The Magical Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

Tourists in Kyoto have always raved about the beauty of Kiyomizu Dera temple and they are 100% right when I get to see it in my own eyes. For most visitors in Kyoto, I find this is one of the must-see especially in spring and autumn. 20160401_123253-01[1]The walk from the bus stop to the temple complex is a great experience, with shops, small restaurants, crowds, people in kimono, etc. – definitely worth a good look around. The temple and associated buildings are beautifully and lovingly cared. The large wood balcony is definitely a sight to be admired and the view is splendid. Looking at it from below, when you go around the circuit is also really worthwhile as you see how the balcony is set up, truly an intricate work.20160401_113010-01[1]20160401_131110-01[1]20160401_113310-01[1]20160401_113304-01[1]20160401_113441-01[1]20160401_113526-01[1]20160401_113747-01[1]

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Although there were lots of people, the crowd added to the charm of our Kiyomizudera experience since a lot of Japanese locals were in their colorful kimonos.20160401_115321-01[1]20160401_115641-01[1]20160401_115446-01[1]20160401_115413-01[1]

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And oh, what a strange thing to be under those lovely cherry blossoms! 20160401_115041-01[1]20160401_115215-01-01[1]20160401_115222-01[1]

FACT CHECK:
During the Edo period, a tradition where people would jump from the 13 meter tall veranda to the ground. It was said that if one were to survive such a plunge, one’s wish would be granted. Of the 234 recorded jumps in history, approximately 85% survived the fall. The practice is now prohibited, I couldn’t imagine how many could have died if they still do it until now. I just can’t. haha!20160401_122811-01[1]20160401_122736-01[1]20160401_121222-01[1]20160401_120948-01[1]20160401_120853-01[1]20160401_120831-01[1]Once you’re finished exploring the balcony area, follow the path out from the balcony and you’ll see a flight of stairs that will lead you up to the Jishu Shrine. This small but pretty cute shrine is dedicated to the deity Okuninushi, the god of love and matchmaking.
Praying there is said to help one succeed in finding an appropriate love match. And of course! I did mine. lol.20160401_121340-01[1]20160401_121706-01[1]20160401_121639-01[1]20160401_121606-01[1]Walk the trail across and then down to the triplet Otowa waterfall. People come to the temple to drink water from the falls by collecting it in tin cups; the water is said to have therapeutic properties, and drinking from the three different streams is said to confer health, longevity, and success in studies.20160401_123253-01[1]20160401_123145-01[1]20160401_123040-01[1]20160401_125115-01[1]The walk was apparently a great way to be able to view and take photos of the temple’s wooden stage. The main hall is built out on a veranda onto pillars, a structure constructed without nails. Amazing Isn’t it?20160401_125136-01[1]

Heard some noise from my tummy. Oops! didn’t realized it’s about time for lunch, well I say late lunch! lol.

20160401_124032-01[1]20160401_124258-01[1] A perfect combo for the freezing cold weather!

After feeding those hungry pangs! Hmm. Recharged! Who’s not? lol. The awesome Kiyomizu dera experience doesn’t actually stop the moment you finish your meal in their ramen shop coz even on your way out is a beautiful surrounding filled with lovely cherry blossoms, garden and a view of the temple from afar. The walk through it is absolutely amazing!

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First part of the day ends here. If you are like me who never gets tired when it comes to exploring places, then let’s head on to Fushimi Inari Taipa. Click to read the famous landmark of kyoto.

Get There and Around

Kiyomizudera can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206 (15 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a ten minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively, Kiyomizudera is about a 20 minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station along the Keihan Railway Line.

 

 

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Journey Through a Thousand Gates – Fushimi Inari

The moment we got off the train, I started craning my neck, looking for all the orange. Yes, to be honest! lol. Even if you have never heard of the Fushimi-Inari shrine, I’ll bet you’ve seen pictures of those reddish-orange torii gates, stood closely together forming like a tunnel. And a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was shot here, Who can remember? :p20160401_142154-01[1]20160401_142208(0)-01[1]The torii gateway snakes all the way up the mountains, creating several tunnels of redness amidst the heavy greenery. It was beautiful and as you can Imagine me on my first time visit, would be like, non stop snaps even if they all look the same. lol.20160401_143347-01[1]20160401_143349(0)-01[1]20160401_143348-01[1]The significance of the shrine located at Fushimi Inari is to honor Inari, the Shinto god of rice. You will see foxes sculpture throughout the grounds, as they are said to be the messengers for Inari. Each torii gate was donated by companies and individuals thankful for their blessings, the long tunnel of toriis is one of the most iconic and sacred landmarks of Kyoto. But, if you’re more interested in sightseeing than knowing the history, you can still enjoy the Fushimi Inari shrine. There’s so much to see and you could easily spend over four hours exploring the offerings of the religious site.20160401_142216-01[1]20160401_142354-01[1]20160401_152556-01[1]20160401_152558-01[1]I actually had no idea how much hiking would be involved just to get up the mountain. (My bad! I never made a search on this) So, we just followed the trail with boldness? haha! As it gets steeper, freezing cold as we get higher, sadly, I just can’t. Too bad to stop at the middle of the hike but I literally felt like grasping for air. Nasal flaring to its highest level. Sorry. I fail. haha! The torii tunnels are literally going up to the top of the mountain, and if you are tough enough to climb the whole thing, then it would be a very rewarding feeling when you reach the top. 20160401_143926-01[1]20160401_143612-01[1]20160401_150219-01[1]20160401_144559-01[1]20160401_144613-01[1]

Okay, back to the main entrance after the failure hike with these kawaii ladies. :p 20160401_152819-01[1]20160401_152810-01[1]

If you can make it at the top of the mountain you surely will witness a beautiful scenery but like me who fail the hike, haha! Just head back, food stalls are waiting for you! lol. (the main reason why I’m no longer fit) I must admit! :p
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GET THERE AND AROUND

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Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, 140 yen one way from Kyoto Station, not served by rapid trains). The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.

