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Kinkakuji the Golden Pavilion is a Zen temple(originally Rokuonj)i. In 1397 the construction started as part of a new residence for the retired shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Kinkakuji was later converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimitsu's death in 1408. The Golden Pavilion functions as shariden and houses sacred relics of the Buddha covered in gold leaf. The present building dates from 1955 since the pavilion was burnt by a fanatic monk during 1950 who then attempted suicide on the hill behind the building. He survived and was arrested. His mother, who was called in to talk with the police, on her way home committed suicide by jumping from her train into a river valley. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison but died of an illness during his imprisonment in 1956. At that time, the statue of Ashikaga Yoshimistu was also burned down.

Fushimi-Inari Temple: This temple was shown to me by a local friend who thought it was prettiest to see at night. He was right. This temple is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, sake, and prosperity and is the only temple with 10,000 toriis.(shrine gates)  It takes about two hours to walk along the whole trail, and it is said to have nice views of Kyoto from the top. Since I went at night it was too spooky to walk through the whole thing but I would definitely recommend going to it during the day time. History wise, it is one of Kyoto's oldest temples (founded in 711 AD) and the most revered Shinto shrines, it also serves as the headquarters for all the 40,000 shrines dedicated to Inari across Japan. Beside the Kinkakuji Golden Pavillion, this is one of my favorite temples.

Side note:Along the hiking trail, small restaurants serve Kitsune Udon ("Fox Udon"), a noodle soup topped with pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), a treat favored by foxes. You can also try Inari sushi, which is fried tofu wrapped around sweetened rice. I recently found this out but I have never tried these myself.

Arashiyama is a pleasant, touristy area in the outskirts of Kyoto. Its landmark is the Togetsukyo Bridge which forested Mount Arashiyama as backdrop.

There are many things to see: Tenryuji, a leading Zen temple, shops, cafes and restaurants are found in the district's busy center around Togetsukyo Bridge and Keifuku Arashiyama Station.North of the central area, there are bamboo groves and a residential district with several small temples, scattered along the base of the wooded mountains. The area with its rural feel is best explored on foot, by rental bicycle (around 700 Yen per day) Another pleasant thing to do is taking a two hour boat tour down the Honzu river. If you are a Johnny's fan, there is also a Johnny's Shop on the street on the way to the Togetsukyo Brigde.

Nijo Castle (Nijojo) was built by Tokugawa Leyasu founder of the Edo Shogunate, as the Kyoto residence for himself and his successors.

This building is now known as Ninomaru (secondary castle) which was completed in 1603 and was enlarged by Ieyasu's grandson, Lemitsu. It survived in its original form and is famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and floors that squeak like nightingales when someone walks on them (a security measure against intruders).

You are allowed to walk inside the castle although the rooms are blocked from entrance. If you understand Japanese or have a Japanese friend, you can listen to a audio recording on the history of each area/room used by the imperial family. Also, next to this temple there are many beautiful gardens and tea tasting opportunities.

Shijo Shopping Street: The area from the river west to Karasuma-dori, roughly bordered by Shijo-dori (4th Street) and Oike-dori is where Kyoto's main shopping streets are located. In addition to the great department stores and the enormous number of small shops and specialty stores, there are large arcades. Plus there are also many movie theaters, restaurants (in the narrow laneways closest to Potoncho- there is a discreet red light district). Here there is also one of my favorite kaiten sushi places which has revolving sushi for 100($1) yen for two pieces. This is actually the only place I have gone that has uni(sea urchin) fot 100 Yen. probably the cheapest Kaiten sushi place I have ever been to.

Gion: Known as Kyoto's traditional pleasure quarter and where Kabuki first started. There have been teahouses and Geisha here since the late 1500's. The narrow laneways of Pontocho offer many bars and riverside dining in the summer, while further west - the area bounded by Karasuma-dori (west), Oike-dori (north), the river (east) and Shijo-dori (south) - is the shopper's paradise with department stores and specialty shops to keep any avid consumer busy. Yasaka Shrine, popularly known as Gion-san, is on the east side. It is here that the Gion festival begins each July, and it is also the center for New Year revelry each December 31st.

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