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Kyoto - Beautiful Cherry Blossom

It was like ... I was back to the past of ancient Japan

all seasons in one day 4 °C

Journey between April 1st and April 7th 2007

April 1st, 2007
Flight nº CX502, Cathay Pacific Airlines
From Hong Kong to Osaka

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I left home (Macau) at 10:30 in the morning and arrived at the HK International Airport at 13:30. I met an old man at the bus station while waiting for the airport express. We chatted for a while and I learned that he was going to San Francisco. He immigrated to US since long time ago and he just came back to Hong Kong for leisure. That was great! He mentioned about San Francisco and that made me feel good. You know what, I love San Francisco too.

After checking in, having a nice lunch, passing through the security check point, a 3 hours and 40 minutes of flying, I finally arrived in Japan, Osaka Kansai Airport.

The best way to get to Osaka, the city center, is to travel by JR train. So, I and my friend took a rapid train from the airport to Osaka. It cost Yen 3410 per person and it took almost an hour to get to Osaka. After that, we went to the subway station, from “Umeda” station walked to the “Higashi Umeda” station to catch a purple line train to the “Tenmabashi” station. After two stops, we arrived at the “Tenmabashi” station (T22).

The transportation network and facilities in Japan are really cool!! Each station has its own code, like “Higashi Umeda” (T20) and “Tenmabashi” (T22), and there is a price shown at the bottom of each station. For example, if you would like to go to the “Tenmabashi” station, firstly, insert coins or notes in the ticket machine and then choose the price button (they have got lots of price buttons, just choose the one shown at the bottom of the station you would like to go). People in Japan rarely speak others foreign languages, some people think it is inconvenient. However, I don´t think it is a problem, because even I don´t speak their language and they don´t speak mine, there is somehow a way to communicate to each other. Japanese are really nice and friendly. They try everything they could to help you out. I amazed by them.

The first two nights, we stayed at the Hotel Tenmabashi Otamae. I made the reservation through the internet, the “toyoko-inn.co.jp”. It is not expensive, and it cost only Yen 16600 per 2 nights, a room with private bathroom, and the hotel is located near the “tenmabashi” subway station (walk within 7 minutes). So convenience!


April 2nd, 2007
Universal Studio

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That day we spent a whole day in the Universal Studio. It was amazing! The most exciting ride it was the Spider Man 3. I loved that! It really rocks!!!

We did 5 rides that day. The Terminator 3D Theatre (5 rates), The Spider Man 3 (6 rates – the maximum), The Backdrof (2 rates), Back to the Future (5 rates), then the Jurassic Park (3 rates).

When we arrived at the Universal City station, we puzzled if we need to buy tickets or not. :) We had that stupid idea in mind because we did not see others were buying tickets and we saw they just walk in to the park and it was likely that they did not need to buy tickets!! Cool!!! But after a few seconds, I saw a man holding a big cardboard and saying something in Japanese. I didn´t know what he was saying but I guessed he was probably promoting something, it might be the one day pass to the Universal Studio. After that, I saw some people starting to line up. We followed the line and to see what they are doing there. Finally, we figured out that they were selling tickets in a hidden corner!

It cost Yen 5800 per person. We got the tickets, then moved straight up to the “main” entrance. When we arrived at the gate, we realized that the two tickets we got were written “child” Yen 3180. Oh my God!!! We got a child ticket!! Unbelievable, how do we get inside with these tickets? We worried about if the staff let us get inside with these tickets!! Apparently, we both didn´t look like children! Ha ha!! We thought of going back and told them we had got a wrong ticket (we did pay Yen 5800 for each person), but after some thoughts, we thought that we might not move back and wasting time, we should tell exactly what happened to the staff that we bought the “Yen 5800” ticket and the counter handed us a “Yen 3180” child ticket. So, we kept moving to the gate. We handed our “child ticket” to the staff standing in front of the gate, he checked the ticket and did not say anything, he gave us a map and say welcome to us. It was weird! But it was funny!! :) We should not have worried about that!

April 3nd, 2007
Kyoto – A Place full of Historical Heritage

The following day, we went to Kyoto, the place where I always liked it. Thirty minutes of JR rapid train, we arrived at Kyoto. Wao! The first impression of Kyoto was “neat”, “peaceful” and “a place full of historical heritage”. I like it. Imagine it a place with lots of old Japanese buildings surrounding with “sakura” (cherry blossom). It feels so good!!

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That day after checking in at the Ryokan Kinsuikan (Yen 16800 per person for 4 nights stay, with private bathroom, and the location is very centralized) we went to the Yasaka-jinja Shrine, Heian Jingu Shrine, Path of Philosophy, Ginkaku-ji Temple and Nijo-jo Castle at night.

