The Stairs of Kyoto

Back in my not so far away past, I was pretty sedentary. When I was sitting in a cubicle all day the farthest I walked was from my desk to the mail room and back. In my new life walking 3-4 mile or more a day is pretty standard and my feet are definitely taking a beating for it. I know it’s been a productive day when my feet are throbbing as I go to sleep. That’s healthy, right?

The stairs of Kyoto are not making life any easier for my poor shell shocked tootsies. Kyoto, the former capital city of Japan, is known primarily for it’s historic palaces, temples and shrines. The city is literally thousands of years old, so it has had time to accumulate quite a large number of these beautiful compounds.

Unfortunately for me, many of these amazing sites involve stairs. A LOT of stairs. Kyoto is a pretty flat city, but all of the best temples seem to be built into the surrounding hillsides. When you think about it, it’s a lovely dramatic device to build your temple at the top of some terrifically steep steps. Kind of like climbing to heaven, where only the most devoted trekkers who reach the top are rewarded with great beauty- and a great view.

Here are some of my favorites, all worth the vertical hike:

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Chion-in Temple

Ryozen Kannon World War II Memorial

bamboo path

Nigatsu-Do (Nara)

There’s a travel lesson in here I think. When you see a flight of stairs, take it. The steeper the better. 9 times out of 10 something awesome is waiting at the top. At the very least you’ll sleep well.

And wear good shoes.

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