It was in September 2003 that I visited Kiyomizu-dera — exactly 11 years ago. I was in Japan for the first time, and during an excursion to meet an old friend in Osaka, she suggested driving us down the road to Kyoto to see the ridiculous number of staggeringly striking temples. Grand old Kiyomizu-dera, raised high on a hillside and boasting a distinctive viewing platform, was one of the more impressive ones.

Japan’s World Heritage Sites, by John Dougill.
Tuttle Publishing, Nonfiction.

The photo of the temple on page 41 of this beautifully illustrated coffee-table book is almost identical to one I took with my friend on that day, only mine has an 11-years-younger me in it, thin and smug, ruining the scenery with nary a care.

The book features large photos from dozens of deserving tourist destinations around Japan — from Nikko to Nara, mountains to monasteries — with text detailing what makes them so special. It’s a nice tome for armchair travel, whisking you off around the country from where you sit — or for time travel, taking you back to that life-changing decade-lost holiday and old friends.

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