Yasaka-jinja Shrine is great! There are many cherry trees around and local food along the path way to the temple. Here are some photos taken in the Yasaka-jinja Shrine:

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After visiting the Yasaka-jinja Shrine, we walked to the north side of the map and within half an hour we found the Heian Jingu Shrine. Along the way, we passed by lots of cherry trees along the river. That was beautiful.

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Photos at the Heian Jingu Shrine:
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I made a wish at the Heian Jingu Shrine. You see! That is my wishing board!!! Cute!

After hanging around in the Heian Jingu Shrine, we kept moving north and finally we arrived at the Path of Philosophy. Firstly, we were not so sure if we arrived at the right place because we didn’t see any signs showing that that was the Path of Philosophy. You know what, one of the exciting thing you have when you travel is that you always have to guess where you are and when you are going to arrive at the place you planned to go. There are always surprises and that feel good!! It’s fun!

Moreover, it was awesome that we didn’t feel any hunger or thirst! It was like that, “let ‘s skip the lunch and keep on exploring Kyoto!”. It was crazy! I can’t believe that we did that!!!

So, this is the Path of Philosophy:

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Around 4 o’clock, we were really hungry, we couldn’t see any restaurant but only coffee shop. So we took a rest in a family run coffee shop and had our “lunch” (the lunch was: a hot chocolate milk and an orange flavor cake). Oh my God!! I was sooooooooo hungry!! That was not enough for me!!!

The other visiting site nearby the Path of Philosophy was the Ginkaku-ji Temple. So, we walked up the hills to the Silver Temple. We arrived there at 5:10. (I remembered quite well the time because the staff didn’t let us in. They were closing and not allowed visitors to get in.)

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After that, we went back to the center “Karasuma Oike” by bus. At night, we went to the Nijo-jo Castle. Oh! That was really wonderful!! We just couldn’t stop taking photos around. I was a bit jealous of Ken’s camera. He got a bigger digital camera and it looked like it really takes great pictures!!! It makes me want to buy a real advanced digital camera!! Especially with fast shutter and long lens! >_< I want to take “really great” pictures!!!

Here are some photos taken inside the Nijo-jo Castle at night:

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April 4th , 2007
Kyoto – A Place full of Historical Heritage

That day we walked to the Ninenzaka Slope, Yasaka Pagoda, Kodai-ji Temple and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
It was raining and the weather it was cold! I didn’t bring enough clothes. I was trembling and my arms and hands felt like petrified!! And you know what, Starbucks saved my life!! The hot chocolate milk did save my life! Ha ha!

The rain fell upon my face and the feeling was so good! Though I couldn’t take my camera out to take photographs but the moment walking in the rain was really good.

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There is a story about a slope (near the Ninenzaka Slope). It says that if a person fell over to the ground while walking through that slope (I don't know the name), that person will die within three years. I thought of getting there and taking some pictures, but unfortunately we couldn’t find the way! So, we hung around at the Ninenzaka Slope, Yasaka Pagoda, Kodai-ji Temple and then to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Along the way, we saw beautiful Japanese Traditional Woman (is it call Geisha?) Their costumes are really breath taking. They looked good. I couldn’t wait to take some snapshots over them.

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Way up to the hill, there is Kodai-ji Temple. The most beautiful thing in the Kodai-ji Temple, I think it is the bamboo forest and the two lovely cherry trees (they look like sister trees). Yeah! I’m not bragging. Here you see.

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Oh, that day I wore a pairs of boots and they were not design for long walking, so I got tired easily (I knew it already before picking that pairs of boots). When we were at the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, I started to feel pain on my left foot. It sucked! I had to keep on moving no matter how painful it was. Ken helped me to hold my handbag and I thought that he was nice. He was so busy to take “great” photos. After a while he suddenly turned around and complaint me how could I made him looks so stupid like that (carrying too much stuff)!! What!! I didn’t think he looked stupid!! I thought he was caring, but after all, I recognized that he wasn’t so caring as I thought. Stupid!! I hate him that moment and he almost made me shed tears. I didn’t talk to him and I went to the toilet thinking that he was really a jerk!!

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We left Kiyomizu-dera Temple and going down the hill and heading to the bus stop. He bought me a present and he thought that was the good way to express his apology. Though I was smiling but that moment I was still feeling stuck!! Why had him complaint me about that!

