kyoto top sights

Old Nov 6th, 2012, 12:30 PM
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kyoto top sights

I will be in Kyoto with my husband for three days in late november.

What are the most important and impressive temples and other sights to see there ?(there are so many, I dont know how to choose)
I was considering both a walking tour (perhaps one of Chris Rowthorn's)

Chris offers the following walking tours:
-Nanzen-ji Temple to Yoshida-jinja Shrine
-Tofuku-ji Temple to Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine
-Classic Southern Higashiyama
-Arashiyama
- a two hour evening tour of gion

These are all 4 hour walking tours except Gion I just dont know what to choose. I plan to take a driving tour of some other sights(suggestions welcome) on another day.

any recommendations from the above or other recommendations of what to focus on while we are there?
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 12:46 PM
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I was in Kyoto in February. We were there for five days mainly temple hopping and feel that we could have spent more time. There is so much to see and do, so it would be useful to take a look at what you really want to do and make choices.

Among the temples I enjoyed most were Kiyomizu Dera and Sanjusangendo. Kiyomizu Dera is a large complex with several interesting buildings that you can actually go inside (not true for all of the temples in Kyoto), looks and feels most different from the others, and is surrounded by a hosts of small streets and alleyways that is ideal for strolling. Sanjusangendo is well-known for its 1,000 Kannon statues housed in one of the largest wooden buildings in Japan. Each of the statues have a different facial expression.

And don't miss Nijo Castle. It's an old shogun castle surrounded by beautiful gardens, different from the other sights in Kyoto.

For walks, I enjoyed Arashiyama the most, with Tenryuji, the bamboo grove in the hill right behind the complex, and the riverfront setting. You can visit Tenryuji, exit through the garden from the back, which leads to the bamboo grove. Once you exit the grove, make a left and you're in a park with trails leading to the riverfront, where, weather permitting, you can take boat rides. It's a bit of a hop from the city center, but well worth the journey.

Hope this helps.
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 02:50 PM
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Thats very helpful, thank you.
Did you go to Nara or Osaka as side trips?
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 02:55 PM
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Agree withtripplanner001 on all of above.
Nishiki market and surrounding commercial areas can be fun for strolling.
Pontocho and Gion backstreets as well.
Handcraft Center is interesting.

NHK TV has a program called Mapping Kyoto that has a web archive of their past programs, no video, but lots of Kyoto information.
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/engli...html#map_no_08

With just three days you may have to edit and balance Temple/Museum visits with just free time rambling and plan on coming back.
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 03:54 PM
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For a great source of information, see:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2158.html

My experience was that Kyoto is very easily visited on one's own, so you might consider planning your own visits rather than joining guided walks.

EnjoY!
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 04:16 PM
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Aside from the many venues listed above, you may want to visit the Miho Museum (Architect I.M. Pei). It's a fifteen minute train ride followed by a 35-40 minute bus ride through more rural Japan. It's nothing short of magnificent. You may not have enough time for it..but consider visiting.

I first visited Kyoto in 1946 as a young GI. It was one of the few unbombed cities in Japan...a result of negotiations between the two warring countries. Needless to say, there were no tourists and we had the run of the city...awestruck by the temples and castles. I returned in 2007.
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 04:32 PM
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tower- would you opt for Miho Museum over Nara as a side trip?
Your return to Kyoto after so many years must have been very moving.
thanks
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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Nara is also very colorful...a bit further from Kyoto. I think it's more of a full day trip for you. Whereas Miho can be seen and savored in half a day...plan to have lunch there

Here's Miho (it's the setting and architecture that's the real draw here..the museum is quite sparse but nveerthheless interesting.

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...hoMuseumIMPei#

Yes,bbk, the return was coupled with a deeply emotional return to my former Occupyng Force infantry base in Beppu, Kyushu. Click on my name and you'll see the 2007 trip report for Beppu.

