For the past couple of blog posts I’ve been ranting on about how few sights can be found in Osaka. Well, in fact it doesn’t really matter, unless you’re planning to not leave the city at all, because two of Japan’s most culturally rich cities are within close vicinity of Osaka – Kyoto and Nara.
I opted for a daytrip to Kyoto, which is only 30 – 40 minutes away by train. With the Shinkansen (bullet train) you can even get there in about 15 minutes, but it also costs a lot more then the local JR trains. When you get to Kyoto it’s easy to get to the sights, busses from outside Kyoto Station head of to all the castles, shrines etc. every five-ten minutes.
There are numerous shrines and castles in Kyoto and it’s impossible to see them all in a day. I chose to focus my energy on the Nijo Castle (Nijo-Jo), which was build by the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603, when Kyoto was the capital of Japan (back then Kyoto was called Edo).
An amazing castle with beautiful wall paintings and when I passed the Samurai Room and walked across the Nightingale Floor, I almost expected the Shogun and the lords to sit somewhere with a cup of tea and a couple of Geishas hanging around.
The Nightingale Floor is constructed in such a way, that when you walk on it, the floor says the sound of birds singing or at least chirping somehow. An important tool in Old Japan as it helped the Shogun and the Samurais detect if intruders or enemies were trying to sneak up on them in the middle of the night. Cunning indeed.
A must when visiting the Nijo-Jo is a stroll in the Ninomaru Garden afterwards. At one point I almost thought that I’d spotted a real Geisha, but then she pulled out her iPhone from the kimono and we were back in 2010.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of going to these declared tourist sights. It’s always crowded and there are signs telling me what I can do and what I can’t do. I often feel like I’m walking in a herd of cattle, when visiting these places, and I definitely felt that way at Nijo-Jo, but in this case I wanted to see it, so I was willing to pay that price.
What about you, dear reader? Tell me about your best/worst experience, when you visited a tourist sight. Do you feel like cattle, just like me? Do we have to visit The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and The Statue of Liberty, when we travel, in order to really feel that we’ve been to our chosen destinations.