Well after the silent fight and misunderstanding, we got on a bus and went to the next visit point – the Seimei-jinjya Shrine.
We got off the bus around 4:30 pm and we walked to the Kyoto Castle side then moved on to find the way to the Seimei-jinjya Shrine. It was lucky that we had a GPS device, so it was really easy to find a way to get there without going on a wrong track.

The way to the Seimei-jinjya Shrine was really long…We only got there at 5:30 and they were almost closing the main gate!! I promised one of my friend to buy some souvenirs at the Temple, so after taking some pictures outside and “almost” inside the Shrine, I moved quickly to the shop and buy what my friend asked me to buy. She must be one of the fan of the Seimei-jinjya Shrine. She gave me Yen 10000 to buy her souvenirs and a NDS game. Unfortunately I couldn’t see any NDS shop in these 4 days, so I decided to buy everything I could in that shop!!

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In front of the shop there was a small bridge. Before leaving home I read some papers about the story of that bridge. Under the bridge there are hundreds of spirits living underneath!! Hee hee. For curiosity and for fun I stepped on the bridge and tried to “sense” that thing!! Ha ha!! But it seemed like nothing was going to happen!! 

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I don’t know why I am so in love with this symbol. The pentacle. It feels like it has some power within this symbol!! I don’t know. But you know what, that night I had a dream. I dreamed of a little blue monkey and it was kind of spirit monkey!!! Awesome!!! I liked it!!

After that, we had to walk on foot to the “Karasuma” station side, where our motel is located and also is the place with more restaurants. We walked nearly two hours to get back to the Ryokan to take some rest. It was really a long walk!! I was thinking maybe next time I should bring a pairs of roller shoes, so that I could save my foot from over walking!! Ha ha

April 5th , 2007
Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine


That day we only went to two spot. The Fushimi and the Sanzen-in Temple area at Ohara.
Fushimi is really a great place to visit. So please don’t miss any chance to get there once you are in Kyoto. The area of Fushimi site is huge. There was a long way to climb up to the top of the mountain. I couldn’t make it to the top, cause my left foot was really hurt. I didn’t want it that way too. Forgive me that I couldn’t make it to the top, but I still have got some great pictures to show you.

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You know what, a year ago I saw some pictures of Fushimi in the internet taken by a cool guy. His nickname is Perfil. The way how he took those pictures was amazing and his pictures inspired me to go there someday!! Now, I am really in that place!!! I really happy about that! :) Thanks him a lot to sharing his pictures taken in such a beautiful place.

Here is the map of the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine:
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We got there around noon and we stayed there until 4 o’clock!! After that, I wished I could go to the Sanzen-in Temple to explore a waterfall. Legend says it is a waterfall without sound!! It sounds interesting. So, we made our way to the waterfall.

The travel guide book showed us that we had to take the bus n. 16 or 17 in front of the San Dori station (not so sure if the name is correct). Yeah, we got on a right bus n. 17 but the problem was we got on a wrong direction. Haa haa! Another thing, I didn’t know that it takes an hour to the Ohara station (Sanzen-in Temple area). At the bus, we met a family from Hong Kong! They also were going to the Sanzen-in site, they were not going for the waterfall, they were going to stay overnight in on of the Ryokan over there. When we got off the bus it was almost 6 o’clock. It was getting darker. The father of that family looked astonished as he heard that the reason we got there was to see the waterfall. He said: “What! You took an hour of bus only for the waterfall??” Haha! Yeah! What’s the problem??

We hurried ourselves to the waterfall. The travel guide says we need to walk 25 minutes to get there. The sky was getting darker and we figured out that there were no many mountain lights along the way. We worried about what if the sky turns totally dark, can we still find a way out of here without stumble?

You know what, along the way I could imagine to have heard some strange voice!! Like, the sounds of hunger of some animals!!

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Ryokan over there.
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I hardly focus my camera.
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When we arrived to the waterfall, our vision became so blur and dark. We almost couldn’t see anything. I hurried myself to take this picture and moved back quickly to somewhere with mountain light as it was really dark.

This is the waterfall. I'm sorry. I could not have time to do it once. Cause it was really dark out there and I was scared that we couldn't walk safely back to the bus station.

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From the picture, you can see there is a tree trunk on the right hand side of the picture. There are grasses on the ground and the waterfall is just right ahead in front of us. I remembered that the waterfall was tiny when I saw it in person. So, I'm not sure why it turns out two white thing in the picture next to the trunk!! I swear I didn't do anything on the photo, I just adjust the photo its light balance.

Anyway, one thing for sure, we confirmed that the waterfall named “no sound waterfall” does make “sound”! 