I'll post some additional Kyoto pics below.
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 04:57 PM
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I would not take a side trip if you have only three days in Kyoto - there is too much to see there as per the above posts. I spent three nights in Nara and didn't get to see all I wanted. Miho Museum would take about half a day so is more of a possibility than Nara imo. Also there might be more crowds than usual due to fall foliage season...hopefully you will not be there on Friday, 11/23 which is a national holiday....
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...ndOtherScenes#

Our lodgings in Kyoto..highly recommend if you want a quasi-ryokan experience without the food, at a very reasonable rate.
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 05:03 PM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/MoreKyoto#

Johnny Hillwalker's walking tour is quite good..he's quite a character on the Kyoto scene. Kyoto is a very special Japanese destination.

Stu Tower
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Old Nov 6th, 2012, 06:07 PM
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tower, I read that inn had a fire in the summer....not sure if they have reopened or not....I also recommend Johnny Hillwalker's tour - I took it back in 2006 - the only thing I read recently is he does not lead it himself all the time now....sorry for the bad news.
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Old Nov 7th, 2012, 04:30 AM
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Yes, I did visit Nara as a side trip, and it takes the better part of a day to do. We visited Todaiji with its giant bronze Buddha, which is the highlight, took a stroll in the park, and visited the National Museum in Nara, which is very good. However, with three days, you have plenty to keep yourself busy in Kyoto.
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Old Nov 7th, 2012, 11:12 PM
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Of all of the tours, the one I am most interested in is the Gion tour (with a "pass" through Pontocho). A knowledgeable guide would be valuable here.

Of the others, my vote would be Classic Southern Higashiyama because it includes Kiyomizudera. But also the promise of the "picturesque streets" and "perfectly preserved houses" and the "little alley".

The other tours sound good. It is a close call. One or more of them have itineraries that have a bit more nature. This is good, but the mention of walking in woods and enjoying the "greenery" might not work as well in late late November. The leaves won't be green. Flimsy as that may be it might help to make the choice. And the other tours don't include Kiyomizudera!

http://www.chrisrowthorn.com/kyoto_walks.html
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Old Nov 8th, 2012, 09:06 AM
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Definitely agree with Sanjusangendo and Nijo-jo.

Go to the Fushimi Inari shrine - it's excellent.

Kinkakuji gets many rave reviews but neither the wife nor I were impressed - it's just sitting out in the middle of a pond and you cannot go in.

Arashiyama is very nice. We needed more time there.

Three nights isn't really enough for Kyoto. Side trips are highly inadvisable. Osaka is not really worth a detour considering your stated interests. Unfortunately, Himeji is still covered.
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Old Nov 13th, 2012, 03:56 PM
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Big Russ-I'm in the early stages of planning a first trip to Japan in Oct/Nov 2013. Any word on how long Himeji-jo is expected to be covered?
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Old Nov 13th, 2012, 04:27 PM
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Information about Himeji-jo:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3501.html

There are many other castles in Japan - here is a good site for information:
http://www.jcastle.info/
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Old Nov 13th, 2012, 05:32 PM
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Thanks Mara. The way I read that information is that the scaffolding will be covering up Himeji-jo until spring 2014. If that's a correct read, I'll likely drop this off my itinerary for my trip next year. Bummer.
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 02:23 PM
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In late November you should take into account the autumn colors(koyo) viewing that will be happening at that time. Arashiyama would be first on my list of places to visit followed by Kiyomizudera and Tofukuji in that order.

BTW, forget the walking tours at that time of the year. There will be lots of people(I mean hundreds) following the flags of tour leaders and you don't want to be on one of those I don't care who is doing the tour.....you have to trust me on this one. We have been there several times at this time of the year and it is much better to do it on your own which is very easy to do. If you want a few hints and have the time, delve into a couple of my trip reports by clicking on my screen name.

Aloha!
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 02:29 PM
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> BTW, forget the walking tours at that time of the year. There will be lots of people(I mean hundreds) following the flags of tour leaders and you don't want to be on one of those I don't care who is doing the tour.....you have to trust me on this one.

And never EVER get between a Japanese tourist and his/her guide - NEVER! Who would have thought that otherwise incredibly, impeccably polite Japanese would become so focused on catching up with their group that anyone in between risks life and limb? You have to trust me on this one. (That's been my experience of Japanese tourists outside of Japan, too.)
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