In Kyoto, you should just visit everything! The former imperial capital is teeming with temples and sanctuaries that bear testimony to the city's historical, cultural and economic standing. In all, there are some 1,900 places of worship in the city. Obviously, and unfortunately, you won't be able to visit them all so you'll have to make a choice. Some of them, however, should not be missed. In Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district, make sure you visit the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji), known for the elegance of its decorations and its Zen-inspired gardens with a pond. In Koyasan, a landmark of Buddhist and Shintoist worship, the Kongosammai-in sanctuary holds the oldest esoteric pagoda in Japan. If you wish to get an inside look at the mystical side of Japan, head to Adashino Nembutsu-ji. This strange spot is a cemetery that was created by a Buddhist priest who wanted to offer a grave to those too poor to buy one. Today, the cemetery has more than 8,000 gravestones. Also, do not miss the holy site of Yasaka. If you have the opportunity to come here in mid-July, you can take part in Gion Matsuri, one of the largest festivals in Japan.
Every year in October, participants in the rice ceremony put on the traditional dress to celebrate the harvest in Fushimi Inari Taicha.© Kobby Dagan / 123RF
Normally closed to the public, this Buddhist temple, which is also a home for monks, opens its doors to the public twice a year, in the spring and the fall.© jojobob / 123RF
This sacred spot was created by a Buddhist priest for those who were too poor to be able to afford their own tomb. Today the temple has 8,000 steles.© Stephen Gibson
Located in the Gion district in the east of Kyoto, the Yasaka Sanctuary is a sacred place known for the Gion Matsuri Festival, one of the largest festivals in Japan.© Chee-Onn Leong / 123RF
At the Zen Buddhist temple of Daitokuji, you will find strange stones that represent the Jizo: the guardians and protectors of children and pregnant women.© Tupungato / 123RF