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Places to visit in Kyoto


It is perhaps the most widely-recognized image of Kyoto: the small, graceful temple whose upper tiers, balconies and eaves are covered in shining gold. Seen reflected in the adjoining "mirror pond" with its small islands of rock and pine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion," is a breathtaking must-see.Originally built as a retirement villa for the retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu(1358-1409), the gold-leaf-adorned building was converted into a Zen temple shortly after his death. In an event that was later fictionalized by the renowned author Yukio Mishima, a 21-year-old monk burned Kinkakuji to the ground in 1950. The temple was rebuilt in 1955, and continues to function as a storehouse of sacred relics.The temple's garden is also a scenic delight, and contains in its grounds a charming teahouse.

Kiyomizu TempleKiyomizu Temple

The expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression "to take the plunge." Kiyomizu-dera Temple is perhaps the most beloved of Kyoto's temples, and is a fixture in the minds of the Japanese people. The temple's platform juts out of the side of a mountain supported by 13-meter-high wooden columns. The main hall with its distinctive hip-shaped roof of cypress bark rests on the platform, and houses within it a priceless statue of Kannon Bodhisattva, the goddess of mercy. From the platform, one can appreciate fine views facing west over the city of Kyoto. This is an auspicious place to watch the sun set, which may also explain the romantic associations accorded to the temple.

Heian-jingu ShrineHeian-jingu Shrine

The Heian-jingu Shrine is a relatively recent addition to Kyoto's collection of sacred places, but is still a very impressive shrine, featuring elegant, richly-colored buildings, as well as four large gardens that surround them in the cardinal directions.Built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Heian Kyo (Kyoto), and dedicated to the Emperors Kammu and Komei, the first and last Emperors to rule from Kyoto, the buildings are a partial replica of the Imperial Palace of the Heian period. The vermillion-lacquered Otenmon gate and Daigoku-den are especially beautiful. The gardens are representative of Meiji period garden design, and have a rich variety of flowers that change with the four seasons.

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