Monday, March 12, 2012

Kyoto - The Best of Japan's Cultural Heritage

Kyoto is undoubtedly the place to go to experience the best of Japan's rich cultural heritage With 17 Unesco World Heritage sites, hundreds of Shinto shrines and thousands of Buddhist temples, you'll never be able to see them all in one trip. Here are the highlights that we picked.

1)Kingaku-ji (Northwest Kyoto)
The Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion is really golden in colour - it's covered by gold foil. The current temple built in 1955 is a reconstruction of the original temple after it was burnt down by a monk. The original temple was built in the 13th century by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.

2)Gingaku-ji (Unesco World Heritage) (Nothern Higashiyama)
The Gingaku, or the Silver Pavillion was built in the 14th century by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Originally, the Shogun had intended to coat the building with silver but that never happened. The temple grounds has beautifully sculptured white sand gardens.

Despite the light drizzle when we visited, it's still very pleasant to meander and enjoy the beautiful garden. In this peaceful environment, you'll find that your worries will melt away...

After the walk, we worked up an appetite and indulged in a delicious green tea cream puff in a sidewalk store just outside the temple. The creamy puff tasted as good as it looks!

3)Heian-Jingu Shrine (Northern Higashiyama)
The Shrine was built in the late 18th century to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. It's not difficult to spot the Shrine as it is painted bright orange.

Before entering the Shrine, visitors should wash their hands first.

4) Sanjunsangen-do (Southern Higashiyama)
The original Sanjunsangen-do was built in the 11th century. The temple was rebuilt in the 12th century after it was burnt down. The temple hall is long and narrow. At 120 metres, it is Japan's longest wooden structure. In the temple (photography not allowed), there are 1001 statues of the 1000-armed Kannon (Buddhist Goddess of Mercy).

5) Kiyomizu-dera(Southern Higashiyama)
Kiyomizu-dera is located at the top of Teapot Lane(Chawan-zaka), so be prepared for an uphill walk! One of the oldest temples in Kyoto, the orignal temple was built in 798. The existing temple itself was built in the first century. There are lovely views of Kyoto from the temple.

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