Japan

Discussion in 'Asia' started by leelai, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. leelai

    leelai
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    No.....didn't see those, that would have been cool!

    Their train passes work on the vending machines though....I thought that was very clever.
     
  2. leelai

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    In the mornings they are all around you trying to get at those wafers, by the afternoon, they've had their fill from scavenging from everyone and will then just lay around everywhere.....sooo cute.

    Forgot to post this sign too.....didn't see them behave badly though, but I guess they have to have them just in case.



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  3. skimonkey

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    Oh my goodness, I love the illustrations on the warning sign!! That's too funny, especially the "bite" pic! Did you see a lot of deer with antlers roaming around? Just curious--I didn't see any in the pics you posted!
     
  4. leelai

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    They had some great signs like this.....which were very funny.....especially the smoking signs.....I'm saving those ones for now. ;)

    No, none of the dear have antlers, these are cut off every year in a special ceremony. I did see some youngsters though with very small nubs.

    Maybe they just show them in the sign for illustration purposes.....I don't think you'd know it was a dear without them! ;)
     
  5. The OB

    The OB
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    Wow leelai I just came across this while browsing. Now that is the way to do a travelogue! Great photos and a fantastic write-up. You obviously enjoyed Japan and learned a lot of its culture. Reading this...a great way to spend an evening. Thank you for a very entertaining and informative post. Can't wait for the next episode:)
    Andrew


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    #15 The OB, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  6. leelai

    leelai
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    Thank you Andrew! It really is a very interesting country and the more you interact with the people the more they will open up and talk to you.

    Some had even heard of our bush fires here and enquired about them.....I thought that very nice!
     
    #16 leelai, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 27, 2013
  7. Richard Brown

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    Let's add a wow, Leelai.

    Our neighbour loved her trip to Japan. Sadly we cannot now travel long haul. However your great photos and words have virtually transported us there.

    Cheers

    Richard :)


    Sent from my iPad3 using Tapatalk.
     
  8. leelai

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    Thank you Richard!

    That is such a shame you cannot travel long distances now and I'm so glad this is showing you something of Japan.

    Every one who I've met who has been to Japan have all loved it......I just don't know why it's taken us this long to go. ;)
     
  9. leelai

    leelai
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    Kyoto

    A trip to Japan would just not be complete without seeing this culturally significant city. In fact many would say that this is the heartland of this country and if you want to understand its people then you must experience their culture and history......Kyoto is all this and more and really is a delight. Kyoto was once also the Capital of Japan from 794 until 1868 and is the capital of the Kyoto Prefecture.

    Over the centuries Kyoto has been destroyed many times by wars and fires but luckily due to its historic significance was struck off the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and was also not chosen for air raids during World War II.

    We again stayed within the Kyoto Train Station Complex which is one of the country's largest buildings incorporating the Granvia Hotel, a shopping mall, a movie theatre, department stores as well as local Government facilities.

    A view of Kyoto train station ........views of Kyoto


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    In front of the train stations are the buses which cover all the major areas on their routes throughout Kyoto and run continuously approximately every 10 minutes throughout the day. You can purchase an all day pass which will come with a map and use these buses all day long. The routes have stops in front of all the major sites along the way and really are a great way to explore. There are also subway stations throughout the city but we preferred the buses as you get to see so much more of the area.


    Our first stop was Nishi Honganji Temple which represents the Jodo-Shin Sect (True Pure Land Sect) one of Japan's largest Buddhist sects and was built in 1591. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    There are 2 main buildings, 1 the Founders Hall, the Goeido and the other the Hall of Amida Buddha, the Amidado.



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    Nijo Castle

    Nijo Castle which was built in 1603 for Tokugawa leyasu, the first Shogun of the Edo Period. The Castle Palace buildings were completed by his grandson 23 years later.



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    This Shogunate fell in 1867 and the Castle was used as an Imperial Palace for some time before being donated to the city. It's palace buildings are some of the best surviving examples of Castle Palace architecture and were deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.



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    There are 2 Palaces here, the Ninomaru Palace and the Honmaru Palace (which is closed) as well as many other buildings and are surrounded by Japanese gardens and ponds.



