Japan:A Closer Look at Kansai – Part 3

Mar 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Regional Travel Resources

Kinkaku-ji Golden Palace Kyoto Kyoto and Nara are two spots in Japan that you won’t want to miss if you love history and culture.  Kyoto, located in the Kansai region was Japan’s capital city for over a thousand years until it was move to Tokyo in 1868.  Nara was the capital prior to Kyoto, in the 7th century, and is home to a many of the country’s cultural and historical treasures.

The monuments of Nara and Kyoto are among the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan.

It’s almost impossible to cover all of the things to see and do in these two popular and historic prefectures but some of the highlights will be presented along with resources that will allow you to plan a very personalized trip by clicking through all that the region has to offer.

Kyoto Prefecture

Kyoto is home to over Kyoto on thousand temples and shrines so there is always something new to see and do in Kyoto.

“The old capital of Kyoto has weathered many vicissitudes in its long history of wars and truces. The vivid crimson of the Heian Shrine, built overshadowing the Heian Palace, allows one to imagine what the freshness of that old city must have been like in its youth.”
Source: Kyoto City Web

Kyoto Gion Geisha Maiko GeikoVisit Nijo Castle where the last Tokugawa shogun returned sovereignty to the Emperor of Japan.

Apply to the Imperial Household Agency for permission to tour the Kyoto Imperial Palace built in 1855.

Visit one of Kyoto’s temples to practice zazen (Zen sitting meditation) and shakyo (copying sutras).

Take in a show at Gion Corner to see witness Maiko & Geiko (Geisha in Tokyo) perform the traditional arts of Kyoto, including Kyogen classical comedy, Kyomai dance, Gagaku Imperial Court music, koto (Japanese harp) and flower arrangement.

Visit Ryoanji Temple, built in 1450 and home to a beautiful example of a Zen Rock Garden.  Hover over the Kanji to navigate the site – English prompts will appear.

Take in one of the annual events sponsored by the Ookini Zaidan, the Kyoto Traditional Musical Art Foundation.

Visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, home to Kyoto’s Golden Palace (pictured top right).

Miyama Thatched Houses Stay in a traditional thatch-roofed house, learn to make washi (Japanese paper), or take a pottery course at Miyama Town, about 90 minutes outside of Kyoto City.

Take some time to browse through this list of 100 most popular things to do in Kyoto to find something of interest to you or download one of the Kyoto Walking Itineraries (PDF).

Other Kyoto Tourism Resources:

Nara Prefecture

Kasuga Shrine Nara Visit the vermilion-lacquered Kasuga Grand Shrine.

See the great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple that stands 15 meters high and was built in 752.

Feed the deer at Rokuen.

Visit the Yagyu Iris Garden where approximately 100,000 Irises full bloom from June to early July.

Peruse the annual Nara event Calendar to make sure you don’t miss anything while you visit.

V isit the Gango-ji Temple, one of the seven great temples of Nara.

Relax at an onsen (hot springs) in and around Nara.

deer Nara Japan ParkSee the seven World Heritage sites in Nara by purchasing a Sekai Isan Gurutto Pass .  A bus visits each site once an hour and passholders can use the bus repeatedly within the day for Y800 (adults).  Learn more about the pass or book a bus tour of Nara.

Download a variety of Nara Maps and sightseeing itineraries from the prefectural government or download one of the Nara Walking Itineraries (both in PDF).

Learn more about things to do and see in Nara Prefecture at Nara, A Journey to the Ancient City or at the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Nara pages.

This winds up our Closer Look at Kansai – visit Kansai Window for suggested tour itineraries for the area and check back next week when we’ll take a closer look at the Chugoku Region of Japan.

Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Image Credit: Flickr, 金閣寺 kinkakuji ( golden temple ) kyoto, Geisha Girls in Kyoto, 09, deer crossing in Nara & Kasuga Taisha Shrine VI

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