A Travellerspoint blog

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Wednesday 10th October

Lazy morning, only got to breakfast after 10am. We have been eating at the food mall in the Kyoto Station as it has a great range of places to choose from and not at hotel prices. Money in Japan gets spent very quickly. Not such a problem in Korea, though like there, coffee, sweet and bread very expensive. At least the coffee in Japan is good. It was atrocious in Korea, scalding hot, bitter water. Even the nespresso pods in the Seoul hotel were horrible and I thought they would have been made to the same standard worldwide.

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Caught a local train to Inari station to see Fushimi Inari Shrine. It was the second stop from Kyoto and we were able to use our JR passes so it was free to travel. There wasnt an English guide to the shrine but from pictures we had seen it was rows and rows of Tori gates. the shrine was right across the road from the station, yipee. Walked up the hill and went wow at the sight. Everyone clampering to get photos and waiting for people to move on.

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Dont know why because the gates went on and on and on. We walked around half the park before heading back to the station, toried out.
Back at Kyoto Station we had a Halloween cappucino. Lots of Halloween decorations around and themed goods so Japan must celebrate it.

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Travelled to the roof of the station via four flights of long escalators to the Happy Garden and views of the city on both sides. Ended being almost level with Kyoto Tower. Walked down the stairs and there were 220 before they ran out and escalators to the bottom were the only option, another two flights.

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Splurged out on some golden peaches, fruit also expensive, these little beauties were huge and at 750 yen about $9

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Posted by tojoken 02:34 Comments (2)

Kyoto - Golden Pavilion, Ryoanji Temple and Nijo Castle

sunny

Tuesday 9th October

Today was meant to be a day of touring at a more relaxed pace since we had an extra day to play with, of course that didnt mean any less walking and 11kms later our feet were letting us know they had had enough.

We went to the information place in Kyoto Station and bought two one-day bus passes. they are worth 500yen - each bus trip regardless of distance is worth 220yen so it doesnt take much to get your moneys worth. We only used it 3 times but that was still better than having to find change all the time. It is limited to a certain area within Kyoto but that is more than enough area to cover a huge number of temples and shrines, more than you could possibly go to even in a week.

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Our first stop was Kinkakuji Temple or more commonly known as The Golden Pavilion. Wow, it is beautiful. the girls had both told us to go and see it and it was amazing. You only walk around it but really that is enough. You walk straight through the entrance, down a small path and there it is. None of this walking for miles and miles. It is gold foil on lacquer on the two upper levels topped with a golden phoenix. It is a buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. You meander back to the entrance via gardens and past a teahouse where we stopped to try the green tea, which looked like frothy green milkshake but tasted nothing like that, and a small square sugar cake filled with red bean. You take a bite of the cake and then the tea. Super sweet and then bitter. Not something Id called enjoyable but an experience all the same.

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There was a temple, Rokuon-ji Temple, within the complex too. It contains a stone Buddha which is kept hidden from public view. Most of these temples with Buddhas dont allow photos so its a look and see but in this case, a look and no see. Had my fortune printed out of a machine labelled in English for 100 yen, about $1.20. It said if you got an excellent, very good or good fortune that you kept it and all others you tied to a designated area. Mine was Fairly Good, but I kept it anyway as it made me laugh. For the LOVE section it said Give up.

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We then walked 20 minutes down the road to the Ryoanji Temple. It houses a zen Rock Garden, 25 x 10 metres, of 15 rocks on white gravel. Apparently it is internationall famous, said to be created around 1500 by a zen monk. The walls are made of clay boiled in oil. Over the years the oil has seeped out and created the designs on the walls. So many people just sitting and looking at it. This place was on 220 acres and had beautiful gardens and a huge pond. Very peaceful and cool walking through, more than it was looking at the rock garden in the hot sun with all those others.

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Headed further down the road to the next place the information lady had recommended but we werent very impressed with it when we got there. Looked like another temple like the others and we were feeling we had seen enough. Across the road looked more interesting with 5 large buddhas in a row so we wandered through there before heading back the way we came to catch another bus.

