kyoto garden

Heian gardens in Kyoto

Kyoto is just over two hours away from Tokyo on the shinkansen (bullet train). This ancient city was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years until 1869 when the imperial court moved to Tokyo during the Imperial Restoration. During WWII, Kyoto was at the top of the atomic bomb target list until the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson stepped in. Stimson wanted to save this cultural center where he’d honeymooned.

Kyoto contains about 2,000 temples (Buddhist) and shrines (Shinto). We spent time at Kiyomizu-dera (temple) and Heian-jingu (shrine). We also explored Nijo Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. And, of course, we strolled the cobbled streets and browsed in the shops. We even got to see some Maika (junior Geisha).

We also ventured off the beaten path in the mountains above Kyoto and hiked from

Kurama to Kibune