The Golden Pavilion and Other Temples of Kyoto

Along with the futuristic megacity of Tokyo and the foodie heaven of Osaka, no trip to Japan would be complete without visiting its cultural capital, Kyoto.

Home to the Japanese imperial court for over a thousand years, Kyoto is full of palaces, temples, shrines, and gardens; which thanks to not being targeted by Allied bombing during World War II, has been preserved in all its authenticity. This is Part 2 of our Kyoto Series: Temples.

Kinkaku-ji Temple: The Golden Pavilion

* The most famous of all of Kyoto's Temples, the Golden Pavilion is made of, you guessed it, gold; with the top two floors of the building covered in pure gold leaf.

* Kinkaku-ji is also famous for housing relics of the Great Buddha, himself! Those sure travelled a long way from India!

* And for this stunning kick-ass zen pond that is full of freshwater fish.

* Super Mario 3 inspired world map!

Ryoan-ji Temple

* Ryoan-ji in Northern Kyoto contains one of the finest examples of the dry-landscape - styled zen garden, characterized by large rock formations surrounded by smooth pebbles raked into linear patterns for facilitating meditation.

* And from the looks of the interiors, is a secret school for ninjas (I wish).

* Calligraphy here is fancy and top notch!

* Monicca-san!

Sanjusangen-do Temple

* Sanjusangen-do Temple is famous for its main hall astoundingly (and eerily) lined with over 1000 statues of the multi-armed Kannon. All those eyes.. staring.. as you walk past the long hall.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

* And finally my favorite, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple built on top of large wooden pillars offering fantastic views of the surrounding forested area.

* Legend states that if one jumps off the ledge and survives the almost 50 foot drop, his/her wish would be granted.

* You got to love the statistic-loving Japanese as they were able to deduce that 85% of all jumpers survived, before the act was banned in 1872.

* Of all the temples we visited, Kiyomizu-dera was the most festive!

* Is your wish worth the fall? For 15% of jumpers, perhaps not...

* Coming up: Ryu vs. Ken

* Now THAT's a dragon statue! Somehow it reminded me of the one in Dragon Ball who grants wishes.

* The complex is also famous for selling various talismans to help one in whatever quest he/she is currently on. Sort of like the ones you find in Japanese RPGs.

* Getting to-and-from Kyoto and our base of operations, Osaka, wasn't a headache at all thanks to the ultra-efficient and punctual JR Railway. The Japanese sure know how to build them!


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