Japan: Kyoto: Japan’s Cultural Heart
Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan until the middle of the 19th century.
Upon arrival in Kyoto, transfer to your hotel by public transportation or taxi (please pay on the spot). Check-in from 3:00 pm) and start exploring the sights in the neighborhood on your own (your afternoon is free at leisure).
Possible visits on your own:
Located a few meters away from the Hyatt Regency, the Sanjusangendo Hall was founded in 1164 and Famed for its 1,001 statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Entering the main hall, guests will notice a centrally located large Kannon, flanked on each side by 500 smaller statues, standing in neat rows side by side, each as tall as a human being.
Just across the street from the Hyatt Regency Kyoto is the Kyoto National Museum. The museum was built by the Imperial Household in 1897 as a safe repository for artifacts from Kyoto’s temples and shrines and now houses over 2,000 Japanese artifacts from prehistoric times up to the modern era. The museum is composed of a red brick main hall built in 1895 in the French Renaissance style, and a new two-storied concrete annex built in 1965. Together with the redbrick main gate and part of the wall, the main hall was designated an Important Cultural Property in 1969 by the Japanese government.
Around 5:00 pm, return to the Hyatt Regency Kyoto and check in. Enjoy time at leisure.
Designed by Super Potato, a renowned design firm, the Hyatt Regency Kyoto exhibits a harmonious blend of contemporary Japanese style and traditional Japanese elements, which is reflected in each of the 189 rooms, where you will be warmly greeted with a comfortable and relaxed environment. The guest rooms are designed with a simple functional concept incorporating natural colors, white oak wood and Japanese kimono fabric.
This morning at 9:00 am, meet your English-speaking guide, and depart for a Kyoto excursion by public transportation or taxi (please pay on the spot for both you and your guide). Most sights this morning are within walking distance.
Start your visit at the Kiyomizu-dera Temple originally founded in 798. Its magnificent views of the city from its main hall attract visitors throughout Japan. The common Japanese idiom “jumping from the veranda of Kiyomizu Temple” means that someone is about to undertake some particularly bold or daring adventure.
A nice and relaxing stroll will take you through the old neighborhood of “Sannenzaka” (Three year slope), once the favored route of pilgrims before reaching Kiyomizudera. It is now lined with little shops and cafés. Take your time to try delicious delicacies on the way.
Along the ‘Higashiyama Path, which connects the Yasaka Shrine with the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kodaiji Temple is a temple of the Rinzai (Pure Land) school of Zen Buddhism, interesting not only for its formal gardens, including “artificial mountains’ garden and dry rock garden, but also a bamboo grove leading to two famous teahouses and the splendid Maki-e, which give this temple its nickname as “Maki-e Temple.
Enjoy lunch (not included) in the Geisha district of Gion, famed for the preservation of its traditional architecture and traditional entertainment presented by graceful “Geiko,” which literally means “women of art.” During its golden age in the first half of 19th century, more than 3,000 Geikos worked in some 700 teahouses in Gion.
After lunch, transfer by public transportation or taxi to Nijo Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Edo shogunate. Particularly interesting are the Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and wooden floors that squeak when walking on them – a revolutionary security measure against intruders.
Transfer by public transportation or taxi to the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) temple, built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, whose grandson actually used as the inspiration for the Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) temple.
Terminate your visit at the serene Ryoan-ji temple, prominent for its rock garden comprised of nothing but clay walls, raked sand and fifteen rocks. It is intriguing to interpret the garden’s mysterious arrangement based on intuition. Compare the stark differences between magnificence of Kinkakuji and the simplicity of Ryoanji temples.
Return to your hotel by public transportation or taxi around 5:00 pm and enjoy time at leisure.
Today is at leisure for you to explore on your own. If you did not have the time on your first day to see the sites suggested, this may be a day to do so.
For lunch, enjoy a superb Sushi or Tempura kaiseke lunch on your own.
Check out of your hotel this morning and transfer on own to the train station for your next Willing Foot adventure.
This is just the beginning.
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