According to the 2012 survey conducted by Monocle, a lifestyle magazine based in London, Kyoto is the 11th most liveable city in the world. Some of the criteria used in selecting the top cities were safety, climate, environment, business conditions, medical care, public transportation, global connections and quality of architecture.
Kyoto was the capital city of Japan for more than 1000 years. It is known for its beauty and richness in historical events. Temples and shrines that were built during the imperial times are the best attractions in this place. Seventeen of the temples in this city have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. If you would like to know the history of Japan, Kyoto is the city to visit.
Famous Japanese Temples
Temples are important to the Japanese people since ancient time. They go to temples to worship their God which they called Buddha. There are thousands of temples in Japan and in every part of their municipalities. Some of their famous temples listed as World Heritage sites are:
- Byodo-In Temple – Located in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, this Buddhist temple was built in year 998 by Fujiwara No Michinaga. Some national treasures can be found here like the great statue of Amida Buddha, the primary of Shin Buddhist practices and faith. Japanese people put the image of Byodo-in Temple on their Ten Yen coin to keep and immortalise the ethnical significance of the temple.
- Anrakuji Temple – This Buddhist temple is open during the cherry blossoms season. It is a good place to visit to see the beautiful colour of cherry trees during autumn season. The temple was built in year 1681.
- Daigoji Temple – This Shingon Buddhist temple was built in year 874 by Rigen Daishi. You can see the The Five Story Pagoda (oldest building in Japan) inside the temple. The Pagoda is also included in the list of Historic Monuments in Kyoto.
- Honganji Temple – Two Buddhist temples which are 200 meters apart and became just one temple. This is famous because of the Japanese garden attracting many tourists. It was built in year 1321 to worship Amida Buddha.
- Kiyomizu Dera Temple – Built in 798 and in 1633 by Tokugawa Lemitzu. There is a large veranda built over the hillside where tourists can see the beautiful views of the city.
Popular Japanese Food
You can eat ramen and sushi in any restaurants or even in food stalls on the streets. Ramen refers to Japanese noodles with their flavourful Miso soup serve with meat toppings while sushi is a rolled rice top with Onigiri (Japanese seaweeds), salmon, shrimp or egg.
Japanese dishes are prepared and served using unique methods of preparation. Here are some of their cultural methods:
- Kaiseki Ryori ( kaiseki means stones in a bossom) is a multi-course meal that uses fresh ingredients. The popular ones consist of a Sashimi(rolled rice with raw salmon on top), simmered or grilled dish , Miso soup (Japanese traditional soup) and appetizer. To be more appealing, flowers or leaves are used as garnishing. The plate used in serving the food matches the theme of the dish.
- Shojin Ryori – Shojin is a Buddhist term which means asceticism in pursuit of enlightment and Ryori means cooking. It is a way of cooking that originated from the ancient monks and very popular among the Buddhist followers. The meal consists of vegetables and fruits, truly vegetarian.
- Obanzai Ryori – (Obanzai means any food) is Kyoto’s traditional dish composed of tofu, boiled fish and sea vegetables, boiled Japanese white radish, boiled or fried eggplant and miso soup.
Other popular food in Kyoto are tempura, sukiyaki, shabu-shabu and tofu.
Best time to visit
March and April are the spring months and the best time to visit Kyoto because of the appealing cherry blossom trees also known as the beautiful sakura, the Japanese cherry which symbolizes the immortality of life and death.
September and October are the autumn months, the time when you can see the trees turning in colourful shades of red, yellow and gold.
Japan has four seasons but Kyoto differs from other parts of the country because of its super hot temperature when it is summer and cold humid during winter.