Further afield – day trips from Kyoto

Kyoto makes a great base from which to explore the southern part of Honshu (the largest island), with frequent and fast train connections from it’s vast and futuristic main station. Most of the places below are on the main train line running from Kyoto to Kyushu island.

Home to an absolute must see, Todai-ji, the largest wooden building in the world (the second largest is Old Parliament House in Wellington), housing the largest bronze Buddha in the world (weighing 500 tonnes!). Also hard to avoid the numerous deer wandering around the place.
DSCF6088 Todai-ji DSCF6099 Todai-ji DSCF6102 Todai-ji DSCF6073 Nara DSCF6079 Nara

Himeji Castle is one of the few surviving original wooden castles in Japan, and a quite incredible building. Great example of what makes Japan so interesting, with similar things to the West (gardens, castles, religious buildings) but designed and built in completely different styles.
DSCF6199 Himeji Castle DSCF6168 Himeji Castle DSCF6162 Himeji Castle

Hadn’t heard of Okayama until I got to Japan and happened to see it mentioned in a booklet. Turned out to be an unexpected highlight due to the attractive if replica Okayama Castle, and Korakuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan (along with Kenroku-en in Kanazawa and Kairaku-en in Mito).
DSCF5712 Okayama Castle DSCF5714 Okayama Castle DSCF5734 Korakuen Garden DSCF5736 Korakuen Garden DSCF5742 Korakuen Garden

Seeing the Atomic Bomb Memorial in person was a genuinely jaw dropping experience that brought home the impact of the first nuclear bomb, which was reinforced through the powerful Peace Memorial Museum. The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum and Hiroshima Castle are also worth a visit.
DSCF5769 Hiroshima DSCF5761 Hiroshima DSCF5787 Centoaph DSCF5795 Hiroshima DSCF5797 Hiroshima DSCF5804 Hiroshima DSCF5824 Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum DSCF5817 Hiroshima

For me just about worth the six hour return train trip from Kyoto to visit Engaku-ji, one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan (along with Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito). It is impressive if obviously very Japanese, i.e. looking much like most other Japanese gardens… Tsuzumimon at the main entrance to the station was impressive though, and parts of Kanazawa Castle remain.
DSCF6269 Kamazawa DSCF6287 Kamazawa DSCF6210 Kamazawa DSCF6366 Kamazawa

Japan’s second most important (if third largest after Yokohama) city is famous for it’s food scene, and has enough sights to warrant a day trip.

Osaka Castle Park
The castle itself is a concrete replica (complete with a lift) of the wooden original (which as with most old buildings in Japan burnt down), sitting in the middle of a huge park, complete with a double moat. An historic place, best appreciated by reading James Clavell’s Shogun or Giles Milton’s Samurai William: The Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan.
DSCF6624 Osaka DSCF6622 Osaka DSCF6687 Osaka

Osaka Museum of History
An interesting and well presented (complete with great views over the city) history museum worth a visit.
DSCF6680 Osaka Museum of History DSCF6690 Osaka Museum of History DSCF6708 Osaka

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
One of the better aquariums I’ve visited around the world, though I did get the feeling that many people there were as interested in what the fish would taste like as were interested in what they looked like.
DSCF6714 Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan DSCF6725 Osaka DSCF6740 Osaka DSCF6753 Osaka DSCF6768 Osaka DSCF6790

An hour south by train from Kyoto to visit Byōdō-in (Phoenix Hall), a beautiful building featured on the 10 yen coin.
DSCF6048 Byodo-in DSCF6052 Byodo-in

Author: jontycrane

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