Kyoto Sights and Landmarks Guide, Japan
Kyoto is one of Japan’s important cities, located in the central segment of the Honshu Island. It has the distinction of having served as the imperial capital of Japan. The city, as it stands today, consists of numerous prewar buildings and a number of modern architectural marvels. It has a long history revealing its survival despite numerous wars and natural calamities like fires. It is a tourist’s delight as it offers countless places of historical significance to see and enjoy. Its list of sights is long.
The starting point can be the Nijo Castle which was built as residence by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Edo Shogunate. It was completed in 1603, but was later expanded by Ieyasu’s grandson. Now referred to as Ninomaru, the castle is a typical symbol of Momoyama architecture, with exquisitely ornate doors and its floors have been so designed that any one treading on them makes them squeak like nightingales. Pleasant as it may sound, this was a security measure to guard against intruders. Today it is one of many of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace called the Kyoto Gosho, is built in the large Kyoto Imperial Park, and served as the residence of the Imperial family of Japan till 1868. Over the centuries, it has shifted to multiple locations in the city, and the present edifice dates back to 1855. It can be visited only as part of the guided tour provided by the Imperial household Agency, and only after procuring prior clearance.
Another popular tourist destination is Hognaji, which consists of two temples in the heart of the city. Nishi Honganji was constructed in 1591 and is the head temple of the Honganji faction of Jodo-Shin Buddhism, and has under it at least 10000 sub-temples within Japan, besides 200 temples abroad. It is also one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
The Sento Imperial Palace is part of the Kyoto Imperial Park and stands across the Imperial Palace. Built in 1630, it got burned down in 1854 and in its place the Omiya Palace was constructed on Sento grounds in 1867, and serves as the Kyoto residence of the prince and princess.
Another place worth visiting is the Sanjusangendo, a temple in the eastern part of the city famous for its 1001 statues of the Goddess of Mercy, Kannon, housed in Japan’s longest wooden structure, a hundred meters long.The magic and luster of gold is visible in the Zen Temple of Kinkakuji or the golden Pavilion.
Other sights include the Mount Koya, the Fushimi Inari shrine, the Kokedera and Kastura Villa amongst scores of others.
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