I was in Japan in the month of March in 2011. Sadly that is the month when the massive earthquake (Tohoku area) struck. It was a scary experience for me. Keeping that aside, I went ahead and continued my journey across southern Japan. As mentioned in a previous post, as I was carrying a ‘Japan Rail Pass’, it was really easy for me to use the Bullet train, practically free of cost :). Most of the time I was back home in Yokohama at the end of the day.
Kyoto (京都市 Kyōto-shi?, “Capital City”) is a city in the central part of the island of Honshu, Japan. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area.
The historical part of Kyoto is far cry from the modern and bustling image of Japan, thankx to Tokyo. The main station at Kyoto is massive. Make it a point to visit the ‘Tourist Information Center’ at the station. Typically all main stations in Japan have these information centers and they are ‘the’ places to get the right and precise information (Unlike in Germany 🙁 ). Kyoto has a good transport system. Unlike Tokyo and Yokohama most of the tourist spots are in Kyoto are catered by a very efficient bus system and not subway. I was living Toyoko Inn at Karasuma Gojo (Bus Stop). I would recommend this place. It is perfect for short stays.
I visited the usual tourist spots but the Heian Shrine was a reall treat. It is highly underrated and very few visitors go here. I found it to be a beautiful place and I don’t understand why people don’t visit it. Heian-jingū’s gate (torii) is the largest one in Japan.
The shrine’s grounds have coarse grained white sand/crushed stone. The Main hall, gate and the castle are brilliant orange with stands out on the white ground.
Something from Wiki : “Kyoto was under shock and depression after the capital had moved to Tokyo; the citizens came together to build a new city after World War II. The construction of the Heian Shrine was a symbol of revival of the city, and showed passion of the people. The revival consisted of the new Kyoto in education, culture, industry, and daily life, where at the same time maintained the ‘good old’ Kyoto.”
Below is a picture of the castle walls in Kyoto. All the seals that you see on the wall belong to an ‘era’ of an ’emperor’. Every emperor had his own seal. So if a building is constructed/repaired or a wall in this case, then the tiles have the current emperors seal. So one can find many different seals on the same wall or building, which depicts every emperor who ruled that area.
Visiting Kyoto is easy if you are living in Tokyo or Yokohama. It is well connected by the Bullet train. If you take the first train out of Tokyo you can come back by the last train to Tokyo on the same day. But I would recommend spend at-lease 2 days to enjoy the city.