Photos by:      Philip Galvin

Narraton by:  Yoko Galvin:



Ater so many visits to Japan, I finally figured out that most of the popular tourist sites we have been to in Japan are related to the beginning of the medieval era and the end of the Tokugawa era. So here is a quick history of Japan. The significant figures during that time in Japan are Yoritomo Minamoto, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa.

Quick historical references of Japan related to the photos in this document:

660 BC Jimmu Tenno becomes the first emperor of Japan according to myth

794 Capital was set up in Heiankyo (now Kyoto)

1185 Japan’s medieval era begins (See Kamakura)

1192 Yoritomo Minamoto becomes the first Shogun (See Kamakura)

1543 Portuguese sailors reached Japan (See Nagasaki)

1585 Hideyoshi Toyotomi ruled Japan between 1585 and 1592 (See Osaka)

1600  Sekigahara Civil War (between Toyotomi and Tokugawa)

1603 Tokugawa clan began to reign Japan (See Tokyo and Kyoto)

1639 Foreign traders except Dutch were forced to Leave Japan.(See Nagasaki)

1867 Emperor Mutsuhito regained the power over shoguns (See Tokyo)

1945 Atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima (See Hiroshima and Nagasaki

You can find this info. in the bottom of every document as reference.














Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) Travel Tip: You can take a taxi or a city bus #101 or #205 from JR Kyoto Station. It takes about 40 minutes by bus.

One of our favorite places to visit in Kyoto is Kinkakuji (金閣寺). This pavilion was founded by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga in the late 14th century. Unlike other Zen Buddhist temples, which are in a plain colors, the pavilion’s outer wall is painted in gold. It takes about 1 hour to walk around the surrounding area. (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

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The reflection of the pavilion on the pond is beautiful to see. We recommend visiting in the morning to enjoy the tranquility of the place.

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 When you visit Japan in April, you will be surrounded by Cherry blossoms everywhere.


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Ryoanji (Rock Garden) A Temple of the Dragon at Peace Travel Tip: Take JR bus from Kyoto Station. It takes about 30 minutes

Ryoanji (龍安寺) is a Zen temple built in the 15th century and is famous for it's rock garden. It is in the northwest of Kyoko. The pebbles surround 15 rocks that are laid out in small groups. Apparently, at least one of the rocks is always hidden from viewers. (UNESCO W. H. Site)


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Kiyomizudera (清水寺

 It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall, which is in the east side of Kyoto. Kiyomizudera means “Pure Water Temple.” In 1633, the Tokugawa clan ordered and constructed the present buildings It was added to the UNESCO World heritage site in 1994. It is best known for its wooden stage which is 13 meters above the hillside. The main hall, including the stage, was built without the use of any nails.

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 Entrance of Kiyomizudera

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Visitors write their wishes on the wooden plate.



Sanjusangendo (三十三間堂)

It is a Buddhist temple which was founded in 1164 by Taira no Kiyomori. “Thousand-armed Kannon” (Goddess of Mercy) are displayed inside of the Hondo (本堂). Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any photos. They are a National Treasure of Japan. It is a spectacular sight to see so many gold-plated goddesses of mercy.



 Hondo (本堂) where thousand-armed Kannon are displayed. 


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                                     Entrance Gate 


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Honen’s Stone Monument – it was in commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the death of Emperor Go-Shirakawa.





It is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto.


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Toei Kyoto Studio Park (東映太秦映画村)- Travel Tip: 5-minute walk from Uzumasa-Koryuji Station on the Keifuku Arashiyama Line

If you are travelling with children, we recommend visiting this place. It is a theme park and film set modeled after the Edo period (Tokugawa period). The studio also displays the characters from recent action movies which are popular among children.

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Nijo Castle (二条城) Travel TipTake JR Sanin line from Kyoto Station to Nijo Station. 15 min walk.

This castle was built in 1603. Originally, it was Ieyasu Tokugawa’s Kyoto residence. If you recall, Ieyasu Tokugawa also built the Imperial Palace in Tokyo which was his permanent residence. After the Tokugwa Shogunate fell in 1867, it was temporally used as the imperial palace but was later sold to the city. It is now opened to the public. (UNESCO W. H. Site)

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Gion Corner (祗園コーナー)

In this place, you can experience (view) the cultural side of Japan such as Tea Ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Koto music, Maiko dancing, Garaku Court Music, Kyogen Theatre and Bunraku Puppet Theatre. (It is currently being renovated and will be reopened in Spring 2023).

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Entrance of Gion Corner     

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                      Garaku  Performance

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                                                         Kyougen Performance

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                                                                      Maiko Dance  


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                                                                               Bunrack Performance


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               Tea Ceremony                                                                                            Koto Performance



 Hodge Podge

When we visited one of the shopping malls in Kyoto, we saw this intricate and colorful artwork which includes Maiko-san.


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