Kyoto is a city on the Japanese island of Honshu that has great historical significance, as it was once Japan’s imperial capital. Kyoto is one of the great holy cities of Japan, too, as it possesses around 2000 religious buildings and shrines.
UNESCO World Heritage Site status has been awarded to 17 of Kyoto’s monuments, including Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo Castle, the Heian Shrine and Kinkaku-ji. As seeing all will involve a good deal of walking, taking out travel insurance direct is a sensible option beforehand.
Kiyomizu-dera is a wooden Buddhist temple, and is one of the most revered temples in the whole of Japan. Established over 1200 years ago, the current buildings date back to the 17th Century. As well as offering great views of Kyoto, the Otowa waterfall is another ‘must see’ feature of the temple.
This eye-catching castle was built in the 17th Century, on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who created the Tokugawa Shogunate. Set in a beautiful area within the castle are two palaces and gardens that include groves of plum and cherry trees, pine trees, three islands and a pond.
The Heian Shrine
The Heian Shrine is the most notable Shinto shrine in Kyoto. It also hosts annual festivals, weddings and concerts. While, around the temple, visitors have the opportunity to feed the turtles and fish that inhabit the ponds in the traditional Japanese garden. Admission is also free.
Known also at the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji attracts many visitors each year. A Zen Buddhist temple, Kinkaku-ji was dramatically transformed at the end of the 14th Century, and today is surrounded by a lake and pond. The reflection of the golden temple on the pond is a sight that is particularly memorable.
Three of Kyoto’s most important museums are the Kyoto International Manga Museum, the Kyoto National Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. The Kyoto International Manga Museum contains around 200,000 manga titles, which visitors can look at and read, while the Kyoto National Museum has a strong emphasis on Japanese and Asian non-modern art. Half of its 12,000 items are on display to the public, and there is also a notable Fine Arts collection. The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (MoMAK) contains collections of both traditional and modern Japanese art. Work from Western painters and sculptors, such as Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and Barbara Hepworth are also included.
Kyoto Botanical Garden
Home to some 12,000 species of plant, the Kyoto Botanical Garden includes a conservatory that contains 25,000 plants. Within the conservatory are different rooms for specific types of plant, including the Orchids Room, Potted Plants Room and Jungle Zone.