Feeling immensely unsatisfied after one day in Kyoto, we decided not to let go and made a second approach. This time the conditions were more favorable and we also managed to reach Nara. And all this in one day.
We were awakened by the sun in the morning, so taking advantage of the beautifully promising day and cloudless sky, we changed our plan for the day. We quickly gathered up and ran to Kyoto Station to once again use our
and head first to the south of Kyoto and then ultimately to Nara.
We were interested in the JR Nara Line (JR Nara Line), which runs every now and then between Kyoto and Nara, stopping along the way at other attractive places for visitors. We were mainly interested in Nara, so after the first stop in the south of Kyoto, we drove directly to Nara.
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The aforementioned stop in Kyoto is a must-see, one of the most picturesque and most photographed places in Kyoto and even in all of Japan. We’re talking about the mile-long paths with torii gates that are located on the grounds of the Fushimi Inari Taisha (Japanese: Fushimi Inari Taisha) chram, built for the gods of rice and sake. To get to the chram, take the JR Nara line mentioned above and get off at Inari station – continue walking with the crowd ;)
Unfortunately, when we arrived the weather was no longer so kind, but recalling our last tour of Kyoto in the rain, it was still much better.
Arriving at the chram, the first thing that catches the eye is the traditional orange and red torii gate and behind it other buildings kept in the same color scheme, of course. After passing under the gate, we found ourselves on the deity’s grounds.
The chram is mainly famous for the aforementioned approximately 4 kilometer long uphill road with thousands of torii gates. The inscriptions on the torii designate the founders of each particular gate (they can be either companies or individuals). For those interested, prices for such named gates start at approx. 400,000 yen, and end up with more than a million (don’t look for ours there, you won’t find it :-P ).
To reach this path, go behind the main buildings of the chram, towards the hill. The road leads amidst the forest to the sacred Mount Inari (233 meters), and the entire route takes more than 2 hours. Along the way one passes other smaller buildings, shrines and numerous fox statues.
As you can see from the photos, it was not that crowded. At first we passed many people, but the farther away the looser it became – many people merely approached the entrance, walked a few dozen meters and turned back. Similarly, there was a question of the density of the distribution of gates – initially they are placed close together, one behind the other, but the farther away the distances are greater.
After this obligatory point on the map of Kyoto, we nimbly set off towards the train station to reach the aforementioned town – Nara. The city was Japan’s first permanent capital and is designated second (after Kyoto) in terms of cultural heritage.
Here, too, our good friends were waiting for us – the fallow deer (so familiar to us from Miyajima Island), which have already become an invariable part of Nara’s landscape. They welcome and eagerly approach people heading to the city’s most important temple, Todaiji. Their interest is not disinterested, well, they are very much hoping for small treats from the visitors who come. Don’t you have anything to eat? That’s okay, because almost at every turn there are small stalls waiting for you, where you can buy food for 150 yen.
Anyway, it’s not just these adorable creatures that tourists are happy to see. Selling souvenirs, gadgets is quite a profitable activity here from what we have observed.
A must-see point in Nara is the aforementioned Todaiji Temple , or more precisely, it is the entire complex of shrines including the monastery. It was built in 752 and at one time became the main and most influential Buddhist temple in Japan.
The entrance to the temple is through the wooden, monumental Nandaimon gate. More than 25 meters high and 29 meters wide, it gives a foretaste of what awaits us once we cross it. The gate houses the temple guards – two menacing-looking statues, but they are not currently visible from the front, only from inside the gate.
After crossing the gate and walking about 250 meters, we arrived at another gate, behind which we saw the Great Buddha Pavilion (Japanese: Daibutsuden). Not only is the Great Buddha a great pavilion, as the building itself is considered one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.
What’s more, the bronze Buddha statue inside is one of the largest statues of its kind (16m tall, although some sources say “only” 15m).
In addition to the Great Buddha Pavilion, there are many other smaller buildings in and around the compound, such as the Nigatsudo Pavilion, the Todaiji Museum, the Nara National Museum, and the Hokkedo Pavilion. In addition, many can be reached via the paths of Nara Park, where, of course, we are accompanied by fallow deer.
After feeding the game, we got hungry ourselves. After a few days of experimenting with Japanese cuisine, we decided to see what the local McDonald’s had on offer. Of course, the menu includes teriyaki burgers, but also more traditional and familiar sandwiches. Unfortunately, they are in no way equal to the local “burger shops” about which in future posts….
Then, after replenishing the necessary calories, we returned to Kyoto, where there were still many places to explore.
Arashiyama and the Bamboo Forest
The time has come for the western part of Kyoto, more specifically the Arashiyama district. Something we were most interested in in the area was the bamboo forest, but that’s not the only thing worth seeing. This district can be reached by rail, the JR Sagano line.
Of course, the first thing we did was head toward the famous bamboo trees. It was getting late, so there were few people, and we were able to walk leisurely and poke our heads high, high.
Our standard is jumped photos. Such and here could not be missing ;)
As we mentioned, there is much more to see in Arashiyama itself. Also recommended by the guide was Tenryuji Temple or Iwatayama Monkey Park. However, we were already there in the evening and the attractions were already closed.
However, there are places that don’t have opening hours like the Togetsukyo Bridge (a very famous bridge built over 1,000 years ago!) and the historic Saga-Toriimoto Street (a nice, typically Japanese street with low-rise buildings). It is a place where time passes more slowly, people walk more quietly, there is a lot of greenery, and the surrounding wooded hills mark the natural boundaries of the city.
That was the end of our sightseeing tour of Kyoto, and with that we began packing, as the next leg of the trip lay ahead.
How do we remember Kyoto? A city of temples, chrams, traditional low-rise buildings, culture and history. In Kyoto, you can see this at a glance. In Tokyo, modern skyscrapers, expansive roads, and new technology at every turn come to the forefront. It is the contrast between these cities that makes them both a must-see.
We also recommend our TOP 17 of Japan:)