Kyoto, Enryaku-ji and Ōtsu

Spared from a planned nuclear attack and the carpet bombing to which much of industrial Japan was subject in World War Two, Kyoto it is one of the best preserved of Japanese cities.

Formerly the imperial capital of Japan – Kyoto means capital city – Kyoto is the heart of traditional Japan, with its preserved geisha quarters of Gion and Pontochō, 1600 Buddhist temples 400 Shinto shrines and other monuments.

To the northeast of Kyoto, between it and Lake Biwa, rises Mt. Hiei, home of the Tendai Buddhist sect and Enryaku-ji, one of the most important monasteries in Japan. Founded in 788 and raised to the ground in 1571, the site was rebuilt in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

In stark contrast, Ōtsu, capital of Shiga prefecture is a bleaker urban area bordering Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan.