Kamilah Taylor
Kyoto is very different from Kobe and Nara. It has the history of Nara, but is much bigger and has more temples, but has less charm somehow. It’s also not as pristine as Kobe…I could see myself living in Kobe, at last for a little while, but Kyoto was different…I can’t put my finger on it. Still, it has amazing stuff, we were only able to walk through a castle and a temple in one day, they were both so huge and took so much time to walk through.
We first went to Nijo-jo, Nijo Castle. This is from 1603 though it’s been through at least 2 fires (lightning and a big Kyoto fire). It’s surrounded by a huge moat.
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Then it of course has a super huge gate with some beautiful gold details.
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Nijo-jo is 275,000 m^2 , and the entire site is a world heritage site. It contains Ninomaru Palace, which is 6 buildings. In comparison to Himeji-jo, Ninomaru Palace seemed to have more about living than defense. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but the walls had real gold, I think it was super thin gold foil. There are 954 paintings inside, not surprising considering every wall was a painting.
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Nijo-jo also consists of a couple of gardens. The first one you see is the Ninomaru Garden. This garden is in the shoin zukuri style. There is a pond with an island in the middle of it called Horai-jim, the Island of Eternal Happiness.
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Then there’s an inner moat, after which you see the Inner Palace, Honmaru Palace. Yes, there was a second palace at Nijo-jo. This also has it’s own garden, and an area where you view the rest of the grounds and Kyoto.
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Then, garden after garden.
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So Nijo-jo was beautiful. We headed for the other side of town for the biggest temple in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera. The traditional entrance is a colorful street full of shops, Kiyomizu-zaka. We walked through this with throngs of schoolchildren, making sure to stop for free samples of candy.
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The main attraction at Kiyomizu-dera are these brightly colored buildings, which might have been my favorite buildings in Japan. Our tour guide in Nara told us that these colors are there on all holy buildings.
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Further down the path there was this freaky green pond. Yes, green.
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We called it quits after this and went to find food in Gion, where the geishas are, didn’t see any though.
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