Chion-in temple (知恩院)

The Chion-in temple is located very close to the Yasaka Shrine. It is a very large temple with a lot trees and splendid architecture. I really liked the feeling of peace emanating for the temple. Slightly uphill from the temple are some cemeteries which offer a great view of the temple and some parts of Kyoto from above.

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Heian Jingu Shrine (平安神宮)

The Heian Jingu shrine is one of the biggest and most important shrines in Kyoto and remains easy to access from the city centre. For a small fee, the garden of Heian Jingu, which I was lucky enough to visit during the blooming of Cherry Blossoms, offers magnificent views.

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Yasaka shrine, sakura and o-hanami (Yasaka-jinja 八坂神社)

Located next to the Gion district (Gion at night;Geisha;Gion in daytime) the Yasaka shrine is very lively in sakura season, filled with vendors of Japanese street food. There, you find people eating, drinking and having lots of fun under the Sakura trees (Cherry blossoms). If you are lucky, you might even see a Geisha entertaining her customers.

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Gion district in sakura season (祇園)

Japanese people have a special love for Cherry Blossoms (Sakura in Japanese language) trees. When Sakura trees bloom in Japan, approximately around mid-April, Japanese head to parks for a picnic under the trees. This type of picnic is referred to as o-hanami in Japanese language. In Kyoto, one of the great places to do o-hanami is the Gion district, where the ambiance of older times is well preserved and where plenty of restaurants and isakaya can be found. One of the best way to enjoy this district, in my opinion, is to walk somewhat randomly on the small streets which often lead to great surprises. About the great sights I was able to observe, the photo gallery will speak for itself!

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Hie Shrine (Hie Jinja,日枝神社)

What fascinates me about Japan is how tradition and modernity are incorporated seamlessly in both social behaviors and architecture. Hie Jinja (Shrine) is a good example of the later. It is located in a modern sector of Tokyo, very close to the Japanese government buildings (Diet), and yet, the shrine offers an oasis of serenity amist the turbulent modernity of Tokyo.

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Mount Kurohime (kurohime-yama,黒姫)

Mount Kurohime is located in the northern part of Nagano prefecture. When I visited with my girlfriend’s family, there were really nice gardens in full bloom. We took the cable-car to go half-way to the summit where we enjoyed a fantastic view of Lake Nojiri.

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Suwa Grand Shrine in the evening (suwa-taisha,諏訪大社)

Just before going to see the fireworks in Kamisuwa, we visited the Suwa Grand Shrine before the sunset. Because of the darkness, and a light rain, the site was really empty and we could truly enjoy the serenity of the sacred site.

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