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Kyoto

Nijo Castle

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This is a must when visiting Kyoto. The Kyoto Residence of the Tokugawa Shogun was built in 1603. Nijo Castle is unique in Japanese cultural heritage sites as it has never been reconstructed; everything about the castle is original, including the interior. A favourite for many visitors is the ‘nightingale floor’ leading to the grand chambers. It got its name from the squeaking floorboards that made it difficult for intruders to sneak in. Rich in interior, with beautiful woodcarvings and paintings by the top artists of that period, Nijo Castle is where many major Japan historical events took place including the last Tokugawa shogun, handing power over to the Emperor in 1867 and thus ending the Tokugawa shogunate's 250 year rule. Nijo Castle is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Opening Hours: 08:45 – 17:00, closed Tuesdays during Jan, Jul, Aug and Dec
  • Location: 541 Nijojo, Nijo-dori Horikawa-Nishi-Iru, Nakagyo
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 841 0096
  • How to get there: Subway Tozai Line, Nijojo-mae Station
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Nijo Jinya

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The intricate, stealthy architecture continues at Nijo Jinya. Built in the seventeenth century Nijo Jinya was originally a merchant’s house which was later used as an inn for feudal lords while they visited the Emperor. The structure has many amazing features such as trapdoors, false walls, secret tunnels and soundproofing constructed in an era when espionage and deception where the order of the day.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 - 15:00
  • Location: 137 Sanboomiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku
  • Remarks: Nijo Jinya is closed for renovation from May 2009 for about three years.
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 841 0972
  • How to get there: Subway Tozai Line, Nijo-jo-mae Station
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The Museum of Kyoto

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A grand old Meiji period building houses this fascinating contemporary museum. With excellent audio-visual displays, scale models of Kyoto in bygone days and an amazing life-size street scene that recreates Kyoto during the Edo period, the museum is interactive and interesting. The museum also has a section devoted to the Kyoto film industry.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 - 19:30
  • Location: Sanjo-Takakura, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 222 0888
  • How to get there: Subway Hankyu Line, Karasuma-Oike Station
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Kamogawa Odori at Ponto-cho Kaburencho Theatre

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Witness the gentle elegant grace of the geisha during this biannual event held in May and October. Both geiko (accomplished geisha) and their trainees (maiko) perform brilliant classical dances and musical recitals during three daily shows. With exquisite costumes, make up and props these rare public geisha performances are extremely popular drawing crowds from across the globe.

  • Opening Hours: May and Oct, Showtimes:12:30, 14:20 and 16:10
  • Location: Ponto-cho Kaburen-jo Theater
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 221 2025
  • How to get there: Keihan Railway, Shijo Station
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Honnoji Temple

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Suicide and betrayal underscore this Nichiren temple which was built in 1415 and rebuilt in 1587 after being ravaged by fire. Here, infamous warlord Oda Nobunaga, took his own life after being betrayed by his general Mitsuhide Akechi and a monument to his sacrifice is located within the temple grounds.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 17:30
  • Location: 522 Shimohonnojimae-cho, Teramachi-dori, Oike-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 231 5335
  • How to get there: Tozai line, Shiyakushomae Station
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Shinsen-en Garden

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Once an extensive Chinese garden, only small sections of the original landscaping remain at Shinsen-en Garden. The most notable feature of the garden is the pond called the Garden of the Sacred Spring which has been an important ceremonious site for centuries, the water therein is believed to have restorative and protective powers.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 17:00
  • Location: 167 Monzen-cho, Oike-dori Shinsenen-cho Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 821 1466
  • How to get there: Subway Tozai Line, Nijojo-mae Station
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Izumi Shikibu (Joshin-in Temple)

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Izumi Shikibu is one of Japan’s most famous female poets and this shrine pays homage to her genius. Born in 976 throughout her life she married twice, had two royal lovers and brilliantly crafted almost 1500 waka 31-syllable poems on essential themes like love, death, Buddhism and enlightenment.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 16:30
  • Location: Shinkyokoku-dori, Rokkaku-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku
  • How to get there: Keifuku Railway (streetcar) Shijo-omiya Station
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Gallery Oni

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The launch pad for many of Japan’s most famous artists, the Gallery Oni exhibits extraordinary paintings and photography. Often intricate tapestries, silks and sculptures can be found. At every turn, a new visual muse and many of the items are for sale.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10:30 – 18:30
  • Location: Teramachi Nijo Agaru Nishigawa
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 222 0430
  • How to get there: Subway Tozai Line, Sanjo Station

Mibu Temple

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Mibu-kyogen is a revered site belonging to the Risshu sect of Buddhism. Built in 991 the temple honours Enmei Jizo Bosatsu, the guardian deity of children. With Children’s Days for boys and girls being two important national holidays, Mibu Temple is a sacred place believed to have the power to fend off evil spirits while ensuring prosperity in the future. A bean scattering festival called Yakuyoke-setsubun-e is held here annually in February.

  • Opening Hours: 08:30 – 17:30
  • Location: Boujo-bukko-ji kita-iru, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 841 3381
  • How to get there: Hankyu Railway, Omiya Station
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