Cities Outside of Kyoto, Kyoto
Kyoto has a central location in Japan. If you will not stay only in one city, but travel to a few cities in Japan like we did, you can choose Kyoto as your base. You can reach Nara in half an hour with JR Nara line. You can visit Inari in 15 minutes with the same train. For JR Pass holders, Osaka is half an hour away with Shinkansen while Hiroshima and Tokyo takes two and a half hours. Kyoto not only offers its rich history, but also provides a great jumping board to other fantastic destinations. You can find my Inari tip in this page. Check my Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima pages for details on these cities.
Amanohashidate means “Bridge of Heaven”. I love this place as there were less tourists and the scenery is great!
There is this land about 3km divided the water, one side is the lake and the other side is the sea. Its about 3 hrs ride from Kyoto to this place, and JR pass cover up to Fukiyama only. Then you have to pay about 1600yen to continue the train ride to Amanohashidate.
When you got there, you can either pay 520Yen for a Ferry ride to get to the other side, or you can walk the 3km land. Its quite a fun walk, there are beaches and small small temples, wells and etc along the walk. When you got there, you can either walk up or take a rope way which cost 320 yen. The walk is about 10 mins, and rope way is about 4 mins.
you will see people standing with legs open wide and bend down to see the Amanohashidate between their legs. Is really funny to see that, but the view is splendid. The sky becomes the sea, and the sea become the sky and there is a bridge across the sky!
I was on business in Tokyo and took a day trip to Kyoto. I think the bullet train cost about $100 US each way and lasted two hours. I got a map of the temples in the city and tried to visit them ALL. The best one is pictured here -- Its the golden one in the middle of a pond.
I wish I had more information to give those who are going to Japan.
This templ is expressive of "Paradise"
the main shrine building by the name of "Ho-oh-do" (shrine of mythical phoenix bird) because that looks like to flap wings mythical phoenix bird
that building make use of 10yen coin design.
If you think you have more time to spare during your visit to Kyoto, you can try what we did...City hopping! By using the Kansai Thru Pass, we traveled to Nara, Osaka and Kobe in one day :-) It's nice to sample, breathe and feel the difference of these cities. Even if the visit to each was very short, it's still worth the travel. More info in my "off the beaten path" section.
Read the detail on the picture.
If you can't see it properly, here it is.
Jogyo-Do and Hokke-Do temple
Both of these temples are important cultural assets. They are also called "Ninai-do". Ninani can be interpreted in many different ways. The most popular understanding is "Benkai"'s Nina from an anecdote monk "Benkei" who once lifted both temples over his shoulders. Another meaning is to illustrate the union between two temples between the lotus Sutra and the Nenbutsu.
The image of Buddha "Amida" is enshrined in the "Jogyo-Do" temple. "JoKyo Do" temple is used to train monks for "Jogyozanmai" (Walking Meditation) and "Hokke-Do" temple is used to train monks for Hokkezanmai (Walking and Sitting Meditations).
It is quite expensive to drive up there. This picture is taken at the parking area before entering to visit the temple ground.
From the temple, there's a panaromic view of Kyoto on one side and Lake Biwa on the other. However, it was a misty day when we went there.
There are 10 National Treasures (eg. Kompon-chu-do Hall) and 50 important Cultural Properties (eg. Daikodo Hall, Shaka-do Hall, Yokokawa chu-do Hall).
There are several temples on Mount Hiei. One of which is an important cultural asset and the most important temple on Mt. Hiei. The monks take their solemn vows and accept their Mahayana religious percepts here.
History: In 822 A.D. the Emperor "Saga" permitted this temple to be built a week after the death of Dengyo Daishi Saicho, the founder of the Tendai Denomination, who had devoted his life and soul to this temple. His successor, Gishin, the first Zasu, built it in 828A.D. It was in this temple that Mahayana Buddhism officially declared its independence from Nara and Hinayana Buddhism in Japan.
The picture shows the Kompon-chu-do Hall in the background (a National Treasure) built in 788 A.D. This temple has always been a center for religious practive, fostering many Buddhist leaders. This temple still has its solemn religious atmosphere.
In the temple, we were told by the chief priest that there is a candle which has a flame that has not been extinguished for thousands of years. Amazing!
Use Kyoto as a base and go for day trips.
Visit Kobe and Arashiyama and Nara and Himeji.
These places all have parts which rival Kyoto in it's old world feel. Himeji has one of the best castles in Japan(definately the best I've seen), Arshiyama and Nara have interesting temples and old narrow traditional streets to stroll around and Kobe is a bit different as a result of the earthquake in 1995 but has great restaurants/ shopping next to the harbour with gorgeous night views...
The castle has been preserved and visitors are allowed to go in to the castle. The interior is amazing and very different to the perceived 'western castles'. I wasn't able to resist taking the requisite touristy shot with the actors there.
BIWAKO FIREWORKS DISPLAY
This is one of the biggest fireworks displays in Japan and it is held at the largest lake in Japan, Biwa-ko in Shiga prefecture (not Kyoto). What most people don't know is that Biwa-ko is only a 15 minute train trip from Kyoto station and it is a great area to stroll around. The fireworks are usually held in the first week of August and around half a million people pack into Otsu to watch the fireworks. Don't let this turn you off - the atmosphere is amazing and the fireworks won't disappoint. The crowds are massive and once the fireworks are over you may have to wait a while to catch a train. Don't do what we did though and decide to watch a movie after the fireworks, as you may miss the last train home as we did. Thank goodness it was summer as we ended up sleeping (well trying to sleep) out in the open next to Biwa-ko!!!!!!
Nara - Todaiji Temple/Daibutsu, Deer Park, and Kasuga Shrine (Shinto)
I had heard about the Todaiji Temple in Nara for a few reasons. It has the world's largest wooden building and that building houses the largest gilded bronze Buddha. Over and above that however, people kept telling me about the Deer park. Outside the temple are hundreds of smallish deer wandering around waiting to be fed by the hundreds of tourists. I was told that the deer are protected, as they were believed to be God's messengers. Ages ago, if someone killed one of the deer, they would be executed. Who knows if that is still in effect today? Nonetheless, it was sort of fun to pet and feed them and the Japanese kids that I saw, were absolutely thrilled with them. So much for the Buddha!
I really enjoyed this afternoon trip and found it well worth the money - about $60 CAD.