kyoto cherry blossoms

Hello friends! Here’s what I got up to while I was in the beautiful city of Kyoto! Kyoto is located about 2 hours by bullet train from Tokyo and is stunning. It is more traditional than other Japanese cities but still worth it.

About Kyoto

Kyoto was once the capital of Japan. It has a really rich history and is more traditional. Kyoto is located in the Kansai region of Japan and is Japan’s ninth-most populous city.

Zen meditation

Our first full day in the beautiful city started with some Zen meditation. Zen meditation is a form of Buddhism. Unlike Buddhism, which focuses on nirvana, Zen Buddhism focuses on clearing the mind. Unfortunately, since I am autistic and got tested for ADHD, Zen meditation proved to be a challenge for me. However, the temple we were at was stunning.

Kyoto zen temple

A beautiful camellia in bloom

kyoto zen temple

A cute little Buddha statue

kyoto zen temple

Bamboo shoots starting to grow

kyoto zen temple

Lantern at the temple

kyoto zen temple

Area to pray and donate

kyoto zen temple

Beautiful florals

kyoto zen garden

Cute owl statue

kyoto zen garden
kyoto zen temple

A pile of yen coins left behind by people who prayed at the temple

kyoto zen temple

A snack after some Zen Buddhism practice. A wagashi and some matcha.

Overall, even though I had a difficult time with Zen Buddhism, the temple was still a very beautiful and serene spot.

Kyoto Imperial Gardens

Next, we went to the Kyoto Imperial Garden. Located inside the Kyoto Imperial Palace, these gardens were stunning. The cherry blossoms had decided to bloom once we reached Kyoto, so it was an extra treat.

I’ve wanted to see cherry blossoms in Japan since I was 15 years old. It feels good to finally have accomplished this.

A cute little pond

This is the prettiest thing I’ve captured in Kyoto…how gorgeous are the cherry blossoms over the pond?

I love some magnolia blossoms too!

An engraved rock on the palace grounds

One final look at the palace

Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavillion)

After visiting the Imperial Palace, we went to another tourist attraction: The Kinkaku-Ji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavillion. This little shrine is famed for its gold-leafed walls and beautiful surroundings.

The entrance to the Golden Pavillion

The Golden Pavillion itself

Another stunning view of the Golden Pavillion

Cool growths

More photos of the entrance

Another shot of the pavilion. You can see how golden it is.

An actual crane! Cranes are symbols of long life in Asia, particularly in China and Japan.

A waterfall!

A little prayer rock. You toss a coin and if it lands in the bowl, you’ll be lucky.

Different views of the same sculpture.

Prayer area at the shrine.

Overall, the Kinkaku-ji was so beautiful. It was easily my second favorite place in Kyoto after the Imperial Palace Garden.

Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo)

Our next stop was Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo). Nijo Castle is an ancient shogunate flatland castle and is adorned with beautiful Chinese zodiac carvings. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside, so I only got photos from the outside.

The beautiful black and gold exterior

The famed Chinese zodiac carvings

Close up of the exterior arch. All 12 Chinese zodiac animals can be found here.

The whole castle

One last look at the beautiful arch

Cherry blossoms from the castle grounds

This section of the castle was blocked off.

More cherry blossoms

The castle moat

Another part of the castle that was blocked off

Once again with the gorgeous black and gold decor

Overall, the castle was beautiful. It was a shame we couldn’t take any photos inside, but I understand for preservation’s sake.

Traditional Tea Ceremony

After visiting the castle, we were invited to a traditional tea ceremony. The tea ceremony is an important part of Japanese culture.

A traditional Japanese sweet-a wagashi. It was made of lemongrass and was very tasty


The matcha cup

The matcha powder with lid

The whisk to make matha frothy

We were also given the opportunity to make our own matcha as well

A kimono from the tea ceremony shop

Matchmaking shrine and traditional lunch

We went to a matchmaking shrine and a traditional lunch.

Beautiful canola flowers at the shrine

I loved this little shrine, and it was fascinating watching the shrine maidens work to get it prepared for the holiday.

Lunch at a traditional restaurant.

Overall, our first couple of days in Kyoto were very fun. It’s such a beautiful, traditional city and I hope I can go back someday.

Have you ever been to Kyoto?

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