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    The original Honmaru Palace as well as a 5 story Castle keep were destroyed by fires in the 18th century and never rebuilt. After this Shogunate fell, an Imperial residence was moved to this site and is now known as Honmaru Palace. This Palace also has beautiful gardens and is surrounded by an inner moat. The whole site is then surrounded by another outer moat.



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    Here again your shoes must come off before entering as the Palace rooms have tatami mats and photos are not permitted inside the Palace. It consists of multiple buildings which are connected to each other by long wide corridors. As you walk these corridors they give off a bell like squeak. This is by design as a security measure against intruders and are called Nightingale floors. Many other Imperial residences we visited also had these floors. No matter how we tried we just could not stop these squeaks which had us thinking back to early Samurai movies.

    The rooms though mostly empty do display figures dressed in authentic costumes of the day. The ceilings are beautifully decorated and also have painted sliding doors.

    There are many beautiful gardens and ponds with tree lined paths around the entire site. The moats have an abundance of fish waiting for any scraps to fall.



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    Our next site was Kinkaku......It is also part of a temple named Rokuon-ji Temple but commonly called Kinkakuji Temple or Temple of the Golden Pavilion. It was originally the site of a villa called Kitayama-dai but was acquired by a shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who then built his own villa and named it Kitayama-den

    According to his will, on his death in 1408 it became a Zen Temple of the Rinzai sect. The Temple's name Rokuon-ji was derived from the name Yoshimitsu was given for the next world, Rokuon-in-den.



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    It was built overlooking a pond and has burned down numerous times in its history, the last of which was when it was set on fire by a fanatical monk in 1950 and was then rebuilt in 1955.



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    Each floor represents a different style of architecture, the first floor being built in the Shinden style used for Palace buildings. The second floor is built in the Bukke style used in Samurai residences and the third floor is built in the style of a Chinese Zen Hall. The upper 2 floors are completely covered in gold leaf and is capped by a golden phoenix. The third floor is also internally covered in gold leaf. Many statues are in the Pavilion - Shaka Buddha, a seated Kannon Bodhisattva and statues of the Four Heavenly Kings, these are not shown to the public but if you peer intently at the pavilion from across the pond, you will be able to glimpse them as the windows are always kept open. It is the only building left of Yoshimitsu's original complex and was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994.



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    This is a very popular site and has beautiful gardens which go up the hill behind the Pavilion. The former living quarters of the Head Priest are also here as well as a Sekkatei Teahouse.



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    Outside the exit you will also find souvenir shops, a small tea garden and Fudo Hall.

    Many people still wear traditional Japanese attire, both men and women all over Japan but we found it was more of a custom here and was both lovely and interesting to see.



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    Ryokan ji Temple

    This Temple is the site of Japan's most famous Rock Garden. It was once an aristocrat's villa but was converted to a Zen Temple in 1450.



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    The garden is a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded on 3 sides by low earthen walls. There are only 15 rocks which have been placed in small groups and surrounded by moss. An interesting design of the Garden is that when viewing or trying to photograph the garden, 1 rock will always be out of view. The history of the garden is uncertain in regards to the designer and the date of construction.



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    The meaning of the garden is also unclear, some believe the garden represents the theme of a tiger carrying its cubs across a pond, or some believe it is an abstract concept such as infinity. Whatever, it is, it is up to you to find its meaning yourself. It is quite simple, yet beautiful in its design. It's lovely to just sit and admire the garden from different angles and you will find many doing just this.



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    The garden is viewed from the Hojo, the head Priest's former residence which has beautiful paintings on its sliding doors (Fusuma).



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    The grounds have walking paths around beautiful gardens and a very large pond, which can be viewed from all sides.



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    Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Fushimi Inari is a very revered Shinto shrine and is famous for its many thousands of vermillion Tori gates which straddle the trails up to the sacred Mount Inari.



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    It is the most revered of several thousand shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto God of rice. You will find many Fox statues throughout the site as they are thought to be the messengers of Inari.



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    The Shrine has ancient origins predating the Capitals move to Kyoto in 794.

    You will find writing on each of the gates and this is the names of the many people and corporations who have donated the Tori Gates, they are also dated.



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    At the Shrines entrance stands the Romon Gate which was donated in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi.



