Kyoto Cycling Tour Project is a service that takes you around the Japanese metropolitan city, Kyoto. Travelers can rent bikes from here, for the day. They provide a variety of bicycles to suit your needs. They also offer guided tours around the city. These follow a specific route; the most popular bring the Ginkakuji Silver Cycling Tour or the ride Kinkaku Arashiyama. The guides are energetic and have a lot to say about the city.
A famed Kyoto landmark, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is an eccentric, exhilarating, and unmissable Japanese attraction. The striking site features thousands of sacred, bright orange Shinto gates known as torii, which line the hillsides and create spectacular tunnels. It was established in 711 AD as the headquarters for shrines dedicated to the fox deity, Inari, who was believed to bring agricultural prosperity. Modern businesses now sponsor the building and the upkeep of its large wooden torii to bring about continued success.
With origins dating back more than 1200 years, Kiyomizu-dera is a timeless shrine to the Buddhist faith associated with the Hosso School. Recognized by UNESCO as part of the larger Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple complex has a rich cultural and historical legacy that's tied to the city of Kyoto. The Main Hall with its tall pillars and pagoda roof is a beautiful example of traditional temple architecture and soars above the grounds overlooking the verdant hillside. The temple's Shinto Jishu Shrine is very popular for those seeking love who come to pray for success in finding a suitable partner. Translating as 'Temple of Pure Water', the complex also features a waterfall revered for its sacred health-giving waters.
Surrounded by lush foliage and overlooking a tranquil pond in the heart of Kyoto, the stunning Kinkaku-ji is an iconic Zen shrine built in the 14th Century. Originally constructed as a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the gilded villa became an iconic religious entity after the former's death. Part of a larger complex, the gleaming shrine is the only surviving element of this former retirement estate. Despite being ravaged by fire twice during the destructive Onin War and later having suffered a fiery fate at the hands of a schizophrenic monk, the temple was restored to its former resplendent glory in 1955. The most striking part of this serene shrine is the upper gold-paneled floors that shine in the mellow sun, and the ethereal reflection of its form in the pond below. The first floor promises the utmost calm, an almost palpable aura that radiates from the statues of the Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu that are placed here. The second floor is a secret sanctum shielded from the eyes of the common public, where the Kannon Bodhisattva rests in peaceful meditation, encircled by idols of Four Heavenly Kings. Designated a National Special Historic Site, the vivid beauty of the Kinkaku-ji attracts scores of visitors from both Japan and the world.
Light filters through towering bamboo stalks and casts a fey glow and moving shadows over the path that winds uphill through the forest. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto's most famous sights and people breathe in the crisp air and walk through the verdant tunnel to appreciate the peace and serenity as the world fades away. At the end of the path, at the crest of the hill lies the Okochi-Sanso Villa, an elegant home that once belonged to Okochi Denjiro, a famous actor. Nestled amidst the undulating slopes, this villa and garden are spectacular.
Nijō-jō (Nijo Castle) is an ostentatious display of might built for the first Shogun of the Edo Period, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle is fortified by huge walls, moats and towers which exude military prowess. The magnificent visage gives way to equally-elegant interiors, including the wooden nightingale floors that squeak when stepped, designed thus to ensure that no intruder could pass without inadvertently announcing his presence even at night. Inside, the artists of the Kano School have lavished walls, doorways and screens with elegant paintings. The castle grounds are further enlivened by a tapestry of scenic elements including a placid pond, the lovely Ninomaru Gardens, and breathtaking groves of cherry blossoms. Having found its due place on the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the castle is a majestic illustration of not just architectural excellence, but also the social and cultural significance it commanded during its heyday.
The Gojo Dori street stretches across the eastern Kyoto neighborhood of Shimogyo-ku. A typical bustling city street, one can reach this street via the Gojo subway station. A walk along the street will give tourists an insight into the city’s vibrant culture, especially during the Gojo-zaka Pottery festival, which is the city’s biggest annual pottery festival. Numerous vendors line the street, displaying a wide array of ceramic items for curious visitors to buy.
At this storefront, not only can you buy some cool throwing stars or an authentic Katana (sword), but you can also learn Ninja techniques from knowledgeable instructors. Ninja Dojo functions as both an ancient weapons shop and a place where visitors can learn about the history, techniques and methods from these silent, stealth warriors. It's perfect for the entire family, the lessons are in English and rates vary from individual to group instruction.
Studio246 is one of Kyoto's largest music studios with nine rooms for recording and practicing available for 24/7. This sleek space is everything a musician or band needs with state-of-the-art sound system, infrastructure and a professional staff. Artists can also upload their performance live here for an additional cost.
Go'o Shrine, located in Kyoto, is a place of worship built in honor of Lord Wake no Kiyomaro. The sculptures and artifacts in the temple are testament of its dedication to wild boars. Belief in the mythological legend of the miraculous healing of Lord Kiyomaro’s foot, devotees with leg and foot injuries flock here. This shrine is also popular for solemnising marriages.
Genji Monogatari aficionados will enjoy a visit to this sometimes overlooked or unknown museum. A pivotal place in Murasaki Shikibu's novel was Lady Aoi's Rokujo (Palace). The palace was noted for its separate gardens for each of the four seasons. A Chubu University professor in the Department of Technology, Dr. Kozo Ike, designed the quarter-sized replica of the Rokujo. Historically correct Heian era lifestyles of the nobility have been reproduced in miniature. The clothing worn by the aristocracy, together with their furniture, provides glimpses into the eighth century.
One of the prominent art galleries in the country, the Taka Ishii Gallery features artists from all over the world. Located in the bustling Shimogyo ward of the city, this gallery is buzzing with a passel of events throughout the year. Among the artists who have had their work displayed here are Lisa Lapinski, Jean Claude Wouters, Yui Kugiyama, and Jon Widman. Besides art exhibitions, the gallery also publishes magazines and books, so do check those out as well. See the website to know more.