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Top Ancient Temples in Japan Every Traveller Must See

Top Ancient Temples in Japan Every Traveller Must See

When in Japan, temple hopping is part and parcel of travelling. The good thing is that there are plenty of temples in almost every corner of the country. In fact, there are already 2,000 temples in Kyoto alone. It’s hard to imagine how many are there in total.

Back in 2016, I posted a lot of articles on the site about my visit to Japan and here are some more additions to that chapter. Take a look at the ancient temples that need to be added to your bucket list.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto)

temple kyoto(image: Wikipedia)

Kyoto is a great place to start because it’s a temple hotspot as mentioned earlier. Dubbed the ‘Heart of Japan’, Japanology describes Kyoto as a shining example of a city that preserves tradition while welcoming modernity. Kiyomizu-dera is one of the must-visit temples in the city, and it’s also one of the oldest in Japan. It was built in 778 without the use of any nails, as the builders relied on their ingenuity to interlock wooden planks and columns together. The best time to visit is during autumn, when the temple’s lights illuminate the vibrant colours of the surrounding landscape.

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22nd March 2016

This morning is one that will stick out in my memory forever, I made a full post featuring pictures of Ikebukuro in a post around a year ago, you can find that here.

In the evening of the 21st I found out I wouldn’t be able to interview for my dream graduate job. I’d been shortlisted, but the interview took place whilst I was still in Japan as at this point I still had almost 3 weeks left in the country. I was pretty much told to not bother contacting them anymore as if I wasn’t in the UK at the time of interview, I was out. This was the first of MANY rejections I received when searching for a grad job, I got used to it pretty quickly, but this one stung.

I was good enough for interview. For an amazing position. But because I was completing one dream (travelling around Japan) I couldn’t access another (working in creative media in London). That night I drank whiskey, ate Japanese candy and sat in the Airbnb in Shibuya with Fae as we watched crappy anime and laughed about life.

The next morning I decided to treat myself to a really fucking expensive figurine I’d seen the day before. Back in my anime figure collecting days I had always wanted this figure, but it was super exclusive and super hard to get. To please 16 year old me I ventured out to go drop extortionate amounts of Yen on this thing which now sits on a shelf in my bedroom in my parent’s house 250 miles away from where I now live. Fae wasn’t feeling too good, so she rested whilst I went on an early morning romp around Tokyo.

We had only been in Tokyo a couple of days, and I’m sure anyone who’s been will tell you the culture shock you feel when you arrive. I’d never experienced standing out of a crowd so much, being a ginger white man who is taller than everyone somehow made me a target for everyone’s eyes at all times. I was asked for a photo one time, but that’s a different story.

I ventured on my own across the city, it was such a liberating experience. Japan was, and still is, the furthest I have travelled from home. To be alone in the middle of a city I had dreamed of visiting for about 15 years was an incredible experience. I stood in Ikebukuro and soaked it all in. Since watching Durarara! in 2010, I had been desperate to visit Ikebukuro, and then there I stood. All alone.

It turned out the store I wanted to go to opened at 10am, not 9 like I thought. I explored the streets, the rooftops, the gardens. I went everywhere in the area. A year on and I can still remember the routes of Ikebukuro perfectly, I know them better than I know many streets of London.

For as long as I remember I have yearned to see the world. It was a passive dream for a long time, I made no active moves to make it happen. Now I try to travel as much as I can. I’m pretty harsh on myself, if I’m not doing better than 100% I feel like a failure, it’s stupid and unhealthy and I’m working on it. But in that moment I felt like I had hit my peak, stood all alone in the middle of one of the world’s biggest and most famous city, the place I wanted to visit more than any other place on Earth.

I have so many incredible travel memories, however this moment feels like one of those turning points in my life, as cheesy as it is to say, it feels like that moment made me realise that I can achieve and accomplish anything I put my mind to.

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It’s a mighty big planet, even when you visit a country you don’t end up seeing more than a small percentage. Every country on the planet is incredibly diverse, filled with amazing towns and cities and crowded with brilliant people.

Just seeing the capital can never be enough! I’ve thrown together a list of a couple of countries I’ve already been to, but haven’t seen enough of.

