When I think back on the best cities Ruth I have been to, Kyoto, Japan, always comes to mind. We almost didn’t go there. Mack, a Japanese friend, helped me to plan our trip. When he heard that we were going to Tokyo, Mack insisted that we change our itinerary and go instead to Kyoto. I’m glad I listened and changed the plans. Our week in Kyoto was inspiring, and our side trip to Hiroshima was life-changing. One travel guide told me that Kyoto is the place where Japanese people go to learn about their own culture. I believe it!
Kyoto is a storehouse of Japanese culture and history. There are more than 1,600 Buddhist temples to explore and 400+ Shinto shrines in and around this city. I defy anyone to visit most of them. We tried and were lucky to just make it to some of the more impressive ones, and truthfully they do run together with a kind of sameness after a while. We saw the iconic Fushimi-Inari shrine and a golden temple or two but didn’t make it to Kiyomizu-Dera. I regret this now and have to content myself with articles about it, which are not hard to find. Kyoto is surrounded by mountains containing hundreds of hidden temples and shrines like Kiyomizu-Dera. We saw some attractions in the foothills but didn’t explore beyond them.
Kiyomizu-dera is in a lot of articles with names like Amazing Places for not-hard-to-figure reasons. It’s halfway up Mount Otowa and juts out over a cliff. Traditionally, those who jump from this cliff and survive the 4-story fall have their prayers answered. This temple has been around since the 8th century and has survived many fires to always be rebuilt. Its grounds contain a spring, a waterfall, a forest of old-growth sugi trees, and a tram to the top of the mountain. It sounds like a temple not to be missed, and if by some miracle we make it to the postponed summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2021 we might make a return trip to Kyoto after all. That would be fine with me!
PS Ruth & I have been watching a lot of films, and one of the better ones turned out to be a Japanese film called Woman in the Dunes. It’s easily available on several services and totally different from any movie we have ever seen.