Fushimi Inari Shrine is a shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto Rice God. There are thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari throughout Japan, but Fushimi Inari, about a 5 minute train ride from Kyoto Station, is the most famous. The main reason why it is so famous is the thousands of tori gates that line the path up to the main shrine. It takes about two hours to walk the entire path and of course longer if you are stopping to take photographs. The torii gates are actually built for those that make a donation.
Ninnaji Temple is one of the more diverse temples in Kyoto. Ninnaji is in the western part of Kyoto, within walking/biking distance from Kinkakuji and Ryoanji. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. A lot of people skip out on Ninnanji after seeing Ryoanji and Kinkakuji but if you have time it is worth it to stop by and take some photos of Ninnaji.
What makes Ninnanji worth it is the diversity I mentioned before. It has some really nice gardens and rock gardens, 5 story pagoda, enormous tori gate, temples, tea houses, covered walkways and bell tower. In addition the grounds are very well landscaped. All in all, Ninnanji feels very peaceful and welcoming.
For more information about Ninnanji, see the Japan-Guide.com.
Miyajima is considered to be one of the 3 most scenic places in Japan, and in my opinion, of the famous 3, Miyajima is the best place for a photographer. To be fair it is also the most diverse having everything from Itsukushima Shrine (the tori gate that is floating in the ocean) to it’s own mountain… with monkeys that live on the top. Who doesn’t like monkeys? I mean really?
Also it should be noted that deer walk around the island like they own the place. I went during cherry blossom season and it was really beautiful, but Miyajima is worth going to at anytime of the year. Also I was surprised that sometimes the floating tori gate, isn’t floating. All the famous photos you see of it are when the tide is in, but when the tide goes out you can walk up right next to (or search for clams like some people do).
Miyajima is about 20 minutes to one hour away from Hiroshima by boat–depending on which boat and from where you leave. Be sure to check ferry schedules going both ways before you go, if you miss the last ferry there are not too many places to stay (they can also be a little expensive) and during peak travel season you may end up without a place to stay!For more access information see the Japan-guide.com.
Also here is the official site of Miyajima.
Where to start…Well, let’s just say if you are a photographer in Japan and you do not go to Kyoto, you should really consider giving up photography. Seriously, Kyoto and the surrounding areas like Arashiyama and Nara are so spectacular that there is no excuse not to find a way to get to Kyoto. As of Spring of 2006 I have been to Kyoto 5 times, going atleast once ever season of the year. The two best times to go are, cherry blossom season and during the fall.
Kyoto is the old capital of Japan is said to have more than 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. Also Kyoto’s district Gion, is the only place in Japan where you can regularly see real geisha or maiko (and no they are not prostitutes).
There are many famous places and most of which I will encourage you to go to, but sometimes it is a good idea to go off the beaten path and find your own little treasure in Kyoto.
Here are some of the famous places you should consider going:
- Nanzenji (My personal favorite)
- Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion)
- Ginkakuji (Silver Pavillion)
- Ryoan-ji (Most famous rock garden of all of Japan)
- Kiyomizudera (One of the most famous temples in Japan and a good view of Kyoto)
- Tetsugaku no michi (Philosopher’s Path)
- Kokedera (Moss Garden Temple–3000 yen and reservation required to enter!)
- Ninnanji (A very diverse UNESCO World Heritage Site close to Ryoanji)
- Fushimi Shrine (Shinto Shrine with thousands of tori gates)
Here are some Links you may find useful about Kyoto:
- Kyoto’s Visitor’s Guide–Online version of the monthly publication.
- Kyoto Event Web Magazine–Provides information about festivals and events.
- K’s Hostel–The best hostel in Kyoto.
- Japan-Guide.com–A lot of really good information
- Kyoto Prefecture Travel Guide–Official site of Kyoto Prefecture with travel information