KIYOMIZU-DERA was founded in 798 and the present building constructed in 1633 without the use of a single nail. It takes its name from the nearby waterfall – Kiyomizu means ‘clear water’.
SANJUSANGEN-DO HALL is part of the Tendai school of Buddhism and was completed in 1164. Contained within is what is called the Thousand Armed Kannon; a single 11 foot tall statue as well as 1,000 5 foot tall on both its right and left. They are crafted of Japanese cypress and are guarded by the 28 Buddhist Guardian Dieties.
FUSHIMI-INARI SHRINE is the head shrine of Inari (fox) which is the patron of business (also god of rice) and therefore each Torii is donated by a Japanese business. The earliest pieces were built in 711, the main buildings in 1499, and in 1871 it was officially designated as one of the Kanpei-taisha meaning it was the highest level of government supported shrines.
ARASHIYAMA refers to both the forest and the mountain on which it is found. The most notable sights here are the river – which changes names depending on which bank you’re on (Hozu or Katsura) – and the bamboo path through the forest. Also in this area are many shrines and a park where visitors can play with monkeys.
NINNA-JI is the head temple of the Omuro school of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. Emperor Koko ordered this structure to be build in 886 although didn’t live to see its completion. Photos were not allowed inside because of the many painted screens so I was only able to get the exterior. You might call it serendipity but the day I visited this temple, I stumbled upon a Japanese production crew filming a period TV show. You can see hundreds of actors dressed as Shogun Warriors marching down the main road toward the temple.
NIJO-JO CASTLE is located in the center of Kyoto, surrounded by modern (and Western) structures. The castle was completed in 1626 and was opened to the public for tourism in 1940. The layout consists of two concentric rings each with a moat, wall, and fortified keeps. The gardens (seen here) are within the inner most ring.
TOJI TEMPLE dates back to 796 and boasts a pagoda 55 meters high. The grounds feature ponds, gardens, and various building structures. The temple’s principal image is the medicine Buddha known as Yakushi Nyorai.