Kinkaku, the Golden Pavilion
Kyoto had been the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, from the year 794 through 1869. The historic city is said to have more than one thousand Buddhist temples and hundreds of Shinto shrines. This site introduces about 100 temples and shrines as well as other places of interest that are selected arbitrarily. In addition, photographs of festivals and other information, such as brief descriptions of history and climate of Kyoto, are presented.
Kyoto has variety of historical buildings ranging from big Buddhist temple halls to small roadside shrines or a glittering golden pavilion to shabby looking tea ceremony huts. A lot of photos of these structures are presented on this site.
About 70 percent of this country is forest and abundant wood resources are available. In addition, it is hot and humid in summer in the greater part of Japan and large windows are needed for better ventilation. Because of these facts, and maybe some others, such as earthquakes, almost all historical buildings are made of wood.
Since the buildings are wooden, they easily catch fire and were repeatedly lost by fires of war or fires started by lightning strikes, carelessness, or other causes. Especially, during Onin civil war (1467-1477), many buildings of temples and shrines burned down. Still, some of them survived. The five-story pagoda of Daigo-ji temple (photo left) has kept original structure for more than 1,000 years. Even if a wooden building does not catch fire, it decays and can not stand forever. Expecting the need for rebuilding the main hall some 500 years later, a temple called Kiyomizu-dera planted trees for the future hall.
Most gardens introduced here are those of temples or shrines. Karesansui, or dry landscape garden, of Ryoan-ji temple (photo right) and chisen-kaiyu-shiki teien, or a pond stroll garden, of Kinkaku-ji temple are examples of interesting gardens in Kyoto. One of the techniques to design a garden that is called shakkei or "borrowed scenery" is also interesting. Typical examples of this technique can be seen at Entsu-ji or Shoden-ji temples.
Other figures such as those of Emperors or Shogun are in a similar situation.
Many festivals and events are held throughout the year in Kyoto. The biggest and most interesting of them is Gion Matsuri festival that is held in the whole month of July. Yamaboko Junko and Shinko-sai held in July 17 are the main events of the big festival.
In addition to Gion Matsuri, Aoi Matsuri held in May 15 and Jidai Matsuri in October 22 are also big festivals and attract many visitors every year.
Photos and information of these festivals are presented in this site.