performances, flourished and developed in this area. There are many masterpieces of historic architecture still existing today, which attract a lot of visitors and tourists every year from every corner of the world. In the southern part of the Higashiyama district, there is a famous temple named Kiyomizu-dera Temple. It is built halfway up a steep cliff and it has a main hall projecting over a precipice.

    Yasaka-jinja Shrine, which is supposed to have been built around the 10th century, is also well known as the central site of the Gion-matsuri summer festival. The northern part of the city is known for the Heian-jingu Shrine, where the Jidai-matsuri (Festival of the Ages) autumn festival is held. This is a costume parade presenting costumes, manners and customs from ancient days. This red-painted shrine is colored with Hekiruri (an earthen roof material burned with a green-color glaze) making this structure very graceful.

    Nanzenji Temple, which flourished in the Momoyama Period in the late 16th century, boasted the highest status amongst the temples of that age. The temple appears in the famous Kabuki play "Sanmon gosan no kiri" with the speech "Zekkei kana, zekkei kana" (What a superb view! What a superb view!). The temple owns numerous excellent properties, such as the 22 meter-high Sanmon Gate (main gate), the 124 fusuma (sliding door) paintings by the Kano Family and the Ho-jo (the abbot's living quarters), a national treasure, which was built when Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace) was transferred and altered. There is a promenade called Tetsugaku-no-komichi (the Path of Philosophy) extending from Nanzenji Temple to Ginkakuji Temple. In Ginkakuji Temple, there is a Chisen-kaiyu style garden (wet strolling garden), which is structured in a sophisticated style representing the Japanese sense of art, and is designated a World Cultural Heritage site.

    Getting there
    Two hours 15 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, and 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka by JR Tokaido-Line. To Kiyomizu-dera temple a 15-minute bus ride, getting off at Gojosaka bus stop. To Heianjingu Shrine, half an hour's bus ride from Kyoto Station, getting off at Kyoto Kaikan Museum bus stop.

     

  • Around Kyoto Station
    Starting point for sightseeing in Kyoto - Ancient temples preserving the atmosphere of old Kyoto are dotted around the modern station area
    JR Kyoto Station is the starting point for sightseeing in Kyoto, a city where old and new exist side by side. The station building, a new landmark of the old city of Kyoto, opened in 1997 and boasts a concourse with an impressive 60-meter atrium, 45-meter raised glass-made passage connecting the eastern and western parts of the station. The station building comprises of a department store, a hotel and cultural facilities such as a theatrical space with a state-of-art audio-visual technology and museums that exhibit tea ceremonies, textiles, ceramics and paintings which all create an intersection for traditional art in the ancient capital and art and culture of today.

    Department stores, restaurants, shopping arcades, theaters and hotels can be found around the modern station, however old temples such as the Higashi Honganji Temple, Nishi-Honganji Temple and Toji Temple are also dotted around the area, providing an oasis in the city and resting places for the people of Kyoto. Nishi-Honganji Temple, commonly known as "onishi-san", is the head temple of the Jodo-shinshu Honganji sect and includes in its spacious grounds the Goei-do and Hiunkaku buildings, and the Kara-mon Gate. The most popular building however is the Shoin, where dazzling masterpieces of 16th century art can be seen in the wall paintings and decorations inside.

    The five-storied pagoda in Toji Temple, 56.9 meters high, is the largest of the ancient pagodas still in existence, and a symbol of Kyoto. Twenty-one Buddhist statues in the auditorium are considered the physical expression of esoteric Buddhist teaching.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 20 minutes by JR Tokaido Honsen Line Rapid Train to Kyoto.

     

  • Around Takano
    Fashionable street in a historic site that spreads along the Takano-gawa River in the eastern foot of Mt. Hiei-zan
    Takano is located in Sakyo-ku in the area around the Takano-gawa River in the eastern foot of Mt. Hiei-zan. The Shirakawa-dori Street runs from north to south. There is the Enko-ji Temple, which was founded by the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu as a school to encourage the development of studies in the 17th century around the Ichijoji Station of Eizan Dentetsu Eizan Line that runs along the Takano-gawa River. The Enko-ji Temple preserves a number of books imported from Korea as well as wooden print blocks used for publishing in those days. There is Shisendo next to the Enkoji Temple, where the portraits of thirty-six Chinese poets are drawn on the four walls.

