Tickets as souvenirs

Most people like to collect a few souvenirs on holiday, and in Japan there’s an almost bewildering selection of things to buy everywhere you go. But don’t overlook the souvenir you’ll be given every place you go: the humble admission ticket. Japan doesn’t seem to do the humble variety of admission ticket, though. Not to…

How to use Kyoto’s Transportation

Getting around Kyoto is easy: an excellent bus network, two subway lines, and plenty of taxis all meld together into one of the best public transport systems in the world. Let’s take a look. Kyoto City Bus First, get a copy of the Kyoto Bus Map. Hardcopies are available from major train and subway stations…

Tōji, Kyoto, Japan

Tōji is often overlooked by visitors to Kyoto. What information there is on the temple tends to focus on the five-storied pagoda, which is the tallest in Japan at 57 metres. Far more than that, though, Tōji is only two years younger than Kyoto itself, and was once one of a pair of matched temples…

Nijō Castle, Kyoto, Japan

Tokugawa Ieyasu irrevocably changed Japan’s political landscape, seizing power from Toyotomi Hideyori and unifying the country under his newly-established Tokugawa Shogunate. This ended the tumultuous Azuchi-Momoyama period and ushered in the Edo Period – just over 250 years of contiguous Tokugawa rule. Ieyasu needed a castle in Kyoto, and so Nijōjō (jō means “castle”) was…

Ryōanji, Kyoto, Japan

Built in 1450 by Hosokawa Katsumoto on the site of an 11th century temple and donated to the Myoshinji school of Zen Buddhism after his death, Ryōanji is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyōto and is most famous for its excellent karesansui (rock garden). The temple also houses the graves of Hosokawa, his…

Sanjūsangendō, Kyoto, Japan

Founded in 1164, with the current buildings dating from 1266, Sanjūsangendō (“Thirty-three ken Hall”, where ken is a unit of measurement) is Japan’s longest wooden structure at over 100 metres in length, and houses an impressive collection of 1,001 statues of Kannon, goddess of Mercy. Officially named Rengeō-in (Hall of the Lotus King), the building belongs…

Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Japan

Kinkakuji occupies the top spot on so many lists of top attractions in Kyoto. Websites and guidebooks present it as a must-see, citing its status as an icon of the city. Time Magazine have it at the top of their list. It is, after Kiyomizudera, the second most-visited temple in the area. Kinkakuji gives the…