Kansai region is also called Kinki region. Some books have written Kansai region to be only the area restricted to Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe areas and Kinki region to be comprising of Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, Mie, Wakayama and Shiga prefectures. In any case I think these days Kansai and Kinki names are interchangeable and the general name Kansai region consists of the seven prefectures that I mentioned above. In my temples and shrines section of Kansai region, I will cover all the above seven prefectures.
The culture and the development of Kansai region predates every other place inside Japan. It is said that people began to live in the Kansai region over 10,000 years ago. During these years the foundation of Japanese culture as we see today has been developed in the Kansai area. The proximity (compared to eastern Japan) of Kansai region to the much developed eastern countries like China and India, this region also flourished as a center of international cultural and economical exchanges. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China through the travelers from Kansai region.
The first capital of Japan Heijokyo was established in 710 in the present day Nara prefecture. The capital stayed there until the capital was moved to Heiankyo in 794, which is the present day Kyoto. The capital stayed in Kyoto for over 1000 years during which Japan as a country flourished culturally and economically. Buddhism took stronger roots within both the royals and the common folk. Since the Meiji restoration in the late 1800s the capital has been moved to the present day Tokyo. But the Kansai region continues to build upon it's old cultural, traditional and religions traditions.
When it comes to temples and shrines of Japan, Kansai region takes the cake. The two prefectures Kyoto and Nara as the ancient capitals of Japan have the most enchanting, captivating temples and shrines that are the founding sites of Buddhism in Japan. Many of these sites have been designated as UNESCO cultural heritage sites.
The first known Kannon pilgrimage in Japan, Saikoku Pilgrimage, covers 33 Kannon temples in the Kansai region and it's seven prefectures. There are other smaller Kannon pilgrimages centered in Kyoto and Nara. The Kumano Ancient Road (Kumano Kodo) is another world heritage site, that covers three sacred sites of Kii Peninsula (Koyasan, Yoshimi and Nachi Katsuura). I have covered many temples in the Kansai area and still need to cover more. Please keep coming back to this website, as I will be adding more and more temples and shrines.
Click the links below to peruse through the temples and shrines of Kansai Region.
Temples and Shrines of Kyoto Prefecture
Temples and Shrines of Nara Prefecture
Temples and Shrines of Shiga Prefecture
Temples and Shrines of Wakayama Prefecture
Temples and Shrines of Mie Prefecture
(Please look for the updates, as I will add temples for the other prefectures in Kansai region).
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