Nov. 07, 2018 UPDATE
Eat, drink, and play in Kyoto – in Nanzen-ji and Okazaki!
Enjoy the history of Kyoto in Okazaki, and experience the culture of Kyoto!
Okazaki is maybe the most cultural area of Kyoto, and the biggest landmark here has to be the huge torii of Heian Shrine. As Heian Shrine marks Kyoto’s position as the capital of Japan, you can feel the years of history at it, as there is a feeling of stateliness to the area. By walking for around 10-minutes, you can get to Okazaki Shrine, where you can pray to have children and safe childbirth, so as you can probably guess, it’s a very popular shrine for women. Kyoto is also the city of handicrafts, so you could even pay the handicrafts museum a visit, as this is also a great way of enjoying the area of Okazaki. Some of our readers are probably interested in the samurai, and indeed, there’s something for you too in this area! Okazaki really is the main spot of cultural activity in Kyoto!
Heian ShrineTo commemorate the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto becoming the capital city of Japan, Heian Shrine was built in 1895. The vermillion gate of the shrine is very easy to spot, and the shrine grounds are vast, so you can spend a lot of time here. As you go through the gate of the shrine, you get to see Daikokuden, the main hall of it, where both emperor Kanmu and Komei are enshrined.
When you go into the garden, you get to see this beautiful bridge. The garden is in the chisen kaiyu-shiki style, meaning that you get to walk around the pond, and enjoy it from different directions: indeed, the garden is divided into four parts, east, middle, west, and south. The garden looks different every season of the year, and it has a distinct elegance to it, so you can feel both relaxed, and enjoy the luxury of the place.
Okazaki ShrineOkazaki Shrine was founded in year 794 when emperor Kanmu moved the capital of Japan from Nara to Kyoto. The shrine was built to protect the capital, and there were shrines in each of the cardinal directions. Okazaki Shrine is the eastern one, named the Heavenly King of East. The shrine enshrines Susanoo-no-Mikoto, and his wife, and their children (8 of them!), so this is also known as a great shrine to pray for children and safe childbirth.
There were really many wild rabbits at the place where the shrine now stands, so the guardian dog statues of it are actually not dogs: they’re rabbits! It’s said that if you pet them, you will get pregnant, so for those who want children, this is the place to visit in Kyoto! And remember to also buy a bunny fortune slip clay-animal to take home with you!
Samurai Kembu TheaterThe samurai spirit of Japan is famous all over the world, as it has been featured on so many famous samurai movies that are popular both in Japan and internationally. So many of you probably want to become samurais, right?! And at Samurai Kembu Theater you can do just that! Kembu is a kind of sword dancing you do with a katana, and luckily for you, they also explain the movements in English here.
You get to learn about samurai, and even get to use a real sword to do the samurai moves, and wear samurai clothing; become a real samurai! You even get a picture of yourself in the samurai costume after the experience, which is a great souvenir to take back from your trip. So, take your friends with you, and go become samurais!
Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts FureaikanKyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts Fureikan displays 74 kinds of crafts and has around 500 artifacts on display. This is the only place in Japan where you can see so many different kinds of handicrafts in one museum. You can see such Kyoto handicrafts here as Kyo-sensu (folding fans), Kyo-ware and Kiyomizu-ware, and Kyo-zogan (inlay craft).
Every month they have different artisans come to the museum and showcase their craft. By getting to see them do their craft up close, you get to understand the process of craft making better, and it’s often just really interesting to watch the artisans make something exquisite with their hands. All of the products inside which have price tags on them can be bought, so if you like something, be sure to buy it and take it home with you as a memento of your trip to Kyoto!
Okazaki has a different feeling from the rest of Kyoto, as there is something artsier, and it feels very important. The streets are wide, and it’s a really nice place to take walks too. The sightseeing spots I wrote about are all close by each other, so going to this area will surely let you enjoy Kyoto for a whole day!