About old Kyoto

My hostuniversity named Ryukoku is located in Kyoto, which is the capital of japanese traditional culture. Kyoto is home to roughly one quarter of Japan’s national treasures, countless shrines and temples, and seventeen sites recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Also, some of Japan’s oldest traditions, such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and geisha schooling originated in the city. These ancient customs, while still practiced throughout Japan, can only be observed in their original setting in Kyoto.

Japan’s capital city and the emperor’s residence from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is known throughout the world for its stunning beauty. Tourists are drawn year-round by the majestic palaces, temples and gardens; each spring, dozens of varieties of cherry trees bloom in Kyoto, and visitors are treated to time-honored hanami (blossom viewing) parties.

Sakura in Kyoto
Sakura in Kyoto
the perfect combination of cherry blossoms and traditional buildings
the perfect combination of cherry blossoms and traditional buildings

Then I saw sakura at the first time. For me it was unusually and beautifully. In the early days I wanted to take pictures of each tree. Near from my dormitory there is a beautiful esplanade where is lots of cherry blossom, the aroma of which extends to the whole district. It is very pleasant to walk along it and breathe the aroma of cherry blossoms feeling a fresh breeze. It is a good way to relax during the exchage period.

favorite place for walking
favorite place for walking

In the city there is a large number of monuments of architecture. During my first week in Kyoto I had an opportynity to walk around the city and saw some of them.

Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine of the god Inari. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometres. Inari is the god of rice, but merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshiped Inari as the patron of business. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha has been donated by a Japanese business.

Fushimi Inari-taisha
Fushimi Inari-taisha

The earliest structures were built in 711 on the Inariyama hill in southwestern Kyoto. The main shrine structure was built in 1499. At the bottom of the hill are the main gate (楼門, rōmon, “tower gate”) and the main shrine (御本殿, go-honden). Behind them, in the middle of the mountain, the inner shrine (奥宮, okumiya) is reachable by a path lined with thousands of torii. To the top of the mountain are tens of thousands of mounds (塚, tsuka) for private worship.

塚, tsuka
塚, tsuka

While walking around this place you forget about time plunging into an atmosphere of calm and silence. This place carries back to centuries and charges with energy.

The custom to donate a torii started to spread since the Edo period (1603 – 1868) to get a wish to become true or to thank for a wish that became true. Along the main path there are around 10,000 torii gates.
The custom to donate a torii started to spread since the Edo period (1603 – 1868) to get a wish to become true or to thank for a wish that became true. Along the main path there are around 10,000 torii gates.

Nishi Honganji (西本願寺) and Higashi Honganji (東本願寺)

They are two large temples in the center of Kyoto. As headquarters of the two factions of the Jodo-Shin Sect (True Pure Land Sect), one of Japan’s largest Buddhist sects, they are a good place to experience contemporary Japanese Buddhism.

Nishi Honganji (West Honganji) was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi,
Nishi Honganji (West Honganji) was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi,

Nishi Honganji’s two largest structures are the Goeido Hall, dedicated to Shinran, the sect’s founder, and the Amidado Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in Jodo-Shin Buddhism. The temple also displays some surviving masterpieces of architecture from the Azuchi-Momoyama Period and early Edo Period, including the celebrated Hiunkaku Pavilion. Nishi Honganji is designated an UNESCO world heritage site. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3920.html

Higashi Honganji (East Honganji) was built only eleven years after Nishi Honganji as the head temple of the Otani faction of Jodo-shin Buddhism. Its main hall, the Goeido is Kyoto’s largest wooden structure and dedicated to Shinran, the sect’s founder.

Higashi Honganji's Goeido
Higashi Honganji’s Goeido

The bamboo forest of Sagano

I am in the bamboo forest
I am in the bamboo forest

The forest of Sagano was created by a monk, poet and master of garden art, Muso Soseki, in the 14th century.The bamboo grove, the area of which is 16 km², is entirely permeated with footpaths, on both sides bordered with handrails from dry, fallen bamboo stalks

The forest is located on the western outskirts of the city of Kyoto in the Arashiyama Park, near the Zen Buddhist temple of Tenryu-ji, which is a World Heritage Site. Great popularity was due not only to its extraordinary beauty, but also to the special sound resulting from the contact of the wind with the slender bamboo stems. Visitors to the forest of Sagano argue that this sound, remotely reminiscent of music, has an extremely calming effect and envelops the sensation of harmony.

In the shops located at the main entrance to the forest, you can buy handmade souvenirs from bamboo such as baskets, cups, dishes and boxes.
In the shops located at the main entrance to the forest, you can buy handmade souvenirs from bamboo such as baskets, cups, dishes and boxes.

Kyoto is a city full of the atmosphere of old times and traditions. This place allows you to experience Japan and understand the philosophy of its inhabitants. During my period in Kyoto, I want to see other sights and other places that keep the spirit and history of Japan.

P.S. Separately I would like to note the friendliness of local residents. In each landmark there was somebody who wanted to tell something about the temple or to share local legends. People here are sympathetic and friendly, which greatly helps in adaptation. I will talk about this in the next posts.

See you,
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