Recently I had the opportunity to visit Kyoto, well-known in Japan to have many traditional and historic sites. It is not uncommon to see women walking the streets dressed entirely in kimonos, and there are an abundant number of temples and shrines in the midst of the bustling city life. This clash of traditional Japan and modern Western lifestyle is something very unique to Japan in my opinion. Among the many temples we visited some of the more famous ones were Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), the bamboo forests and moss gardens of Arashiyama, and Fushimi Inari Taisha (tunnel-like red gates).
The interesting thing about Kinkaku-ji is that it is literally a golden temple, the outer surface is real gold. Resting alongside a large pond filled with carp and surrounded by Japanese-style gardens, this area felt very tranquil and peaceful.
Arashiyama is located in the very Northwestern part of Kyoto and it took a little longer to reach, but the trip was worth it to see the bamboo forests and the moss gardens. We walked through a trail that weaves through an extremely thick bamboo forest and it really felt like a scene from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, so it’s a nice place to visit if you ever want to work on your kung-fu skills.
Lastly we visited Fushimi Inari Taisha which is a shrine with many red gates that lead up the side of a small mountain and was popularized by the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. Walking through these gates felt like a very long tunnel, at times it would fork into separate directions so there were many different paths to take, some ending at smaller shrines. They went on for quite a ways, I don’t know exactly but it felt as if it was a little over 1 kilometer. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera when I went but I included a picture from Wikipedia.
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