    There is the Shugakuin Rikyu Palace, which was constructed to make the best of the surrounding natural features, including a man-made waterfall with water drawn from the Otowa-gawa River in the mid 17th century around the Shugakuin Station. The view is marvelous, and the flow of visitors never seems to end.

    On the Shirakawa-dori Street, which served as the pivot in the highway from Kyoto through Ohara to Omi (present Shiga), there used to be teashops for the travelers, but now it has transformed into a merry shopping area with fashionable boutiques, fashion goods shops and coffee shops, always crowded with young people.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station to or take a rapid train on JR Tokaido Line for 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. Then take a bus for 40 minutes from Kyoto Station to Demachi-Yanagi-ekimae bus stop, and take Eizan Dentetsu Kurama Line for 5 minutes from Demachi-Yanagi Station to Shugakuin Station.

     

  • Ohara
    Small basin at the western foot of Mt. Hiei-zan with Sanzen'in Temple, Jakkoin Temple and Oharame flower girls
    Ohara is located in the north of Sakyo-ku, in a small basin in the western foot of the Mt. Hiei-zan. The most famous place in Ohara is Sanzenin Temple, which is famous for beautiful cherry blossoms, coloring leaves and moss. It has two beautiful gardens called Juhekien and Yuseien that are called the best sights in North Kyoto. The main temple Ojo-Gokuraku-in is famous for Funazoko or boat's bottom ceiling that will make you feel like you are in an upside-down boat. The principle images of Buddha are bright gold Amida Nyorai Sanson-Zo, which symbolizes paradise.

    Another famous temple is the Jakkoin Temple. It is a convent where Kenreimon-in Tokuko, a daughter from a powerful clan and an empress, spent the late years of her life performing memorial rites for her son Emperor Antoku who had been killed at the age of two, after a defeat in the battle over the power during the war, and for her clan that had been overthrown in battles in the 12th century.

    Ohara is also known for Oharame, women peddlers carrying brushwood, firewood and flowers on their heads in the streets of Kyoto. They wear a towel on their ornately arranged hair, indigo blue kimono, Gosho-zome dyed obi(sash), an apron, white hand covers and gaiters on their legs. This unique costume originates from the costume worn by awanonaishi, a young woman attendant who served at Kenreimon-in, especially for labor in the mountains. The village girls who admired this smart-looking working outfit for townswomen imitated the costume. This rustic and lovely costume is still attracting the people of today.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and15 minutes from Tokyo Station or take a rapid train on JR Tokaido Line from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station for 25 minutes. Take a bus for 40 minutes from Kyoto Station to Demachi-Yanagi Station, and another bus for 30 minutes from Demachi-Yanagi-ekimae bus stop to Ohara.

     

  • Kurama
    Temple town of the Kurama-dera Temple established in the 8th century famous for a curious Fire Festival of Kurama
    Kurama is located in the central to western Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. It thrived as a temple town for the Kurama-dera Temple as well as a post town in the Kurama Highway that connected Kyoto and Wakasa. The Kurama-dera Temple was founded in the Nara period (in the 8th century) and was designated by the Emperor in the 9th century as the temple giving protection to the northern part of the country's capital. Since then, the people living in northern Kyoto have believed that this is their guardian temple.

    The Kurama-dera Temple has an approach way that runs 1 km from the Sanmon Gateway building to the main temple. You can use a cable car to Tahoto Tower halfway up the mountain. They celebrate the Takekiri (bamboo-cutting) Matsuri Festival in early summer, where they compete in cutting four pieces of bamboo representing large snakes with a hatchet in front of the main temple to forecast whether the harvest will be good or bad for the year.

    There is the Yuki Shrine on the winding slope way called Tsuzuraori on the approach way. This shrine is famous for Kurama-no-himatsuri Fire Festival, one of the three curious festivals of Kyoto, where the residents of Kurama area parade with a torch in autumn. There is a preservation of common people's houses in the 17th century and Kurama-onsen Hot Spring of natural sulfurous water along the Kurama Highway.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station or a Rapid Train of JR Tokaido Line for 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. Take a bus for 40 minutes from Kyoto Station to Demachi-Yanagi-ekimae bus stop. Then take Eizan Dentetsu Kurama Line for 30 minutes from Demachi-Yanagi Station to Kurama Station.

