Wonderful Japan – Kyoto and Nara

By | Jul 17, 2017 | Views: 305
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(By Tsem Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline)

Kyoto and Nara were once two of ancient Japan’s capital cities that flourished as the county’s cultural and political centres. Japan’s capital city was relocated to Tokyo in the 18th century, and has remained so until today. The two prefectures of Kyoto and Nara are parts of the Kansai region, located at the south-central part of Honshu Island, together with other densely populated urban centres such as Kobe and Osaka. Though Tokyo may today be considered Japan’s main cultural and economic hub, Kansai is home to a counter-culture rooted in rich history and distinctive characteristics that have developed since the Edo Period (1603-1868).

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Recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, the Kyoto and Nara regions are inevitably considered unmissable destinations to experience Japan’s traditional culture. Much of Japanese history was played out in Kyoto and Nara, a stronghold of traditional Japanese culture. Kyoto houses 17 UNESCO World Heritages Sites with over 1,600 Buddhist temples, more than 400 Shinto shrines, and is known to be one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. Nara, on the other hand, is a much smaller city that contains 8 UNESCO World Heritages Sites and was Japan’s first capital city. Nara is also one of the most rewarding destinations for travellers in Japan.

Both Kyoto and Nara have elaborate gardens, temples, and shrines that boast a lot of cultural heritage including various Buddhist statues. Kyoto also includes an entertainment district (hana-machi), where beautiful maiko girls (apprentice geiko, slightly different from geisha) walk through rows of old houses and act as hostesses. Kyoto’s traditional culture has endured until today and continues to develop, in fields such as arts and crafts, performing arts, etc. Both Kyoto and Nara embody nature, beauty, and tradition, making them wonderful destinations for visitors to experience.

If you are planning to visit, below is some useful information to make your visit to Kyoto and Nara memorable and enjoyable.

 

Population

Based on the latest United Nations estimates, Japan’s current population is 126,047,196 as of Wednesday, June 28, 2017. This is equivalent to 1.68% of the world’s total population. Kyoto itself in inhabited by 1,473,110 people, while Nara is occupied by 359,666 people.

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Weather

Weather patterns and average temperatures vary enormously across Japan, resulting in inconsistent timing to best visit the vast country. Honshu’s climate is mainly influenced by the surrounding mountains and warm seas that bring plenty of rain and snow to the region.

However, the most pleasant time to visit Japan, despite frequent showers, is during spring, a time when even the weather reports show the steady progress of the famed sakura blossom. In Kyoto, the sakura flowers blossom in spring and the leaves turn red in late autumn, undoubtedly the best times to visit the city. In fact, all four seasons decorate the city gracefully in one way or another. As for Nara, the best times to visit are spring (March-May) and autumn (October-November). The rainy season occurs from mid-June to late July, however you can still visit during this time as it doesn’t rain every day.

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Visa Application

  1. To enter Japan as a visitor, you can apply for the “temporary visitor visa” (generally called “tourist visa”) directly at your nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate.
  2. Citizens from countries that are eligible for visa exemption may enter Japan with their passport without prior application, unless intending to stay for a long period of time, or to work.
  3. The period of stay granted upon entering the country is 15 days for citizens of Brunei, Indonesia, and Thailand, while a period of 90 days is granted for citizens of other countries and regions. Please click here for a list of countries and entry conditions.
  4. The visa processing period is approximately 5 working days from the day after submission of application.
  5. Visas usually hold validity for three months.
  6. A single-entry visa will cost 3,000 yen (approximately USD27), while a double-entry or multiple-entry visa will cost 6,000 yen (approximately USD54). A transit visa will cost 700 yen (approximately USD7). All fees are collected in the respective currency of the country in which the Japanese Embassy or Consulate is located.
  7. Visa application fees may vary depending on the purpose of your visit and nationality.
  8. Visitors should hold passports with at least six months of validity after planned departure from Japan.
Mt. Fuji with fall colours in Japan

Mt. Fuji with fall colours in Japan

 

DO’S and DONT’S

The city’s tourism organisation, the Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with TripAdvisor have released an infographic outlining an etiquette manual for tourists visiting Kyoto called “AKIMAHEN”, which means “DO NOT” in the local Kyoto dialect. The manual lists 18 customs from Kyoto and information on how to avoid cultural “faux pas”, or mistakes in cultural etiquette. Below is a video featuring AKIMAHEN which visitors should watch before departing to Kyoto. An online guide is also available here.

Or view the video on the server at:
http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/AkimahenOfKyoto.mp4

 

The General Manners in Japan

DO’s

  • Slurp when eating Japanese-style noodles such as soba, udon, and ramen.
  • Finish all your food to show that you enjoyed your meal.
  • Use toothpicks (youji) with your dominant hand and cover your mouth with the other hand when food gets stuck in between your teeth.
  • Do remove your shoes before entering houses, temples, and other buildings such as restaurants and bathhouses where shoes are not allowed inside. Do check and see if you are supposed to take off your shoes and wear the slippers provided inside.
  • Do keep your voice down and do not disrupt other people’s conversations in public places especially on trains, buses, and in temples.
  • Do stand in a straight line when waiting for the train.
  • Please smoke in designated areas only. Smoking is prohibited in many public locations and so is tossing of cigarette butts.
  • While the Japanese respect foreign cultures, kissing and hugging is not a common form of public expression in Japan. You may interact with the Japanese according to your own culture.
  • Do use “sumimasen” (sorry) and “arigato” (thank you) in situations when a sorry or thank you is appropriate. The Japanese say “sumimasen” even when they actually mean “arigato” to show concern over another’s consideration.
  • Do use “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” at the end of a conversation when asking for a favour or expressing your wish for an ongoing relationship with the other person.

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DONT’S

  • Pack food from restaurants, especially high-class Japanese restaurants, as Japan is a very humid country and food sanitation is difficult. Doggy bags are generally not used.
  • Do not spit or litter on the streets.
  • Do not unwrap gifts in front of the giving party as it is rude. An exception to this is when the party giving the gift asks you specifically to unwrap the gift.
  • Do not speak on mobile phones when using public transportation.

 

Travel Tips

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Most visitors tend to fly in and out of Tokyo when visiting Japan, and use a Japan Rail Pass to travel between major cities across the country. If your itinerary is confined to Tokyo and Kansai, the following ways will be useful for you to streamline your transportation expenses.

A week-long national rail pass cost 29,110 yen. To reduce this cost, you can combine the standard fare for the 2.5-hour train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto together with the 3-day Kansai Thru (Surutto Kansai) pass that covers all destinations from Kyoto to Nara to Osaka at only a little over 18,000 yen (13,260 yen for the Shinkansen bullet train and 5,200 yen for the Thru pass). You can save an additional few thousand Yen if you catch a ride on an overnight bus between Tokyo and Kyoto, saving you accommodation costs for that night.

The above is ideal when using Kansai International Airport (KIX) for either your inbound or outbound international flights, but not in the case if you need to ride back to Tokyo. The following are three airports with easy access to Kyoto:

  1. Osaka International Airport (Itami; ITM):
    • The closest airport to Kyoto
    • A 50-minute ride away using the convenient airport limousine bus
    • On the whole the airport serves domestic flights (many airlines will provide free flights to fly you here from Narita if you fly with that airline internationally)
  2. Kansai International Airport (KIX):
    • The main international access point to Kyoto
    • Approximately a 90-minute ride from Kyoto by direct express train
  3. Central Japan International Airport (Centrair; NGO):
    • About 90-minutes away from Kyoto by airport express and shinkansen

For non-Japanese speakers, do visit HyperDia for up-to-date transportation prices and connections. This may probably be the most helpful website you will need on your trip throughout Japan.

 

Top 10 Must Visit Places in Kyoto

 

1. Kinkaku-Ji (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion Temple)

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Kinkaku-ji is one of the most popular and best places to visit in Japan. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Zen temple is located in northern Kyoto, and has two upper walls of the 3-storied pavilion covered with gold foil that shimmers in front of the kyoko-chi (mirror pond). If you arrive at dawn, just as the sun gently caresses its pure gold leaf covered facade, you get to see the gorgeous image of this pavilion floating on the water. Above its shingle roof sits an exquisite bronze phoenix.

Kinkaku-ji includes the impressive structure built overlooking a large pond that was rebuilt in 1955. It is the only building left from Ashikaga Yoshimitsu’s (September 25, 1358-May 31, 1408) former retirement complex. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was the 3rd shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate which governed Japan from 1338 to 1573. Its first floor was built during the Heian Period (794 to 1185) in shinden style – white plaster walls and wooden beams, while its upper floors were built in bukke samurai style. The second floor contains various Buddhist images, and Kinkaku-ji also houses the Buddha’s relics.

Though the interior is closed to the public, it is possible for visitors to make out statues of the Buddha and Yoshimitsu on the first floor. Nevertheless, the gardens are delightful and visitors get to admire the pavilion from different angles.

Address: Kinkakuji-cho, Kita-ku
Operating Hours: Daily from 9am-5pm
Admission:
Adults: 400 yen
Children under 15: 300 yen
Phone: +81-75-461-0013

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hotel Chrysantheme Kyoto (0.8 km from Kinkakuji Temple)
    Address: 51 Yanagicho, Hiranokamihaccho, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8353, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-462-1540
    Website: http://www.chrysantheme.co.jp/english/
  2. Kyohatago Mugen (2.6 km from Kinkakuji Temple)
    Address: 548-1 Kitakodaimoncho Kuromondori Kaminagachojamachi Sagaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8252, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-366-3206
    Website: http://kyoto-machiya-ryokan.com/
  3. Ryokan Yamazaki (2.8 km from Kinkakuji Temple)
    Address: 11 Umegahata Takahanacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8261, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-881-2303
    Website: http://www.ryokan-yamazaki.com/

 

2. Ginkaku-Ji (銀閣寺, Silver Pavilion Temple)

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Ginkaku-ji was converted into a Zen temple in 1490. Located along Kyoto’s eastern mountains (Higashiyama), Ginkaku-ji was formerly Ashikaga Yoshimitsu’s retirement villa modelled after Kinkaku-ji. It is a must see sight for local and international visitors while in Kyoto as it is one of the most beautiful temples in the city. Similar to the Kinkaku-ji, the interior of the pavilion is not open to the public.

The Ginkaku-ji complex consists of the Silver Pavilion, six other temple buildings, a unique dry sand garden, and a beautiful moss garden. The pavilion is 2-storied, constructed in two different architectural styles, and houses a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The Silver Pavilion is believed to have been built in order to contrast the Golden Pavilion, but it has never been covered in silver. Another explanation for the name is that the building has a silvery appearance when moon light reflects on the building’s dark exterior that used to be covered in black lacquer.

For a memorable experience, walk along a circular route around the complex grounds to view the gardens and buildings. If you climb the trail at the back of the garden, you will be rewarded with a fantastic viewpoint of the rest of the city and the entire temple compound.

It is recommended to visit right after the complex opens or just before it closes, ideally on a Monday around 10am and 4pm. If you visit during weekend or holidays, it will be packed with visitors, making it almost impossible to enjoy the place.

Address: 2 Ginkaku-ji-cho, Sakyo-ku
Operating hours:
8:30am-5pm March-November
9am-4:30pm December-February
Admission:
Adults: 500 yen
Children under 15: 300 yen
Phone: +81-75-771-5725

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hiiragiya (3.5 km from Ginkaku-ji Temple)
    Address: 277 Nakahakusancho Huyacho Anekoji-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8094, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-221-1136
    Website: https://www.hiiragiya.co.jp/en/
  2. Tawaraya Ryokan (3.5 km from Ginkaku-ji Temple)
    Address: 278 Nakahakusancho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8094, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-211-5566
    Website: https://www.tripadvisor.com.my/Hotel_Review-g298564-d310306-Reviews-Tawaraya_Ryokan-Kyoto_Kyoto_Prefecture_Kinki.html
  3. Hotel Sugicho (3.5 km from Ginkaku-ji Temple)
    Address: 172 Moriyamacho, Oike-agaru, Tominokoji, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0953, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-241-0106
    Website: http://www.kyoto-ryokan.jp

 

3. Gion District (祇園)

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Gion is one of Kyoto’s most iconic tourist attractions, and is preserved in the style of the Edo period. It is the place where geishas are trained, and geisha makeovers are also available for visitors today as well. The geisha in Kyoto are known by the local term geiko which essentially means “a woman of art” and they do not refer to themselves as geisha which means “artist” or “person of the arts”. In the past Gion underwent a restoration project that moved all overhead utilities underground as part of the ongoing efforts to preserve Gion’s original beauty. It is a fantastic district if you want to experience Kyoto’s history and culture as it is filled with historical temples and traditional architecture.