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That night we were hungry, thirsty and cold!!!! Around 9 pm, we found something to eat!! Also, we found Namco Tower Amusement Center. Wao! That was great! We played a while then walked back to the Ryokan Kinsuikan (motel).
Oh!! That day it was a great experience.

April 6th , 2007
Kyoto – Arashiyama

We spent a whole day in Arashiyama. Beautiful bridge, sakura (cherry trees) all around. Amazing!

There are many temples and Shrine in the Nam Mountain. The cost of entering to each temple is Yen 500. We’ve been to over 4 temples, which cost us a lot!

Firstly, we took subway to the Arashiyama station. There was no direct line from Karasuma station to the Arashiyama station, so we had to transfer at the somewhere call “Kuai” station. It took only 15 minutes, we arrived at the Arashiyama.

Stepping out the subway station, there was a wonderful view of cherry trees (sakura). They were everywhere. Below is a picture taken at the garden.

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Within 7 minutes walk, we arrived at another beautiful spot.

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Later on, we saw this cherry tree.

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This is the famous Togetsukyo Bridge - The symbol of Arashiyama.

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After crossing the bridge we kept moving to the left hand side until we found a sign to the Nison-in Temple. We came here for seeing the beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge and for the Adashino Nembutsuji Temple. However, after visiting Arashiyama, we realized that the Togetsukyo Bridge and the Adashino Nembutsuji Temple aren’t the best spot in that place, there are many others beautiful places we can see.

First of all, I have to show you some pictures taken at the Arashiyama area, and I hope you can feel the same way as I felt that day.

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This is somewhere I forgot the name. :) Entrance Fee: Yen 500

This is Tenryu-ji Temple. Entrance Fee: Yen 500.
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This is a way to the Adashino Nembutsuji Temple.
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Along the path to the Adashino Nembutsuji Temple, there were many others temples or “Ji”, but we didn’t get inside to all of the temples and site because we had to save some money to do others things. We walked and walked...we walked through another bamboo forest, then a slope, then to some flowers field. Here is a photo of a doll taken along the path.

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I know they look a little bit scary but they are also beautiful, aren’t they?

After that, we arrived at the front gate of the Nison-in Temple. It looked nice and … big!!! So, we decided to get inside and see how it looks like.

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Behind the main entrance.

We had to walk up to the top.
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If you have ever been to some temples or "Ji" in Japan you might wonder why do they have to put lots of tiny stones on the ground. Some says that is for security reason (people must make noises while walking on it). However, I have got another idea in mind.

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This photograph was taken when we were going to leave Nison-in Temple. As we walked down the stairs, strong and wild wind suddenly appeared, blowing madly toward us and making the tiny stones on the ground hitting us!! I couldn’t believe that! You know what, I got hit by the stones on the ground. It caused pain!!

Actually, Nison-in Temple is a place of the resting soul. It is a cemetery! And it is really a “big” cemetery. We climbed up to the mountain and we saw a Japanese sign pointing to the top. Well, just following the route, we walked by many “sleeping soul’s bed” and from that moment we recognized that we were at some kind of “grave yard mountain”. We reached to the top. Looked around, took some pictures then got out of there.

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Finally, we arrived at the Adashino Nembutsuji Temple. We realized that the Adashino Nembutsuji Temple is also one of the sanctuary of Arashiyama area. The temple gathered neglected graves in its yard. They hold a service for the departed souls in August lighting a hundred of candles on the top of the graves.

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Around 3 o’clock we made our way back to somewhere near the Arashiyama station. We ate lunch in a Japanese restaurant. After that, we moved quickly to the subway station for the next stop!

The heritage sites in Japan normally close at 5pm. I thought we could make it to get to the Daigo Ji before it closed, but at the end, it had closed before we arrived.

Below are some photos taken at Daigo Ji. Though many visiting sites were closed at Daigo Ji, but there were beautiful cherry trees around. So, it was still worthy to get there.

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That was how we ended that day. At night we hung around at the Karauma area and some shopping center around the area. We went to the Namco Tower again. Cool!

April 7th , 2007
Kyoto – The last day of the trip

Not many to report that day. Waking up early in the morning, check out, and just walked around the area where we used to be. We went to Starbucks, bookshop (to buy some books which my mum has asked for), went again to the Yasaka-jinja Shrine … bought some souvenirs….then way to the airport.

If you would like to view more photos of this trip, just follow the link below: :D

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ristinw/sets/72157600153852213/

To view my photos and collections at Featurepics.com:
<a href='http://www.featurepics.com/Authors/Images56029.aspx'><img src='http://www.featurepics.com/Images/FeaturePics_l1.jpg' border='0'></a>

Posted by ristinw 22:00 Archived in Japan

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