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Kansai

Articles and travel guides on famous and not so famous destinations in the Kansai Region (関西地方 Kansai-chihō): Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga

Most Popular

  • Kansai Travel Guide

    The Kansai Region (関西地方 Kansai-chihō), sometimes coterminous with the official geographical designation “Kinki Region” (近畿地方 Kinki-chihō),...
  • Kiyomizudera Temple

    Kiyomizudera (清水寺 “Clear Water Temple”) is a temple of the Hossō sect of Buddhism. It is located on a high hill in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto....
  • Kyoto Travel Guide

    The ancient Imperial Capital of Japan is one of the few places that is a must on almost any itinerary. With a wealth of temples, shrines and Nijō...
  • Ryoanji Temple

    The Ryoanji temple (竜安寺 or 龍安寺, Ryōan-ji, “Temple of the Peaceful Dragon”) is a temple in the Ukyō Ward of Kyoto, belonging to the Myōshinji...
  • Todaiji Temple

    Tōdai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple) is a major monastery-temple belonging to the Kegon sect of Buddhism. It was erected by order of Emperor Shōmu...
  • Shiga Prefecture

    Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県) is part of the Kansai Region and borders the prefectures of Fukui, Gifu, Mie and Kyōto. Shiga is one of the eight...
  • Shoshazan Engyoji Temple

    Shoshazan Engyō-ji (書寫山圓教寺, "Temple of Complete Teachings") is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism located northwest of Himeji City. History...
  • Kinkakuji Temple

    Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, formally known as Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺 “Deer Garden Temple”), is located in Kyōto’s Kita Ward and...
  • Ginkakuji Temple

    Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺), the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, formally known as Jishō-ji (慈照寺, “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is located in Kyōto’s Sakyō Ward...
  • Kyoto Prefecture

    Located in central Honshū, Kyoto Prefecture (京都府 Kyōto-fu) is bounded by Fukui, Shiga and Mie prefectures on the east, Nara Prefecture on the...
  1. Shoshazan Engyoji Temple

    Shoshazan Engyō-ji (書寫山圓教寺, "Temple of Complete Teachings") is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism located northwest of Himeji City. History Engyō-ji was founded in 966 on top of Mount Shosha (371m) by the priest Shōku Shōnin (性空上人, 910-1007) in what was then known as Harima Province (modern-day Hyōgo Prefecture). It is the twenty-seventh station of the Thirty-Three Temples of the Western Pilgrimage (西国三十三所 Saigoku Sanjūsan-sho) in the Kansai region of Japan, of similar fame as the Shikoku Pilgrimage. As is the case with many of the great temples and edifices of Japan, it was...
  2. Minakuchi Castle

    Minakuchi Castle (水口城 Minakuchi-jō), located in Kōka, Shiga Prefecture, is a hirayama-style (lit. "hill-top on a plain") castle also known as Hekisui-jō (碧水城, "deep blue water castle"), a reference to its reflection on the surface of the moat. It was constructed between 1632-1634 under Tokugawa Iemitsu. For most of the Edo Period, a branch of the Katō family (tozama-daimyō) ruled over the castle. Minakuchi Castle Rulers from 1682: a branch of the Katō family with a stipend of 20,000 koku 1695-1712: a branch of the Torii family (20,000 koku) from 1712 to the Meiji Restoration: the Katō...
  3. Kiyomizudera Temple

    Kiyomizudera (清水寺 “Clear Water Temple”) is a temple of the Hossō sect of Buddhism. It is located on a high hill in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto. Officially called Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺), it was founded around 788 by the monk Enchin with support of Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758-811), a general who fought several campaigns to bring eastern Japan under the control of the central government. The temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as such part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities). History Legend has it that Enchin, originally a...
  4. Ryoanji Temple

    The Ryoanji temple (竜安寺 or 龍安寺, Ryōan-ji, “Temple of the Peaceful Dragon”) is a temple in the Ukyō Ward of Kyoto, belonging to the Myōshinji branch of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. It is most famous for its rock garden in the karesansui (枯山水, “dry landscape”) style. Among its patrons were the Hosokawa family, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The temple and its gardens are part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. History In the Heian Period, the temple site was originally the estate of a branch of...
  5. Todaiji Temple