     

  • Gosho and Nijo-jo Castle
    Kyoto Gyoen Park - a relaxing spot with a pebbled promenade - Nijo-jo Castle showing the architectural style of 17th century
    The Kyoto Gosho is the former Imperial Palace located at the center of Kyoto. Kyoto Gyoen Park is a large luxurious garden surrounding the Palace and the Sento Gosho Palace, the residence of the retired emperor, and is a relaxing spot with rich greenery enjoyed by the people of Kyoto. The park measures 700 meters east to west and 1300 meters north to south. Before the Imperial Palace was moved to Tokyo in the latter half of the 19th century, this vast park was the residential quarters for the members of the court. Today, it is a public park with a pebbled promenade and green lawns, with seasonal trees and flowers.

    To the southwest of the palace stands Nijo-jo Castle, built in the early 17th century. Ninomaru-goten, renovated in 1626, is renowned as a priceless example of the architectural style of that period. The best known section of the splendid interior with its paintings and carvings on the walls is the "Happo-nirami no Shishi-zu", in which the eyes of the painted lion look straight at viewers no matter where they are standing. Some interesting devices used in defense against enemies are also worth a look - e.g. The "Uguisubari-no-roka" corridor, where the planks sound like a nightingale when someone walks along, then, and the "Musha-kakukshi" - special doors designed to hide guards. Scenes from the period are reproduced inside the palace using mannequins.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 29 minutes by JR Tokaido Honsen Line Rapid Train to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station to Kyoto Gyoen, take the subway to Imadegawa Station (10 minutes). To Nijo-jo Castle, take a subway to Karasuma-oike Station and change, then travel 6 minutes to Nijo-jo-mae Station.

     

  • Kamigamo
    Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, the oldest shrine in Kyoto - Shake - residential quarters of Shinto priests
    Kamigamo in Kita-ku is located along the Kamo-gawa River that runs through the city of Kyoto from north to south. Along with Shimogamo-jinja Shrine in Sakyo-ku, the oldest shrine in Kyoto, Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, has been designated a World Cultural Heritage Site, and in its vast grounds stand over 34 structures including the famous Honden and Gonden. The Aoi-matsuri Festival, held in early summer and one of the three classical festivals of Kyoto, is a traditional festival held to pray for a rich harvest and has been celebrated since the 6th century.

    The Myojin-gawa River flows to the north of the Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, and along this river were built around 30 shake, homes of Shinto priests built on stone foundations and enclosed with white earthen walls. The area is designated an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. To the east of the Kamigamo-jinja Shrine and surrounded by mountains on three sides is the Midoro-ike Pond which is about a kilometer in circumference, where water plants such as junsai (water shield) and kingyo-mo (a kind of aquatic herb) grow in a mass. It is an excellent spot for visitors to enjoy bird watching.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 25 minutes by JR Tokaido Line rapid train to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station, 30 minutes by bus to Kamigamo-misonobashi bus stop.

     

  • Takagamine and Murasakino
    Takagamine that flourished as a village of artisans - Daitoku-ji Temple with many historic sites and cultural assets in vast precincts
    Takagamine and Murasakino situated on the western side of the Kamo-gawa River in northern Kyoto form an area which flourished as a village of artisans where many artists and craftsmen lived from the 16th to 17th century. The Daitoku-ji Temple located in Murasakino has 21 towers in its vast precincts, as well as tea houses, Japanese gardens, fusuma (a framed and papered sliding door) door paintings and many other historical sites and cultural assets. The must-sees include a garden forming a cross with round white pebbles and rocks and a picture of a dragon drawn on three fusuma doors.

    Adjacent to the Daitoku-ji Temple is the Imamiya Shrine, worshiped as the deity who protects people from epidemic diseases. They celebrate the Yasurai-Matsuri Festival in spring, where a parade, attended by red and black demons, dances to the music of flutes and drums. It is believed that if you go under the Furyu-gasa, or elegant umbrella adorned with flowers and grass, you will not get ill for the rest of the year.