Gion is even more enchanting after dark with guests filling old wooden teahouses, and geiko and maiko (apprentice geiko) entertaining visitors. Apart from geisha, Gion has a collection of famous streets defined by old wooden teahouses and buildings, and exclusive Japanese restaurants. The yearly July Gion Matsuri also attracts millions of visitors due to its procession of festival floats and traditional musical performances.

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Matsui Honkan Ryokan (1 km from Gion)
    Address: 405 Izutsuyacho Nakagyo-ku | (Yanagino Banba Rokkaku Sagaru), Kyoto 604-8113, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-221-3535
    Website: http://www.matsui-inn.com/en/
  2. Kinparo (1 km from Gion)
    Address: 467 Setoyacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8122, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-221-7237
    Website: http://www.newkinpa.on.arena.ne.jp/english/
  3. Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shinmachi Bettei (1.7 km from Gion)
    Address: 361 Rokkaku-cho, Rokkaku-sagaru, Shinmachidori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8212, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-257-1131
    Website: https://www.gardenhotels.co.jp/kyoto-shinmachi/

 

4. Kiyomizu-Dera Temple (清水寺, Pure Water Temple)

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Kiyomizu-Dera was first built in 798, while the present buildings were reconstructed in 1633. It is one of the most famous landmarks in the city and one of the best Buddhist temples to visit in Southern Higashiyama. The Kiyomizu-Dera is affiliated with the Hosso school of Buddhism which originates in Nara, and is another UNESCO Heritage Site in Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-Dera’s biggest attraction is the Hondo (Main Hall) that has a huge veranda made entirely out of wood, supported by pillars, juts out over the hillside. Kiyomizu-dera is situated on a mountain in Gion and is almost one with nature as it is half-shrouded by sakura trees that turn pink with sakura blossoms during spring time. During the Edo period, people actually believed that their wishes would be granted if they jumped from the 13m high cliff and survived. Over 200 people jumped and more than 85% survived according to records. The practice is now prohibited by law for obvious reasons. The valley below offers a spectacular view due to the vivid colours of Japan’s distinct four seasons that can be seen clearly from the temple.

Just below the Hondo is the Otowa-no-taki waterfall where visitors can drink the water that is believed to bestow health and longevity. Apart from the Hondo, around the precincts, are other halls and shrines. Another popular spot is the Jishu-jinja, which is a shrine up the steps above the Hondo. There is also a belief that visitors who wish for success in their love life can walk a trail roughly 18 meters with their eyes closed. If they walk between a pair of stones they will be successful. However, if they miss walking between the stones, their desire for love will not be fulfilled.

Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku
Operating Hours:
6am-6pm (until 6:30pm on weekends and holidays from mid-April through July and every day in August and September)
6pm-9pm during Hanatoro around mid-March, from late March to mid-April and from mid-November to early December
Admission: 400 yen
Phone: +81-75-551-1234

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Super Hotel Kyoto Shijokawaramachi (1.9 km from Kiyomizu-dera Temple)
    Address: 538-1 Shinkyogokudori, Chukyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8042, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-255-9000
    Website: http://www.superhoteljapan.com/en/s-hotels/shijyogawara/
  2. The B Kyoto Sanjo (1.9 km from Kiyomizu-dera Temple)
    Address: 2-49-1, Sanjoohashi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0001, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-762-1300
    Website: http://kyotosanjo.theb-hotels.com/en/
  3. Kyoto Traveler’s Inn (1.9 km from Kiyomizu-dera Temple)
    Address: 91 Okazaki Enshojicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8344, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-771-0225
    Website: http://www.k-travelersinn.com/english/

 

5. Ryoan-Ji (龍安寺, Peaceful Dragon Temple)

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Ryoan-Ji is a UNESCO Heritage Site that is well known for its mysterious rock garden, one of the best rock gardens in Japan that defies attempts at explanation. Daimyo Hosokawa Katsumoto (1561-1628) built the temple in 1450, however it remains a mystery as to who designed and made the rock garden as well as its purpose and the intention behind it. This temple is the most famous hiraniwa (flat garden) that reveals the stunning simplicity and harmony of Zen meditation’s principles.

There are fifteen carefully placed rocks that seem to drift in a sea of raked white gravel enclosed by an earthen wall. Visitors have an unimpeded view from the viewing platform right above the garden itself. However, no matter which angle you view it from, you can never see all fifteen stones. Apart from this, visitors can tour the extensive grounds of Ryoan-ji that includes larger trees and moss gardens and the particularly striking Kyoyo-chi pond (best seen in autumn).

Address: 13 Ryoanji-Goryo-no-Sita-cho, Ukyo-ku
Operating Hours:
8am-5pm March-November
8:30am-4:30pm December-February
Admission:
Adults: 500 yen
Children under 15: 300 yen
Phone: +81-75-463-2216

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Kaden (5.0 km from Ryoanji Temple)
    Address: 191 Chigiriyacho, Higashinotoin Higashiiru, Rokkakudori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8133, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-212-7000
    Website: http://kyotokaden.jp/en/index.html
  2. Luck You Kyoto (5.1 km from Ryoanji Temple)
    Address: 590-16 Kakimotocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8357, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-366-3211
    Website: http://luckyou-kyoto.com
  3. Hoshinoya Kyoto (5.1 km from Ryoanji Temple)
    Address: 11-2 Genrokuzancho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto 616-0007, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-50-3786-1144
    Website: http://hoshinoyakyoto.jp/en/

 

6. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (嵐山竹林の小径)

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The soaring stalks of bamboo at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove are one of Kyoto’s top sights. Pictures of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, along with the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine’s torii tunnels, and Kinkaku-ji are often seen together in materials promoting trips to Kyoto. Entering this lush and extensive bamboo grove is like entering another world with endless stalks that seem to continue in every direction.

The bamboo in Arashiyama grow thick and strong, giving shade to cool down in the summer, while bringing warmth during the winter, as beams of sunshine descend through the trees. The grove runs from outside Tenryu-ji’s north gate to just below the Okochi Sanso villa, and its footpath is 500m long. Standing in the middle of this sprawling bamboo grove gives you an incredible feeling, and is quite different than any other forest you will ever visit.

Address: Arashiyama, Ukyo-ku
Operating Hours: 24 hours daily
Phone: +81-75-861-0012

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Gosho Nishi Kyoto Heian Hotel (7.9 km from Bamboo Forest Street)
    Address: Karasuma Kamichojamachi agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-0912, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-432-6181
    Website: http://kyoto-heian-hotel.com/english/
  2. Azumaya Ryokan (7.9 km from Bamboo Forest Street)
    Address: Shichijo-agaru Horikawa-dori Shimogyo-ku | Nishi Honganjimae, Kyoto 600-8399, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-371-2364
    Website: https://www.adumaya-kyoto.com
  3. Ryokan Shimizu (8.1 km from Bamboo Forest Street)
    Address: 646 Kagiya-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8317, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-371-5538
    Website: http://www.kyoto-shimizu.net/eng/index.html

 

7. Fushimi Inari-Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)

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The Fushimi Inari-Taisha is the 1,300-year-old central shrine (taisha) for 40,000 shrines across Japan dedicated to Inari, the Shinto deity of rice and sake (Japanese rice wine) and was built by the Hata family in the 8th century. It stretches 230 metres (750 feet) up a hill with hundreds of bright red torii (gates) behind it, forming one of the most memorable and impressive sights in the whole of Kyoto.

The taisha consists of five shrines that stretch across the wooded slopes of Inari-san with a pathway that wanders 4km up the hill and is lined with dozens of atmospheric sub-shrines. As you walk up the hillside, you will come across hundreds of stone fox statues along the way. Foxes are considered the messenger animals of Inari. Keys are often depicted hanging from the mouths of the foxes, and are actually keys for rice granaries. Traditionally, the Japanese see foxes as sacred animals, capable of ‘possessing’ humans through their favoured point of entry – under the fingernails.

Within Japanese culture, deities began to be worshipped to ensure prosperity in business, as the role of agriculture decreased. This shrine holds incredible spiritual and personal significance to the locals and attracts millions when they come to pay their respects during the Japanese New Year. In the area you will also find vendors selling the sweet tsujiura senbei, a type of local cookie that is believed to be an early predecessor of the American-style fortune cookie.

Address: 68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa, Fushimi-ku
Operating hours: Dawn to dusk
Admission: Free
Phone: +81-75-561-1551

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hotel Kanra Kyoto (3.2 km from Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine)
    Address: 190 Kitamachi Karasuma-dori Rokujo Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8176, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-344-3815
    Website: https://www.hotelkanra.jp/en/
  2. Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Honganji (3.3 km from Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine)
    Address: 228 Butsuguyacho Aburanokoji Hanayacho Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8347, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-343-3500
    Website: http://www.kyoto-ryokan-sakura.com/sakura/en/
  3. Vessel Hotel Campana Kyotogojo (3.4 km from Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine)
    Address: 498 Shimomanjujicho, Todoindori gojo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8180, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-353-1000
    Website: https://www.vessel-hotel.jp/campana/kyoto/

 

8. Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュージアム)

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The Kyoto International Manga Museum the world’s first museum dedicated solely to Japanese comics. It is located in downtown Kyoto and is a must-visit destination for manga lovers. The museum is a joint project between Seika University and Kyoto City. The premises used to house an old elementary school that has now been remodelled to accommodate the enormous, all-encompassing manga collections, and provides lots of space for weekend art workshops that teach manga techniques, as well as for international conferences.

The museum is one of the largest in Japan that houses a collection of over 300,000 items and features a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions and events. Among the museum’s unique features is a Wall of Manga that is 200m long. It also houses 50,000 volumes of the last 50 years’ worth of manga, and includes rare or old series that are difficult to find commercially that visitors can read freely. Most of the manga in this museum can even be taken outside, if you would rather read on the lawn. For English readers, you will also find some English-language manga displayed in the international section.

Address: Karasuma-dori, Oike agaru, Nakagyo-ku
Operating Hours: 10am-6pm
Closing Days: Wednesdays and during New Year’s holidays
Admission: 500 yen
Phone: +81-75-254-7414

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Kamogawakan (1.1 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum)
    Address: 104 Nakajimacho Sanjodori Kawaramachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8004, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-221-4007
    Website: http://www.kamogawa-kan.co.jp/english.html
  2. Mifuku (1.2 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum)
    Address: 140 Wakamatsu-cho, Ponto-cho Sanjo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0000, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-221-5696
    Website: http://www.yado-web.com/kinki/kyoto/egb21/egb21.html
  3. Sawaya Honten (1.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum)
    Address: 25, Kawahara-cho, Shogoin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8397, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-761-4141
    Website: http://www.kyotokyoto.jp/accommodations/detail_syukuhaku.php?scd=24

 

9. Nishiki Ichiba (錦市場, Nishiki Market)

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Nishiki Ichiba is the perfect choice for travellers wanting to try the authentic tastes of local Kyoto on a small budget, and is actually Kyoto’s largest traditional food market. Situated between Kawaramachi Street and Karasuma Street in downtown Kyoto, this market is a feast for the senses. It is historically known for its preservation of tradition, and is renowned for its almost infinite choice of delicious foods and goods.

The market is a narrow, yet bustling five-block long shopping street filled with more than 100 shops and restaurants. This lively retail market is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” as it specialises in everything related to food, from fresh produce and seafood to kitchenware. It is also from this market that seasonal foods and some of Kyoto’s specialities such as Japanese pickles, dried seafood, sweets and sushi emerged. Some of the shops give out free samples of their specialities readily, or even sell their special dishes on skewers that are meant to be eaten then and there. Ready-made foods are also sold in a few small restaurants and food stands.

Usually the stalls specialise in one kind of food and are often attached to a store specialising in the same dish. With a history of several centuries, many stalls in the market have been operated by the same families for generations. The market started as a fish wholesale district, and the first shops opened in around 1310. At a later period in time, it changed from a wholesale market to more retail orientated businesses when a larger variety of shops began to move to the area. Today, Nishiki Ichiba remains Kyoto’s most important market and is often packed with locals and tourists alike.

Address: Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku (between Teramachi and Takakura)
Operating hours: Daily from 9am-5pm, varies for individual stalls
Closing Days: Some stalls may close on Wednesdays and/or Sundays

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hotel Sunroute Kyoto (0.9 km from Nishiki Market)
    Address: 406 Nanbacho, Matsubara-sagaru, Kawaramachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8027, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-371-3711
    Website: http://www.sunroute.jp/english/hotelinfo/kinki/kyoto/index.html
  2. Shiraume (1.0 km from Nishiki Market)
    Address: Shirakawa-hotori, Shinbashi-dori, Gionmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-561-1459
    Website: http://www.shiraume-kyoto.jp/en/
  3. Hotel San Crane
    Address: 264 Daigocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8106, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-361-0650
    Website: http://www.sancrane.com

 

10. Nijo-jo (二条城, Nijo Castle)

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Nijo-jo is located in central Kyoto and was built by the Order of Tokugawa Ieyasu (founder of the Edo period) in 1626. The Order of Tokugawa Ieyasu was the last military government of feudal Japan. This castle is one of the most awe-inspiring sights of the city, and is where the Shoguns (military warlords) wielded their power over the emperors throughout the Edo period, as demonstrated through the castle itself.

