Excursion tour in Kyoto. Top architecture - monuments, castles, temples and palaces

Kyoto Autumn Let’s move further. The upcoming famous architecture monuments of Kyoto that deserve to be mentioned are Kyoto National Museum, Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Sanjusangen-do, and Nijo Castle. An overview of interesting facts and a collection of photographs are available for each monument. In order to plan a route for your real-life sightseeing tour in Kyoto, use our interactive map of sights in of Kyoto that is available below this article.

Kyoto National Museum, Kyoto

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The Kyoto National Museum is a red brick building. Its total area is 50 thousand m2.
» The new building built in 1966 houses permanent collections including pieces of Asian arts. 12 000 exhibits are placed into three sectors. 230 exhibits are national Japanese treasures.
» The collection includes exhibits that have been kept in temples, royal palaces, and personal houses before. There are 200 000 photos.
» The showroom is divided into three sections. The first one, “beaux-arts”, presents sculptures, paintings, and calligraphy. The second section, “handcraft”, presents ceramic items, woven fabrics, and home-made lacquer and metal works. Tea cups, Japanese chawan, are very attractive. They are covered with glaze and were made in the 12th century. The third section is dedicated to archeology and archeological relics.
» Besides, there is the Meiji Kotokan Hall (the tomb of the imperial family) in the territory of the museum. It is a small tea house where you can see the garden with fountains, stone statues of Buddha, Korean stone sculptures, and how tea is made in accordance with age-old traditions.

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The golden pavilion is a Buddhist temple with a pyramidal roof. Relics are kept here under special conditions.
» The building is faced with gold leaf covered with protective lacquer. It was built in 1397.
» In 1950, the Golden Pavilion was burnt completely but it was restored fast.
» Each level of the three-storied building was constructed in accordance with architectural traditions of different eras: palace architecture, the samurai residence, and the Buddhist sanctuary.
» The ground floor is an audience hall with a protruding terrace. In the room, there is the statue of Buddha and the founder of the monastery.
» The statue of the founder is decorated with drawings. Poetic and music evenings are held in the hall.
» The building has a remote tile roof. It is crowned with a mythical phoenix.
» It is decorated with small oval windows. You can see floral ornaments on the alcoves. Patterned cornices, grates, light pillars... The exterior of the building impresses with its elegance and ease. Religious rites are held here.
» Japanese rules inspired by the “golden” exterior of the temple built the “silver pavilion” in the other part of the city.
» This building has been mentioned in fiction.
» The palace is surrounded by a garden and a tea house.

Ryoan-ji, Kyoto

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Ryoan-ji, or the Temple of the Dragon at Peace, is the estate of imperial nobility and the tomb of the founder of one of the Buddhist schools.
» Unusual constructions have not been preserved to this day, as they were destroyed in a fire.
» Not tombs but the Dry Stone Garden (1499) located in front of the monastery’s abbot’s house attracts attention.
» There are 15 dark rough minerals placed in a particular order in a small rectangular terrace covered with white gravel. They are placed in a harmonious order: 7 – 5 – 3. The biggest mineral is less than half of the man’s height. It is surrounded by green moss that frames and contrasts with it. The surface around the boulders is cleaned with a special rake that creates circles.
» The earthen fence protects rocks from prying eyes. It has an interesting feature: you can see only 14 boulders at the site (23x9 m). They vary in shape. The unusual “Stone Garden” was planted by masters for monks’ meditation.
» The stone vessel near the terrace is very interesting too. The water always comes into it. It is used for ritual baths. The bowl is situated so low that you have to bend over it to express your respect and plea.

Sanjusangen-do, Kyoto

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The 118-meter temple was founded in 1164. The Japanese word means “the Hall of 33 Stairs” or wooden pillars upholding the foundation.
» The sanctuary is dedicated to Goddess Kannon, a protector from troubles. She is reflected in 1001 sculptures. They are kept in the central hell.
» There is big statue Kannon (the goddess with a hundred arms) in the shadow on the lotus. There are gilded figurines in 10 rows, 50 items in a tier. Each figurine is unique as it has its own facial expression and dress. Sculptures are made of camphor laurel. They are covered with gilt. They were made in the 12th-13th centuries.
» The narrow construction with a width of 18 meters stretches from the north to the south and is considered as the longest wooden construction in the world. The building has a tiled roof with smooth curves.
» Competitions in Japanese crossbow shooting in the territory of the complex. As the legend says, the samurai fired 13 thousand arrows, 8 thousands of which met the goal.
» The earth wall surrounding the temple and the entrance gate of the 16th century are also very interesting.
» Before crossing the threshold of the building, you must wash your hands. Near the temple, there is a garden planted according to the traditions of Japanese arts.

Nijo Castle, Kyoto

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The building was built in 1626. The castle is the shelter of Kyoto rulers. The name of the castle is similar to the name of the road where it is located.
» You can enter the complex only through the gate on the eastern side. The territory is fenced with stone walls and ponds. There is a Japanese garden with a pond, rocks, and pines growing on islets.
» The inner area is protected by several rings.
» The park is famous for cherry trees growing here. They bloom by the end of April. Maples and ginko (relict) trees make the landscape more beautiful.
» The castle includes several separate constructions. They are linked with hallways. They are distinguished by a squeaky floor with special covering that squeaks when coming into contact with something.
» 33 luxurious rooms are tiled with special mats. The rooms are separated by sliding doors with colorful patterns. The walls in the conference room are decorated with painted herons and fancy flowers. Living rooms feature pictures with sleeping sparrows against the black-and-white background.
» The collection of 3 thousand paintings is kept here.
» The guards' rooms are so disguised that it is impossible to see them inside the paper walls.
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Plan your own tour over Kyoto on the monuments map

More to see in Kyoto
Kyoto has been preserving the status of the cultural capital of Japan for many years. It is an amazing city that managed to preserve old-world charm over the centuries. There are beautiful Buddhist temples and palaces, exquisite gardens with fountains and sculptures - historical and architectural monuments of different ages has survived in the city. One of the most famous sights of Kyoto is located in the eastern part of the city; it is the temple of Kiyomizu-dera that was founded in the early 9th century. Many interesting legends and stories are attributed to this shrine; during its long history the temple was completely destroyed a few times, but then rebuilt again by efforts of local people. Today we can see the building, which was built in 1833. The Golden Pavilion is considered to be perhaps the most famous monument of architecture. Incredibly beautiful three-story building was erected in the late 14th century. Walls of the pavilion are covered with gold foil that gave the name to the construction. Today, it is considered to be a true epitome of luxury; inner hall of the pavilion is also distinguished by the abundance of the unique jewelry. The pavilion, which visitors can see today, was built in 1955 and it is a replica of the old building. The old building burned down five years earlier, but an accurately recreated pavilion also looks compelling. There is also the Silver Pavilion in Kyoto. Its construction was completed in 1482. Unlike the previous sights, this … Read further

Tours through neighbours of Kyoto

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