Countless temples and shrines dot the city of Kyoto, a place that has such great historical value that I wouldn’t have missed it when in Japan. Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines are a common sight, but I could never have enough of looking at these unique structures.
Kyoto is often represented by the Kinkaku-ji, or Golden Pavilion. This is a Zen temple that stands over a large pond in Northern Kyoto, and the top levels are covered with gold leaf. I would have tried to get a better view if there weren’t so many tourists – this is the back of the pavilion; so do visit the site to check out the actual view you’ll get when you’re there! In any case, a teahouse sits nearby along the path to the exit.
Instead of joining the endless crowds, I decided to make my way out of the area and head off to somewhere that is undeniably packed with culture and history…If the study of the religion might not be aligned with your interests, take a look at these amazing architecture and the intricacies! A typical place to visit when in Kyoto would be the Higashiyama District along Kyoto’s Eastern slopes. This historical site is well preserved and gives the experience of walking through ancient Kyoto – narrow lanes are decorated with stone statues and little shops. Just within the vicinity you’ll be able to find about ten or more temples/shrines!
It is a peaceful walk around the Higashiyama region. Most tour groups would visit the Kiyomizudera Temple (so if you’re not a fan of crowds, go early in the morning!). I’ve chosen to share the picture of Chionin Temple above, because of its serene environment. Most temple entrance fees are about 200 – 400 Yen, so do prepare some cash for your activities. And check on the reconstruction / preservation works before visiting!
Ever wondered what might be unique of an Asian / Japanese castle?
This is the Osaka Castle.
It’s history is fascinating – this wasn’t the original structure built! It was once meant to be the centre of a unified Japan during Hideyoshi’s time. However, the castle was destroyed following his death, and the rebuilt version was then struck by lightning. What we see here was built in 1931 and had somehow survived the war.
I’d spent half a day around the castle grounds. The castle was a museum that detailed the history of the castle, battles, and Hideyoshi’s life. It was interesting, but I was more keen to look at the stone walls and moats surrounding the castle tower. Take a walk around the castle grounds and gardens!
PS: If you’re planning a visit, it’s easily accessible by the JR Osakajokoen Station. Step off the train, out the station, and keep walking around what seems like an entire imperial city! It’s beautiful!
Somewhere southwest of Hiroshima sits an island bursting with culture – Miyajima. Miyajima is a sacred site for Shintoism and Buddhism, and also boasts a highly-forested peak Misen San. To get to Miyajima, you can take 15minute ferry from Hiroshima.
Miyajima’s most significant sight might be the enormouse torii gate and the Itsukushima shrine. The shrine is a complex structure of various temples, bridges and walkways. Due to its proximity by the waters, the entire structure appears to be floating during high tide.
Wild deers inhabit the island, and there are several signs around the town warning visitors not to feed the deer. Unfortunately, too many people fail to abide, at times causing the deers to mistakenly attack the brochures in your hands thinking that it was food. I had a good walk around the island and found many other interesting historical sites, like the photo below, featuring the Senjokaku Hall hidden from sight.
On your next visit to Japan, do consider taking a trip out to Hiroshima and Miyajima! At least I know I will definitely be back to Miyajima for a next hiking trip!
This is probably one of the most prominent sight in Hiroshima – the Atomic Bomb Dome, within part of the Peace Memorial park. . The Genbaku Dome stands exactly as it did after the bombing on August 6, 1945.
The building was once an exhibition hall, but had somehow stood intact post-war. While I appreciate the opportunity to see this historical site, I began to wonder about the impact of demolition vs preservation on the locals’ psyche. This applies for all historical sites that I’d visited – would it be worse to be reminded, or would it help to heal by knowing that it had not been forgotten?
For those who would like to go around the city, Hiroshima is easily accessibly by their convenient Hiroden tram lines. You can pay on board the tram, depending on where you’ll like to alight. If it helps, you can get more information from http://www.hiroden.co.jp/train/rosenzu/streetcar_map.htm
And while at Hiroshima, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit nearby island Miyajima. More on it in the next post.
That’s the view from Japan’s famous high-speed bullet train, shinkansen, while on my way from Osaka to Hiroshima.
I observed how everything was so orderly at their train stations. Directional signs were clear and precise; they had indications on the platform floors to indicate which types of trains and how many rows to stand in. My interpretation of the sign below is as such: for the JR Kyoto Line (the one with ‘JR’), this is Carriage 7; for the other type of train, there is no carriage. Please stand in lines of twos.
It seemed like an unspoken standard to be orderly and efficient. Everything was made for ease of comprehension, such that even if you didn’t speak the language, you could navigate the country without worries. It wasn’t my first time to Japan, and it still hasn’t failed to impress me each time I visited.
They’ve got a new series of JR 700 trains Hikari and Nozomi. The train ride from Osaka to Hiroshima will only take about 80minutes. If you’re a history fan like me, don’t miss this trip out!