Our three-week stay in Kyoto felt less like a "vacation" and more like simply "being there". Which was the point...
Our last evening in Kyoto we went for a walk after dinner, as we often do.
I didn't try to count them. But today I definitely saw enough torii to last me for a lifetime. The Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine on Inariyama hill just south of downtown Kyoto is famous for its vermillion-colored torii gates, which number anywhere from 4,000 to over 30,000 depending on which source you choose to believe. After walking the entire … Continue reading A Thousand Torii…Or Were There Thirty Thousand?
For our last day in Kyoto we decided to go see the Katsura Imperial Villa which contains some of the finest gardens and traditional structures in Japan. I had checked the the online information and found that tours were "first come first served". The crosstown Hankyu Kyoto subway line made it easy to reach the Katsura station and from … Continue reading A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Katsura Imperial Villa…
The mountain looked very high. Though the cheery route map at the trailhead appeared to indicate that small children regularly raced to the top.
Our good hiking friend Aki recommended that we visit the Mimurotoji Temple in Uji, a short train ride to the south of Kyoto. He said that in early June the temple's famous hydrangea garden (in Japanese, aijisai) would be in bloom. He was right!
Sometimes it's fun to look at a map and say "I wonder what going there would be like?", and then just go and see without trying to find out anything in advance...
Walking through the Koko-en Garden, located near the entrance to Himeji Castle, I imagined it to be centuries old. I was stunned to learn later that it was built in 1992!
Himeji Castle is largest and finest surviving example of feudal Japanese castle architecture. It's just about a one hour ride on the Shinkansen from Kyoto and we were very glad we made the trip!
Tourists come to the small city of Kurashiki to see an area that looks much like it did in the 17th century: the Bikan merchant quarter, which is centered around an ancient stone-line canal.