You may have heard of a Japanese company called Nintendo (任天堂株式会社). Nintendo is famous for it’s video games. Both it’s game consoles, like the currently popular Wii, and portable game systems, like the Nintendo DS. But you might not know that Nintendo was started in 1889. So, if the company began that long ago, what could they have been doing back before video games? The answer: making playing cards. More specifically, a type of Japanese playing cards with flowers printed on them called hanafuda. The old building of the Nintendo playing card company is still standing in the middle of Kyoto. (The current headquarters of Nintendo is a little bit outside of the city in a bigger, more modern building.)
April 30, 2009
Kyoto is famous for many traditional things: traditional cuisine (such as kaiseki and wagashi sweets), geisha, and traditional crafts.
April 29, 2009
Higashi Honganji (東本願寺) is a very large Buddhist temple, located just a short walk away from Kyoto station, the main train station and portal into the city.
April 28, 2009
At the other end of the Philosopher’s Path from the Silver Pavilion is Nanzen-ji temple (南禅寺). One reason Nanzen-ji is popular among Japanese is for it’s aqueduct, which seems a little out of place on the grounds of a Buddhist temple.
April 27, 2009
We found a small shrine as we walked along the Philosopher’s Path. It was nice to go to this little, uncrowded shrine after seeing the popular Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺- ginkaku-ji).
The next part of my walk down the Philosopher’s Path, after going to see the Silver Pavilion, until I reached my next destination.
April 26, 2009
Ginkaku-ji,The Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺), is at one end of the Philosopher’s Path. It is not actually Silver (unlike the Golden Pavilion [金閣寺], which is actually covered in gold leaf). It is, however, one of Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO World heritage sites.
Kyoto seems like a city of endless places for a tourist to visit. Countless Temples and Shrines dot the maps of this ancient city. Even if you restrict yourself to the most famous ones, you’ll have a spend a good couple of weeks in Kyoto to see them. Kyoto has 17 places listed as UNESCO world heritage sites and many more listed as Japanese National Treasures.
Our first stop on our trip around Kyoto was the Philosopher’s Path, sometimes also called the Philosopher’s Walk (哲学の道). It starts at the Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺) and follows a creek, going by many other (mostly less important) temples and shrines and ends at another famous temple, Nanzenji (南禅寺).
April 25, 2009
I was in Kyoto in late March, just before the cherry blossoms were at their peak. Many buds had sprouted, but they were not yet full blooms. Still, they were quite beautiful and I enjoyed strolling around Gion at night to look at them.
This is a picture from the room in the Ryokan (旅館 – traditional Japanese Inn) where I stayed in the Gion district in Kyoto. Gion (祇園) is the one of Kyoto’s famous former red light districts. When you stay in a ryokan, you are given a traditional dinner and breakfast and sleep on the floor on a futon.