KYOTO: for first timers
Visited right after New Year`s in January, avoiding the crowds
1 Kyoto for first timers
2 Kinkakuji Gold Pavillion
3 Kiyomizu Dera and a little secret to enjoy this very crowded temple
4 Heian Jingu- enjoy the vast garden
5 Ginkakuji- picture perfect
6 Ryoanji- tranquil and peaceful
7 Nijojo- very famous castle
8 Tibit- enjoy Mitarashi Dango- special Japanese sweet
1 Kyoto for first timers
These sites are very popular and crowded. (We visited right after New Year`s in January, avoiding the crowds.)
If it is your first time to visit KYOTO, you would want to cover the most famous places. Here is the list for you. Remember to go early in the morning, to avoid the crowds!
2 KINKAKUJI Gold Pavilion 金閣寺
14th Century, third shogun of Ashikaga dynasty built this temple, covered in gold leaf. The current structure was rebuilt after a monk had set it on fire in 1950. World Heritage Site. Very crowded.
3)KIYOMIZU-DERA清水寺：everyone`s favorite, very crowded. World Heritage Site Go early in the morning. Founded in 798, it is famous for the terrace with a magnificent view of the city. It is built with woods only, no nails. Enjoy the waterfall, famous for the sacred waters.
The secret of visiting this place, without being crushed by the overwhelming crowd- go EARLY in the morning, as it opens from 6am. Get a taxi and ask them to drop you off, right in front of the entrance. (this is only possible in the morning, as there are very few people blocking the road)
4)HEIAN-JINGU 平安神宮: Shinto shrine built in 1895, dedicated to Emperor Kanmu who founded Kyoto. The garden is very famous for the beautiful cherry blossoms and other flowers. Kids enjoy watching and feeding the impressive carp in the pond.
View of the Shijo bridge, the center of Kyoto.
At the foot of the bridge is MINAMIZA, Kabuki theatre in Kyoto
5)GINKAKUJI SILVER PAVILION 銀閣寺
World Heritage Site, built after Gold Pavilion, by the grandson. It symbolizes the wabi-sabi (beauty in simplicity) of the Higashiyama culture (culture of the Eastern Mountains, this part of Kyoto). You can tell the difference between the Gold Pavilion and the Silver Pavilion and the difference in culture of the two periods. Which do you prefer?
6)RYOANJI 龍安寺: famous Zen garden, designed by the famous gardener Soami at the end of 15th Century. It is famous for the 15 rocks arranged on a bed of moss. Finding it is part of the Zen Rinzai riddle. Try finding the 15 rocks-it is very difficult to find them from one place. Kids may enjoy solving the riddle. World Heritage Site
7)NIJO-JO 二条城：Castle built by Tokugawa shogun in1603. It is a symbol of Tokugawa Shogunate that lasted until 1867, over 15 generations. The gates are impressive as well as the palace inside. Kids will enjoy the samurai displays inside.
Kamo Mitarashi Chaya 加茂みたらし茶屋
This tea house started in 1922 is where it all started. (located near Shimogawa Shrine) The five dumplings symbolize the human body parts, with one separated from the rest at the top of the stick, which is the head. Eating it is said to purify the body of the evil spirits.
As they make it upon order, this really was the best one I have ever tasted…try it!
(Mitarashi Dango is rice dumpling in a sweet soy sauce.)
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