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    This is the Praying Hall (Haiden), you'll notice those ropes hanging down across the front. These are attached to large bells at the top and you are meant to ring the bells by pulling the rope side to side, say a prayer and give a donation by throwing coins into a receptacle in front of you. It's not an easy feat to get that bell ringing loudly.

    There are many many shrines throughout your journey up the mountain and you'll even find a large pond surrounded on one side by shrines. There are very old shops here from where you can buy miniature Tori gates and bells to put on the many shrines or take home as souvenirs. There is also food stalls here and there are also market stalls selling souvenirs at the bottom of the shrine which you will see on the way out.



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    There is also a stall selling cheap kimonos where a lady will dress you....it's all quite fun. Kimonos are very expensive, running up into the thousands for a good quality one and you will find that most are handed down through generations for this reason. The Obi (sash) which is worn around the waist can be up to 13 feet long and there is an art in how this is worn.

    Ginkakuji Temple - Temple of the Silver Pavilion

    This Temple is reached by walking up a small street where there are many shops....restaurants, souvenir shops and small eateries.



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    The Temple was built (1482) by Ashikaga Yoshimasa and was modelled on his Grandfathers residence Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion). It was also built as a retirement villa and also became a Zen Temple at his behest on his death.



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    The Silver Pavilion has 2 levels, each built in a different architectural style and is not open to the public. It was to have been covered in silver leaf but this never came to be. It was originally covered in black lacquer and in the moonlight gave off a silvery appearance. The Pavilion and only 1 other building have survived the many fires and earthquakes over the centuries and is meticulously maintained with the last renovation work being completed in 2010.

    This Temple was by far our favourite of all, not because of the Temple itself which is just lovely but for it's gardens and ponds....dry sand gardens and moss gardens. They are just beautiful and everywhere you turn you will be struck by the beauty of it all again and again.



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    When we visited the first dry sand garden was being raked. This is an arduous and lengthy task and it was so very interesting watching how this is done. Then there is a large expanse of sand known as the 'Sea of Silver Sand' and then a massive cone of sand named 'Moon Viewing Platform' which is just amazing to see. It is said to be a symbol of Mt Fuji.



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    You then take a circuitous route past the Temple, the Hondo (main hall), the Togudo (another Temple) then the moss gardens, which feature many ponds with islands and beautiful old bridges. You then climb a hill to find lovely views of the entire Temple grounds and the city beyond.



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    The Philosophers Path is a stone path, approxinately 2 kilometres long which follows a canal and is also lined with hundreds of Cherry Blossom trees.



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    It is so named after Nishida Kitaro, a famous Philosopher of Japan, who was said to practice meditation on his walk along this path to Kyoto University every day.

    It begins at the bottom of the street which takes you to the Silver Pavilion and is a very pleasant walk past many restaurants and small boutiques as well as many smaller Temples.

    Gion

    Gion is one of Kyoto's most famous districts and is known for its Geishas. You will find many shops, restaurants and Teahouses here where Geiko (Kyoto dialect for Geisha) and Maiko (Geiko apprentices) entertain their patrons. We found that Kyoto did have its own dialect for many words.



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    It is a very old area with traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. These houses were built very narrow but very long due to property taxes which are based on the size of the street frontage. They can be up to twenty metres in from the street.



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    It is a very expensive area to dine as it serves Kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) and other international and local dishes.



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    Intermingled with the many restaurants are the teahouses (Ochaya) they are the most exclusive of Kyoto's dining establishments and guests are also entertained by Maiko and Geiko. They are expert hostesses and make sure everyone enjoys their time by entertaining with traditional music and dance, serving drinks, playing drinking games and engaging in light conversation. These services are very expensive and exclusive and traditionally require an introduction from an existing customer.



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    We loved Kyoto and would have loved to have spent more time here as there are literally hundreds of Temples and Shrines in this city. Although you may think you are 'Templed Out' each one offers something new and different and it's worthwhile to just walk the different areas to savour the culture.

    Next stop is Hiroshima and our first trip on a 'bullet' train in Japan.

    References : Site Brochures, Japan Guide
     
  10. The OB

    The OB
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    Thank you leelai, just finished savouring that magnificent Kyoto travelogue...just amazing. Your informative well-documented record could, in book form, grace any coffee table. Nice piece of work, including photography. Just makes one want to travel there to experience it. You mean there's more coming? Can't wait:)
    Andrew


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