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No to temples and shrines

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San Francisco, CA
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No to temples and shrines

What is there to do in Kyoto besides seeing temples and shrines? The lists and guidebooks are dominated by temples and shrines, but religious stuff totally bores me. I'll probably see one or two because I have to (just like I saw Notre Dame in Paris, because I "had to"), but there must be fun stuff there as well. What activities are there? What can one do besides eat, shop, or temple-hop?

New York, NY
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1. Re: No to temples and shrines

is someone forcing you to go to kyoto? if you're controlling your own time, just go to kyoto long enough to see your two temples then move on. do you enjoy walking around and seeing the area? there is a philosopher's walk that is enjoyable for most but might be boring to some. walking around gion and the areas around kiyomizudera is pleasant for many people too. there are hiking/nature areas outside of the city center.

Queenstown, New...
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2. Re: No to temples and shrines

'Religious stuff' ... shrines and temples are so much more than religion... art, architecture, engineering. Whether you are religious or not, religion plays a huge part in shaping culture (of the places you visit, and of you personally).

You sound alot like my old flatmate, who had travelled through South East Asia and never been to the magnificent temples or any museums. ...

'Other' things to do... shopping, aquarium, hiking, river boat trip in Arashiyama, visit the imperial palace or nijo castle (not shrines/temples, but historic buildings),find out local events that are on... flea markets etc (oh but they're often at shrines/temples)

Tokyo, Japan
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3. Re: No to temples and shrines

Castle? http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3918.html

San Francisco...
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4. Re: No to temples and shrines

How about the Peace Museum at Ritsumeikan University?

The traditional craft museum in the Messe building is excellent.

Go to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavillion) and wait for schoolkids to "interview" you to practice their English conversation skills--you don't have to go there to pray.

See a kimono fashion show at Nishijin Textile Center.

Take a stroll through the old parts of town and up into the hills.

A side trip to the town of Uji for green tea ice cream.

Arrive at a department store at opening time to watch the entire staff bow as you take the escalator from floor to floor.

Go to the Raku Museum and try to make sense of this pottery style.

The Museum of Kyoto.

Gion Corner.

Tokyo, Japan
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5. Re: No to temples and shrines

Coffee is bitter and you would need to acquire a taste to appreciate that bitterness. Temples and shrines might bore you at the moment but you might acquire a taste for them. But no one is forcing you to visit them.

What do you like to do, then?

Feed monkeys at Iwatayama Monkey Park in Arashiyama. Go to Suntory Distilleries at Yamazaki. Visit Kyoto Animation shop at Kowata near Uji. See the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum near Kyoto Station. Test Japanese traditional sweets at wagashi shops around the town. Visit a Yatsuhashi factory. Uzumasa Film Studio. Participate in Samurai Kenbu at Seiga. Japanese cooking lesson. Tea Ceremony.

You can check Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera stores near Kyoto Station.

Unfortunately, Nintendo and Kyocera do not have tours to their factories.

Edited: 7:28 pm, May 10, 2014
New Zealand
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6. Re: No to temples and shrines

You don't have to see any temples or shrines if you don't like them. The major ones can be quite busy and crowded, so less people would would improve the experience for people who really do want to see the temples.

The suggestion of Arashiyama is a good one. It is a pleasant semi-rural area to walk around, and the village has nice shops and restaurants. As well as the river cruise mentioned, there is a monkey park there. I'd also recommend the hot spring foot bath at the Arashiyama railway station, a great way to sooth tired feet after a long walk.

Walking along the streets in Higashiyama leading from Kiyomizudera to Gion might be interesting too. There are lots of quaint shops selling Japanese items, and nice little teashops and restaurants.

Nishiki market in central Kyoto could be worth a look. Lots of interesting foodstuffs, and very busy and lively.

I enjoyed Cat Cafe Nekokaigi,, which was a very well-run cafe with about a dozen cats. It was fun spending time patting and playing with them.

If none of these activities appeal, then maybe it would be a good idea to rearrange your holiday to take in destinations more in line with your tastes. It would be a shame to spend a lot on a holiday that is not enjoyable.

Edited: 7:31 pm, May 10, 2014
Tokyo, Japan
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7. Re: No to temples and shrines

Actually, Kyoto has a great number of old-style family run cafe culture. Some are quite fancy and fun to explore, unlike the template and industrial Starbucks in any town.


Kyoto having been the capital have developed special vegetables that are expensive but top quality grown only in this area; they make good pickles. You can test many at Nishiki Market and at department store basements.


Wagashi is a universe of traditional Japanese sweets; there is no place like Kyoto for testing them.


Edited: 7:38 pm, May 10, 2014
Tokyo, Japan
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8. Re: No to temples and shrines

Kyoto also has the best kaiseki cuisine choice and tavern (izakaya) culture.

Kaiseki: tabelog.com/kyoto/rstLst/RC010101/…

Izakaya; https://translate.google.com/translate…

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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9. Re: No to temples and shrines

As others have said, you don't "have to" go to Kyoto. If you aren't interested, why even waste time and money going there? Having "seen it" just to say you have gone there isn't meaningful.

Shrines and temples aren't necessarily about religion thought. It depends on your perspective. You can treat it as cultural, historical, and architectural. It helps if you read up on how a certain place came about.

Skip Kyoto though if you want...it's not a sin. It's your trip so your interests matter.

Munich, Germany
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10. Re: No to temples and shrines

There is a manga museum in Kyoto, and it is very good, showing the first manga from the early 20th or even late 19th century.

And they also have an earthquake museum with a room that simulates an earthquake. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it any more.

They also have a train in Kyoto that will take you to places you like better.

Edited: 1:46 am, May 11, 2014