Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is one of the most famous castles of Japan along Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto castle recently damaged by the Kyushu earthquake. It is by far the largest castle and attracts a remarkable amount of tourists every year. The castle has undergone recent and extensive restorative work that necessitated five years to complete.

The Himeji Castle is situated on a small hill. It comprises six floors and is surrounded by an intricate defense system. The many defensive walls are pierced by loopholes of different shapes that could be used to fire rifle shots at the enemy. Those defensive walls were designed in such a way to force the enemy to take many detours before reaching the main keep, giving the defenders more time and chances to locate and shoot the enemy. Nowadays, tourists wander across this complex and confusing walkway to reach Himeji Castle. As most Japanese castles are, it is surrounded by a moat: a water channel that encircles the fortress further deterring attacks.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Hyōgo-ken
City : Himeji-shi
District : Honmachi
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Kokoen Garden of Himeji

The Kokoen garden is a Japanese style garden established at the former residence of the lord of Himeji. Kokoen actually features many small gardens of different themes, each enclosed by the original fortified walls that divided the residence in many sections. The central landmark of the garden is the lord’s residence which features a magnificent pond surrounded by a classic Japanese garden.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Hyōgo-ken
City : Himeji-shi
District : Honmachi
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Kyoto Mamehachi in Kyoto’s Pontocho restaurant district

Kyoto’s Pontocho restaurant district is a little gem for dining in Kyoto. The alley is located on the West bank of the iconic Kamogawa river, facing the famous geisha district of Gion. Restaurants are found on both sides of the alley Continue reading Kyoto Mamehachi in Kyoto’s Pontocho restaurant district

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District : Shimokorikichō
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Nanzenji temple

Nanzen-ji is a Buddhist temple of Kyoto that was established in 1291 by the emperor Kameyama on the site of his retirement palace. It is particularly known for its massive gate and the aqueduct that was built in the nineteenth century to bring fresh water from lake Biwa. The Nanzen-ji temble grounds includes many sub-temples featuring beautiful gardens.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District : Nanzenji Fukuchichō
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Osaka Aquarium

We visited the Osaka aquarium (Kaiyukan) on a rainy day. The aquarium is located on the shore of Osaka bay, next to the Tempozan Ferris wheel. The outside of the building is peculiar and definitely hard to miss. The visit starts on the top floor greenhouse with an exhibit representing the Japanese forest; small mammals and amphibians are on display. The lower floors contain various tanks with sea mammals, fish and some reptiles. The main tank of the aquarium is impressively large and spans several floors in height and hosts the famous whale shark which was unfortunately photo-shy on that day. On the lower floors, giant Japanese spider crabs and an impressive collection of jellyfish steal the show.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Ōsaka-fu
City : Ōsaka-shi
District : Kaigandōri
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Tofukuji Temple

Tofukuji is a large Zen Buddhist temple of Kyoto. It is well known for its forest which displays beautiful colors in fall. The temple also features large covered walkways that protects visitors from the elements.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District : Honmachi 15-chōme
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Fushimi Inari: the climb

Red gates are the staple of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Thousands of them are lined on the path to Inariyama, the mountain hosting the upper Shrine of Fushimi Inari. The walk back and forth from the Shrine to the summit takes about 2 to 3 hours. On top, hundreds of small torii gates are piled in different sections of the Shrine as offerings to the god Inari.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District : Inariyamakanyūchi
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Fushimi Inari: market and lower shrine

The Fushimi Inari shrine is a Shinto shrine famous for its red torii gates: thousands of them line the path linking the entrance of the shrine to the summit of Inariyama. This makes Fushimi Inari truely unique among the many shrines of Japan.

The Shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. Most visitors enjoy a walk to the summit of Mount Inari which offers a nice view of Kyoto. The whole hike back and forth takes about 2-3 hours. If time is limited, there is plenty to enjoy at the Shrine’s entrance. Surrounding streets host lots of small stores with food and souvenirs.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District : Fukakusa Yabunouchichō
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Umekoji train museum

The Umekoji Steam Locomotive museum is located about 20 minutes by foot from the central Kyoto station. The museum is dedicated to Japanese steam locomotives: it features 19 of them, stored in 20-track roundhouse surrounding the turntable. The main entrance to the museum is the old Nijo station that was moved to be part of the museum in 1997. An exhibition train ride occurs three times a day and lasts about 10 minutes.

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Country: Japan
Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District : Kankijichō
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Kyoto Station

Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, abounds with historical landmarks but its main train station is far from anything ancient. The station was built in 1997 and is definitely futuristic by its architectural design. The station deserves the Tokaido Shinkansen line and many of the subway lines of Kyoto. A large number of hotels surround the station which is also located next to a large Isetan shopping mall. Don’t forget to visit the Ramen floor where one can choose among 8 Ramen restaurants!

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Area : Kinki area
Prefecture : Kyōto-fu
City : Kyōto-shi
District :
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