The castle is characterised by low but grand and imposing structures surrounded by gorgeous gardens, different from the more famous Himeji-jo in Himeji which soars skyward in a manner similar to European castles.

The complex includes the Ninomaru Palace, known for its “nightingale floors” designed to squeak to alert residents of the presence of intruders. The almost rococo decorative panels and carvings in their flamboyance reflect the magnitude of power and attitudes of the occupying warlords. The interior is mostly preserved in its original form, and you can walk around barefoot on the tatami mats that line the floor, letting history come alive. The Seiryu-en garden that surrounds the castle buildings is a wonderful garden that is worth a leisurely stroll through. Over the years the castle went through periods of physical change, such as expansion and ruin, and as governments rose and fell, the use of the castle similarly changed, leading to various building structures and a multitude of walls, moats, and elegant gardens.

This castle is on everyone’s “must-see” list, therefore it is best to visit just after the complex opens in order to beat the crowds. It is often packed full with Japanese school children out on school excursions, and hordes of tourists arrive on buses throughout its opening times.

Address: 541 Nijojo-cho, Nijo-dori, Horikawa Nishi iru, Nakagyo-ku
Operating hours: 8:45am-5pm, last entry at 4pm
Closing Days: Tuesdays in December, January, July, August, and December 26-January 4
Admission:
Adults: 600 yen
Junior and high school students: 350 yen
Elementary school students: 200 yen
Phone: +81-75-841-0096

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select (1.7 km from Nijo Castle)
    Address: 363 Naramonocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8004, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-221-2211
    Website: http://www.grandbach.com/kyoto/en/
  2. Kyoto Itoya Hotel (1.7 km from Nijo Castle)
    Address: 712 Yakushimaecho, Karasumadori, Matsubara Agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8416, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-365-1221
    Website: http://www.itoyahotel.com/eng/
  3. Hotel Gran Ms Kyoto
    Address: 410-3 Shimomaruyacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8006, Kyoto Prefecture
    Phone: +81-75-241-2000
    Website: http://granms.jp/en/

Note: Agoda would probably be the best accommodation search site with discounts up to 80% off and more properties to choose from than any other website. You can also search the internet for accommodation that would suit your needs as a traveller.

 


 

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Nara

Nara is just an hour away by train from Kyoto and is a must-see in Kansai. With most of its attractions concentrated within the Nara Park, including the Todaiji Temple that houses a huge Buddha statue in the Big Buddha Hall. It is highly recommended that those visiting Kyoto make a short detour to Nara as a side trip. Nara was Japan’s former capital city before the capital moved to Kyoto in the 8th century. There are a number of sites of great historical significance scattered around Nara, many of which are World Heritage Sites.

Nara is in the most central area in Japan, only 35km south of Kyoto and some 28km north of Osaka. The railroad system in Nara is extremely complicated, providing more options for travel from Kyoto station than is necessary. The two companies connection Kyoto and Nara with regular train lines are:

  1. JR Nara Line Y690:
    Pick this is the option if you hold a JR Rail Pass. The Miyakoji Kaisoku Express will get you to Nara from Kyoto in 45 minutes. These trains leave every 30 minutes from Kyoto Station and JR Nara Station and cost about 710 yen. You can also use the local Futsu line, which will get you from Kyoto station to Nara station in about 70 minutes.
  2. Kintetsu Nara Line Y1110:
    The private Kintetsu line is by far the fastest way to travel to and from Nara to Kyoto. The JR Rail pass is not applicable on this line and it takes only 35 minutes for the journey. This line operates from a different but equally central train station. The express train leaves twice every hour and costs about 620 yen. The Kintetsu Nara station is actually closer to Nara Park, so taking this train from Kyoto to Nara has a major advantage.

 

Top 10 Must Visit Places in Nara

 

1. Todai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple)

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Todai-ji is one of the main attractions in Nara. Built in the 8th century, the temple has a far-reaching history that has prompted it to be recognised as a World Heritage Site. Within its Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall), is the famous Daibutsu, The Great Buddha, originally cast in 746. It is one of the three largest and most well-known statues in Japan. The Daibutsu is 16 metres high, and is made from 437 tonnes of bronze and 130kg of gold.

The Great Buddha Hall, where the statue is located, is also stunning. One of the pillars there has a hole in it which is the same size as the Buddha statue’s nostril. It is believed that crawling through this hole will bring you happiness and legend says that one will receive enlightenment in the next life by doing so. Make sure to keep your eyes open to find this hole in a supporting pillar!

Address: 406-1 Zoshichou, Nara City
Opening Hours:
8am-4:30pm (November-February)
8am-5pm (March)
7:30am-5:30pm (April-September)
7:30am-5pm (October)
Admission:
Adults: 500 yen
Children below 12: 300 yen
Last entry at 30 minutes before closing
Phone: +81-742-22-5511

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hotel New Wakasa (0.5 km from Todai-ji Temple)
    Address: 1 Higashimachi, Kita-Handa, Nara-shi 630-8274, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-23-5858
    Website: http://wakasa-bettei.com/lg_en/
  2. Kikusuiro (0.9 km from Todai-ji Temple)
    Address: 1130 Takahatacho, Nara 630-8301, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-23-2002
    Website: http://www.kikusuiro.com
  3. Daibutsukan (1 km from Todai-ji Temple)
    Address: 250 Takahatacho, Nara 630-8301, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-23-5111
    Website: http://www.daibutu.com/english/

 

2. Horyu-ji (法隆寺, Temple of the Flourishing Law)

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Horyu-ji is the oldest temple in Japan as well as the oldest wooden temple in the world. It was founded by Prince Shotoku in 607 who is considered to be a great patron of Japanese Buddhism. Before the capital moved to Kyoto at the end of the 8th century, Horyu-ji was one of the seven great temples that flourished in the capital. This list of seven great temples includes: Todai-ji, Daian-ji, Yakushi-ji, Saidai-ji, Gango-ji, Horyu-ji, and Kofuku-ji. Horyu-ji’s five-storey pagoda is exceptionally popular and admission is free.

Both the main hall and the five-storey pagoda were originally built around 600 CE but rebuilt around 700 CE after a fire. The other 26 buildings within the complex were built before 800 CE. The main hall, pagoda and the 26 buildings are all undisputedly the oldest wooden buildings in the world. As the pagoda was built first, it deserves the title for being the absolute oldest wooden building in the world. They are all undoubtedly part of a World Heritage Site.

Horyu-ji is also known to house the country’s rarest and most important treasures including priceless relics from the Asuka (538-710) and Nara (710-794) periods, the Kudara Kannon and the Dream-changing Kannon.

Address: 1-1 Horyuji Sannai, Ikaruga, Ikoma
Opening Hours:
8am-5pm (February 22-November 3)
8am-4:30pm (November 4-February 21)
Admission: 1000 yen
Phone: +81-745-75-2555

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Kakimotoya (5.4 km from Horyuji Temple)
    Address: 5-8 Shigisan Higashi, Ikoma-gun, Sango-cho 636-0831, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-745-72-8000
    Website: http://www.kakimotoya-english.com
  2. Gyokuzoin (5.9 km from Horyuji Temple)
    Address: 2280 Shigisan, Ikoma-gun, Heguri-cho 636-0923, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-745-72-2881
    Website: https://www.tripadvisor.com.my/Hotel_Review-g1121312-d1368330-Reviews-Gyokuzo_in-Heguri_cho_Ikoma_gun_Nara_Prefecture_Kinki.html
  3. Grand Sunpia Nara (6.3 km from Horyuji Temple)
    Address: 92-15 Takadacho, Yamatokoriyama 639-1132, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-743-51-1120
    Website: https://travel.rakuten.com/hotel/Japan-Nara_Prefecture-Yamatokoriyama-Grand_Sunpia_Nara/145493/

 

3. Nara Koen (奈良公園, Nara Park)

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Nara Koen is large park located in central Nara established in 1880. It is the location many of Nara’s main attractions such as Todai-ji, Kofuku-ji, Kasuga Taisha and the Nara National Museum. The park is home to hundreds of deer that roam free within its vicinity. As deer were considered to be messengers of the gods in Shintoism, they have become a symbol of the city and are designated as a natural treasure.

Shinto (“the way of the gods”) is Japan’s major religion alongside Buddhism and is an indigenous religion. It is as old as Japan itself. The deer at Nara are surprisingly tame unless you attempt to feed them which is when they can be aggressive. Nevertheless, there are shika-senbei (rice crackers) being sold at 150 yen around the park and some deer have learned to approach visitors and ask to be fed.

This park has picturesque scenery during all four seasons, making it an excellent place to visit during any time of the year.

Address: Noboriojicho, Nara-shi
Opening Hours: 24 hours daily
Admission: Free

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Hotel Sunroute Nara (0.8 km from Nara Park)
    Address: 1110 Takabatakecho, Nara 630-8301, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-22-5151
    Website: http://www.sunroute.jp/english/hotelinfo/kinki/nara/index.html
  2. Tsukihitei (1.2 km from Nara Park)
    Address: 158 Kasuganocho, Nara 630-8212, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-26-2021
    Website: http://www.gambo-ad.com/english/hotel/index.php?ar=13&id=78
  3. Hotel Asyl Nara (1.6 km from Nara Park
    Address: 1-58 Aburasakacho, Nara 630-8247, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-22-2577
    Website:https://www.worldheritage.co.jp/asyl/en/

 

4. Kasuga Taisha (春日大社, Kasuga Grand Shrine)

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Kasuga Taisha is a World Heritage Site built around the 8th century by the Fujiwara family and served as their tutelary shrine established to the deity responsible for the protection of the city. The Fujiwara were exceptionally influential during most of the Nara and Heian periods. Kasuga Taisha has been rebuilt periodically, every 20 years, for many centuries. However, the periodic rebuilding was discontinued at the end of the Edo Period.

Considered one of the model shrines of Nara, Kasuga Taisha is adorned with hundreds of lanterns offered by worshippers that gives a touch of subtle elegance to the shrine. The lanterns are only lit during the bi-annual Lantern Festivals that occur in early February and mid-August respectively.

Visitors can explore beyond the shrine’s offering hall for free and pay an admission fee to go into the inner area that provides a closer view of the shrine’s inner buildings. In inner most area lies the main sanctuary that contains multiple shrine buildings. These buildings display the distinctive Kasuga style of shrine architecture that is characterised by a slanting roof extending over the front of the building.

Address: 160 Kasugano-cho
Opening Hours:
6am-6pm (April-September)
6:30am-5pm (October-March)
Inner area: 8:30am-4pm (closes occasionally)
Admission: Free (outer area), 500 yen (inner area)
Phone: +81-742-22-7788

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Kotonoyado Musashino (0.4 km from Kasuga Grand Shrine)
    Address: 90 Kasuganocho, Nara 630-8212, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-22-2739
    Website: http://www.yado-web.com/kinki/nara/nara04/nara04.html
  2. Nara Hotel (1.3 km from Kasuga Grand Shrine)
    Address: 1096 Takabatake-cho, Nara 630-8301, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-26-3300
    Website: http://www.narahotel.co.jp/eng/
  3. Asukasou (1.5 km from Kasuga Grand Shrine)
    Address: 1113-3 Takabatakecho, Nara 630-8301, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-26-2538
    Website: http://www.asukasou.com/english/index.html

 

5. Kofuku-ji (興福寺, Kofukuji Temple)

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Kofuku-ji was once the Fujiwara’s family temple that was transferred from Kyoto in 710. Situated just a short walk from Nara’s centre in the Nara Park, is one of the city’s “Big Three” must-see temples along Todai-ji and Horyu-ji. Being one of the most beautiful and historic temples, Kofuku-ji is naturally listed as a World Heritage Site.

Established at the same time as Nara itself in 710, Kofuku-ji used to consist of over 150 buildings at the height of Fujiwara’s power. Today, a few of these buildings of great historic value still remain, including the famous three-storey and five-storey pagodas first built in 730 and recently rebuilt in 1426. The five-storey pagoda is 50m high and is Japan’s second tallest, seven meters shorter than the five-storey pagoda at Kyoto’s Toji Temple. The Kofuku-ji’s pagoda is both a landmark and symbol of Nara.

