Located on the east coast of Asia is Japan, an island where modern and ancient traditions fuse together naturally. On the surface, the country appears exceedingly modern but as you traverse deeper into the heart of the Land of the Rising Sun, traditional culture is still clinging on the country. Thus, offering visitors unique experiences that keeps their body and soul satisfied.
One example is the city of Kyoto. Considered as the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is a charm that enthralled every visitor with atmospheric temples, sublime gardens, and traditional teahouses. It also houses two thousand temples and shrines for those seeking spiritual escapade or simply reveling at the sacred architecture. But Kyoto is also more than the omnipresent religious architecture as they are also known for Michelin-starred restaurants, chic cocktail bars and cafes, izakaya (Japanese pub-eateries), fresh markets, and a lot more appetizing experiences! In this month’s blog, World Juanderer takes you to what was once Japan’s capital and the residence of the emperor from 794 until 1868.
What is Kyoto without the famed Golden Pavilion? Located in Kinkaku-ji, the best-known site in Japan is covered in brilliant gold leaf while it glistens above its reflecting pond – a truly spectacular view. The original building dates from 1397. It was a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and, later on, his son converted it into a temple. In 1950, an obsessed young monk burned the temple to the ground. But five years after the arson, a full reconstruction was completed, following the original design but the gold-foil covering extended to the lower floors.
Another great place to visit is the Fushimi Inari-Taisha. The entire compound consists of five shrines, and sprawled across the wooded slopes of Inari-san. The shrine was built as a dedication to the gods of rice and sake by the Hata family in the 8th century. The popular shrine is considered as the head Shrine for some 40,000 Inari shrines scattered the length and breadth of Japan.
When visiting a Buddhist temple, tourists’ top choice is Chion-in, located at southern Higashiyama. It is considered as the most popular pilgrimage shrine in Kyoto as it serves as the headquarters of the Jodo sect, the largest school of Buddhism in Japan. It was established in 1234 on the site where Honen, one of the most famous figures of Buddhism, taught his brand of the religion. The oldest of the present buildings date back to the 17th century. It also features two gardens such as the Hojo garden designed around a pond in the chisen kaiyushiki style (strolling pond garden), and the Yuzen-en garden that features a karesansui (dry landscape garden).
For authentic Japanese cuisine, visit the Nishiki Market. The fresh food market is also called Kyoto’s Kitchen as it specializes in all things food-related such as fresh seafood, produce as well as knives and cookware. The best thing about their products is that almost everything sold is locally produced and procured so you are guaranteed an authentic and unique taste of the local’s culinary expertise.