When it’s the summer you can not only rent a kimono, but you can also rent a yukata (an informal and light cotton kimono) as well. It goes without saying, but a yukata is perfect when viewing a fireworks festival, viewing the Gion Festival, watching the ceremonial fires of the large Japanese kanji characters on the mountains in Kyoto, and a number of other summer festivals. But it’s not just festivals, when visiting somewhere specializing in sweet foods and eating a matcha (powdered green tea) based parfait or shaved ice, wearing a kimono is part of the fun of doing so in Kyoto.
The Hsinbyume Pagoda aka Mya Thein Dan Pagoda (White Temple) is just a few hundred metres beyond the Mingun Bell further down the main street of Mingun. It is a very unusual Paya with a lovely gorgeous white structure. The Paya was built in 1816 by the grandson of the infamous King Bodawpaya, who later became King Bagyidaw, in memory of his first wife, Bodawpaya’s granddaughter Hsinbyume, who died in childbirth in 1812. The seven separate terraces of the Paya are meant to represent the seven mountain ranges and oceans in between and around Mount Meru with the stupa at the top representing Mount Meru itself. Mount Meru is the mythical centre of the universe in Buddhist-Hindu cosmolgy. There are also many small statues on the Pagoda representing various nat spirits, ogres, and naga serpents. All in all it makes for a gorgeous temple.
The Jinding, elevation 3,077 metres, is the main peak of Mount Emei, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sichuan, China. It is also a common name for the Buddhist Huazang Temple built on the summit. Jinding is the highest Buddhist temple in traditionally Han areas of China. Located atop Mount Emei is an epic statue at 48 meter so high, is the 22nd tallest statue in the world. But its height is not its most notable feature, so much as its unique head, as this massive graven image faces in ten directions, one for each of the Bodhisattva’s ‘Ten Truths of Universal Worthiness’.
Obscurity aside, the temple of Pura Luhur Lempuyang is one of Bali’s most important religious places: it’s one of the six sad kahyangan (“temples of the world”) dedicated to Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (the supreme God), and it’s also one of the island’s nine directional temples that “protects” the native Balinese from evil spirits. The temple presents an interesting challenge to visitors: reaching the top means conquering 1,700 steps cut into mountainside jungle, requiring about an hour and a half of serious climbing. Ordinary Balinese make their way up the stairs to ask for divine assistance with problems or request blessings from above.
Bagan is an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, 4,446 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of 3,822 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.
Founded in 111 BC, Taoping Qiang Village has a history of more than 2,000 years. In the Western Han Dynasty, it was called Guangrong County (广柔县), serving as an important pass and defense position. Through battles and wars, the village has still survived perfectly. Now, there are 98 households in the village. Taoping Qiang Village is well known as the “mysterious oriental castle” because of its typical Qiang-style architectures and its complicated road structure.