日本での一年間

February 1, 2012

Nikko

Nikko is a city in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, famous for several well-known shrines and temples. 2 shrines and 1 temple are collectively a UNESCO world heritage site.

At Tobu Nikko Station. In early December, there was still a surprising amount of fall foliage to be seen.

The first stop on my World Heritage tour was Rinnoji temple.

Outside Rinnoji temple.

Rinnoji temple is currently being restored, so there is a plastic shell with a picture of what the temple will look like covering the real temple. You can still go inside during restoration.

More pictures after the jump (more…)

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January 22, 2012

Asakusa at Night

During my visit to Tokyo in late November/early December, I stayed in Asakusa. I had previously only been to Asakusa during the day, so it was interesting to see the area at night. The main tourist attraction in Asakusa is the Sensoji temple and the shopping street leading up to the temple, Nakamise street. During the day, the temple and shopping area are swamped with tourists.  But at night, the shops are shuttered and the people are gone. The temple is still lit-up and the area feels quite peaceful.

Sensoji temple at night. Not a soul to be found.

Nakamise Street with all the shops shuttered.

Multilingual sign for the women's toilet.

Kaminari gate at night

June 1, 2011

Cheung Chau (Part 3)

Yesterday and the day before, I posted pictures of Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong and today I have a few more pictures to share from Cheung Chau.

I visited Cheung Chau a couple weeks before their biggest event of the year, the bun festival. During the bun festival, a big wooden structure is built and covered with buns. Then people start to climb up the mountain and grab as many buns as they can. Sounds like fun!

Bao (steamed bun) Moutian, a wooden structure used in the Cheung Chau Bao Festival.

Temples, beaches, and boats still to come! (more…)

May 30, 2011

Cheung Chau Island (Part 1)

During my first full day in Hong Kong, my friend took me to one of the outlying islands of Hong Kong, Cheung Chau island (長州). Hong Kong is basically made up of 4 areas: Kowloon and the New Territories on the mainland, Hong Kong Island across the bay, and the Outlying Islands, the other 232 or so islands. Cheung Chau is one of the easier to get to islands and fairly small island, making it easy to go to for a day trip. It mostly functions as a little fishing port. Fishing is the main industry for the 30,000 people who live on (and around) the island. (But “around the island,” I mean that some people live in their boats.) It takes about an hour and 4 USD to get to Cheung Chau from Central port in downtown Hong Kong.

Cheung Chau Port. Unlike Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, this island has no high-rises, making it less overwhelming. But it is by no means laid back. We were swimming through massive crowds all day long.

So many people! Rumor has it that many Hong Kongers get the idea that it might be nice to getaway for a relaxing weekend trip to this island. But with so many people, visiting Cheung Chau is not at all relaxing.

Starfish for sale. I asked my friend if people eat starfish. She told me that they use it to flavor soups.

Click to see more more more pictures! (more…)

February 24, 2011

New Years Eve at Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion

Filed under: Domestic, Kansai, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 3:42 am

After visiting the Silver Pavilion on snowy New Year’s Eve, we headed across town to the Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji (金閣寺).

The Golden Pavilion lives up to its name and is actually golden, unlike the silver pavilion. But, the Golden Pavilion is not an original. The first time I visited the pavilion, I marveled at the spectacular temple covered in gold leaf. Then I read the book Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima, which is a fictional retelling of true events. In 1950, a monk burned down the  Golden Pavilion. The current temple is a reconstruction dating from 1955. It’s still a great place to visit, but I was rather disappointed to find out it wasn’t original. I felt like I’d been lied to.

Golden Pavilion

The Golden Pavilion seen from across the reflective pond. It wasn't very reflective with all the snow.

crowd

There so many people there that we could barely move. Here you can see everyone trying to get the same picture. Maybe we should just have one person take a picture and then share it with everyone.

February 23, 2011

New Years Eve at Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion

At New Years, it is tradition to go to a shrine to pray for the new year. Many people flood into shrines at midnight and for the next few days, major shrines are packed with people.

So, while staying in Osaka around New Years, my friends and I decided to go to Kyoto for a day. It’s only about half an hour train ride away from Osaka. very close. We figured if we went the day before the new year, we would beat the crowds. We were also planning to visit temples, not shrines. (Temples are Buddhist. Shrines are Shinto. )

But we failed in our attempt to beat the crowds. Everywhere we went was packed with people. Even though it wasn’t the traditional time or place to visit, it was still a time when most people had vacation from work and there were tons of people taking the opportunity to travel. Also, unlike Osaka, which had relatively warm weather, Kyoto was cold and snowy. We got caught in a snowstorm there. In this post, I have pictures from the first temple we visited, ginkakuji, the silver pavilion (銀閣寺). I visited this temple before a couple years ago in the springtime. You can see those pictures here.

crowds

Crowds on the walk to the silver pavilion

reflection

Reflection of the pavilion and crowds in a window.

garden

Usually you can walk through many paths that go through the beautiful garden, but most of the paths were closed because of the snow.

silver pavilion

The silver pavilion with a blanket of snow.Why is it called the silver pavilion? It is said that they originally had plans to cover the exterior in silver leaf. (Emulating the Golden Pavilion, which is covered in gold leaf. ) But although the never did, the name stuck.

bamboo

Bamboo covered in snow.

snow rabbit

My friend made a snow bunny! And then she found some berries for the creepy red eyes. Pretty well done, right? As soon as she put it down, tourists were stopping to take pictures of it.

February 17, 2011

At the Mountaintop

Filed under: Chuugoku, Domestic, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 5:37 am

In my last post, I walked up Mt. Misen on Miyajima island near Hiroshima. So, in this post, I have some pictures I took at the mountaintop.

statue

This disgruntled dude was guarding a temple at the top.

Misen hondo

This is Misen Hondo temple. It gets a lot of visitors considering that you need to climb a mountain to get to it.

sankido

This is Sankido temple. It's only few meters away from Misen hondo. It's just like convenience stores in Japan. In the big cities, you can find 7-elevens right across the street from Lawson station and kitty corner to Family Mart all the time. Somehow temples can also co-exist close by and not steal too many parishioners from each other.

reflection

The world below reflected in the window of sankido temple.

mountain view

Mountain vista.

crow

A crow, ready to take flight.

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