28164Re: trip to Japan
- Feb 29, 2012I agree with Ii-dono about the museum in Tokyo and the stereotypical major temples in Kyoto. Kiyomizudera is a must, partly because the approach is through an awesome historic district lined with shops that have been there for generations and generations.
Also if you have a few hours free in Tokyo one day I recommend Sensoji temple in Asakusa (a district of Tokyo). The temple itself isn't all that exciting IMHO but it has impressive gates (Google for "kaminarimon") and the street between the gate and the temple building is like a festival every day. It's been a tourist trap for a thousand years, so there are street food and tourist shops everywhere (which I kind of like). It's a great place to do souvenir shopping, and one of the few places you will see tourist-oriented "traditional" Japanese goods like geta and yukata and geisha wigs and stuff like that. There are nice inexpensive ryokan (inns) and restaurants on all the side streets there too.
If "soon" is really soon then you might have trouble with crowding in Kyoto for cherry blossom season. Make sure you have lodging well in advance. By the way, I was last there in maple leaf season, and I found Ryoanji completely useless when crowded with tourists - if you go, make sure you get a few minutes of calm contemplation in. (But I think Ryoanji is not on the must-do list if you have limited time.)
One of my favorite things in Japan is Nijo castle near Kyoto. It's a mid-sized palace with great gardens and beautiful rooms. I just love walking through and imagining living there!
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