KYOTO – known as the ancient capital of Japan, is one of the best place for sightseeing. It is said that it will take more than 7 years if you visit a temple/shrine per a day to complete all the temples/shrines in Kyoto. Whenever you visit this city, you will feel calm, and will appreciate Japanese culture.
Kyoto is not so small that it is not easy to visit all the popular places by walk during a short trip, so using taxi, bus, and subway could be better. You might be told that Japanese taxi is expensive (taxi rates start around 5-6 USD in Kyoto), but I recommend to try its great service when you would like to visit a place that is not easy to access by public transportation. One of my friends from NY was very surprised at the driver since he came out from the cab and opened the door for him. Another good thing about Kyoto is that most of the hotels are carefree for English speakers. In fact, many tourists from other countries say that Kyoto city is more internationalized than Tokyo, and even clerks in small souvenir stores can communicate in English.
<Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine> – Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine, which is famous for its thousand red arches called Senbon Torii (Senbon = thousand, Torii = a gateway commonly built at the entrance to a shrine). The precincts of Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine is one of a few temples/shrines open 24 hours.
The red arches are built along the path to the top of Inari-Yama mountain, and on the way to the top there are small shrines for eyes, throats, and longevity. It takes more than 2 hours to climb to the top, and the path arched by the red Torii makes you feel like you are in a sacred place. (It can be a whole day event to climb to the top and always no time to do, so I’ve never been there…)
Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine can be the best place to visit for fist visitors since its vivid colored buildings and numerous red arches are very straightforward expression of Japanese culture.
<Kiyomizu Temple> – Kiyomizu Temple (UNESCO World Heritage) is popular for its large veranda which juts over the hillside called “Kiyomizu no Butai (meaning the stage of Kiyomizu), and Otowa no Taki (meaning Otowa waterfalls) which has three channels of waterfall into a pond and visitors purify with the water. Visitors to Kiyomizu Temple also enjoy shopping at stores along the slope to the temple.
<Togetsu Kyo Bridge> – Togetsu Kyo (meaning; the bridge to the moon) spans between Oi River and Katsura River (the upper stream of the bridge is called Oi River, and the lower is called Katsura River). Togetsu Kyo is located in Arashiyama area which is popular for its beautiful scenery of nature. Arashiyama area is also well-known as a place for shooting of samurai movies, and there is a park called Eiga-Mura (meaning; film village) where you can experience the old Japanese life wearing Kimono.