    Tōdai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple) is a major monastery-temple belonging to the Kegon sect of Buddhism. It was erected by order of Emperor Shōmu (聖武天皇, 701-756) in the eastern part of Nara, the capital of Japan between 710-784, to become the most important religious institution within the network of provincial monasteries and convents (kokubunji) throughout Japan. Todai-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”, together with seven other sites including temples, shrines and places in the city of Nara. Immense in scale, Todaiji represented...
  6. Shiga Prefecture

    Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県) is part of the Kansai Region and borders the prefectures of Fukui, Gifu, Mie and Kyōto. Shiga is one of the eight landlocked prefectures of Japan and takes the form of a basin surrounded by mountains on all sides. Lake Biwa (琵琶湖 Biwa-ko), in central Shiga, is the largest lake in Japan. The climate is moderate with heavy snowfall in the northern half. Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県) History Known as Ōmi Province (近江国 Ōmi no kuni) or Gōshū (江州) after the Taika Reform (645/46), the area was important from early on. The city of Ōtsu (大津市), the modern capital of Shiga...
  7. Kyoto Travel Guide

    The ancient Imperial Capital of Japan is one of the few places that is a must on almost any itinerary. With a wealth of temples, shrines and Nijō Castle (二条城 Nijō-jō, built by the former Tokugawa shogunate), Kyōto has enough to keep a temple- and history-freak occupied for a week or more. Nearby is Nara, capital of Japan before Kyōto, where you can see the Daibutsu (奈良大仏, Great Buddha) and many more temples. Ōsaka is just an hour’s train ride away to the south if you are looking for your next destination or want some of the bright lights of Japan’s second city. Kyōto is for Japanese the...
  8. Ginkakuji Temple

    Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺), the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, formally known as Jishō-ji (慈照寺, “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is located in Kyōto’s Sakyō Ward and belongs to the Shōkokuji (相国寺) branch of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Ginkakuji stands on the site of an abandoned Tendai monastery, the Jōdo-ji, in a scenic area of Kyōto favoured by Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利 義政, 1435–1490), the eighth Muromachi shōgun. In 1465, Yoshimasa announced his intention of building a retreat there and ordered that a search be made throughout the provinces to find materials of the highest quality for his new...
  9. Kinkakuji Temple

    Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, formally known as Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺 “Deer Garden Temple”), is located in Kyōto’s Kita Ward and belongs to the Shōkokuji (相国寺) branch of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Kinkakuji is built on the site of an estate of the aristocrat Saionji no Kintsune (西園寺公経, 1171-1244) at the foot of the Kitayama Mountains. The third Muromachi shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利 義満, 1358-1408), took possession of the estate in 1397 with the intention of turning it into an elegant retreat. Over the next ten years several buildings, including a three-storied...
  10. Kyoto Prefecture

    Located in central Honshū, Kyoto Prefecture (京都府 Kyōto-fu) is bounded by Fukui, Shiga and Mie prefectures on the east, Nara Prefecture on the south, and Hyōgo and Ōsaka prefectures on the west. It faces the Sea of Japan to the north. The prefecture is divided roughly into two parts, north and south, by the Tamba Mountains (丹波高地). The southern part, formerly called Yamashiro Province (山城国 Yamashiro no Kuni), is centered on the Kyōto Basin, and the northern part, formerly called Tamba (丹波国 Tamba no kuni) and Tango (丹後国 Tango no Kuni) provinces, is composed of the Tango Mountains (丹後山地). The...
  11. Kansai Travel Guide

    The Kansai Region (関西地方 Kansai-chihō), sometimes coterminous with the official geographical designation “Kinki Region” (近畿地方 Kinki-chihō), comprises the prefectures of Kansai Region Shiga (滋賀県 Shiga-ken) Mie (三重県 Mie-ken) Nara (奈良県 Nara-ken) Kyoto (京都府 Kyōto-fu) Wakayama (和歌山県 Wakayama-ken) Osaka (大阪府 Ōsaka-fu) Hyōgo (兵庫県 Hyōgo-ken) History The term Kansai (関西, lit. “west of the barrier” was first used in the tenth century in contradistinction to the word Kantō. Kantō (関東, lit. “east of the barrier”) referred to the area east of the barrier station (関所 sekisho) at Ōsaka (in modern-day...
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