A city saturated in centuries of tradition has evolved into a cultural hub of old-time artisans and cultural nostalgia. Once the historic seat of the Japanese emperor from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is enriched by priceless shrines and prodigious temples. During its time as the capital of Japan it also became the preserver of Japanese “spirit” exemplified in multifaceted schools such as tea ceremonies, calligraphy, theatrical arts, and design that is found throughout the city. An outstanding commitment to its cultural traditions, Kyoto has become somewhat similar to a place of spirituality for the Japanese nation, and is an awe inspiring site to the rest of the world.
The site in Kyoto was chosen for its optimal location to showcase Japanese culture encased by magnificent scenery. Architect Otani allowed the forms of nature to inspire his design in an attempt to avoid disturbing the surrounding environment. Within his design process he was “investigating the proper role of architecture within natural systems”. His resulting work complimented the environment, rather than awkwardly contrasting the surrounding.
Built in the year 711 and sitting at the base of Mt. Inari is the most famous shrine dedicated to the Shinto God of rice, Inari. The Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is surrounded by fox statues who are regarded as the messengers of the shrine. In particular, Japanese merchants have worshiped Inari, leaving numerous offerings at the shrines in hopes that Inari will bestow wealth upon them.
Winding through serene mountains along the Hozuwaga River is the “Sagano Scenic Railway.” Running along a line that was originally used as part of the 1899 Kyoto Railway, the trains operate between Torokko Saga and Torokko Kameoka stations and are made up of charming, red, old fashioned cars.
This famed Japanese ramen franchise started as a single stall that required a membership to be seated. Each Ichiran restaurant is designed to block out distractions so that customers will concentrate solely on appreciating the ramen. Only counter seating is available, and each seat is compartmentalized with dividers on each side and a set of bamboo curtains in front so that you barely see the wait staff behind the counter. Traditionally, you were supposed to be able to order without seeing or talking to anyone.
Designated as a National Special Historic Site, Kinkaku-ji literally translates to “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”. Constructed in 1397, the temple was originally a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, whose son later converted the villa into a temple. In July of 1950, a young novice monk burned the temple to the ground out of pure obsession. Five years later, the temple was fully restored to its’ original design, with even more gold-foil added.
The Arashiyama Monkey Park is located atop Itawa Mountain in Arashiyama, Japan. Home to as many as 130 Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, these evolutionary cousins of ours are wild—but they follow the grub. Those working in or visiting the park are happy to offer them morsels, from the building atop the hill, at a safe distance of course.
The perfect place to send your last minute postcards. Located in the heart of the Gion district, this clapboard post office is one of the last distinctive civic projects of the Meiji period. Nestled between two modern buildings, walk too fast, and you just might miss it.