Nijo Castle is one of the most accessible UNESCO spots in Kyoto, being just a short walk from Nijojo-mae Station. The former residence of the Tokugawa shoguns, the sprawling castle grounds are surrounded by a wide moat and massive stone walls. Spanning over 275,000 square metres, Nijo Castle is one of the biggest historic sites in all of Kyoto.
Established in 1626, Nijo Castle was built by a combined effort from all the feudal lords in Western Japan at the time. Since then, multiple buildings have been damaged by fires or storms, and extra effort is taken by the city to preserve and restore this cultural site. Nijo Castle is designated as a Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto, making it one of the prefecture's most significant sites.
Within the castle grounds is Ninomaru Palace, a 3,300-square meter complex made almost completely out of Hinoki cypress wood. The palace interior is adorned with gold leaf-plated decor and exquisite wood carvings, making it a fitting place to entertain powerful political visitors during the shogunate's ruling period.
A short walk from City Bus Stop Nijo-jo-mae (from JR Kyoto Station/Hankyu Railway Karasuma Station), or Nijo-jo-mae Station on the Tozai Subway Line
The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan. Since the Meiji Restoration in 1869, the Emperors have resided at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, while the preservation of the Kyoto Imperial Palace was ordered in 1877. [Wikipedia] A reservation is required to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
Kitano Tenmangū is a Shinto shrine in Kamigyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan. [Wikipedia]
Nishi Hongan-ji is a large Buddhist temple located west of Kyoto Station. Together with Higashi Hongan-ji, Nishi Hongan-ji is one of the two Shin Buddhism temple complexes in Kyoto. It is also currently serving as the head temple of the sect. Built in 1591, the building is a great example of Momoyama period architecture. Nishi Hongan-ji is also one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto. Within the temple grounds, several structures have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Assets. This includes a Noh stage, Drum Tower, Goeido Hall and more. Most structures within Nishi Hongwan-ji are adorned with gold trimmings and elaborate architecture. Nishi Hongwan-ji is also regarded as part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Being a mere 10-minute walk from Kyoto station, its central location makes Nishi Hongwan-ji one of the most accessible UNESCO Heritage Spots in Kyoto. Originally, the temple was located at the site of Shinran’s (founder of Shin-Buddhism) burial at Otani Mausoleum. The huge complex is also filled with greenery, with a 400-year old Gingko tree right outside the Goeido Hall. If you’re lucky enough to visit Nishi Hongwan-ji during autumn, you can view this Natural Monument in its full golden glory. Other highlights include the Karamon gate, Goeido and Amidado.