There are over 1600 temples and 400 shrines in Kyoto, which is readily apparent when you’re walking around the city. It’s hard to walk more than a few blocks without stumbling onto a temple or a shrine, and when you’re on the outskirts of the city, they’re absolutely everywhere.
The more famous ones are certainly worth seeing, though they tend to be packed with wall-to-wall tourists, which does diminish the experience somewhat.
I discovered some of the shrines and temples I liked best just by randomly wandering around the city.
That’s the only way you’ll find quirkier shrines like this one, which was rabbit-themed.
Here’s another one I randomly stumbled across. It’s hard to argue that it’s any less impressive than the more tourist-friendly temples, and I only saw a couple of other people while I was there.
I’m not one of those travelers who looks down on anything touristy; I have no problem staying on the beaten track if it’ll lead me somewhere memorable, even if I’m the millionth person to do it. But there’s an amazing sense of serenity to being alone at a place like this that’s completely lost when you’re surrounded on all sides.
And then there’s probably my favourite temple that I went to in Kyoto, the Honen-in Temple.
This one I actually did read about (which is why I know the name for this one and not the others), but for some reason it doesn’t seem to be nearly as tourist-filled as some of the more popular ones.
I have no idea why. It was pretty amazing.