Memoirs of Kyoto
This is my second visit to the old capital city of Kyoto, Japan. Previously I visited the city for a day and did not seem to finish what I had on my wish list of places to see. It was not possible! There is so much to see around Kyoto! So I went for another visit and this time I managed to visit the Nijo Castle, the Kyoto Imperial Palace, visited the Golden Pavilion once again, then last but not the least the Fushimi Inari Shrine. So come along for a walk through my photo gallery of my second visit to Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.
Nijo Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in 1603 as a residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle was finished around 1626. Some parts of the castle was damaged by fires on 1788, remained closed and empty until it was donated to the city of Kyoto in 1939 then opened to the public the following year.
The castle ground area is vast 275,000sq metres of two main palaces – The Ninomaru Palace as well as the Honmaru Palace surrounded by traditional Japanese gardens, moats, inner and outer gates. The palace buildings are mainly built in timber and beautifully made. Unfortunately, as with any World Heritage Sites, photo taking is strictly prohibited inside the palaces.
Kyoto Imperial Palace. Formerly the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868 when the capital city was moved to Tokyo in 1869. The current structure had been reconstructed around 1855 after the original palace was burnt and moved around the capital over the centuries. The palace grounds are elongated and filled with beautiful tree groves and broad gravel path where tourists can walk through.
The Imperial Palace is open to the public and private tours are held frequently throughout the day. I have indicated ‘private tours’ as the gates are not open to just anyone who walks in. If you wanted to join a private tour it is best to go with a tour group. Otherwise you have to make reservations, be prepared to bring your passport and fill out security forms prior to being allowed in. Once inside the group is accompanied by security at the front as well as the end of the group. It is discouraged to walk away from your group or venture out on your own. The inner buildings are private and not available for viewing.
Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). Formally called Rokuon-ji, which literally translates to The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, dates back to 1397 is a Zen temple formerly the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The present structure was rebuilt in 1955 having been burnt numerous times in the past. The impressive structure covered in gold leaf is what’s left of the shogun’s villa. It overlooks a big pond and the complex is surrounded by a classical Japanese garden design. Each of the three floors represent different architectural design to reflect the extravagant and wealthy aristocratic circles of the Kitayama culture of Kyoto.
This was my second visit to the pavilion and it was not boring to see it once again. This time around I had a beautiful sunny day for my photos as oppose to the cloudy and rainy day during my first visit.
And last…but not least The Fushimi Inari Shrine, which I had been beating myself for missing out since my last visit. For those of you of have read the book and seen the movie – “Memoirs of a Geisha”, this shrine would, hopefully, bring back a sweet memory. This was one of my favourite books and the movie was just an ‘icing on the cake’ as they say. Fushimi Inari was one of the places where they filmed the movie. Remember the scene when Chiyo as a young girl, after she met the Chairman and got given the change from her sweet treat, ran through a series of torii gates to make her wish to one day meet him again. Well, call me a romantic, but it was here at Fushimi Inari Shrine where she ran through, and I wanted to do the same…
Fushimi Inari Taisha. The shrine is the head shrine of several thousands of shrines (32,000 sub shrines) around Japan dedicated to Inari, the shinto god of rice. Also famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates donated (paid by) Japanese business. If you are keen, follow the trail of these torii gates that takes you up the wooded forest towards the sacred Mount Inari. The whole trail could take you up to three hours to go up and back. At the summit of the mountain one can enjoy a view of Kyoto.
When my hubby and I went it was such a hot day and I forgot to spray myself with insect spray. We went up to, I believe, level 2-where the track splits into a circular route. We were exhausted and decided to go back as my legs already resembled a polka-dot legging. But, I still have to admit, it was very much worth the visit. It was an experience walking through these torii gates.
And that, I’m afraid, was my farewell for Japan (for now.) I have enjoyed my stay exploring and learning about the country, a little bit of its history, the people and the food! I would love to have the chance to learn more, see more and experience more of Japan. I hope you all will get the chance yourself.
Stay tuned for more adventures around this weird and wonderful world of ours. Up next…Gold Coast, Australia!