Our 3 Day Journey Through Magical Kyoto

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Kyoto: the ancient capital of Japan.

I think every serious wanderlust soul has pinned this piece of heaven on earth to their Definitely Must Visit list.

We’d been waiting for a long, long time to finally arrive in the Heart of Japan, and to spend a few days there…again.

Note: If you know Japanese, you’d probably enjoy a bit more intimate, not-that-touristy-spots. However, our Japanese skills were (and still are) zero šŸ™

#1 Fushimi Inari Taisha

Thousands of gates, thousands of steps: a peek at the orange-colored altar of Inari, the Shinto god of rice. We were really surprised to seeĀ how abundantĀ in these cute gates the whole area was.

Here’s what they generally look like:

Fushimi Inari Taisha: A Magic Filled with Steps, Temples & Foxes

Scattered around the shrine are statues of foxes. Some of them have golden ornaments. You can see this one has actually got some crop in its mouth:

We were lucky! There was actually a wedding ceremony going on, shortly after we arrived. The bride and groom wore simple, yet elegant clothes.

I can definitely say I felt the whole thing was very genuine, very much like what I imagine to beĀ Japanese:

Fushimi Inari – and Kyoto as a whole, are full of Kimono rental services. A lot of tourists change into flowery, colorful patterns and walk around the city like that. It usually costs around $35 for the whole day:

Another shot at the gates. I really like their roofs!

Climbing all the stairs and going through all the gates is considered a feat. We didn’t climb to the top as the heat got the best of us.

The colorful, cheerful map of the whole Fushimi Inari complex was a total eye-candy!

#2 Kyomizu Dera

Kiyomizudera temple is ancient – it dates from 780! It’s also a part of UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

At first glance, the orange and white palette has always reminded us of Fushimi Inari’s style:

Going inside the complex, though, you quickly realize things are different here.

Instead of Japanese Shinto religion, Kiyomizudera is focused on Buddhism:

We were lucky to be around when it wasn’t that full of tourists. I don’t think otherwise I’d be able to take such clean shots:

There were numerous small details we loved. This here is a dragon pouring water from its mouth. You can use it to purify yourself by washing your hands, for example:

Unfortunately, the main building was under construction. We couldn’t see it at all.

We did venture further into the complex, however. Behind the temples, a small piece of lush, green heaven appeared before us:

Temples along a subdued sky: this is definitely my favorite peek at Kiyomizudera’s ancient beauty. The photo makes the skyline gloomier than it really was:

#3 Kinkaku-Ji

Kinkakuji – the Golden Pavilion, the tender heart of Kyoto’s charm.

This one is a tribute to Zen thinking. What you see here was rebuilt some 60 years ago – the poor building has been burned numerous times during its history. People can be cruel!

Here’s a shot of a part of its golden beauty and a peek at the Japanese style pond around it.

Here it is viewed from another angle, as beautiful as ever:

#4 Arashiyama

Arashiyama is definitely majestic! Its famous bamboo grove is not huge by any means, but the atmosphere is out of this world.

Fortunately, it was also a bit less crowded than our first visit. I think it was because the first time we went to Arashiyama, the sakura (cherry blossoms) season was in full bloom.

Here are some older shots of ours taken during that cherry blossom season:

They were especially beautiful when scattered around the small river that invites you into the Arashiyama complex:

As this time it was way hotter than our previous visit, the street vendors had also taken out some alluring offers.

Yes, that’s a…cucumber on a stick!

For some reason, I always find the bamboo trees relaxing. Their thin, elongated bodies are so fragile and delicate, I kind of wish I could have a whole bamboo forest in my backyard:

And finally, as a closure to this short photo essay: the always stunning Japanese menus! What you see here are plastic food models so you could easily visualize the things they can serve you.

I LOVE it!!

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