    In Takagamine, there is the Koetsu-ji Temple, which used to be a residence of Hon'nami Koetsu who was the expert in calligraphy, ceramic art, gold lacquering, tea ceremony and many other fields of art in the 17th century. The residence was transformed into a temple after his death. There is also the Genkoan built in the mid 14th century and the Korai Art Museum that has a collection of 1,700 pieces of art imported from the Korean Peninsula.

    Getting there
    Take Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station or take a Rapid Train of JR Tokaido Line for 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. Take a subway for 15 minutes from Kyoto Station to Kitaoji Station, then take a bus for 5 minutes from Kitaoji to Daitokuji-mae bus stop.

     

  • Kinugasa and Omuro
    Temples designated as World Cultural Heritage Sites are dotted around the district - Villa district home of aristocrats of the 8th century Heian Period
    Northwestern Kyoto, near Mt. Kinugasa and the area between Kinugasa and Omuro, flourished as a home of aristocrats and the imperial family in the Heian Period of the 8th century. Many temples and shrines were built along this road, known as Kinukake-no-michi, including the Kinkaku-ji Temple or Golden Pavilion, a World Cultural Heritage Site. The Nin'na-ji and Ryoan-ji Temples are also well known and the maple trees in the area are beautifully colored in the fall.

    The Kinkaku-ji Temple is a three-storied structure covered with gold foil. The glittering beauty of the temple was restored after work on the gold foil in 1988. The stone garden at the Ryoan-ji Temple represents Zen philosophy, consisting merely of 15 stones of different sizes placed in white sand representing an image of the expanding sea and islands. The garden is often referred to as "the Crossing of Tiger Cubs" inspired by the formation of rocks consisting of two or three small rocks next to a big rock, which looks as if a mother tiger is holding her cubs and crossing a river with dangerous torrents. The art of rock gardens created by Zen philosophy makes people imagine any landscapes coming to their mind, completely omitting the unessential. Thus the garden achieves a perfection of simple beauty. The graceful Nin'na-ji Temple was erected by Emperor Uda in the 9th century. In the end of spring, Omuro-zakura cherries adorn the temple with cherry blossoms on two-meter trees.

    Another feature of the district is the Kyoto Prefectural Insho-Domoto Bijutsukan Museum of Fine Arts which exhibits Japanese paintings by Insho Domoto (1891-1975), whose style is famous for its bright colors and modern feel.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 29 minutes by the JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station to Kinugasa, take a bus to Kinkaku-ji bus stop (25 minutes). To Omuro, take a bus to Omuro-Nin'na-ji bus stop (35 minutes).

     

  • Gion and Kawara-machis
    Wooden lattice windows and maiko dancers encapsulate perfectly the atmosphere of the Gion district.
    Famous stores with long traditions and top fashion shops make Kawara-machi a lively district.
    Gion is one of the main districts of Kyoto, and for many people it is the Gion district that comes to mind when they think of Kyoto. The area developed as a town near the Yasaka-jinja Shrine, and is considered the most prestigious entertainment district in Japan. Wooden lattice windows made of thin wooden beams in a grid pattern create a lace effect that is in perfect harmony with the elegant maiko (apprentice geisha) dancers. The streets boast stores selling traditional Kyoto crafts, such as kanzashi or ornamental hairpins, incense and kimono accessories. The area is also home to Chinese and Italian restaurants, built inside traditional Japanese buildings. Gion is a friendly, lively district that preserves tradition as well as incorporating new trends and fashions.

    Every summer the Gion-matsuri Festival attracts more than a million visitors. The festival is famous for its procession of magnificent festival floats on which musicians play Gion-bayashi festival music with Japanese flutes, bells and drums. Across the Kamo-gawa River is Kawara-machi, the most popular entertainment district in Kyoto. Various stores line the street, from businesses that maintain centuries-old traditions, to top fashion shops. Kawara-machi is the main street of Kyoto. It is also the location of department stores, boutiques, movie theaters and several large bookstores.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 29 minutes by the JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station, take a bus to Shijo-kawara-machi, 10 minutes, then walk five minutes to Gion.

