Kyoto is famous for temples and that is what this post is full of. Plus a castle, since Kyoto was also the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years.
The most famous of the city’s temples is probably the Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji, likely its most beautiful one too. However, it is actually a rebuilt version since it was actually burnt down in 1950 by a deranged monk.
Besides the pavilion, there’s a nice lake and garden in the complex.
After Kinkaku-ji, I walked about 15 minutes to nearby Ryoan-ji, which is a Zen temple with one of Japan’s most famous rock gardens. Specifically, it’s an arrangement of giant rocks placed in a rectangular pebble-filled area which are swept into a pattern. The rock garden is for meditation which one does by viewing it seated from a nearby veranda.
I took the bus from Ryoan-ji to the subway, where I discovered one of the nifty things that makes Japanese society so high-tech. The bus had an electronic fare machine that took your money and actually gave you change. Mightily convenient and great for tourists like me who don’t have local transport cards.
Room in the building overlooking the rock garden with a painting of mountains on the rear panels
Nijo Castle is a castle that served as the shogun’s residence. It’s not as imposing as Osaka Castle but it has an attractive main building, the one-storey Ninomaru Palace, with nice sweeping dark-brown roofs. The main building features squeaking “nightingale” floors which make noises as you walk on them. This was to detect any assassins who sneaked into the castle. Outside, there is a nice Japanese landscape garden and you can go onto the walls to view the entire complex.