Kyoto is a city located in the central part of the island of Honshu, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, it is now the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture located in the Kansai region, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. Kyoto is also known as the thousand-year capital.
With its 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact – it is one of the best preserved cities in Japan. Among the most famous temples in Japan are Kiyomizu-dera, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars off the slope of a mountain; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion; and Ryōan-ji, famous for its rock garden. The Heian Jingū is a Shinto shrine, built in 1895, celebrating the Imperial family and commemorating the first and last emperors to reside in Kyoto. Three special sites have connections to the imperial family: the Kyoto Gyoen area including the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Sentō Imperial Palace, homes of the Emperors of Japan for many centuries; Katsura Imperial Villa, one of the nation’s finest architectural treasures; and Shugaku-in Imperial Villa, one of its best Japanese gardens. In addition, the temple of Sennyu-ji houses the tombs of the emperors from Shijō to Kōmei.
Arashiyama is a district on the western outskirts of the city, and it is where you can find an array of temples and landmarks. One of the district’s most popular attractions, however, is undoubtedly the famed bamboo forest. This is an amazing, almost surreal experience where you can stand next to thousands, or perhaps millions, of green bamboo stalks growing straight up into the sky. To top it all off, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is home to a number of monkeys who are quite friendly and will come greet you as you stroll along the grove
As far back as the middle ages, Gion District has been an iconic, historic place in the heart of Kyoto. Today, on the banks of the Kamo River, it is one of the few remaining places in Kyoto, and indeed in Japan, where you can participate in the traditional teahouse rituals or even see geishas. Gion is the place to make reservations for a full traditional tea service or even a meal, because you can arrange for a private audience with maiko or geiko, the two types of Japanese hostesses and entertainers known commonly as geisha.
Gion remains dotted with old-style Japanese houses called machiya, which roughly translated means “townhouse”, some of which are ochaya or “tea houses”. These are traditional establishments where the patrons of Gion—from the samurai of old to modern-day businessmen—have been entertained by geiko in an exclusive manner for centuries.
Inside the ochaya is a private and closed world where the evening’s entertainment may include cocktails, conversation, and games as well as traditional Japanese music, singing and dancing. To this day, geiko and maiko (geisha in training) in full regalia can still be seen in the evenings as they move about through the streets of Gion to and from their various engagements at the ochaya. They dance and sing and they entertain for everyone.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometers and takes approximately 2 hours to walk up. Since early Japan, Inari was seen as the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice.This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines (bunsha) throughout Japan.