Within the Kofuku-ji compound is the National Treasure Museum, the Eastern Golden Hall, and the Northern and Southern Octagonal Halls. The National Treasure Museum was recently renovated and exhibits part of the temple’s great Buddhist art collection, while the Eastern Golden Hall features a large wooden Yakushi Buddha (Medicine Buddha) statue. Both Northern and Southern Octagonal Halls date back over a thousand years, and also house some of the temple’s precious artefacts. The reconstruction of these two buildings were completed in 1210 and 1789 respectively, and are open to the public only for a few days in a year.

Kofuku-ji’s main building was the Central Golden Hall, which was unfortunately destroyed in 1717 due to fire. A smaller scale replacement hall was built in the 1800s and has recently undergone a restoration project, to mirror its former glory. Reconstruction works are currently ongoing and are scheduled to be completed in the year 2018.

Address: 48 Noborioji-cho
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm, the grounds are open around the clock
Admission: 600 yen for the National Treasure Museum; 300 yen for the Eastern Golden Hall (800 yen combined ticket)
Phone: +81-742-22-5370

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Sarusawaike Yoshidaya (0.1 km from Kofuku-ji Temple)
    Address: 246 Takabatakecho, Nara 630-8301, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-23-2225
    Website: https://travel.rakuten.com/hotel/Japan-Nara_Prefecture-Nara-Sarusawaike_Yoshidaya/50455/
  2. Yado Yoshino (0.2 km from Kofuku-ji Temple)
    Address: 19 Imamikado-cho, Nara 630-8374, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-22-3727
    Website: http://www.yado-yoshino.com
  3. Ryokan Matsumae (0.3 km from Kofuku-ji Temple)
    Address: 28-1 Higashi Terabayashicho, Nara 630-8362, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-22-3686
    Website: http://www.matsumae.co.jp/index2.html

 

6. Heijo-kyu (平城宮, Heijo Palace or Nara Imperial Palace)

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Heijo-kyu was the central part of Nara when it was Japan’s capital. The original building was unfortunately destroyed and its reconstructed building now operates as a historical information centre for visitors to catch a glimpse of what the area was like over 1,000 years ago as the centre of politics, culture and religion. Its architecture was inspired by Chang-an, the ancient capital of the Chinese Tang dynasty.

Heijo-kyu is also a World Heritage Site that still displays Nara’s glory to a certain degree. It thrived as the first large-scale international city of Japan. Heijo-kyu is considered a part of national cultural heritage, and is also designated as one of Japan’s Special Historic Sites. The Agency for Cultural Affairs implemented the “Basic Scheme for the Preservation and Development of the Heijo Palace Site as a Special Historic Site” in 1978 making Heijo-kyu the place where the ancient culture of Japan is passed onto future generations.

Address: Saki-cho, Nara-shi
Opening Hours: 9am-4:30pm
Closing Days: Mondays (or following day if Monday is a national holiday), December 29 to January 3
Admission: Free
Phone: +81-742-30-6753

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Nara Royal Hotel (1.2 km from Heijokyu Ruins)
    Address: 254-1 Hokkejicho, Nara 630-8001, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-34-1131
    Website: http://www.nara-royal.co.jp/lang/index.html
  2. Toyoko Inn Nara Shin Omiya Ekimae (1.7 km from Heijokyu Ruins)
    Address: 4-3-2 Shibatsujicho, Nara 630-8114, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-36-1045
    Website: http://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00183/
  3. Hotel Nikko Nara (2.6 km from Heijokyu Ruins)
    Address: 8-1 Sanjo Hommachi, Nara 630-8122, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-35-8831
    Website: https://www.okura-nikko.com/japan/nara/hotel-nikko-nara/

 

7. Yoshino-yama (吉野山, Mount Yoshino)

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Yoshino-yama is a magnificent mountain best known for its sakura blossom. It has 30,000 sakura trees planted around the slopes that gives a spectacular view during mid-April every year. Visitors can easily see 1,000 sakura blossom trees at once that gives rise to the expression hitome senbon, which means “a thousand trees at a glance”.

Besides the spring sakura blossoms, stunning views can also be enjoyed throughout the year here, especially the autumn leaves. Yoshino-yama offers spectacular scenery throughout the year: new green leaves in summer, hydrangeas in June during the rainy season, autumn leaves at the end of October, and white landscapes in winter.

The whole of Mt. Yoshino is registered as World Heritage Site, and includes World Heritage Buildings such as the Yoshino Mikumari Shrine, the Kinpu Shrine, the Kinpusenji Temple and the Yoshimizu Shrine.

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Ebisukan (0.2 km from Mt. Yoshinoyama)
    Address: Yoshino-gun, Yoshino-cho 639-3115, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-746-32-3031
    Website: http://www.ebisukan.yoshino.jp
  2. Yumoto Hounoya (0.2 km from Mt. Yoshinoyama)
    Address: Nakasenbonkoen, Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-gun, Yoshino-cho 639-3115, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-746-325-121
    Website: https://www.kayak.com/Yoshino-Hotels-Yumoto-Hounoya.799316.ksp
  3. Ikkyuan (0.4 km from Mt. Yoshinoyama)
    Address: 240-1 Sakai-machi Muromachi-dori Gojo Sagaru 2 chome, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8162
    Phone: +81-75-342-2123
    Website: https://www.nagomi-kyoto.com/ikkyuan/eng/

 

8. Yakushi-ji (薬師寺, Healing Buddha Temple)

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Yakushi-ji (薬師寺) was constructed by the 40th emperor of Japan, Emperor Tenmu (r. 673-686 CE), in the late 7th century dedicated to the recovery of the sick Empress. Yakushi-ji is a World Heritage Site that has eight buildings within its grounds that form a strictly symmetric layout: on a central axis are the main and lecture halls flanked by two pagodas. Its unique architectural style is another one that was inspired by Chang-an, the ancient capital of China during the Tang dynasty.

Yakushi-ji is one of Nara’s seven great temples and the mother temple of the Hosso school of Buddhism – the oldest Buddhist sect in Japan. Its main hall was rebuilt in the 1970s after being destroyed by fire and houses a Yakushi (Medicine Buddha) trinity which is a masterpiece of Japanese Buddhist art, as well as among many other art objects.

The temple’s East Pagoda dates from 730 and is the only structure to have survived many fires that have beset the temple over the years. Just like the West Pagoda, it is three-storeys high though it appears to have six stories. The Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha) statue housed here is a national treasure from the Hakuho Period (645-710). It is 255cm high and cast in bronze. It was commissioned by Emperor Temmu in 680. The complex is huge with many other attractions worth visiting, so it is recommended to allocate extra time to for this location during your visit.

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Construction Notice:

The Yakushi-ji’s East Pagoda is undergoing major renovation works over a time period of almost ten years (until June 2020), during which the pagoda is covered by scaffolding. The other buildings are unaffected and still make a worthwhile visit.

Address: 457 Nishinokyo-cho
Opening Hours: 8:30am-5pm, last entry at 4:30pm
Admission: 1100 yen (800 yen when Genjo-sanzoin Garan is closed)
Closing days: Genjo-sanzoin Garan is closed from mid-January through February, from July to mid-September (except Obon in mid-August) and in December
Phone: +81-742-33-6001

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Accommodation Nearby

  1. Sun Hotel Nara (3.4 km from Yakushiji Temple)
    Address: 4-21 Sanjohonmachi, Nara 630-8122, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-25-2111
    Website: http://www.sunhotelnara.jp
  2. Comfort Hotel NARA (3.5 km from Yakushiji Temple)
    Address: 321 3 Sanjo cho, Nara 630-8244, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-25-3211
    Website: https://travel.rakuten.com/hotel/Japan-Nara_Prefecture-Nara-Comfort_Hotel_Nara/70284/
  3. Super Hotel JR Nara Ekimae (3.7 km from Yakushiji Temple)
    Address: 500-1 Sanjocho, Nara 630-8244, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-27-9000
    Website: http://www.superhoteljapan.com/en/s-hotels/nara-lohas/

 

9. Chugu-ji (中宮寺, Chugu-ji Temple)

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Chugu-ji is located next to the Horyu-ji Temple and is a historic nunnery located in the Ikaruga district, south west of Nara. It is a small temple but famous for housing Japan’s two national treasures in the Main Hall, which are a superb Miroku Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Maitreya) statue, and a replica of the Tenjukoku Shucho Mandala that was embroidered after the death of Prince Shotoku by imperial courtiers. Chugu-ji belongs to the Shotoku school temple of Japanese Buddhism.

Chugu-ji was originally the palace of Prince Shotoku’s mother during the Asuka Period (538-710) and converted into a nunnery by Prince Shotoku after his mother’s death. Chugu-ji’s chief priestesses were traditionally imperial princesses. The temple is considered one of the three Yamato monzeki nunneries, that is to say that the temple has a special connection with the imperial family since the chief monk or nun would often be a member of the imperial family.

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One of the main attractions of Chugu-ji is the black camphor wood statue of Miroku that sits in the Main Hall. It is regarded as a classic of Asuka Period art that was described as: “one of the three smiling masterpieces of the world along with the Sphinx of Egypt and the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci.” in a temple pamphlet. The Miroku sits with its right hand raised to its face in thought and was believed to have been originally painted but had a lacquer finishing that gives the image its unique resinous black colour.

Address: 1-1-2 Horyuji-kita Ikaruga-cho, Ikaruga-gun
Opening Hours: 9am-4:30pm March 21-September 30; 9am-4pm October 1-March 20
Admission: 500 yen or 400 yen if you have bought a ticket to Horyuji
Phone: +81-745-75-2106

Accommodation Nearby

  1. Sun Hotel Yamatokoriyama (3.7 km from Chuguji Temple)
    Address: 635-1 Tsutsuicho, Yamatokoriyama 639-1123, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-743-23-0111
    Website: http://www.sunhotel-yamatokoriyama.com
  2. Super Hotel Nara Yamatokoriyama (4.7 km from Chuguji Temple)
    Address: 205-1 Sugimachi, Yamatokoriyama 639-1121, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-743-57-9800
    Website: http://www.superhoteljapan.com/en/s-hotels/nara/
  3. Shiroyama (9.0 km from Chuguji Temple)
    Address: 15-12 Monzencho, Ikoma 630-0266, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-743-73-4717
    Website: https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/shiroyama-ryokan.html

 

10. Nara-machi (奈良町, “Nara Town”)

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Registered as a Unesco World Heritage Site, Nara-machi was developed into a merchant district around the 15th century. Prior to that, the whole area used to be occupied almost fully by Gango-ji’s once-spacious grounds. The temple was one of the most important temples in Japan during the Nara Period.

In the Edo and earlier periods, many buildings of Nara-machi were machiya – a long and narrow townhouse-like building that served as the local shops for merchants and living quarters similar to those in Kyoto. The machiya store fronts were often kept narrow for tax savings, as taxes were calculated based on a machiya’s street access rather than its total size. Though once a sprawling compound, a handful of machiya and temple buildings have been preserved today as museums, cafes and shops.

Nara-machi is particularly atmospheric when most of the visitors have dispersed and the lanterns in restaurants are being lit. The Edo period is really brought back to life as you stroll down these traditional Japanese streets.

Here is a list of Nara-machi’s main attractions:

  1. Gango-ji (元興寺, Gango-ji Temple)
    Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm, last admission at 4:30pm
    Admission: 500 yen
    KN48-1
    Gango-ji Temple was one of Nara’s seven great temples, and originates as Asukadera (Japan’s oldest temple) in Asuka that was moved to Nara in 718. Gango-ji today is only a small fraction of what it used to be.
  2. Koshi-no-Ie (ならまち格子の家, Nara-machi Lattice House)
    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm
    Closing Days: Mondays and the day following a national holiday (except weekends), December 26 to January 5
    Admission: Free
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    Koshi-no-Ie Residence was a former merchant home that is preserved and opened to the public.
  3. Nara Kogei-kan (なら工藝館, Nara Craft Museum)
    Opening Hours: 10am-6pm, last admission at 5:30pm
    Closing Days: Mondays and the day following a national holiday (except weekends), December 26 to January 5, and between exhibitions
    Admission: Free
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    This museum serves as an introduction house to famous Nara’s arts and crafts such as kogakumen masks, high-quality writing brushes and inks, etc.
  4. Nara-machi Shiryo-kan (奈良町資料館, Nara-machi History Museum)
    Opening Hours: Daily 10am-4pm
    Admission: Free
    KN48-4
    This museum in the centre of Nara-machi exhibits many artefacts related to the district’s history with explanations in Japanese only.
  5. Imanishi-ke Sho-in (今西家書院, Imanishike Shoin Traditional House)
    Opening Hours: 10am-4pm, last admission at 3:30pm
    Closing Days: Mondays, summer holidays and winter holidays
    Admission: 350 yen
    KN48-5
    This residence is located in the eastern part of Nara-machi and was a former residence of the Kofuku-ji temple official. It has a large interior, a pleasant garden, and a space for enjoying green tea and Japanese desserts.

