City of the Sublime

When you pull into Kyoto, you could be forgiven for naively thinking that it’s just another industrial Japanese city.

Kyoto skyline

However, the city is actually full of some of the most incredible castles, temple and shrine you’ll ever see.

You can turn corners and find yourself face to face with some of the largest wooden buildings on earth.

Higashi-Honganji Temple

The grounds of most of these buildings are almost completely hidden from the streets and contain their own treasures:

Sanjusangen-do Temple

Traditional Japanese and bonzai gardens can be found everywhere:

Pond at Sanjusangen-do Temple

Bonzai garden at Kiyomizudera Temple

Garden at Nijo Castle

Later you can climb the lush hills, where you’ll pass graveyards on the way to various shrines:

Kyoto graveyard

The hills are dotted with different temples and shrines, each their own charms:

Pagoda at Kiyomizudera Temple

Chion-in Temple

Gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Statue at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Some seem to literally appear out of the hills:

Kiyomizudera Temple

If you explore a little off the beaten path you might find yourself in the middle of a bamboo forest:

Bamboo at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Back on the beaten path, you can wind your way through the wooden houses and granite paving stone streets of the old city:

Ninenzaka steps

Old Kyoto alleyway

If you hunt around, you’ll get a glimpse of courtyards full of rock gardens and ornate fantasy gardens attached to tea houses:

Japanese garden framed in door

Tea house koi pond

When you explore Nijo Castle, you almost expect a samurai to come walking around the corner:

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle with Kyoto Skyline

It’s a beautiful city and should be on any Japan traveller’s agenda.

Here are a few parting shots:

Gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Statue at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Statue at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Incense at Sanjusangen-do Temple