Ginkakuji also called as a Silver Pavillion is a Zen temple. It used to be the center of contemporary culture. Even though the name would suggest that the building is made of silver, it is not. Don’t get your hopes up 🙂 It is not like a Golden Pavillion 🙂
I loved the sand garden (“Sea of Silver Sand” – poetic, huh? ) with a massive sand cone named “Moon Viewing Platform.” Just thinking about, how much time it took to make the garden look like this, gave me shivers 🙂
Right, where the Philosopher’s Path ends (or starts), there is a temple called Nanzenji. It is one of the most important Zen temples in the whole of Japan, built around the 13th century.
The central grounds are free to enter, however many of the sub-temples require the admission fee. I have visited some of them but even strolling around was fantastic enough. One of my favorite spots was the old aqueduct going through the temple grounds. For some reason, it was so out of place that it looked great 🙂
If you would like to know more about the history or different sub-temples, check out this link.
Gion is the most famous geisha district in Kyoto. Walk through the streets, try various tea houses and restaurants. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot a geiko (geisha) or maiko (geisha apprentice). You can try snapping pictures but don’t disturb them. They entertain guests in ochayas (tea houses) but it is costly, and you might need to get invited by a regular customer. I read online though, that some companies can help you with organizing the experience, but it’s expensive.
I loved how the streets looked during sakura seasons, covered by cherry petals. If you end up going there during that time, you might be able to see many couples taking pictures together. Either by themselves or with a professional photography crew. They looked so cool, that I snapped some photos of them too 😀
It is the most popular spot during hanami season. The park is full of cherry blossoms and people. And by saying full, I mean it 🙂 There are many stalls where you can buy snacks along the way and try some traditional festive food. In the park center, you will find Shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree) illuminated in the night.
It is a temple established in 1606, surrounded by fabulous gardens which are just amazing. During Sakura festival and autumn leaves the temple is beautifully illuminated.
I was lucky to visit it at night, and it was terrific. There were lights and music show. The gardens looked amazing. Walking on a small path through bamboo grove gave you this serene feeling. The only problem was that I was not allowed to use a tripod. It makes it hard to take pictures at night.
When you exit Kodaiji, you will encounter many small traditional merchant stores, cafes, and restaurants. It is the Higashiyama District, which is one of the best preserved historic districts in Kyoto.
It is a lot of fun walking around. During the day there is a lot of tourists. If you wait till evening, most of the shops will be closed as they finish around 17:00.
I went there during the night, thinking about taking pictures of the district. Imagine my surprise when, whenever I wanted to pick a corner to stand with my tripod, I found out that there was a photographer hidden there! It was the first time in my life when I encountered so many photographers during the night with much bigger cameras than mine 😀
Kiyomizudera, also known as “Pure Water Temple” is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. It was founded in 780, and right now it is placed on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
What is impressive about this temple is the construction of the main hall. It is, together with the stage, constructed without using any nails!! It is just amazing how long it managed to last, especially taking into considerations all earthquakes that are common in Japan.
Behind the main hall, there is Jishu Shrine. What is interesting about that place is the superstition surrounding it. There are two stones in front of the shrine, 18 m apart. If you manage to walk from one rock to another with your eyes closed, it means you will have luck in finding love 🙂
Another place surrounded by superstition is the Otowa Waterfall. There are three streams of water and depending on from which you will drink; you will get fortunate in love, have success in school or live long. But you can’t drink from all of them as it is a sign of you being greedy and nothing will happen. So you have to pick what is essential for you 🙂
A short walk from the main hall there is the three-storied Koyasu Pagoda. A visit is said to bring easy and safe childbirth. It is also an excellent spot for taking a picture of the temple!!
There are many other temple buildings, so take your time and enjoy the walk:)
Unfortunately, Kiyomizudera is under renovation until 2020 so you might have to put up with some reconstruction work going on there. You still will be able to enter the temple though.
Those are the most significant temples and sights in the Eastern part of Kyoto. Only that many? Nope! There are so many more places to see that I probably would turn grey before I mentioned them all 🙂 But this list is a great start. Once you visit Kyoto, you will definitely come again 🙂