KN49

Accommodation Nearby

  1. People’s Inn Hanakomichi (0.9 km from Nara-machi)
    Address: 23 Konishicho, Nara 630-8226, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-26-2646
    Website: http://hanakomichi.co.jp/en/index28.html
  2. Toyoko Inn Nara Kintetsu Eki-mae (1.0 km from Nara-machi)
    Address: 16-1 Nishimikadocho, Nara 630-8225, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-85-1045
    Website: https://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00249/index.html
  3. Tenpyo Ryokan (2.8 km from Nara-machi)
    Address: 9 Higashimukinakamachi, Nara 630-8215, Nara Prefecture
    Phone: +81-742-22-0551
    Website: https://www.agoda.com/tenpyo-ryokan/hotel/nara-jp.html?cid=-218

 

Travel Books

Before you go to Japan we highly recommend you read A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony for a better understanding of modern Japanese culture and lifestyle.

Authors: Hector Garcia

KN50

Comprehensive and well informed, it covers a wide array of topics in short articles accompanied by sidebars and numerous photographs, providing a lively digest of the society and culture of Japan. Designed to appeal to the generations of Westerners who grew up on Pokemon, manga and video games, A Geek in Japan reinvents the culture guide for readers in the Internet age.

Spotlighting the originality and creativity of the Japanese, debunking myths about them, and answering nagging questions like why they’re so fond of robots, author Hector Garcia has created the perfect book for the growing ranks of Japanophiles in this inspired, insightful and highly informative guide.

 

How to move around Japan

The best way to get around Japan is by using a Japan Rail Pass, a very convenient and budget-friendly way to travel throughout the country. For train route ideas and city guides, check out the Japan by Rail book.

Authors: Ramsey Zarifeh

KN51

Practical information – planning your trip; what to take; getting to Japan from Europe, North America and Australasia

City guides and maps – where to stay (all budgets), where to eat, what to see in 30 towns and cities; historical and cultural background

Kilometer-by-kilometer route guides – covering train journeys from the coast into the mountains, from temple retreat to sprawling metropolis and from sulphurous volcano to windswept desert; 34 route maps

Railway timetables – Bullet trains and all routes in this guidebook

Plus – Customs, etiquette, Japanese phrases and 40 color photos

 
Sources:

  • https://www.jnto.go.jp
  • https://matcha-jp.com/en/2548
  • https://www.tsunagujapan.com/8-must-see-sights-in-nara-the-first-capital-of-japan/
  • http://www.cyclekyoto.com/kyoto-to-nara
  • https://japancheapo.com/travel/touring-kyoto-nara-kobe-osaka-cheap-thru-pass/
  • https://www.travelocafe.com/2013/02/kyoto-japan-top-places-attractions-to-visit-see.html
  • https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/the-top-10-things-to-do-and-see-in-kyoto/
  • https://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/japan/kyoto-nara/
  • https://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/kansai/kyoto
  • http://www.city.yokohama.lg.jp/ex/stat/jinko/city/new-e.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prefectures_of_Japan
  • http://www.japan-guide.com
  • http://www.mofa.go.jp/index.html
  • https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/basic-info/experience-japanese-culture/the-dos-and-donts-of-manners.html
  • http://www.insidekyoto.com
  • http://www.touropia.com/tourist-attractions-in-kyoto/
  • http://www.kasugataisha.or.jp/about/index_en.html
  • http://heijo-kyo.com/en/
  • http://www.yoshinoyama-sakura.jp/english/

 
For more interesting information:

 

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About Pastor Adeline Woon

Adeline Woon is a Buddhist Pastor and a Sangha-to-be in Kechara who enjoys learning and sharing the Dharma with others. Due to her deep interest in Buddhism from a young age, Adeline enrolled herself into the Dharma Drum University in Taiwan, where she graduated with a Master in Religious Studies in 2012.
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8 Responses to Wonderful Japan – Kyoto and Nara

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  1. JP on Aug 3, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Kyoto and Nara are 2 very beautiful cities. It’s really incredible how many temples and shrines there are in Kyoto. The Japanese have an eye for the aesthetics and keeping things clean and well maintained. It is truly magical to be there.

    Of all the places mentioned in the article, my favourite would be Todai-ji at Nara and Kyomizu-Dera Temple in Kyoto. The big buddha statue in the temple of Taodai-ji is magnificent and grand. I can sit there all day and do my prayers. The altar area of Kyomizu-Dera is surreal. It is one of the best Buddhist altar I’ve ever seen. The old wooden structure of the temple combined with tarnished bronze fixtures, bronze offering items and a gold thousand arm Kuan Yin statue were a perfect combination of understated elegance. The Japanese’s eye for detail and their taste are simply amazing.

    On a spiritual note, it would be beneficial to visit these holy temples as they are blessed by hundreds of years of prayers and good wishes. Kyoto and Nara are a must see if you ever travel to Japan.

  2. Wan Wai Meng on Jul 29, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    The pictures of the Temples so beautiful. The culture and beauty of the environment enhances the architectural structures of Japan. It almost seems like in every building the Japanese try to bring nature into the entire aesthetics of it.

  3. Fong on Jul 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Religion is central to the Japanese and together with tradition, it is what keeps them rooted in a dense and fast pace life. The sheer number of temples itself tells a story of faith. Though there has been much violence in their past, there is also beauty. And, it is to this beauty of spirit and tradition that they move with towards the future.

  4. Jace Chong on Jul 19, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks Rinpoche and the blog team for sharing with us such a beautiful place on earth!

    The article is so comprehensive that with this itself, I feel like I have gone to Kyoto and Nara. It’s a well preserved place and everything is so well kept through centuries. The Buddhist temples there are beautiful, and they are rested in such beautiful scenery around it.

    I have never been to Japan, but I like their culture through the comics, books and movies that I have been reading and watching since young. I like their common discipline of keeping places in well order, and the people are very well mannered in general.

    May more tourists and visitors go to these beautiful places and get blessings from Buddha, planted seeds to practice Dharma.

    Thank you.

  5. Stella Cheang on Jul 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    It is impressive and inspiring at the same time to read about the way Japanese preserve their culture and tradition. They take great effort to look into details in their preservation work, for example moving the utilities underground, training modern people in the traditional of Geishe, as well as planting of 30,000 sakura trees in Yoshino-yama mountain range. These tasks are enormous but once accomplished, will achieve priceless results. Thank you, Pastor Adeline, for this comprehensive sharing.

  6. Samfoonheei on Jul 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Wow….there is so many place of interest Kyoto and Nara can offer to tourist.Both the cities are rich in history with many beautiful ancient temples and shrines. Nara has some of the most impressive first-rate sights in all of Japan,including the famous Daibutsu at Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine and Nara-koen Park, with its famous semi-wild deer. Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the most significant in Nara, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site just to mention afew.
    Kyoto is the most beautiful city with more than a thousand temples, about 1,600 Buddhist temples, plus 400 Shinto shrines, a trio of palaces, and dozens of beautiful gardens and museums. Kyoto has more World Heritage Sites than any other city.That is iteresting.
    Thank you Pastor Adeline Woon for sharing such a detail informatives post , making it easier for anyone travelling there for the first time.I have not been to Japan at all ,love to one day.

  7. Anne Ong on Jul 18, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    I love to read and see pictures of beautiful places and countries. It helps to broaden my knowledge and expose me to places where i can’t go.
    I also love to know about different cultures and etiquette,the do’s and dont’s are very important to know when we visit different countries.
    Love some of the beautiful pictures such as,3. Nara Koen, Nara Park),8. Yakushi-ji, Healing Buddha Temple),7. Yoshino-yama, Mount Yoshino),6. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove,9. Chugu-ji, Chugu-ji Temple) .
    Pastor Adeline, I have commented on your beautiful article as i promised earlier. Hope to read more on beautiful countries like these. Thank you very much 🙂 _/\_

  8. CindyH on Jul 18, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Thank you for such an informative write up about Kyoto and Naro. Both are really appealing in their own way and the best part is that both have evolved and embraced modernisation without losing the historical and cultural essence. Both actually are actually big towns but apparently retain the “small town feel” due to such successful retainment of their traditions, and especially with the traditional architectures. It is also very interesting to observe the blending and compromises between old and new. Take for example, “Gion Matsuri” an annual festival of purification which takes place in July (and lasts for the entire month). It is said to be one of the oldest and largest festivals in Kyoto. Whilst this tradition started back to the ancient years as a divine solution to counter any plagues or contagious outbreak, to this day, the preservation of such tradition is still strong even when the people embrace different faiths. In fact, in addition to the annual festival, whenever an outbreak occurred, this practice would be carried out as a traditional precautionary action plan. It is also quite common to spot Geishas amongst the office workers and tourists around the towns. Their strong identification with culture and its preservation is also evident from the effort in educating people with their customs and etiquette. Be that as it may, the towns are so picturesque that one can pleasantly discover something scenic and some even breathtakingly so, at almost every corner.

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  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 10:04 AM
    Interesting someone like Rob Lowe a famous actor actually told he came face-to-face with Bigfoot was with his two sons .No proof and details given to support his encounter. Whether for publicity his coming show no one knows. He was filming his new paranormal documentary series when he said he saw it. It does not matter at least it helps to raise awareness of that Bigfoot do exist. Good in way more people will come to accept it and will further investigate its existence of Bigfoot. It also encourages people to start thinking broadly of possibilities.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/rob-lowe-face-to-face-with-bigfoot.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 10:03 AM
    Well,I have read news of Bigfoot sightings in the jungles of southern Malaysia before years back. Interesting as our country do have the sighting of Bigfoot too.It seems that Bigfoot can be found anywhere in this world. To many people, Bigfoot is the stuff of nightmarish folklore. Described by hundreds of alleged eyewitnesses as an ape-like creature that stands nearly eight feet tall. There is a number of sighting by the locals and may be linked to environmental changes and the shrinking jungle. This has attracted world attention, having teams from different countries and our local government as well. The research scientists, has been trying to verify Bigfoot’s existence so far none has really performed intensive research on this matter. Historical records show eight claimed sightings of enormous apemen or Bigfoot or oversized apes. Despite numerous sightings, photos and footprints , there has never been conclusive proof that these creatures exist in Malaysia.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these interesting article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/bigfoot-in-malaysia.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 10:02 AM
    Alarming height and shocking to know there is microplastic contamination in our drinking water after scientific investigation has discovered that.
    Glad to know scientists are doing more for research on the implications for health. At least we could know more knowledge and more aware of all plastics fibres in our tap water. All this while we have been drinking . Scientists warn microplastics are so small they could penetrate organs. That is bad for our health. Plastic fibres have infiltrated the drinking water of cities and towns all over the world. Our oceans are littered with plastic, which is killing whales and other marine mammals, and contaminating fish. Previous studies have shown when people eat seafood, they are also eating high levels of microplastics, not to mention taking in a lot of mercury as well
    Many people have involved to make a change for a better environment for the generation to come. Educating the people from school children to the people on the streets the safest ways of garbage disposal will be a wonderful start. We should all take responsibility to care for the environment and help raise awareness.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/do-you-know-what-you-are-drinking.html
  • Alice Tay
    Friday, Oct 20. 2017 01:51 AM
    In Buddhism, before become an enlightened beings, all living beings have to experience the suffering in taking rebirth for many lifetimes and each of the rebirth, we must have father and mother. It is possible that our previous lifetime’s father and mother have taken rebirth in other forms such as animals, hungry ghosts and etc in this lifetime. Due to this reason, we should love and treat all sentient beings well as everyone might once been our father or mother in the previous life. We owe them kindness and therefore we should practice dharma and help to liberate them from suffering and lead them to enlightenment.

