Visit Kyoto: A Boring Kimono Show

The Nishijin Textile Center has a free kimono display and 15-minute fashion show for tourists, several times daily. Located in the center of Kyoto’s traditional weaving district and because it is free, every tour bus packed with camera-toting tourists visits.

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Visit Kyoto: Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) in Winter

There were a million, trillion, gazillion people crammed into Kinkakuji making it impossible to walk around the gardens during a February visit that wasn’t even high season and nothing was in flower! I tried pushing my way in past large tour groups but it was so claustrophobic that we turned, walked out, bought a bag  of wasabi peanuts and waited for the Winter Japan group. We had the luxury of a wonderful visit two years ago during Cherry Blossom time. Kinkakuji is a UNESCO World Heritage site but much of its beauty and charm depends on what is blooming during your visit.

TIP: The Mountain Travel Sobek group visited Kinkakuji in the early morning!

 

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Visit Kyoto: Ancient and UNESCO Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

We last visited famous Kiyomizu Temple, the most popular attraction in Kyoto which attracts 4 million visitors annually, in 1994 and now I remember why we’ve never returned; wall-to-wall people that just carried us along.

TIP: The Temple opens at 6:00a. Visit as early as possible before tour groups for its impact and peaceful sightseeing.

Kiyomizu-dera is located halfway up Otowa Mountain in the eastern part of Kyoto City, and was established in 778, before Kyoto became the capital of Japan. Since then, the temple has burned down many times. Most of the current buildings were rebuilt by the third Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in the early Edo period (1631 to 1633).

 

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Visit Kyoto: Stunning Fushimi Inari Shrine

Today we started touring historical Kyoto, once the capital of Japan and still considered its cultural center. During World War II, it was spared from air raids and saved from the atomic bomb for its cultural and historical value and as many times as we’ve visited, there is always something we missed; Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of those places, famous for thousands of vermilion torii gates over a trail behind the main buildings that lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari at 233 meters/771 feet belonging to the shrine grounds.

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A Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Maibara to Kyoto

It was another 2+ hours drive from Kanazawa through boring tunnels, some of which were 9 kilometers/6 miles long to small Maibara Train Station where we would catch a 19-minute Shinkansen train into Kyoto Station. The whole purpose of this short ride was to give most tour participants, who had never visited Japan before, a chance to ride a Shinkansen (Japanese name for “bullet train”). Because bullet trains speed through stations at up to 300 kilometers/hour (186 miles/hour), Maibara train station is the place to stand and photograph as they pass in the blink of an eye. This may not sound exciting, but trust me, it is quite an experience.

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The Magnificent Nikko Hotel in Kanazawa, Japan

It was lunch time and I wouldn’t have seen the magnificent Nikko Hotel if it hadn’t been raining so hard. Guide Ito had the bus driver stop in front of the hotel and let the group off to walk through to a connected building with restaurants.

I oohed and aahed as we rushed through the Nikko and after a huge and delish Pork Tonkatsu in whatever restaurant, went back to photograph the reception area and buy yummy pastries in the Nikko bakery. The hotel also had an exquisite flower shop in the lobby area and when of our tour people touched a flower, the woman in charge almost had apoplexy (she touched to see if they were real).

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