Another cold and crisp morning in Osaka, we bundled up for our trip to Japan's ancient capitol city, Kyoto. Ann, Cathy, Ellie, Carole, Ian and I met our Tours by Locals guide Ken and driver and we were off to Kyoto, an hour from Osaka. Our guide had a planned day for us with the first stop being Nijo Castle. This castle is a flatland castle consisting of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens. We toured the Ninomaru Palace which formerly served as the Shogun's residence on his visits to Kyoto. Surviving in its original form, the palace consists of multiple separate buildings that are connected with each other by corridors with nightingale floors, as they squeak when stepped upon as a security measure against intruders. The palace rooms are feature elegantly decorated ceilings and beautifully painted sliding doors, unfortunately… no photographs allowed. Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion is a Buddhist temple in northeastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage Temples. Kinkaku-ji is an impressive structure covered in gold leaf and built overlooking a large pond. I have been to Kyoto on a number of occasions and the Gold Pavilion remains my favorite site. Our guide Ken and driver took us for lunch to a local restaurant for a traditional Japanese lunch...the restaurant was located in a residential area of Kyoto and in the lower level of the owners home. Ryōanji (Silver Pavilion) is a Zen temple and is best known for its Zen garden, a simple gravel-and-rock arrangement that inspires peace and contemplation. Then we were off to the Gion District - It's not the only geisha district left in Japan, but Gion, a collection of streets defined by its old wooden buildings, teahouses and exclusive Japanese restaurants, is by far the most famous. Luck was with us today, as we had a chance siting of a beautiful Giesha girl (performing artists in Japan and held in high esteem) moving between teahouses in her cumbersome zori sandals and exquisite kimono. I was thrilled to get a much anticipated photo of a Geisha. Our last stop of the day was the Fushimi Inari Taisha, the head shrine of Inari faith located in Kyoto. The shrine is noted for its bronze foxes and for some 10,000 small torii, donated by the thankful, which stretches for a 2 hour hike. The temple sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari. It was another great day in Kyoto. This is a three part blog, this is part 1.