This is the revisit list!


I haven’t visited since I was a child and now have approximately…0 memory of it. Now I live down south, I have a dreamy idea of getting a sleeper train all the way up to Scotland through all the countryside.

Plus my friend worked at a macaron shop in Edinburgh, I sampled them once and they were mindblowingly good.

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Here’s a complete list of every post on places I’ve visited around the world:

B U D A P E S T // H U N G A R Y




T O K Y O // J A P A N

Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo

Yoyogi Park



Meiji Jingu

Tokyo Disney Sea- Part 1

Tokyo Disney Sea- Part 2

Tokyo Disney Sea- Part 3


Tokyo Tower

Capcom Bar


Free! Cafe

The Imperial Palace

Intro to Asakusa and Conveyor Belt Sushi

Ueno Park, Harajuku’s Owl Cafe and Shibuya’s Movie Bar

Tokyo Skytree

O S A K A // J A P A N

Osaka Castle

Kaiyukan Aquarium


K Y O T O // J A P A N

Cloudy Afternoon in Kyoto



Fushimi Inari Shrine

H I R O S H I M A // J A P A N 

Hiroshima – Peace Park, Memorials and Museums

Miyajima Part 1

Miyajima Part 2

O S L O // N O R W A Y

Oslo Part 1

Oslo Part 2:The Royal Palace and Vigeland Park

Oslo Part 3: Holmenkollen

Oslo Part 4: Bygdoy Peninsula

Oslo Part 5: Akershus Castle + Fortress

Oslo Part 6: Oslo Opera House

S T O C K H O L M // S W E D E N






L I V E R P O O L // U N I T E D  K I N G D O M

ExDirectory | Liverpool’s Secret Bar

Docks by night


Staycation #1

Staycation #2

Staycation #3

Yard Bird

The Liverpool Guide: Views

L O N D O N // U N I T E D  K I N G D O M

Best Ramen in London

Crosstown Doughnuts

24 hours a Londoner

A Week a Londoner

A Month a Londoner

2 Months a Londoner

6 Months a Londoner

20 Fenchurch Street’s Sky Garden

Greenwich Park + the Royal Observatory

Christmas in London


P A R I S // F R A N C E


M I L A N // I T A L Y






L A K E  C O M O // I T A L Y


T H E  E D E N  P R O J E C T / / U N I T E D  K I N G D O M


S K E L L I G  M I C H A E L / / R E P U B L I C   O F   I R E L A N D

Real Life Star Wars – Skellig Michael, Ireland

H E L S I N K I  / / F I N L A N D

72 Hours in Helsinki, Finland

T A L L I N N / / E S T O N I A

Exploring an Abandoned Olympic Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallin’s Fairytale Old Town

How to Spend a Day in Alternative Tallinn, Estonia

R I G A / / L A T V I A

What to do in Riga, Latvia

S I A U L I A I / / L I T H U A N I A

The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

V I L N I U S / / L I T H U A N I A

Snapshots of Vilnius, Lithuania

V E R O N A / / I T A L Y

7 Things to do in Verona, Italy 

E D I N B U R G H / / S C O T L A N D

11 Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland

N E R J A / / S P A I N

Nerja, Spain

L I S B O N / / P O R T U G A L

LX Factory: Lisbon’s Alternative Tourist Scene

Lisbon’s Top Street Art

Three of the Best Views in Lisbon

L I M A / / P E R U

Lima, Peru. What To Do in 48 Hours

N A Z C A / / P E R U

Nazca, Peru. You have to fly over the Nazca Lines

Coming when I get my shit together….

A R E Q U I P  A / / P E R U

C U S C O / / P E R U

M A C H U  P I C C H U / / P E R U

L O S  A N G E L E S / / C A L I F O R N I A

S A N  F R A N C I S C O / / C A L I F O R N I A

L A S  V E G A S / / N E V A D A

T H E  G R A N D  C A N Y O N / / A R I Z O N A

P O R T L A N D / / O R E G O N

S E A T T L E / / W A S H I N G T O N

P R A G U E / / C Z E C H  R E P U B L I C