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Bus was rather crowded and I gave my seat up to an older lady. She was quite chuffed and when we got of the bus she was waving goodbye to me with a big smile on her face.
On the morning trip out we had passed this huge place, Nijo Castle, so that was the next destination. Built in 1603 contains 2 palaces and garden. The Ninomaru Palace had nightingale floors built around the circumference of the rooms. Anyone trying to sneak into the castle would be heard. They were amazing to walk on and sounded just like birds chirping. Didnt matter how hard I tried to tiptoe, they still chirped. When a whole crowd walked through it was like a flock of birds. Major restoration is underway and has been going on for many years. The place is huge. Gold backed painting on all the walls are slowly being recoloured and light is restricted to keep them from fading. No photos allowed inside.

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Outside you walked a bridge over a huge moat to Honmaru Palace. This was not open to the public but plenty to walk around and enjoy in the gardens.

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Home after another busy day. Enjoyed a rather late lunch thanks to the food store in Kyoto Station, beer and salads and french stick.

Extra photo of sorts of food samples each shop has in its window. Very good to give you an idea if its what you want to eat.

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Posted by tojoken 04:09 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

3 Nights in Kyoto

sunny

Monday 8th October

Wi-fi access in Japan still a problem. This is being typed on a computer in the business room, theres two computers, so no ability to add photos. Dont even get wi-fi on the Shinkansen.

Anyway we will muddle on until an alternative comes along. Left Hiroshima this morning. Found out yesterday that the hotel has a free bus shuttle service, so we took that back to the station. It was packed with people standing in the aisle, then next thing they were producing seats out of the arm rests to sit in the aisle. So clever.

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JR Pass doesnt allow travel on the Nozomi train - need to pay extra to use that one, which was direct to Kyoto - instead we needed to change trains at Osaka before continuing to Kyoto. Still about the same travel time, just the mad dash from track 4 to track 14 in 8 minutes. No elevators either so poor Chris was carrying luggage down and up several flights of stairs. Hes still to get that massage he was wanting.

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Kyoto a very busy station too. Went and booked our tickets for 3 days time for our next train ride as this time we werent seated together but across from each other. All the information on the internet said tickets would be easy to get but we have also had a train fully booked so we needed to catch the next one. Not a big problem as the later time suited us better but there may be a time when it doesnt. All the train trips have been pretty full so maybe the information I was reading was a few years out of date.

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Hotel was very busy to at check-in. Nice room for the next few days too. Right across from train station so very handy. Tried organising the Alpine Train trip but the times for trains from Kyoto just did not fit in with the departure times for the trip. Needed 8 hours to do the trip and we were going to be cutting it fine and the last thing we needed was to be stuck hours away with no way of getting back to Kyoto because the last train left at 8pm.

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So Kyoto will get us all to herself. Information at station very helpful and gave us everything we needed to find and catch bus to the Golden Pavillion tomorrow.

Did our usual walk around hotel area. Found Kyoto Tower so went up for a 360 degree view of the nightscape of the city. Built in 1964, in the image of a lighthouse, it consists of steel plates joined together into a cylinder. It is 131metres tall but we were 100metres high on the observation deck.

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Found our new favourite store, Yodobashi. Huge big department store with multiple choices of anything you can imagine. Earplugs in the hundreds in every colour and design - you could have flowers or ladybugs in your ears, big jewels or mickey mouse. Shelf upon shelf of mobile phone covers, must have walked up and down at least 10 or more. Makeup, sporting gear, stereos, washing machines the list goes on. I could find a half a dozen neck straps for my camera in Brisbane. There was 100 or more in every pattern, fabric and colour. I could have a lovely lacey number. Just remember to bring your sunnies as the lights are sooo very bright in the store.

Posted by tojoken 04:05 Comments (0)

Hiroshima in a Day

sunny

Sunday 7th October

Early start, how unusual is that. Caught the bus outside hotel back into city and the Peace Park. Glorious day for sightseeing.
Walked through Hondori Street arcade, but everything closed still, on to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
This clock at the museum counts the number of days since atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, top, and number of atomic tests since then, bottom number.

