Fushimi, Uji & Nara
Local Sightseeing, All
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Approximately 9 - 9 1/2 hours
Leave Osaka port for a full day of sightseeing in Southern Kyoto and Nara. En route, you will visit the town of Fushimi, home to 37 sake breweries. This town is one of Japan's most famous sake-producing regions, as high-quality rice is readily available from the fields of neighboring Shigaken and the final product is easily loaded onto boats for export downriver to Osaka. You will stop at the largest of Fushimi's sake breweries, Gekkeikan Okura Memorial House (or alternative Sake Brewery Museum), with 350 years of tradition. On display are various items related to the process of making Japanese sake. In the southern part of Kyoto you will visit a small city that is historically rich in Heian-Period culture and is home to the Byodo-in Temple--a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple was once the villa of Minister Fujiwara Michinaga, the model for the hero in the Japanese classic, The Tale of Genji, and was turned into a temple by his son in 1052. The main hall, called the Phoenix Hall, stands in the beautiful garden and was built in 1053 (you will not go inside the hall). It is one of the most famous historical buildings in Japan and its image graces the back of ten yen coin. The temple's wonderful museum
houses the elegant temple bell and other treasures. Watch for the Uji-bashi bridge--the oldest of its kind in Japan--which has been thescene of many bitter clashes over the centuries. Next, transfer to Nara, Japan's first real capital. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, founded in 710 in its forest location. This shrine conveys an atmosphere of peace and sanctity perhaps unmatched by any other shrine. The buildings, painted vermilion, showcase the Kasuga style of architecture. Some 3,000 lanterns line the road east from the second torii gate. Beyond the Heiden, a floorless structure built in 1650, the Main Hall is surrounded by an impressive gallery. You will see the Todaiji Temple and the Hall of the Great Buddha, dating from 1709. This is the world's largest wooden structure. The Great Buddha, a National Treasure, was cast in bronze in eight sections over three years, completed in 749. It is one of the largest bronze statues in the world. You will return to Osaka in the late afternoon.