    I am extremely grateful that I meet and learn dharma from Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s skilful means teachings let me understand that I should not only care about myself, my family and friends but to be kind and compassion to everyone around me. Rinpoche reminds and encourage us to do our commitments and daily sadhana. Later, I realized that when we do prayers, sadhana or pujas, we must begin with Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels and followed by recitation of the Four Immeasurables. Through this practice, it is actually to help us to set a good motivation and generate our Bodhicitta for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/five-ways-to-love-more-by-tsem-rinpoche.html
  • Lin Mun
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 10:27 PM
    Rinpoche’s blog has so many interesting topics and articles. Be it heavy and technical or light such as traveling tips, all are very useful and informative to the readers. I appreciate Rinpoche and writers team hardwork in giving us vast information and opportunity for us to learn and improve our dharma knowledge.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/i-am-honoured.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 11:04 AM
    Wow …such a unique island called Socotra which i did not know before or come across . Everything from trees to flowers looks so unique. A place home to a panoply of strange plants and animals uniquely which adapted to the hot, harsh, windswept island. The landscape of this remote Socotra Island looks as if it comes from a sci-fi film.
    From what I see through the pictures this Socotra Island, looks more like Alien place. It’s truly unlike any place on earth and is also called the ‘Lost World ‘ to some of the tourist. I did some research on this island .
    It seem over millions of years, the isolated island in the Arabian Sea has cultivated a unique biodiversity unlike anywhere else on Earth. Twisted dragon’s blood trees and bulbous bottle trees have made Socotra a place of legends, feared by sailors throughout history and believed by some to be the site of the original Garden of Eden.
    Now it seem to be a tourist attraction in Yemen after when UNESCO named it as World Natural Heritage Site in 2006. Its wonderful news as UNESCO recognizes the importance of preserving the island.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these unique island with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/travel/socotra-island.html#comment-753145
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 11:03 AM
    Beautiful sacred painting by Rinpoche. Amazing to know RInpoche as a small kid is so talented in drawing and painting . Yet after so many years the painting still looks good condition. Such a beautiful White Tara painting and now Rinpoche still paints.
    Wow interesting stories behind the scared painting of the powerful white Tara. When we have trust and faith that’s how these powerful Tara will help us.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/sacred-painting.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Oct 19. 2017 11:02 AM
    The two beautiful Yeti painting comes a long way from Nepal with love to Malaysia .Specially for Rinpoche……such a beautiful gift and unique .. Knowing Rinpoche like Bigfoot so much. Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection. It is not the gift but the thought that counts.
    Rejoice for Mitra Poudel and Khom Thapa
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these beautiful paintings.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/yeti-bigfoot-sasquatch/from-nepal.html
  • Jason
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:14 PM
    This is a great news to animals. Gucci, a leading fashion company going to stop fur clothing now. I just watched a video about the people peel off the fox skin. So cruelty.
    Even though we own any fur clothing, we shouldn’t wear it because this will create a desire cause to others to buy more fur clothing .
    Human beings are very intelligent but we shouldn’t take away animals rights to live in this planet.
    Thanks Rinpoche sharing.

    Jason
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/do-you-know-what-gucci-did.html
  • Alice Tay
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 05:51 PM
    藏传佛教格鲁派第十世班禅喇嘛被视为阿弥陀佛的化身,并且是继达赖尊者后拥有最高权威的佛法大师。第十世班禅喇嘛是一名颇有影响力的大师,每当他给予公开开示时,数以千计的人都会前去听法。
    第十世班禅喇嘛和达赖尊者的关系可以追溯到第五世达赖尊者时期。在当时,第五世达赖尊者的上师,同时也是杜固扎巴坚赞(多杰雄登前世之一)的上师是第四世班禅喇嘛。为了感激上师,达赖尊者赐予上师“班禅大师”头衔,并对班禅大师的三任前世加以追封。此外,达赖尊者也将扎什伦布寺赐为其上师的驻锡地。而此扎什伦布寺内还安设一间供奉多杰雄登的护法殿至今,并且还成为著名的旅游胜地。
    由此可见,如果多杰雄登就如藏人行政中央所说的修持多杰雄登会伤害西藏事业,那么当时的第五世达赖尊者为何要赠送设有多杰雄登的护法殿的扎什伦布寺予第四世班禅喇?如果多杰雄登真的会伤害西藏事业,那么第十世班禅喇嘛为何要费尽心思来撰写这篇约30至40页的的“妙音怙主(宗喀巴)佛教护法天王金刚具力五部威猛尊酬供仪轨”的祈愿文?难道第十世班禅喇嘛铁了心肠不再理会或是存心要危害西藏人民?这一切的一切,让我们不得不深入的思考。

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/downloads/panchen-lama-sungbum-chinese.html
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 05:22 PM
    It is very worrying that there are such high percentage of plastic fibres found in our tap water. Even developed country such as UK, Germany and France has 72% of their tap water contaminated with plastic fibres. I guess this is the price we have to pay. With improve technologies and new science inventions we keep coming out with new products that uses various types of plastics and chemicals to bring down the production cost. But unfortunately, nothing comes free as human who will have to suffer the implication of these plastics fibres in the form of water and air, and it is alarming to our health. I think the only way is to create awareness to people telling them how harmful it can bring to us and we should avoid using the products that contribute the pollution and use alternative.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/do-you-know-what-you-are-drinking.html
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 05:04 PM
    It is good news that Tibetan MP Venerable Tenpa Yarphel speaks up against Nechung. Why would a democratic country listen to an oracle to seek advise for the country governance and administration? It just puzzled me. If Nechung is right, why isn’t the country and people progressing but divided further with the Dorje Shugden ban? What more Nechung is an not enlightened dharma protector. It was proven that so many Nechung’s prophecies was wrong but none would question and CTA would still follow the wrong advice. The CTA leaders continue to segregate, discriminate and remove all the human rights against Dorje Shugden practitioners such as education, medical, religion and etc. This is so illegal.

    In this age, we should be able to think and fight for our rights. I hope more people like Venerable Tenpa Yarphel will speak up against the unfair Tibetan leadership towards their people. Everyone should be treated equally and especially for a Buddhism country.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/tibetan-mp-tenpa-yarphel-speaks-up-against-nechung.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:29 AM
    Shocking to read and hear this, happening in our own country. Even though this post is old , feeling sad for those cats starving been kept at two pet boarding premises which they called pets hotel. Pets owner discovered that those pets were left abandoned and starved . They also found dead cats and many were in a sad condition. Our local newspapers reported that about 200 cats and a dog were rescued from that premise alone .Another location about 100 cats were found and rescued. These episode was highlighted in news national wide. It such a shameful act .How can the owner of the premises do it for their own selfishness just because of celebrations.
    It is good that the authorities took a stern legal action against the owners of the centre.
    Animals are ignorant and do not deserve to be treated so badly. Be kind and caring to all sentient beings. Have empathy.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/300-starved-and-13-died-petknode.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:28 AM
    A beautiful approach by the British MPs has recommended that people reduce the amount of meat they eat to help prevent food shortages in Britain . Even though it is political approach yet still happy as less animals will be killed for foods on the table.
    The massive increase in meat consumption in recent decades has led to the price of grain increase which used for animal feed. Its also lead to widespread deforestation and pressure on agricultural land. The MP are trying to tackle food wastage as half the food bought from UK supermarkets goes in the bin. The UK population are encouraged to eat less meat in long run.
    Thank you for sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/british-mps-says-eat-less-meat.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Oct 18. 2017 11:27 AM
    So touching ….watching this beautiful videos , could not controlled my tears too. Its such a warm moment when the two of them met again after a long search nearly 25 years of a hopless search . Mitchell Shigemoto has never forgotten how James Pearson saved his life. In foreign places, and the way Shigemoto’s relationship with James Pearson training together and fighting ,along side in the war ,they became best friends.
    James Pearson is truly a selfless ,kind and friendly person, nor matter what happen stands by Mitchell Shigemoto.
    Thank you Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing this inspiring post.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/mitchell-shigemoto-and-james-pearson-best-friends-in-war.html

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Messages from Rinpoche

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CREDITS

Concept: Tsem Rinpoche
Technical: Lew Kwan Leng, Justin Ripley, Yong Swee Keong
Design: Justin Ripley, Cynthia Lee
Content: Tsem Rinpoche, Justin Ripley, Pastor Shin Tan, Sarah Yap
Writer: Pastor Loh Seng Piow
Admin: Pastor Loh Seng Piow, Beng Kooi

I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

What Am I Writing Now

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
Dear friends, This meme is powerful. Who you hang around with and the types of attitude they have is who you will be influenced by many times and who you will become in the future. Look at your friends and the people that always surround you to know who you will become. Tsem Rinpoche
yesterday
Dear friends, This meme is powerful. Who you hang around with and the types of attitude they have is who you will be influenced by many times and who you will become in the future. Look at your friends and the people that always surround you to know who you will become. Tsem Rinpoche
October 2017, His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal graciously reading our Kechara album and updates as presented by Beng Kooi and Martin. He was very pleased with our progress and offers his blessings. Tsem Rinpoche
yesterday
October 2017, His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal graciously reading our Kechara album and updates as presented by Beng Kooi and Martin. He was very pleased with our progress and offers his blessings. Tsem Rinpoche
His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche grants audience to Beng Kooi and Martin in France.  Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
2 days ago
His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche grants audience to Beng Kooi and Martin in France. Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
Recently Beng Kooi and Martin on behalf of myself and Kechara was lucky to have audience with His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He lives in around Paris, France. His Holiness is 91 years old and very healthy and alert. He was the 101st throne holder for Tsongkapa and was the head of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism and was very successful during his tenure. He is a strong practitioner of both Sutra and Tantra of Je Tsongkapa\'s tradition and a master of all Buddhist knowledge. He holds steadfast to his protector Dorje Shugden very strongly. So we can see even the highest throneholders who are masters of Sutra and Tantra also practices Dorje Shugden knowing the benefits.

Beng Kooi and Martin brought photo albums of Kechara Forest Retreat/Kechara and updates on Kechara and our works. His Holiness was very pleased to listen and offered some gifts back. 

This is a beautiful picture and the great blessings bestowed on us from His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.

Humbly, Tsem Rinpoche 
Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
2 days ago
Recently Beng Kooi and Martin on behalf of myself and Kechara was lucky to have audience with His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He lives in around Paris, France. His Holiness is 91 years old and very healthy and alert. He was the 101st throne holder for Tsongkapa and was the head of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism and was very successful during his tenure. He is a strong practitioner of both Sutra and Tantra of Je Tsongkapa's tradition and a master of all Buddhist knowledge. He holds steadfast to his protector Dorje Shugden very strongly. So we can see even the highest throneholders who are masters of Sutra and Tantra also practices Dorje Shugden knowing the benefits. Beng Kooi and Martin brought photo albums of Kechara Forest Retreat/Kechara and updates on Kechara and our works. His Holiness was very pleased to listen and offered some gifts back. This is a beautiful picture and the great blessings bestowed on us from His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Humbly, Tsem Rinpoche Read more on His Holiness Gaden Trisur Rinpoche: http://bit.ly/1PlaNNS
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp
*****and****
My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li

