All Day Tour of Kyoto

Sometimes you just have to do it … take a full day bus tour.  First stop was Nijo Castle, a World Heritage Site.

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Completed in 1603, the castle was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate.  He unified Japan after a long period of civil war and ushered in an era of over 260 years of peace.  The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled under the Emperor until 1867. 

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Higashi Ote-mon Gate is believed to date from 1662.  It was altered from the original two-story gate to one story for the visit of the Emperor.  It was taboo to be able to look down on the Emperor from above. 

Tonan Sumi-yagura is the Southeast watchtower.

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Kara-mon Gate is the main gate to Ninomaru-goten Palace.  Its high status is indicated by the use of cypress bark and ornate carvings.

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Ninomaru Palace consists of six connected buildings, linked together by corridors that lead past 33 rooms filled with a multitude of beautiful wall paintings and floors carpeted with tatami mats.  In an era before burglar alarms, the wood floors were built on purpose with squeaky joints so that no one could sneak up on the Shogun at night.  Sorry, no pictures were allowed inside.

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Kinkaku – The Golden Pavilion – is in the large garden of the Zen Buddhist Rokuon-Ji Temple.

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Gold foil on lacquer covers the upper two levels

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The Imperial Palace

Ceremonial Hall

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Kyoto became the capital in 794 and this site has been the Imperial Palace since 1331.  The Kyoto Imperial Palace was the residence of the Japanese emperors until 1869, when the capital was moved to Tokyo (Edo).  The Palace was still used as the Emperor’s residence until about 150 years ago.

Okurumayose – Carriage Porch

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Kenreimon – Gate

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I lost track of what building was what.

The gardens were especially pretty.

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Lunch was a very colorful and tasty Japanese meal.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is the head shrine of the kami Inari – God of foxes.

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In 965, Emperor Murakami decreed that messengers should carry written accounts of important events to the shrine.

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The kami of foxes is also a god of fertility, rice, tea and sake, agriculture and industry, general prosperity and worldly success.  Foxes were regarded as messengers holding a key to the rice granary in their mouths.

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The Senbon Torii is a long row of around 1,000 gates that wind through the grounds.

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Sanjusangen-do is a Buddhist temple founded in 1164.  1001 life-size statues of Buddha from the 12th and 13th centuries are displayed in the temple hall.  This is amazing, but every face is different!

This photo is off the internet as no pics were allowed.


Kiyomizu-dera Temple was founded in 778, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633.  Wikipedia says there is not a single nail used in the entire structure. 

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We did not get to see the Main hall of the Temple because it was covered in scaffolding – repair and restoration works in preparation for the 2020 Olympics.  Oops…

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The gardens were lovely even on a rainy day.

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This trip was just a taste of Japan.  It left us wanting to come back.  We did get caught in a downpour waiting for the bus, so it was a good day to be on a bus!! 

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About graciamc

Gracia's Travels is a photo blog. I always take too many pictures on trips so I justify my compulsion with this blog! The blog is mostly photos - they tell the best part of the story. Please contact me if you would like to use any of my photos.
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4 Responses to All Day Tour of Kyoto

  1. says:

    What an incredible journey you two had — I am so envious but I learned so much from all your photos and descriptions … almost like being there. I wish Steven and I weren’t so old so that we could go with you two guys on one of your adventures 😦  Thank you, thank you, for keeping me on your travel explorer list — I so love it when I see there’s an e-mail from you on another adventure! Ciao, Catherine

  2. jmfre2013 says:

    hi Gracia. Another beautiful blog of the preciseness and beauty of the Japanese architecture. Also, the gardens are so creative and peaceful. thanks again.


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