Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Matthew's Sight Seeing Guide to Kyoto Shrines

All shinto shrines have the great benefit of being free and open 24 hours a day.

Fushimi-Inari ☆☆☆☆☆
WH Festival
This place is magnificent, my favorite shrine by far, and I would guess Christo and Jean-Claude's as well. The gated paths twist up a mountainside offering great views of the surrounding area. One path is lined not with gates but hundreds of smaller shrines where people leave candles and incense burning. Very peaceful and a good place for a walk.

Kitano ☆☆☆☆☆
Kitano shrine holds many stone lanterns, but again, if you really want to see lanterns, go to Nara. The market here held on every 25th is great. It is not as crowded as Toji's, but there are many of the same venders. A bit smaller though. The shrine grounds are nice, too. There are many plum trees, and you may even see a maiko.

Heian Shrine ☆☆☆
This colorful shrine is worth a look if you're in the museum district. Great roofs.

Kamigamo ☆☆☆
another peaceful mountain side shrine. The shrines are nice because it seems like they get more use by local people than the temples. Everyone is welcome here.

Nyakuoji ☆☆☆
I found this little shrine while wandering down the Path of philosophy. Cute statues. It's nice to go to the smaller shrines and temples because they are not so crowded and you can often get the whole place to yourself.

Yasaka ☆☆☆
We visited Yasaka Jinja for hatsumode as our first shrine of the year. It was a nice introduction to the culture, but we didn't understand a bit of it.

Yoshida ☆☆☆
We only saw this place at night for a Setsuban Festival, it was packed! We couldn't really see what was going on, but there were demons.

Shimogamo ☆☆☆
We often bicycled by this place to and from down town. Peaceful and a nice detour, but nothing spectacular.

Notes: WH = UNESCO World Heritage Site. Prices may fluctuate with time.