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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.
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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

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Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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

Looking for the secrets of Kyoto

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