Kyoto – the old capital of Japan.
This incredible city contains thousands of classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. Kyoto feels like a never ending labyrinth of winding streets and staircases, leading to hidden shrines and temples.
One of my favourite spots to visit in Kyoto was Kiyomizu-dera, an incredibly beautiful and ancient Buddhist temple. To further prove its grandeur, Kiyomizu-dera was named one of the thirteen finalists for the new Seven Wonders of the World. So its pretty spectacular.
The walk from the main road to the temple is an adventure in itself. A steep inclined street filled with shops and cafes and thousands upon thousands of other tourists. All sorts of merchandise are available, such as green tea ice cream, Godza dumplings, hand crafted wooden ornaments, beautiful hanging wall art and rented traditional clothing for tourists to pose in. Cherry blossoms fill the streets and children run around with ice creams and sweet treats, giving the area a carnival atmosphere.
My second favourite spot was Kinkakuji, most commonly known as the Golden Pavilion. Located in the forested Northern Kyoto, the temple appears like a sparkling jewel. It is incredibly beautiful, but outrageously busy. It is heaving with tourists. The landscaping does allow for some pretty cool photo stops that gives the impression of a serene temple. However in reality, it was very busy.
Kyoto is just filled to the brim with beautiful heritage sights. You can spend hours following the trails to different zen gardens, temples and grand architectures. I wish I had written down the names of the temples we explored, but in all honesty we bought chocolate biscuits and coffee then wandered around this beautiful labyrinth city without a care in the world. I would highly recommend that you do the same. We also spotted a geisha on our adventure, which was crazy cool.
My all time favourite spot in Kyoto was the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Now, if you read trip advisor before visiting any location, then you may be put off the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Some travellers appear to have had pretty rubbish experiences there. However, I had the best afternoon ever. The bamboo walkway was spectacular. The spring light filtered through the bamboo, men and women wore traditional Japanese clothing to visit the shrines and rickshaws rattled past me as I walked. I felt as though I had stepped through time. My advice would be to ignore trip advisor and experience this magical place for yourself.
I hope you enjoyed my post! If anyone has any recommendations for cities to visit in Japan, please comment below!