Fantastic Reads!!
3 days ago
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp *****and**** My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li Fantastic Reads!!
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp
*****and****
My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li
3 days ago
The meaning and origins of Halloween: http://bit.ly/2egnVrp *****and**** My Halloween in Salem: http://bit.ly/2zwq6li
This is so powerful. It is a must read and must share.
3 days ago
This is so powerful. It is a must read and must share.
Beng Kooi meeting with the scholar and teacher Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen has been very active and you can see his youtubes in Tibetan speaking about the benefits of Dorje Shugden practice. He is a direct student of Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche.
4 days ago
Beng Kooi meeting with the scholar and teacher Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen has been very active and you can see his youtubes in Tibetan speaking about the benefits of Dorje Shugden practice. He is a direct student of Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche.
Martin meeting with Gen Tashi. Gen Tashi is a very devoted and committed activist of Dorje Shugden\'s cause. He is tireless in speaking for the truth. They enjoyed sharing some time together.
4 days ago
Martin meeting with Gen Tashi. Gen Tashi is a very devoted and committed activist of Dorje Shugden's cause. He is tireless in speaking for the truth. They enjoyed sharing some time together.
Martin meeting with the well known strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist and scholar Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe lak was very happy to meet Martin and shared so much wonderful information. Beautiful meeting.
4 days ago
Martin meeting with the well known strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist and scholar Geshe Konchok Gyeltsen lak. Geshe lak was very happy to meet Martin and shared so much wonderful information. Beautiful meeting.
Beng Kooi meeting with friend and strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist Gen Tashi
4 days ago
Beng Kooi meeting with friend and strong and devoted Dorje Shugden activist Gen Tashi
Another stunning digital print art of Dorje Shugden from an artist in Peru. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Another stunning digital print art of Dorje Shugden from an artist in Peru. Tsem Rinpoche
This beautiful Dorje Shugden is from an artist in the Ukraine. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
This beautiful Dorje Shugden is from an artist in the Ukraine. Tsem Rinpoche
Please never get tired of speaking for those who do not have a voice. If we can alleviate their pain or try our best, why not? Thank you all so much. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Please never get tired of speaking for those who do not have a voice. If we can alleviate their pain or try our best, why not? Thank you all so much. Tsem Rinpoche
Pastor Antoinette of Kechara arranged a Malaysian artist to paint this special Dorje Shugden painting conceptualized by myself. She oversaw the process and completed it. Wonderful beautiful Dorje Shugden Malaysian style by Malaysian artist. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Pastor Antoinette of Kechara arranged a Malaysian artist to paint this special Dorje Shugden painting conceptualized by myself. She oversaw the process and completed it. Wonderful beautiful Dorje Shugden Malaysian style by Malaysian artist. Tsem Rinpoche
Sometimes after my prayers, reading on sasquatch is relaxing. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Sometimes after my prayers, reading on sasquatch is relaxing. Tsem Rinpoche
This gorgeous outdoor bronze Buddha is in Korea. Would be lovely to pay homage to Him there.
3 weeks ago
This gorgeous outdoor bronze Buddha is in Korea. Would be lovely to pay homage to Him there.
Beautiful old vintage photo of Kamakura Buddha in Japan. I had the good fortune to visit this holy Buddha a few years back. I do hope I can go again with some students. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Beautiful old vintage photo of Kamakura Buddha in Japan. I had the good fortune to visit this holy Buddha a few years back. I do hope I can go again with some students. Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche with Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the Medicine Buddha festival.
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche with Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the Medicine Buddha festival.
This is a unique thangka of Pelden Hlamo with Dorje Shugden and Setrap and Nechung. Of course they all get along unlike what Tibetan leadership likes to say they don\'t get along. All enlightened beings get along with other enlightened beings and unenlightened beings. Enlightened beings have no karma to not get along with others. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
This is a unique thangka of Pelden Hlamo with Dorje Shugden and Setrap and Nechung. Of course they all get along unlike what Tibetan leadership likes to say they don't get along. All enlightened beings get along with other enlightened beings and unenlightened beings. Enlightened beings have no karma to not get along with others. Tsem Rinpoche
I love this picture. I wish it will all settle down soon.
3 weeks ago
I love this picture. I wish it will all settle down soon.
 I love this picture of Mumu peeking through the screen and window to see what is going on. He is always been very busy body and active. He has to know what is going on. I love you Mumu.
3 weeks ago
I love this picture of Mumu peeking through the screen and window to see what is going on. He is always been very busy body and active. He has to know what is going on. I love you Mumu.
How would you like to get one piece of this beautiful piece of art?
3 weeks ago
How would you like to get one piece of this beautiful piece of art?
First time PM Tenpa Yarphel speaks up against Nechung. It has created a huge stir. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144220
3 weeks ago
First time PM Tenpa Yarphel speaks up against Nechung. It has created a huge stir. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144220
I always like my rooms to smell clean, fresh, woodsy and a bit like the forest. my favorite types of essential oils to burn daily or as an offering to the Buddhas are Juniper, Cypress, Black Spruce, Peppermint and sometimes Rosemary. I like the smell of the forest, woods and wooded areas very much. I\'ve been using essential oils in my rooms for years. I don\'t necessarily purchase the brand you see in the picture as I buy any brand as long as it\'s made naturally. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
I always like my rooms to smell clean, fresh, woodsy and a bit like the forest. my favorite types of essential oils to burn daily or as an offering to the Buddhas are Juniper, Cypress, Black Spruce, Peppermint and sometimes Rosemary. I like the smell of the forest, woods and wooded areas very much. I've been using essential oils in my rooms for years. I don't necessarily purchase the brand you see in the picture as I buy any brand as long as it's made naturally. Tsem Rinpoche
In the bitter coldness of Yachen Gar, Tibet, several nuns are practicing meditation. You can see many small single \'huts\' in the background. They do this yearly and throughout the year. It is very inspiring to see people practice even under extreme conditions because they realize how samsara is so full of deceptions. Praise to the Dharma that liberates us with truth and practice. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
In the bitter coldness of Yachen Gar, Tibet, several nuns are practicing meditation. You can see many small single 'huts' in the background. They do this yearly and throughout the year. It is very inspiring to see people practice even under extreme conditions because they realize how samsara is so full of deceptions. Praise to the Dharma that liberates us with truth and practice. Tsem Rinpoche
More than you have....
3 weeks ago
More than you have....
The holiest place for the spiritual seeker is where our guru abides. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
The holiest place for the spiritual seeker is where our guru abides. Tsem Rinpoche
Beautiful flowers offered on my shrine to Sacred Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Beautiful flowers offered on my shrine to Sacred Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
This is my favorite image of Lord Manjusri. I had this exact same image as a kid in the 1980\'s and treasured it very much. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
This is my favorite image of Lord Manjusri. I had this exact same image as a kid in the 1980's and treasured it very much. Tsem Rinpoche
I love this idyllic painting of a beautiful Buddhist temple in a small town with foliage, natural, blue skies and country living. I can definitely live in this type of environment any time. I love living near nature. I wish I can go inside this picture to start living there now. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
I love this idyllic painting of a beautiful Buddhist temple in a small town with foliage, natural, blue skies and country living. I can definitely live in this type of environment any time. I love living near nature. I wish I can go inside this picture to start living there now. Tsem Rinpoche
Another gorgeous Byzantine style painting. As the crowd is lead to the hill of light, atop the hill is St. Dorje Shugden ready to give rest to the weary. And hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Another gorgeous Byzantine style painting. As the crowd is lead to the hill of light, atop the hill is St. Dorje Shugden ready to give rest to the weary. And hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. Tsem Rinpoche
Ms Gerbrick was a very special person in my childhood. When I finally found her again, I had lost her - http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144296
4 weeks ago
Ms Gerbrick was a very special person in my childhood. When I finally found her again, I had lost her - http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144296
I just did another one. See how it\'s done-
 http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144259
4 weeks ago
I just did another one. See how it's done- http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=144259
I like this sketch I just did. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
I like this sketch I just did. Tsem Rinpoche
One of my sketches just finished. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
One of my sketches just finished. Tsem Rinpoche
More of my drawings.  Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
More of my drawings. Tsem Rinpoche
See what Linus has to say to Charlie Brown: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/category/dorje-shugden
4 weeks ago
Plse click on this and read and share. Important thoughts regarding our teacher. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Plse click on this and read and share. Important thoughts regarding our teacher. Tsem Rinpoche
The stupa dedicated to the great Changkya Rolpai Dorje in 5 peaks of Manjushri - China. Changkya Rolpai Dorje was one of the previous life of His Holiness Pabongka Rinpoche. In that life, he was the imperial tutor to the Emperor of China.  Photo from Karen Chong
1 month ago
The stupa dedicated to the great Changkya Rolpai Dorje in 5 peaks of Manjushri - China. Changkya Rolpai Dorje was one of the previous life of His Holiness Pabongka Rinpoche. In that life, he was the imperial tutor to the Emperor of China. Photo from Karen Chong
Please click on this picture and see what the adorable boy is doing.
1 month ago
Please click on this picture and see what the adorable boy is doing.
Learn a new word and see what Fauvism means here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143633
1 month ago
Learn a new word and see what Fauvism means here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143633
Please click on this picture to enlarge and read. It is important and share with others. Thank you. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Please click on this picture to enlarge and read. It is important and share with others. Thank you. Tsem Rinpoche
The handprint of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche Jetsun Dechen Nyingpo
1 month ago
The handprint of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche Jetsun Dechen Nyingpo
Dear friends, For the first time in art history you will see a Tibetan divinity in Byzantine art form. Just published! Please be amazed and see the whole artwork here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143348
1 month ago
Dear friends, For the first time in art history you will see a Tibetan divinity in Byzantine art form. Just published! Please be amazed and see the whole artwork here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=143348
我这里有一副最庄严印度风格法力强大护法的画作。点击这里观赏与下载: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142950
1 month ago
我这里有一副最庄严印度风格法力强大护法的画作。点击这里观赏与下载: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142950
A separate Tibetan state? 