     

  • Sagano Arashi-yama
    Ancient temples and historic spots scattered in the bamboo woods - Togetsu-kyo Bridge still retains the style of the 17th century
    Sagano and Arashi-yama are located in the western part of Kyoto. In the 8th century, aristocrats often came to this area of rice fields and bamboo woods to enjoy the scenery, or boating. The landscape today is still reminiscent of that period. Tenryu-ji Temple, a World Cultural Heritage Site, was erected in the 14th century by then Shogun Ashikaga Takau-ji, in a gesture of mourning for the Emperor. It is one of Kyoto-gozan or Five Major Temples of Kyoto and the garden is designated a special national scenic spot.

    The Sagano area has a number of temples such as Daikaku-ji Temple (national treasure), Jojakuko-ji Temple with Taho-to Tower, Nison-in Temple with the statues of Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Amitabha, Jikishi-an and its statue of Buddha Shakyamuni (national treasure), Seiryo-ji Temple and statue of Buddha Shakyamuni (national treasure) and Adashi-no-Nembutsu-ji Temple, famous for the Sento (a thousand lantern)-kuyo Memorial Service held every August.

    Togetsu-kyo Bridge spans the Hozu-gawa River at the foot of Arashi-yama. It is 250 meters long and still retains its 17th century appearance, despite renovations using steel. On the evening of every mid-August, people write their wishes on toro lanterns and let them float away on the Hozu-gawa River. This beautiful sight is called "manto-nagashi" (ten-thousand lanterns).

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 29 minutes by the JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station, 20 minutes to Saga-Arashi-yama-eki Station by the JR San'in Honsen Line.

     

  • Katsura
    Simple and functional-harmonious architectural style Katsura-rikyu - world famous Imperial Villa
    Katsura is located in the southwestern part of Kyoto. Many temples are dotted along the west bank of the gently winding Katsura-gawa River. Katsura-rikyu Imperial Villa was built in Katsura in the 17th century, as a country house for the Imperial Family. It took 35 years to complete the construction. There is the Shoin (study room) consisting of three buildings in sukiyazukuri style, the Koshoin, Chushoin and Shin-goten, which surround a pond created from the water of the Katsura-gawa River pouring into this vast premise with an area of 56,000 sq. meters. There is also a garden with a circular promenade and a tearoom, creating a harmonious beauty with the architecture. All have been preserved in their original style.

    It is believed that the imperial people of olden times viewed the moon from a moon viewing deck projecting out onto the water or from a boat floating on the pond and have enjoyed both a moon in the sky and a moon reflected in the water. Katsura-rikyu is known throughout the world since it was introduced in an overseas magazine by Bruno Taut, a German architect. He came to Japan and praised its beauty of sophisticated architecture harmonized with the water that surrounds them.

    There are many shrines and temples around the Katsura-rikyu area. The god of sake brewing at the Umenomiya-taisha and Matsuo-taisha shrines attracts many worshippers. Kegon-ji Temple is known for its suzumushi or "bell-ring" insects that chirp all year round, and Saiho-ji Temple is famous for its garden covered with beautiful mosses like a spreading out of green velvet.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 29 minutes by JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station, 20 minutes by bus to Katsura-rikyu.

     

  • Ama-no-hashidate
    White sands stretching out into the sea with beautiful pine trees
    Ama-no-hashidate is located in the north of Kyoto, on Miyazu Bay, facing onto the Sea of Japan. From Ejiri on the Tango Peninsula on the west coast of Miyazu-Bay, Ama-no-hashidate, a sandbar 3 kilometers long and 40 to 100 meters wide, stretches into the bay. Sand accumulated by the tides have formed a sand-bar where over 8,000 pine trees grow, and Ama-no-hashidate is often referred to as a place of incomparable beauty, of white sand and green pine trees. The area is one of the three most beautiful spots of Japan, together with Miya-jima in Hiroshima and Matsushima in Miyagi. Bend down and try to look at the view through your legs, and it is said Ama-no-hashidate will look like a Bridge in the Heavens.

