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Expert Led Tour of Kyoto: Shinto and Buddhism

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USD 97.00
2 travellers
    What to Expect
    Take a deep dive into the history, culture and practices behind Japan’s two primary religions, Shinto and Buddhism, on this small-group tour of Kyoto led by a local scholar. Gain new insight into how these two twin pillars of Japanese spirituality first started in Japan as you explore the most important religious monuments of Kyoto and hear how these two practices have evolved over time.

    Start your religious-themed exploration of Kyoto by meeting your guide in the afternoon at the Lawson General Store in front of the city’s Yasaka Shrine. Head inside this impressive Shinto complex, encompassing a multitude of intricate gates and halls. You’ll also have the chance to witness temizu, the ceremonial washing of the hands practiced by visitors before entering such sites.

    Listen as your guide explains the primary structure of Shinto, the indigenous Japanese spiritual practice, including an outline of its kami, or spiritual deities. You’ll also hear about how the 19th-century Meiji regime used this religion’s beliefs and Japanese folklore to promote its nationalist aims.

    Head back into the throughways of Gion as you proceed on to Kiyomizu-dera, one of Kyoto’s most celebrated temples. First built in 788 AD, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed temple is situated high above the city on the slopes of Otowa Mountain, providing fantastic views of the surrounding urban area. Begin a discussion about the origins of Buddhism with your scholar guide, covering the history of the religion and an explanation of the organizational principles for Buddhist temple complexes. You’ll also discover the importance of amulets and charms, which practitioners use to help ward off bad luck and provide protection.

    Make your last stop of the day at Kennin-ji, a Zen Buddhist complex first constructed in 1202 AD. Spend some time here observing the typical rituals and practices of the site’s resident Buddhist monks, who use a combination of meditation and work to help reach spiritual enlightenment. Visit the site’s Abbott’s Quarters, Dharma Hall (Hatto), its 16th-century teahouse and the Imperial Messenger Gate.

    Finish your tour back at Kyoto’s Yasaka Shrine, leaving with newfound appreciation and insight for the typical religious practices of this diverse island nation.
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    Important Information
    Departure Point
    Gion Police Box, 551 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0074, Japan
    Departure Time
    1:00 PM
    Return Details
    Returns to original departure point
    • Small Group Guided Tour
    • Expert Guide
    • Gratuities
    • Admission Fees (approx JPY800)
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    Additional Info
    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
    • Children 12 and younger are not permitted on group tours and require private tour bookings
    • Please send supplier of tour the ages of all participants at time of booking
    • Tour operates rain or shine
    • Not wheelchair accessible
    • Near public transportation
    • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
    • Check-in is 15 minutes prior to tour start time
    • Please note that you may be asked to remove your footwear at some temples
    • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 6 travelers
    Cancellation Policy
    For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
    Reviews (16)
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    Reviewed 1 July 2019

    Our tour guide, Elizabeth, was a retired Shinto/Buddhist professor, who was very knowledgeable. Definitely added a lot to a tour of the temples we visited to learn more details than what you can find in a guide book.

    Date of experience: July 2019
    Thank Richard O
    Reviewed 23 October 2018

    Our group of five really enjoyed this tour! Our guide, Daniel, was extremely knowledgeable about Japan and the religious sites. The areas that we visited were well chosen and Daniel provided valuable context that we would have never gotten visiting the sites solo. I booked...More

    Date of experience: October 2018
    Thank Dana T
    Reviewed 17 April 2018

    We didn't have much luck with the tours we took in Japan and the Context Tour was another disappointment. Our guide was great, but I think the choice of temples wasn't really good. It doesn't help visiting a super busy temple and walking through crowds...More

    Date of experience: April 2018
    1  Thank lovetotravel386
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