Temples and Shrines of Kyoto region

Everyone who visits Japan has to see at least a few temples.  They are historic, beautiful, and many are grand.  If you see too many, they start to look alike and you won't enjoy the sightseeing anymore, so it's best to limit yourself to about 3 per day, although I know there are tours that cram up to 7 in one day, which I feel is just too taxing.  If you open any tour book, you'll notice Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO world heritage sites.  There's a link with a map at this site for "visit Kyoto".  You can click on the map on any temple and get more information about what to see and the history of the temple or shrine.  I'd include Nara too, because Todai-ji was the most memorable for me.  Nara is about an hour train ride from Kyoto.  You can see plenty of photos at the UNESCO site link, but here are some of the photos I took.

The other temple we really thought was memorable was Kiyomizu-dera.  Here you can walk through the hilly grounds and the view of the city below is pretty amazing.  There's a spring you can drink from that may help you live longer, so naturally the lines were very long to do this!  These are working temples so at the right time of day, you will see monks going to prayer.  The grounds of the temples are often very beautiful too,  some in flowers and trees, others in gravel and evergreens.  The idea is to be there and be at peace, which you can feel if you sit and enjoy it...and there aren't hundreds of tourists.  It was rare that we ever had a garden to ourselves, but we were there during the busiest season- when cherry blossoms were in bloom.
The most beautiful gardens were at Taizo-In temple.  You could feed the koi fish here too

Huge gate welcomes you to Todai-ji temple area

My son Jake in front of Todai-ji temple, the largest wooden structure in the world!

This large seated bronze Buddha is more than 50 feet high- largest in Japan

Also at Nara's temple

wooden prayer plaques available at many temples

Monk calling prayer time

holy water comes from spring at Kiyomizu-dera,
Monks coming to prayer at Kiyomizu-dera

During Cherry Blossom time at Kiyomizu-dera

The famous golden temple, Kinkaku-ji


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