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The gorgeous city of Kyoto is located in the magnificent Tamba highlands, surrounded by three majestic mountains the Higashiyama, Kitayama, Nishiyama, and is nestled in the Yamashiro Basin. It is a three hour train trip away from Hakone, the last stop on our trip so far. Click here to see an interactive web map of our trip.

Nijo, the spooky and eerie as well as wonderfully beautiful Shogun Castle is a must see while in Kyoto. Constructed between 1601 and 1626, the castle is made of wood and thin paper screens. Its inhabitants must have frozen given its paper and wood construction. It seems as if people had minimal privacy too as all the walls and panels slide open between rooms. The garden outside offers various rock and tree gardens done in a very pristine Japanese style. One will often catch a peek of gardeners hand manicuring trees. High on the tall castle battlements it is common to see eagles battling each other overhead.

Nijo, Shogun Castle

The other must see location while in Kyoto is the Gion district. Originally developed in the middle ages, this atmospheric place is located in front of Yasaka Shrine. Built to accommodate the needs of travelers and visitors to the shrine, it eventually evolved into one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. The geisha in the Gion district do not refer to themselves as geisha, but rather Gion geisha use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means "artist" or "person of the arts", the more direct term geiko means essentially "a child of the arts" or "a woman of art". Take a ride on a rickshaw, drink green tea, and walk down streets filled with shops selling all kinds of strange oddities.

Gion geisha

If you do not see Kyoto, you will have missed a life opportunity.

Join me on the next leg of our trip in my next article on Land of the Rising Sun; Japan.


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