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This villa from the imperial period lies at the foot of the sacred Mount Hiei.
Shugakuin has spacious grounds that are a superb example of "strolling" gardens that were favored in the Edo period.
It construction was ordered by the shogun for an emperor who had abdicated in the 17th century.
Shugakuin comprises of three villas, each one with an airy teahouse in its garden. You will find the that the upper villa is the grandest of them, and it dominates with an imposing avenue make up of pines trees leading up to it.
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Ginkakuji, the know as the famous "Silver Pavilion". It was original conceived to have a silver-leaf covering, but it never received it.
The place was constructed in the fifteenth century by Yoshimasa Ashikaga (an aesthete-mystic shogun) whose use for it was to host esoteric tea ceremonies where the highlight of the event was moon-watching from the elegant gardens.
If you see something that looks like Mt Fuji - it is actually a pile of white gravel that was left over from the construction - still it is a fun, possibly apocryphal story!
Often overlooked by visitors, but worth a visit: Kompukuji is a dry landscape garden with a steep bank of azaleas, this temple is affiliated with the Rinzai school of Zen, but also has literary associations with two of Japan's greatest haiku master: Basho and Buson.
The Etkan do is an exquisite temple set against the hillside. Its beautiful Amida Buddha statue is, unusually turning to look back over its shoulder.
Its strange posture commemorates a legendary statue that came to life and then berated Eikan, the astonished monk looking on for pausing from his ritual chanting.
Every autumn you can see special night illuminations of the flaming red and orange of the maple trees, highlighted by spotlight.
The effect can only be described as sublime and exceptional.
The present buildings are a 1800s reconstruction; the original 8th-century Imperial Palace was destroyed in one of Kyoto's fires which ravaged the previous buildings.
As you pass through the Seishomon Gate on the western side you will enter the Shishinden ceremonial hall. Here emperors are enthroned this is a privilege retained by the city of Kyoto even after the move to Tokyo, and it is where New Year's audiences are also held.
Nanzenji was a 13th-century palace which contains 12 temples and monasteries.
The impressive main entrance was constructed in 1628. There is a notorious local story where a robber known as Goemon lshikawa was boiled alive at this site in an huge iron cauldron. In order to save his son he held him aloft to keep him from suffering the same fate.
Since then, old-fashioned Japanese iron bathtubs have been gruesomely known as “goemon-buro."
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Graphic showing average weather in Shugakuin Imperial Villa in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
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