    The bridge connecting to the Miyazu side is a revolving bridge that turns to let ships pass. The top of the mountain may be reached by a cable car, where you can enjoy the view providing a different perspective from that of the sea. On summer nights, 170 torches decorate Ama-no-hashidate, and this is known as "the Bridge of Fire". When the torch flames light up the night like stars in the sky, and fire works reflect on the surface of the sea, the scene takes on a dream-like quality. There is the Ama-no-hashidate-onsen Hot Spring in the vicinity, which is said to give the bather beautiful skin.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 15 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Kyoto Station. From Osaka Station, 29 minutes by the JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station, 2 hours to Ama-no-hashidate Station by JR Tokaido Honsen Line, Fukuchi-yama Line or Kita-kinki-tango Tetsudo Line.

     

  • Uji
    Crossing point in the Uji-gawa River that links Nara and Kyoto - Ho-o-do, that embodied paradise, appeared in the dreams of noblemen
    Uji is located in the southeast of Kyoto in the southern part of the prefecture. It flourished as a pivotal point in traffic because of the Uji-gawa River that served as a water transportation route. There is Byodoin Temple designated as the World Cultural Heritage and the Ujikami Shrine known as the oldest shrine structure in Japan on either side of the River.

    The Byodoin Temple on the west bank of the Ujigami River was once a villa of a man of power Fujiwara-no-Michinaga, and his son Fujiwara-no-Yorimichi turned it into a temple in the mid 11th century. The national treasure Ho-o-do in the Byodoin Temple is built facing the Ajiga-ike Pond. It is said to have been constructed in the shape of a phoenix rising with its spreading wings, and its beautiful reflection in the pond is popular. Inside the building in the center is the enshrined image of Amida Nyorai Buddha. The ceiling is decorated with a luxuriously gilt canopy with raden (lacquered ornamentation inlaid with pieces of mother-of pearl or ear shell), a national treasure, and each wall is surrounded with a relief of fifty-one images of Buddha. Each carries a musical instrument while flying on a piece of cloud and dancing in the sky, representing an embodiment of paradise filled with happiness.

    There is the Ujigami Shrine on the east bank of the Uji-gawa River, as well as the Mimuroto-ji Temple devoted to Amida Nyorai Buddha made of wood, the Manpuku-ji Temple with a Chinese style architecture and ritual manners as it was founded by a Chinese priest Ingen, and many other must-see historic sites. Uji is also famous for production of fine quality tealeaves. Even if you are unfamiliar with the tea ceremony, you can casually enjoy it at the public teahouse Taihoan where there is a tearoom that beginners can casually experience the tea ceremony.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station or take a Rapid Train on JR Tokaido Line for 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. Then take JR Uji Line for 18 minutes from Kyoto Station to Uji Station.
     

  • Wakasa Bay
    Has high clarity of seawater with a deeply indented coastline - It was a strategic point of trade with the continent
    Wakasa Bay is located in the northwestern part of Fukui, facing the Japan Sea and lies between Echizen-misaki Point of east and Kyo-ga-misaki Point of west. It has a beautiful coastline with a high clarity of seawater with a great view beneath it. The area from Kehi-no-Matsubara in Fukui to Tango-hanto Peninsula is designated a quasi-national park. Mikata-go-ko that is made up with five lakes is located on the east shore of Wakasa Bay and has a variety of fish and is very popular among the fishing lovers. The Five lakes are connected by a waterway and a sightseeing boat is available. You can also enjoy the great scenery of Wakasa Bay and Sekumi Port from the Mt. Baijodake observation point.

    Mihama-cho is located at the west side of Wakasa Bay which has a beach called Suisho-ga-hama blessed with white sands and green pine trees. This beach is known for "Nakisuna" (the singing sands) because of the sound you will make when you step on the sand of the beach. Obama, facing onto Obama Bay, was the accumulation point of commodities and an important trading spot not only domestically but also with Korea and China from old days. There remains many stores and houses of Sancho-machi in the city that show the influences of the continental culture and also historical spots such as Mantoku-ji Temple with Karesansui Garden where the hills and waters are expressed just by topography, reminding one of what it used be like in the city.

    Getting there
    By JR Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station to Maibara Station. By Limited Express on JR Hokuriku Main Line for 30 minutes from Maibara Station to Tsuruga Station. From Osaka Station, by Limited Express on JR Hokuriku Main Line for 1 hour and 40 minutes to Tsuraga Station. By JR Obama Line for 20 minutes from Tsuruga Station to Mihama Station, 40 minutes to Obama Station.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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