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KYOTO, JAPAN, January 1, 2017: Having acted as the capital city of Japan for over 1,200 years, the city of Kyoto is a living, breathing window into Japan’s history. The city is home to literally thousands of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. It is also one of the ideal places in Japan to take in Japan’s many changing seasons, in the midst of breathtaking scenery and beautiful architecture. Located next to the Kamogawa River, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is the perfect venue to discover the heart of one of the world’s most loved cities.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, one of the expert concierges will be at your disposal to guide you on a journey of discovery to the spiritual heart of Kyoto, providing you with all necessary local knowledge. From the cities must-see UNESCO World Heritage sites to well-kept local secrets, the hotel’s concierge team will provide you with the information you will need to stay one step ahead of the crowds, allowing you to discover Japan’s ancient capital in your own way.

Kyoto is dotted with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, which are characterized by a torii gate at the entrance, and which are places of worship as well as beautiful sightseeing spots. When visiting, take one of the ladles provided at the purification fountain near each shrine’s entrance, , fill it with fresh water and rinse both hands. Don’t transfer the water directly from the ladle into your mouth or swallow the water.  At the altar, throw a coin into the offering box, bow twice deeply, clap your hands twice, bow deeply again and offer a prayer for a few moments.  If there is a gong, ring it once before praying in a symbolic gesture to attract the attention of the gods. The number of bows and handclaps may differ between shrines.

Buddhist temples are characterized by a sanmon gate at the entrance. At large sanmon gates, you can show your respect by making a short prayer in front of the sacred object. Do so by tossing a coin into the offering box, followed by a short prayer. Unlike other religious buildings, the primary purpose of a temple in Japan is not as a place of worship but was first and foremost built for the storage and sometimes the display of sacred objects.  Buddhists will then come to pray in front of or near these sacred objects.

Some of The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto’s top recommendations for sightseeing include:

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

This UNESCO World Heritage site is notable for its vast veranda that offers impressive views of Kyoto. It is one of the most famous sights in all of Japan, and is particularly popular during the spring cherry blossom season when it’s  surrounded by a cloud of white and pink blossoms.

Shimogamo Shrine
Shimogamo Shrine is one of a pair of shrines in Kyoto together with Kamigamo Shrine, which are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and is one of the “Three Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu)”.

Heian Jingu Shrine
Heian Jingu is one of Kyoto’s most beautiful Shinto shrines, and is famous for having the largest torii gate in Japan. The 30,000 square meter garden is based around a central pond, and divided into four different gardens - east, central, west, and south - which are home to large varieties of birds, from kingfishers to large falcons.  One of the most impressive sights is to see the gardens in spring when its cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine has become a modern cultural icon through countless photographs and movies, including Memoirs of a Geisha, which depicted the thousands of photogenic vermilion torii lining the stone paths throughout the shrine’s extensive grounds. The thousands of vermilion torii gates straddle a network of trails leading up the hills behind the shrine’s main buildings.

A stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto provides guests with the most unique Kyoto experiences, allowing them to get to know Japan’s ancient capital and touch the spiritual heart of Japan.