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edward readicker-henderson's Kyoto highlights

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Katsuramisono, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 615-8014, Japan

As soon as you get to Kyoto, go to the Imperial Household Agency and see if there are any spots left for touring Katsura Rikyu, arguably the most beautiful house in Japan. It’s actually easier to get in as a foreigner than as a Japanese...

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Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-0881, Japan

In 794 C.E., Emperor Kammu moved Japan’s capital to Kyoto, chiefly to keep the large Buddhist monasteries in the former capital of Nara from amassing even more power than they already had. (The capital and emperor moved to Tokyo in...

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294 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan

Kiyomizu-dera on Mount Otowa is one of the most famous temples in Japan, a place that appears in every sequence of Japanese travel photos. The landscape is all cherry trees and forest; it is among Kyoto's loveliest spots. The current structure...

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68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 612-0882, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha on Inariyama mountain is dedicated to the Shinto gods of rice and sake, but Inari is also the god of merchants and that brings a lot of businesspeople to worship here. Everyone else stops by to see the thousands...

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13 Ryōanji Goryōnoshitachō, Ukyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 616-8001, Japan

Kyoto’s Ryoanji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to Japan’s most famous seki-tei garden, which is simply composed of rocks and raked gravel. The garden is surrounded by high walls on three sides; the fourth side faces the...

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2 Ginkakujichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 606-8402, Japan

Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), not to be confused with Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion; both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto), is set up against the eastern mountains. Most tours go to Kinkakuji, because it’s close to Ryoanji, but the...

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541 Nijōjōchō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 604-8301, Japan

Back in the days before burglar alarms, how did you know if strangers were in the house? Nijo-jo, with ingenious cunning right out of a ninja movie, was built with a “nightingale floor”: The smooth wooden planks of the...

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657 Sanjūsangendōmawari, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0941, Japan

Sanjusangendo is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Kannon appears in many forms—as a beautiful woman, as a man, as someone with a horse’s head. In Japan, perhaps her most popular representation has her sporting 11...

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Mount Hiei, at the northwest edge of Kyoto, is home to one of Japan’s largest temple complexes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction began in 788 C.E. by the monk Saicho, who is also credited as founder of the Tendai school of...

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Japan, 〒602-8153 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Kamigyō-ku, Minamiiseyachō, 757−2 丸太町通, 日暮西入

The Japanese take their noodles very seriously (watch the movie Tampopo for an excellent overview in a howlingly funny film). This is a good place to see why. It features "fire ramen," a flaming dish of wheat noodles with enough pork and chicken...

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17 Shōgoin Entomichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 606-8323, Japan

Every visitor ends up at the Kyoto Handicraft Center at some point. It’s one-stop souvenir shopping. Actually somewhat short on genuine handicrafts, the place leans toward the mass-produced, but it’s an excellent selection, spread out...

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Kiyomizuzaka is the Kyoto street that leads up to Kiyomizudera. Lined with ceramics shops specializing in bowls and everything else you need for a tea ceremony, the street also has stores selling Buddhist paraphernalia and regular souvenirs as...