In September, 1997 I spent three weeks in Japan. For the first week I rented a car from Osaka and drove around the Osaka area for three days, including a day in Nara, the old capital city, then north to the Japanese Alps to Matsumoto. Traffic conditions in Japan are congested - everywhere, all the time. At least that's what it felt like. In reality, it was not so bad once I was a little north from the coast, away from the major cities. Driving through the Japanese Alps was quite scenic.

Japan is full of history. Some of the buildings I saw were from before 1000 CE. The temples and statues are incredible. Nara has some really exciting historical places. The Historic Monuments of Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The next two weeks I was in Kyoto for a conference. I still had time to see quite a bit of Kyoto, the capital city after Nara. The Emperors palace is impressive. There are lots of other temples, pagodas, etc. in and around Kyoto. The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are two major religions in Japan, Shintoism and Buddhism. It is said that 80% of the Japanese are Shinto, and 80% are Buddhists. This means that many worship in both religions.

The temples of the two religions are distinctly different, especially in their settings. Buddhist temples are generally more in open areas, Shinto Shrines are more in wooded areas, hidden among trees. They have a very different atmosphere. The Buddhist temples seem to be more oriented towards architecture, human endeavors, whereas the Shinto shrines are more oriented towards nature, union with the surrounding natural world. It is difficult to describe, you have to see it to understand it.

I found the Japanese generally friendly, but not as outgoing as people in other countries that I have visited. I had many interesting conversations with Japanese, some of them with a dictionary because they didn't speak English. I had learned a little Japanese, so I managed to get around quite well. I even started to understand some of the written language.

The myth that Japan is extremely expensive is not true. I usually had dinners for around $6 - $10 US. Hotel rooms were around $35 - $55 US. Of course, if you want western food and western hotels, you will have to pay a lot. But why would you want that when you are in Japan?

Here are some of the pictures I took on my trip.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Entrance to Shinto shrine
Entrance to Shinto shrine in the middle of Kyoto. Shinto shrines are generally in wooded areas. Even in the city of Kyoto this Shinto shrine is among trees. (1225k)
Entrance to Shinto shrine
Entrance to a Shinto shrine in the woods. (1039k)
Shinto Shrine in the Japanese Alps
Shinto Shrine in the Japanese Alps. (1251k)
Shinto Shrine in Nara
A Shinto Shrine in Nara, decorated with bronze lamps. (1087k)
Shinto Cemetery
A Shinto cemetery with thousands of funeral stands. (1349k)
Matsumoto Castle
Castle in Matsumoto in the Japanese Alps. (1109k)
Temple south of Kyoto
A temple south of Kyoto. It is pictured on one of the Japanese coins. (1085k)
Pagoda in Kyoto
The big pagoda in Kyoto. (977k)
Oldest pagoda in Japan
The oldest pagoda in Japan, Horyu-Ji, from the 9th century, south of Nara, the first imperial city. (845k)
Statue in a Shinto shrine
Statue in a Shinto shrine in the Japanese Alps near Matsumoto. It is a statue of the Buddhist deity Fudo Myo-oh, meaning "immovable God-king of light". He represents all that is absolute in the universe. The three pronged sword handle is representative of a Buddhist Vajra (Tibetan) or Kongo (Japanese). It is believed that his sword was an inspiration for the style of sword that is incorrectly associated with the Ninja. (1146k)
Statue in a Shinto shrine
Another impressive statue in the Shinto shrine. (1068k)
Daemon Statue
Statue at the entrance of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. (977k)
Entrance Statue
Many temples have a pair of such statues at the entrance. Usually one of the figures has the mouth open, the other closed. They represent the Taizokai and Kongokai realms. These realms represent humans two views of observing all universal processes. One from the inside out and the other from the outside in or Gods eye point of view. (1171k)
Entrance Statue
This one is a lion with the mouth closed. (924k)
Buddha Statue
Buddha statue with the Vitarka Mudra in a monastery city southeast of Osaka. (945k)
Temple Bell
The largest temple bell in Kyoto. Note the head at the bottom of the picture for size comparison. (964k)
Votive station for burning incense
Votive station for burning incense. (900k)
Donation Bell
Donation box and bell. After donating you pull on the rope to ring the bell. (899k)
Buddha Statue
Buddha statue in a temple in Kyoto. (924k)
Buddha Statue
Buddha statue with the Abhaya Mudra in in a temple in Nara. (1026k)
Interior room in one of the monasteries. (862k)
Imperial Gate
Wooden, decorated gate in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. (1005k)
Chrysanthemum Logo
Roof tiles in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. They bear the 16 leaved Chrysanthemum, the sign of the Imperial Family. (1042k)
Buddhist Temple
Buddhist temple in the monastery southeast of Osaka. The orange colors are an influence from China (784k)
Largest Buddha Temple
The largest Buddha temple in Japan. It is located in Nara. This is the largest wooden structure in the world. It has one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan, certainly the largest indoor statue. (915k)
Small Temple
Not all temples have to be big. This little one, complete with donation box, was in a temple complex in Kyoto. (1032k)
Golden Pagoda
The Golden Temple in Kyoto. It carries quite a load of 24k gold leaf. (1123k)
Landscape Scene
Landscape Scene. There were many beautifully landscaped gardens like this. (1015k)
Landscaping. (1136k)
Landscaping. (1050k)
Landscaping. (1106k)

The total number of pictures online on my website from Japan is 31

Page last updated on Tue May 25 20:50:37 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)

日本国 (Japan) - Temples, Shrines, and Palaces on

© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn

*Dr. Günther Eichhorn Travel Website
*Soaring website