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Big in Japan

l dropped my bags off and set off to see some of old Kyoto as soon as I arrived. Kyoto was Japan's capital for 1000 years until it moved to Tokyo. This, and the fact that the Americans considered, but decided not to drop an atomic bomb on the city in a god-like judgement, means there are more ancient temples and shrines here than in any other city in Japan.

What I didn't realise was just how hard work it would be getting around to see them. First of all, they're spread out in different directions around the centre, and closely surrounded by residential areas. Hence, each visit turns out to be a long trek and a hunt to find the temple. Kyoto's always a big tourist destination but it's cherry blossom time of the year right now, and so it's hugely popular with the Japanese themselves, touring the ancient monuments and photographing each other in victory salutes. The pavements in town aren't nearly wide enough for all the people so you end up stuck behind hordes of four foot tall Japanese women who appear to be older than the temples you're trying to get to.

There are some wonderful temples and shrines, however. One of the places I visited today was Kinkakuji Temple, or the Golden Pavillion - so called because the entire structure is finished in gold. Just a shame there's always ten people with cameras and tripods camped out in front of you when you're trying to take a picture of it!


hey man! Next time you want to photograph it, go in jan or feb, when all of Japan is snowed under. Not only will the place be deserted, it also looks stunning!

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