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Tuesday, 29th April 2014
In General Japan News,

Kyoto: Temples and shrines

Continuing our series on temples and shrines, we'll be covering Kyoto this feature. As the former capital of Japan and a huge source of power in modern government since all the politicians are from old Kyoto families, this is a city with a lot of tradition. 

Remember as always to respect the traditions of the following temples. Take shoes off where necessary and refrain from taking photos if asked.

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

One of Kyoto's most popular shrines and particularly notable for the way its 5,000 orange torii gates mark out paths all over Mount Inari. Head to the top by all means, but keep an eye on the thousands of fox statues as the locals claim there are stories about them.

Philosopher's Path

If you're really into your shrines and temples, you can't fail to do Kyoto's Philosopher's Path. This half-hour walk down a traditional street encompasses a number of fascinating places of worship, including Ginkakuji and Honen-in Temple.


Also known as the Golden Pavilion - because that's precisely what it is - Kinkaku-ji is probably Kyoto's best-known place of worship. A Zen-Buddhist building, it is remarkably picturesque, situated as it is on a lake surrounded by a crop of trees. Access to the inside is impossible but there is a nice garden to wander around.


You probably won't find Rokkakudo in many guidebooks, but it's worth a visit if you're in the centre of town. Its distinctive many-roofed structure makes for great photos, and there's also a distinctive pink-tinted cherry blossom tree in April. Take note of the stone near the entrance - this pinpoints the very centre of ancient Kyoto.


Home to a large statue of deity Thousand Armed Kannon - as well as his 1,000 individual armed warriors - this is a popular location for its wonderful courtyard, as well as the statues that occupy the interior. 

Written by Mark Smith


Related news stories:
Viability of Buddhist temples 'in doubt' (3rd September 2008)
Japanese temple holds festival on fertility (31st March 2008)
Patrick Schwarzenegger falls foul of Japanese customs (19th June 2015)
New drive to save Kyoto's historic narrow homes (8th December 2014)