Why Visit Kyoto
Mention Kyoto and images of geishas comes to mind for most people or rather the movie ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. No doubt the movie did much justice to the beauty of Kyoto and made many realized that there is much more to Japan than Tokyo, Mt Fuji and Disneyland. On the same note, Kyoto is much more than geishas with her rich history and culture.
Once Japan’s capital, Kyoto was the emperor’s residence from 794 to 1868. Due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. It is now the country’s seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and an intricate blend of modernism and traditions.
In 1994, 17 historic sites were added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List under the group designation Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. 14 of the listed sites are in Kyoto, 2 in the neighbouring city of Uji and 1 in ?tsu. In addition to these heritage sites, there are more than 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shint? shrines in Kyoto. If these numbers haven’t knocked your socks off, maybe the Sanjusangendo temple with a collection of 1,001 Japanese cypress Buddhas or the Fushimi-Inari Taisha shrine featuring 10,000 tori gates that meander up the hill, taking you on mystical journey through the forest will.
If you are just as bad as I am at remembering names, the countless temples and shrines in Kyoto will leave you confused by the time you are done. But the experience is not so much in remembering the facts and details but appreciating the shift of culture and style over the years of these structures. Each site represent their respective era in which it was constructed.
Covering the sights will take some careful planning or you can follow the comprehensive suggested itineraries by the tourist office based on your interests. And if you think you have seen Kyoto after all that temple and shrines hopping – think again! There is still much to explore in Kyoto’s natural beauty, culture and lifestyle.