Should this group of Tibetans have their own autonomous state?
In a world full of trials and tribulations, this group of Tibetans continues to defy all odds against a difficult leadership. Should they have their own state, their own country to live free and in harmony? Read and decide-Part 1: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142741 and Part 2: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142868
1 month ago
A separate Tibetan state? Should this group of Tibetans have their own autonomous state? In a world full of trials and tribulations, this group of Tibetans continues to defy all odds against a difficult leadership. Should they have their own state, their own country to live free and in harmony? Read and decide-Part 1: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142741 and Part 2: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=142868
When I first arrived in Gaden Monastery in January 1988, I lived in this small room: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=100092
1 month ago
When I first arrived in Gaden Monastery in January 1988, I lived in this small room: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=100092
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
    yesterday
    This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
    she received “one last visit from an old friend” 💔💔
  • Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
    2 days ago
    Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
  • Casper is such a cute and adorable. I like him.
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    Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
  • What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
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    What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    Sick animals are more profitable... farms calculate how close to death they can keep animals without killing them. That's the business model. How quickly they can be made to grow, how tightly they can be packed, how much or how little can they eat, how sick they can get without dying... We live in a world in which it's conventional to treat an animal like a block of wood. ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
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    1 week ago
    This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
  • SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    2 weeks ago
    SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    This happens daily in slaughterhouse so you can get your pork and Bak ku teh. Stop eating meat.
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    3 weeks ago
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  • Dr Jordan B Peterson reveals this shift in mindset that will make you seize every opportunity.
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    Must watch this brain video... very interesting
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    4 weeks ago
    Beautiful Buddha being sculpted from clay.
  • After a while, you are are numb and you just keep doing it. You don’t know what you are doing and you don’t see it for what it really is. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Please share this as much as possible. Please care. Please help: http://www.patreon.com/weanimals
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    It is a very painful process before the animals are finally dead.
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    1 month ago
    After a while, you are are numb and you just keep doing it.
    You don't know what you are doing and you don't see it for what it really is. Tsem Rinpoche Please share this as much as possible. Please care. Please help: http://www.patreon.com/weanimals
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • October 18, 2017 23:32
    Yen asked: Dear pastor, I am married but have not been blessed with a kid after several years. How can I overcome the pain I am going through? I also like to ask u for guidance to help someone dear to me who have met with an accident and in vegetative state. How do I help the friend suffer less? What can I do to help her overcome this obstacle in life even when doctor seems to have given up hope?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Yen, Thank you for your question. I am very sorry to hear of your situation and that of your friend. One thing we need to remember is that the Buddha explained to us how karma works. Everything we experience in life, whether good or bad is due to our actions previously in this life and previous lifetimes. While this may sound unfair in that we need to experience the results of something that we do not remember doing, this is the way samsara exists. They only way to be free of this type of suffering is to attain enlightenment, the state of a Buddha. That being said, we all need help in our daily life, and that is where deity practice can help us. In order to overcome the pain you are going through, may I suggest that you engage in the Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa. You can find an excellent commentary by His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/tsongkapas-daily-practice-video-commentary.html. You can find the prayers to recite here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/sadhana-prayers.html#19. There is also a practice box set dedicate to Lama Tsongkhapa, which you can order online here if you wish: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/tsongkhapa-boxset-english Lama Tsongkhapa is the emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom; Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion; and Vajrapani, the Buddha of skilful means. As such the practice is extremely powerful and is well-known to help people heal psychical pain, but more importantly the sufferings felt in the mind. You can concentrate on the recitation of the Mig Tse Ma mantra and beseech Lama Tsongkhapa to help ease your suffering. He will surely help. His practice is known for relieving anxiety and even depression. In regards to your friend, on a practical level you can research about your friend’s specific state and see if there are any treatments available that can be effective if you have not done so already. In any case what you can do is to engage in prayers or pujas and dedicate the merits generated to your friend. For example, you can engage in the practice of Medicine Buddha, available here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/medicine-buddha-practice.html, or alternative have Medicine Buddha pujas sponsored here: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/medicine-buddha-puja-fund. Medicine Buddha is excellent at healing on all levels, and provide us with soothing and beneficial energy. Another method that you can use to help your friend is to generate as much merit for her as possible. A vast amount of merit and purification of karma can help even the direst of circumstances. Such activities could involve releasing animals from slaughter or deplorable conditions, feeding the homeless and less fortunate and providing for them, and making vast amounts of offerings to the Buddhas and enlightened beings. If done with a good motivation, and dedicated towards your friend, she will benefit from the virtuous actions, even if you cannot see the benefits at the moment. Coupled with this you can engage in the practice of a Dharma protector such as a Dorje Shugden. You can find the prayers here if you wish to engage in them yourself: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/diamond-path-a-daily-sadhana-of-dorje-shugden, alternatively you can have Dorje Shugden pujas sponsored here: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/dorje-shugden-wishfulfilling-puja-fund. Dharma protectors help to overcome obstacles and conditions that we wish to arise. I understand that it is a difficult situation, but you should maintain your faith in the Buddhas and enlightened beings, and they will definitely help. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 14, 2017 13:27
    Ling asked: I have been practising chakrasamvara for over 2 years now and recently during my meditation I feel that during the deity meditation portion that it feel like my entire body is under a heavy water fall. My heart and limbs also feel like flowing water and there is some crawling sensations. What could this be
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Ling, Thank you for your question. I rejoice to read that you are practising Chakrasamvara for over two years now. This is very good, you should keep the practice steady, keep the vows and commitments well and you will progress on your spiritual evolution. Generally speaking when you engage in higher tantric yoga meditation, the meditations include movement of your psychic winds. Therefore sometimes people will experience strange feelings in the body. When this happens, once should ease off the concentration on that particular visualisation when engaging in the practice. What you can do to lessen these feelings is to engage in purification practices such as the 35 Confessional Buddhas, which you can find here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-35-confessional-buddhas.html. Alternatively if you have the appropriate initiation, you can engage in the practice of Heruka Vajrasattva, which would be included in your sadhana text. Engaging in the purification practices would lessen these sensations when you practice, as everything we experience is due to our karma. What I would advise the most, however, is to consult the guru that gave you the empowerment of Chakrasamvara practice. Your guru would be able to better advise you in addition to the above, the methods you can use to minimise the physical effects if they are due to the actual practice. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 13, 2017 11:15
    Fearful asked: What does violent shaking all of the sudden and "shrinking" feeling of the head mean during practice mean? I've been practicing the dharmapalas, and this is happening. What does it mean?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Fearful, Thank you for your question. There could be any number of reasons for this to be occurring. What you can do when this starts to happen is to stop what you are doing, and take deep breaths, and concentrate on your breath. As you concentrate on your breath, this will have a calming effect on both your body and mind, which should stop the involuntary shaking and strange feelings. In fact focusing on the breath is one of the best known methods of developing a focused, concentrated, yet calm Your practice of the Dharmapalas should begin with either Guru Yoga or deity practice, therefore I would suggest that you engage in these practices more before you begin the actually Dharma protector practice. One of the best practices is the Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa. This practice is well known for its healing ability on for both the body and the mind. Over time, you should see such occurrences lessen. If this shaking happens regularly and also when you are not practicing, you should consider visiting a qualified health professional just to rule out anything untoward. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 8, 2017 20:48
    John asked: Dear pastors, When reciting mantras we are instructed to visualize the deity. However I realize that my visualization is very very fuzzy and very very ever-changing. It is not a still image, there is like thick clouds moving and blocking the visualization then they would clear and block again and clear again and the deity would even change shape. The round part would be more oval one moment and more circle the next etc. In fact, I don't even know if the picture that ends up appearing in my mind is really looking like the deity or not. What if I end up visualizing a monster without knowing it since it's so fuzzy? Is there danger if that happens? What do you advice me to do?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear John, Thank you for your question. This is a question that people actually ask a lot, but there is no need to worry, especially if we do not have tantric initiation. In fact, the more we practice getting our visualisation stabilised now, the better we will be able to practice tantra when we eventually receive tantric initiation. The issue you are having maintain a steady visualisation is not an uncommon one. This is because we actually have to train our mind to concentrate on what we are doing. One of the major facets of Buddhist meditation is concentration, and this is something we need to develop. We might think that we have a good ability to concentrate, but what the Buddha and the great masters have taught is that we actually do not, but we can obviously develop it. Visualisation itself is a form of concentration meditation, therefore until we achieve a good level of concentration, things like this will happen as we train our minds. What we can do is to focus on a particular aspect of the visualisation, such as the face of the deity, and once that is stable and focused, we can continue onto other parts of the deity’s body, and then the various other aspects of the visualisation. That way, we train ourselves little by little to have a complete visualisation. No in regards to your question about their being danger if something goes wrong or if we make a mistake during our visualisation, this cannot be at our stage of practice. This is because the visualisation is engaged in during the mantra recitation section. Mantras themselves are the Buddhas and enlightened beings in the form of sound. Therefore when we recite mantras we are invoking the holy energies of the Buddhas, which naturally guide and protect us from any harm. The fact that you are facing this issue is in fact a good sign. It shows that are trying to concentrate on the visualisation, but that your mind has not reached a level of concentration powerful enough to maintain the stability of the visualisation. The antidote to this is simple, keep practising. As you continue to practice, you will notice that your visualisation becomes stronger and stronger. If however, you are still worried, you can end your recitation sessions with the prayer dedicated to a Dharma protector to any obstacles, and end with a completion dedication. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 6, 2017 22:31
    Wong asked: Hi, i would like to ask about jhana which is the last factor of the eightfold path. How is it being practised?
    Pastor Niral Patel answered: Dear Wong, Thank you for your question. The last factor of the eightfold noble path is called jhana in the Pali language. In the Sanskrit language it is called dyana. This is a state of meditative absorption which culminates in the understanding of emptiness and is the pathway that leads us to attain liberation. Generally this state is achieved through the practice of single-pointed concentration meditation. But within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition once you have achieved stabilised single-pointed meditation, you progress onto the path of special insight meditation. It is at this stage, that one is able to concentrate completely on understanding emptiness and therefore attain enlightenment. This topic is somewhat outside of the scope of this section of the blog. However, Pabongkha Rinpoche in his excellent Lam Rim text, titled “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand” gives a very concise yet thorough introduction to the topic of meditation. Pabongkha Rinpoche addresses the path to enlightenment, not through the eightfold noble path however, but through the six perfections of a bodhisattva. In essence although on the surface the two ways of structuring the path to enlightenment may seem different, they are actually both the same if one analyses them carefully. If you read “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand” you will understand how the two structures are interlinked if you have an understanding of the eightfold noble path. You can order a copy of the book here: https://www.vajrasecrets.com/lamrim-liberation-in-the-palm-of-your-hand and the book is also available at Kechara Paradise outlets. Alternatively, you can ask your local book store to order the book in for you if they have that service. I hope this helps. Thank you
  • October 3, 2017 04:11
    jason asked: i have been practicing higher yoga tantra for over two year now and recently i started to get nightmares for three continuous nights now and i think it will continue, What is happening ? did i do something wrong? The first nightmare was me being cut in to numerous pieces , the second was me being visited by a greyish blue female old female ghost with no eyes in eye sockets, and the third was a giant dark brown black centipede encased in a white translucent sac exploding out of my thigh and crawling/ rolling away in to darkness. Im quite worried that i may have done something wrong even though i think i have not.
    pastor answered: Dear Jason, Thank you for your question. I am glad to hear that you have been practising Higher Yoga Tantra for over two years. You should keep your samaya with your Guru pure and intact, as well as keeping the vows and commitments that you would have taken during the empowerment into the practice. If you do this then you will see a definite transformation of your mind and circumstances for the better, which is after all what Buddhist practice is all about. In regards to your nightmares I do not think that you have done anything wrong per se. In this case it could be due to two possible reasons, the first is that your negative karma is arising in your dreams and the second is that you are being afflicted by a spirit. In the first case, when we practice Higher Yoga Tantra properly and sincerely, it purifies a lot of negative karma. As when engaging in any practice that purifies negative karma, this karma can open and manifest under control situations. For example you the karma manifests are nightmares or scary figures or feelings, rather than physically, which would come about through uncontrollable causes and conditions. When karma is purified it manifests in its most mild form, and for you in this case, it could manifest in the form of nightmares. Therefore if we are engaging in powerful practices, or when we concentrate on these practices, such things can occur. Some people may find this sort of situation bad. But this is not correct, because due to the nature of samsara, we are affected by karma in some form or another. What matters here is that karma is purified so that we can progress on our spiritual journey. When you face such difficulties, the key here is continue with your practice strongly and not give up. In this manner, the karma which causes such situations to occur is purified quicker and then we are no longer affected by it. Therefore you should wholeheartedly engage in primary sadhana of your meditational deity. On the other hand, it could be that you are being affected by a spirit or spirits. In this case there are methods of protection that you can engage in which should be included in your Higher Yoga Tantra practice. If you are unsure of what these could be, please humbly approach your initiating guru for more guidance. Another way that can help solve this problem is to engage in the practice of a Dharma protector such as Dorje Shugden. Since you are already practising a Highest Yoga Tantra, you can ask your guru about the particular Dharma protectors associated with the practice. Each of the major tantric practice has certain Dharma protectors associated with it that aid practitioners to clear obstacles and create conducive conditions for practice. You can actually engage in any Dharma protector practice, but it would be best for you to consult your guru as he or she may assign you a specific Dharma protector to practice. Whatever the case may be, it comes down to karma. The Higher Yoga Tantra you are practising should include a purification practice such as Vajrasattva. For example if you practice the Heruka Chakrasamvara tantra, and have received the appropriate empowerment, you can practice Heruka Vajrasattva. You then concentrate on the practice of Vajrasattva to purify the negative karma causing the situation, and over time you will see the situation get better. If you are not sure of the purification aspect of your daily practice, you can recite the 35 Confessional Buddhas. All of these can help, however I strongly advise you to humbly approach your guru and ask for further advice and instruction, as he or she may assign you other practices or even ask you concentrate on specific sections of the sadhana that they passed to you, to help you overcome these problems. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • September 30, 2017 22:31
    kevin asked: hi pastor, I've been very problematic lately and depressed. My plans seem to be always out of place. I read from an article that some problems are caused by negative karma from the previous and present life. I want to know if there is anything that I can do to drain my negative karma. Im very wary now on my actions to others so not to add to my existing karma. Can you suggest a mantra which I can recite and reflect on everyday to help alleviate my problems and drain my negative karma. Thank you very much. Bless you.
    pastor answered: Dear Kevin, Thank you for your question. Yes, according to Buddhist thought everything we go through in life is caused by karma. This can be either good or bad, so difficulties we face in life are indeed due to our karma. Now, one thing about karma that people often forget is that it can be purified. There are many methods within Tibetan Buddhism that are used for the purification of karma. In fact all practices necessarily involve the purification of negative karma and the generation of merit. The most effective of these are known as purification practices, which have the specific benefits of helping us to purify negative karma which leads to all kinds of problems within in our lives. These include Vajrasattva practice, which can be found here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/an-important-purification-practice.html and the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas, which can be found here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/the-35-confessional-buddhas.html. You can read more about these practices by clicking on the respective links. These are two very powerful methods of purifying negative karma and have been relied upon by countless practitioners and masters to progress on the spiritual path. They are two very extremely effective methods used within Tibetan Buddhism. Since you are going through many problems, however, you can engage in the practice of a Dharma protector who can help alleviate the obstacles you are facing and at the same provide conditions that are suitable for you. One such Dharma protector is Dorje Shugden, you can read more about his practice here, and his daily prayers here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/diamond-path-a-daily-sadhana-of-dorje-shugden. The website also has a lot of information about the practice and how it can benefit you in daily life. While it may seem daunting that you have negative karma, you should not be disheartened because negative karma can be overcome by purifying it. What you said is right, you should be wary of creating more negative karma. In fact that is one of the main points a Buddhist lives by, which is not creating more negative karma. People often wonder why Buddhists take vows and precepts, this is actually to stop the accumulation of negative karma. For example a Buddhist takes the vow not to kill, this obviously stops the Buddhist from creating the negative karma of killing because they consciously remember that they should not kill in whatever situation they are in. So it is very good that are checking your actions to make sure that you do not add to the negative karma. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • September 28, 2017 13:18
    Nepal asked: I've noticed that in Nepal, Shugden and his retinue are forms of the worldly protector Za Rahula, or that's what the lamas and sadhanas say. Wouldn't that make Shugden dangerous or wouldn't that make Manjushri a worldly deity or one that is dangerous?
    pastor answered: Dear Nepal, Thank you for your question. Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, that is what the high lamas and masters have taught and explained using Buddhist logic. Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being has been practiced by all major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and was first practiced within the holy Sakya tradition. Similarly, Manjushri is an enlightened being. In fact all Tibetan Buddhist schools and Vajrayana traditions, including those in Nepal, say that Manjushri is an enlightened being, the Buddha of wisdom. Rahula on the other hand is a worldly deity who was bound by oath to protect Buddhism and Buddhism practitioners. You can read more about him here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/dharma-protectors-of-tibetan-buddhism.html#tabs-1. All Tibetan Buddhist schools similarly agree to this point. Therefore to equate Dorje Shugden as a form of Za Rahula would logically mean that Manjushri is not a Buddha. This cannot be since hundreds of thousands of holy masters have relied on Manjushri and gained enlightenment through such beliefs and practices associated with Manjushri. Since from a logical perspective this cannot be the case, and Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, it is safe to say that Dorje Shugden is not a form of Za Rahula. You can read more about Dorje Shugden, his history, lineage of practice and benefits here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org. I hope this helps. Thank you.
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Dorje Shugden
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