Visitors to Japan have always valued the long and rich cultural history of this beautiful island nation. While big cities such as Tokyo are filled with innovation and modern touches, visitors hoping to enjoy a true Japanese experience often head to Kyoto. Located in the Honshu province, Kyoto was the capital city of Japan for more than a thousand years, and still contains many of the most beautiful architectural and cultural treasures in the country. The city manages to combine modern touches with centuries of beauty, and there are a few places that no visitor should miss. If you are planning a visit to Kyoto, be sure to plan your trip in advance to ensure you enjoy the many sights that Kyoto has to offer.
Kyoto is home to seventeen World Heritage sites, listed as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. There are fourteen sites within Kyoto’s city limits, with three in nearby cities. The sites within Kyoto are Daigo-ji, Nijō Castle, Nishi Hongan-ji, Tō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Ginkaku-ji, Tenryū-ji, Koke-dera, Kinkaku-ji, Ryōan-ji, Ninna-ji, Kōzan-ji, Shimogamo Shrine, Kamigamo Shrine. A visit to any of these sites is a trip back in time, and visitors should be sure to visit at least a few of these sites.
Part of the allure of visiting Japan is the history of the rulers of Japan, and Kyoto is home to the famed Imperial Palace as well as two Imperial Villas. Each site is home to gardens and tea houses that let visitors step back in time. While visiting these sites is a beautiful experience any time of year, many visitors choose to visit during the colorful spring cherry blossom season and autumn when these sites take on new life. Current members of Japan’s royal family member still make visits to these sites, and official functions take place there several times a year.
Visitors who are hoping to experience traditional Japanese culture often enjoy taking part in Buddhist meditation sessions, and visitors can choose from a number of sites such as Taizo-in and Shunko-in which offer Zen meditation sessions along with teaching visitors about the meaning and importance of meditation.
Of course, Kyoto is probably most famous as a place to view cherry blossoms during the spring. Within the city, Arashiyama, Daigoji, and Ninnaji are the most popular places to view the spring blossoms, and visitors should be sure to bring a camera to capture the beauty of the season. The Philosopher’s Path that reaches from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji includes not only beautiful cherry tress but also temples and shrines. Just a short distance from the Philosopher’s path is the Heian Shrine garden, home to cherry trees with bright pink blossoms. Many visitors also enjoy a trip to see the famous cherry tree found in Maruyama Park, where vendors set up booths at night, creating a street-fair type atmosphere.
These are just a few of the places that you will want to visit while in Kyoto. Many people find that they enjoy walking tours of the city, leisurely strolling through thousands of years of history and beauty. Kyoto is also home to numerous art and history museums, a worth stop for any visitor. No matter where you venture in Kyoto, you will find that there is always something to see. Here are some great travel guides for Kyoto Japan. Learn more about what Kyoto offers and plan your trip by visiting this Kyoto Tourism Council site.