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Chasing mystery in Kyoto

Photos of famous (and lesser-known) sites from a city that was Japan's imperial, cultural and religious capital for more than a millennium.

20 Pins

Nighttime on 先斗町 (Ponto-Cho), a pedestrian alley lined with cafes, bars and Old World Japanese tea houses. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

The Kyoto Tower from Kyoto Train Station. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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A stand selling octopus balls outside the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

The brass temple bell at Hoko-ji, a 16th century temple in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

House for the brass temple bell at Hoko-ji temple in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

Shrine and fountain at Rengeoin Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

The main gate at Rengeoin Sanjusangendo, a temple in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

The ancient three-story pagoda at the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

Visitors walk among the thousands of shrine gates at the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

Visitors walk among the thousands of shrine gates at the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

sfgate.com

The Mieido hall at the Chion-in temple in Kyoto, one of the more popular attractions for both Japanese and foreign visitors. Photo: Spud Hilton / The Chronicle

Visitors are dwarfed by the three-story pagoda at the popular Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton, The Chronicle

Some of the thousands of orange torii (shrine gates) at the Fushimi Inari Taisha in southern Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton, The Chronicle

A photographer tries to capture the ancient Karamon Gate into the Toyokuni Shrine. Photo: Spud Hilton, The Chronicle

Visitors to the Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple in Kyoto sip sacred water from a spring fountain that is supposed to bring good fortune. Photo...

A stone marks a sub-temple on the hillside above the Nanzen-ji Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hilton, The Chronicle

Chefs at Hiranoya Hoten restaurant in Kyoto have been making the signature ebi imo and bodara (shrimp potatoes and dried cod), or just "imob...

The Hondo (main hall) and stage at Kiyomizu-dera were built in the 17th century without a single nail. Photo: Spud Hilton, The Chronicle

Pilgrims and tourists walk corridors made up of thousands of torii (shrine gates) at the Fushimi Inari Taisha south of Kyoto. Photo: Spud Hi...

Issen Yoshoku restaurant is a popular late-night hangout, with wacky decor, plaques with dirty jokes, a mannequin at each table to keep dine...

An okonomiyaki dish called issen yoshoku is the only dish on the menu at Issen Yoshoku restaurant. Photo: Spud Hilton, The Chronicle