You’ll need a mixture of a joy full and adventurous spirit to enjoy the fascinating Japanese culture that has thousands of wonderful features that have been collected for centuries. Stroll and enter the different temples of the imperial capital of Japan, and get to know the religion, architecture, history, spirit, and thousands of emotions and experiences that this magical trip will give you.
We recommend starting your trip during springtime, so that you can admire the ephemeral beauty of Sakura when the cherry trees bloom and the paths and the whole city are flooded with a spectacle of color.
On the islands of Honshu, between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, is Kyoto, or as it is known, the capital of peace, 370 km southwest of Tokyo. This city is very well preserved and was considered for more than 1000 years the imperial, religious and intellectual capital of Japan. There are almost 2,000 Buddhist temples and sanctuaries that continue to honor Japanese religion.
Temple tours go according to the cardinal points. Starting in the east, one of the most popular walking paths, called the path of the philosopher, goes from the Ginkaku-Ji temple to the Nanzenji temple. This path is lined with orange blossom trees and is an attraction for people who go to admire the white and pink sakura flowers in their short period of appearance.
Next on the list is the Nanzen-Ji temple, founded in 1291. To get there, you must go to the southern end of the path and enter through a huge Sanmon gate, it is one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in the world, besides being a school. At the end of the trail, you will find Maruyama Park, a spectacular and quite site to also admire the beauty of cherry blossoms, which is just a short walk southwest of Nanzen-Ji.
You cannot forget to visit what is the most emblematic sanctuary of the city, Fushimi Inari Taisha, a perfect place to walk and explore the wonderful paths that surround it. This beautiful sanctuary has thousands of torii doors so close together that surrealistic and bright tunnels are created around the paths. Few people dare to visit the roads farthest from the main sanctuary, in which a lake full of bamboo trees await to dazzle you.
On the other hand, the west also has some lovely temples. In the hills of Arashiyama, a half-day walk will take you to the Tenryu-Ji temple, with beautiful ornamental gardens, to the Seiyo-Ji temple, which exudes wonderful tranquility.
The adventure continues 40 minutes away from Kyoto by train to Tenryu-Ji, the temple of the celestial dragon, which was built in 1339 and has a dazzling architecture, rooms and temples joined by elevated wooden walkways and a lush Sogen garden, one of the oldest in Japan.
Don’t forget to take a walk through the giant bamboo forest and the temples around, such as the Nisonin, which has an impressive view of maple trees. Getting a bit out of the route is the Daikaku-Ji temple, which has an idyllic Osowanoike Pond loved by locals.
The city has two very popular temples, Kinkaku-Ji, commonly called the Golden Pavilion, and Ryoan-Ji with a rock garden. Being two of the most popular temples, they also are the most visited, so it will be a bit difficult to find the peace and tranquility that transmit Zen.
To end this trip full of culture and spirituality, you must know Ohara, an hour north, where there is the ancient temple of Sanzen-in, a perfect green and natural paradise, with magical gardens full of calmness. Since it is little visited by tourists, it is definitely a place to explore and venture.
Visiting this variety of temples and sanctuaries during this trip is an unforgettable experience. You will remember every detail, every view and experience, all of them impossible to fully describe, you must live them to understand.
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