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Similar in theme to the one in Nagasaki, much larger but still interesting. The story of Sadako, the 12 year old girl Who was two at the time of the bombing and seemed to survive and grow well over the next ten years, was diagnosed with an agreesive form of leukemeia. She tried to fold 1000 paper cranes, which according to an ancient Japanese story, would grant her a wish (to be cured). She fell short of her goal, only completing 644 before her death. her friend completed the thousand and they were buried with her. The paper crane is now symbolic with everything to do with the atomic bomb and are to be found at every memorial at the Peace Park.

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The A-Bomb dome is everything you imagined it would be from photos you see. Quite symbolic in the middle of rejuvenated Hiroshima.

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Went for a look at Hiroshima Castle. Bit of a walk from the park and on the whole wouldn't really bother. Not allowed to take photos inside so we didn't bother paying to go in. Crashed someone wedding or christening, not sure. Took a wrong turn to the castle and ended up at a shrine. Loads of people so started wandering around before we realised our mistake.

Lunch at a Chinese restaurant of all things. Yet to find and try Japanese food. Back to the Peace Park to catch ferry to Miyajima Island but the cruise for that time was full so instead of waiting another hour, caught the tram to Miyajima-machi Station. Ferry from here is free for JR pass holders and only takes ten minutes (not fifty as from Peace Park). However, there were 34 tram stops so it took over an hour to get there.

Miyajima Island was everything the girls had told us it would be. Very beautiful and crowded. Had a coffee in a quiet little store while the boat load of passengers moved on. The O-Torii gate is visible from most places on the island at 16.6 metres high. The pillars are 9.9 metres in circumference and the gate stands under it own weight. Everyone is taking photos of it, it is the most recognised symbol of the island.

Island has wild deer. They are not afraid of anything and quite happy to come up and check out what you've got. Trying to eat potato chips had then over in a flash.

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The Itsukushima Shrine built in the latter of the 6 th century, stands in the water. The vermillion colour it and many of the islands shrine and pagodas are painted, is considered to keep the evil spirits away. Amazing glow in the setting sun.

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Stayed till sunset to take photos of the O-Torii gate along with hundreds of others. Chris tried a Momiji Manju, island speciality, a waffle shaped like a maple leaf and filled with red bean or custard or in Chris's case, chocolate. Sweet and soft.

The long tram trip back to the A-Bomb dome was very tiring and seeing the dome all lit up at night quite eerie.

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Another 40 minute bus ride to the hotel followed. Most of the accommodation on this trip is close to the train station. Thought I'd do something different this time and while the hotel is very nice, the travelling to and from the city was a bit long. Had chose in initially as it had its own ferry jetty to Miyajima Island, but it stops running at 5pm which isn't a lot of use if wanting to set the sunset behind O-Torii gate.

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Posted by tojoken 16:43 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Hiroshima

Saturday 6th October

Two weeks left of the holiday.

Today we travel on our first Shinkansen (super express) train. We know them as bullet trains. First we travel back via the Kamome Ltd Express to Hakata, then with about 10 minutes get from track 4 to track 15 to catch the Sakura, the Shinkansen, to Hiroshima. Sounds like a lot of time but when you not sure where you are going and having to wait to ask someone at the ticket office, it all eats away valuable time. But in the end we had plenty of time.

Boy, the Shinkansen, is fast, you know you are moving fast.

Hiroshima Station is huge and old. Felt like we were walking down long corridors. Needed the South exit and found the signs for it straight away but the turns and corridors kept going and going. Once out we could see bus station A which would eventually take us to the stop right outside the Grand Prince Hotel. I know names like that make you wonder but it was very grand. Has a huge water feature in the middle of the lobby which has a bridge out to a Dias for performing weddings.

Hotel is a 40 minute ride from the station, which goes right through the city and out to the port. Hotel is right at the end away from everything including all the sightseeing so it will be a bit more travel involved tomorrow. Today is too late to start anything.

Had dinner and drinks on the Skyview level watching the sun go down.

Typing blog now has to be done in the lobby of hotels. Japan does not appear to be very up-to-date with wi-fi. Whereas most hotels in Korea had it in your room, here it is only hard wired for computers.

Posted by tojoken 03:50 Comments (1)

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