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Coat/Romper/Turtle neck top  Dotonbori Shopping Arcade

Vintage suede shoes F21 Osaka Japan

Loose-type Backpack Esprit

20160401_160453-01[1]Stylishwanderer.com

 

 

 

Kinkaku-ji: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji Temple, in all its majesty is something you must see with your own eyes to believe. A stunningly beautiful temple covered in gold leaf, even seeing it in person feels almost illusory. It’s as if viewing a famous painting for the first time. But it is so much more than just art, it is a piece of history that solely rests in the peaceful pond of Kyoto.20160402_142656-01[1]20160402_142641-01[1]

Admission is ¥400. 20160402_141746-01[1]

Walking towards the Golden Pavilion, you’ll see the hojo, (Ooops! this ain’t yet the temple) lol. :p This is actually the head priest’s former living quarters. 20160402_141542-01[1]20160402_141538-01[1]

Voilaaah! From afar you can see the glimmering glory of this temple reflecting its beauty in the surrounding pond. 20160402_142028-01[1]20160402_142251-01[1]20160402_143109-01[1]

The Golden Pavilion, as it’s commonly known, was originally built in 1397. It withstood wars and time only to be burnt down in 1950 by a monk suffering from mental illness. The current temple is rebuilt in 1955 based on the original structure and more extensive gold leaf coating was used in this version. In all its glistening glory, stands as a legacy of medieval Japan. It is a World Cultural Heritage Site and one of seventeen locations that comprise the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. 20160402_142448-01[1]20160402_142524-01[1]I wasn’t expecting it to be that gold! lol.
And as you walk past the temple is a small native hut with pretty old mementos. They also sell some souvenir! :p20160402_143215-01[1]

Just follow the pathway inside the temple grounds and it will lead you to their zen garden.

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There’s still a lot to see though, infact there is also a silver temple located nearby called “Ginkaku-ji”. Despite the name, the temple isn’t covered in silver but is believed to have earned its name from the moonlight reflecting on its dark exterior, which used to be covered in black lacquer. It isn’t not a waste if you can’t make it to the silver pavilion (my tip) :p

Pathway heading out flooded with tourists 🙂20160402_144253-01[1]

From Kyoto Station:

Slowest and easiest route:
Bus #101 or #205 from Kyoto station, about 40 minutes, ¥230.

Fastest route:
Karasuma line train to Kitaoji, 13 minutes, ¥260. Then take bus #101, 102, 204, or 205 to Kinkaku-ji, 10 minutes, ¥230.

As per my Itinerary, I spent half day in Arashiyama district  (Click to read post). Leave the Scenic Countryside of Kyoto around 1 or 2 to visit Kinkakuji temple. You probably will end around 4-5 depending on the crowd, traffic etc. and just nice to be back in kyoto station before sunset. If you are planning to take the shinkansen ride bound for tokyo then this I say is the most time efficient course if you still want to explore kyoto before leaving for tokyo on the the same day. ENJOY!

20160402_143134-01[1]Stylishwanderer.com

 

The Scenic Countryside of Kyoto

Located on the Western Outskirts of Kyoto lies the Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty of Arashiyama. It’s terrifically charming and feels a bit like traveling back in time a few hundred years. Undoubtedly, it has become one of the famous landmark which offers a unique window into Kyoto’s historic heart.

Start the day around 9 in the morning to explore the district of Arashiyama. For those who have JR PASS, take the JR Sagano line from Kyoto Station and alight at Saga Arashiyama Station. It is 10 mins. on foot before you reach the gate of Tenryuji temple. Entrance costs ¥500 (6sgd/203php) and it’s really worth the visit.20160402_090653-01[1]As we mosey around the temple grounds of Tenryuji, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and considered as Kyoto’s top 5 Zen Temples, I was in awe.20160402_091643-01[1]
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The glorious garden that surrounds it is a testament to the timeless nature of Japanese landscaping. 20160402_092054-01[1]20160402_092934-01[1]20160402_092419-01[1]20160402_092824-01[1]20160402_092345-01[1]20160402_092244-01[1]20160402_093323-01[1]20160402_093424-01[1]20160402_093148-01[1]After Tenryuji, head back to where you entered the temple grounds. From there is actually the starting point of the must see Arashiyama Bamboo Forest (Click to read post).20160402_090442-01[1]20160402_090412-01[1]20160402_090259-01[1]20160402_093556-01[1] I love the wind chime quality of the bamboo rattling and the light rustle of the leaves. It’s magical! And as you keep walking towards the end of the groves, is the way to the breathtaking view of Arashiyama Mountain.20160402_095821-01[1]20160402_100437-01-01[1]20160402_103035-01-01[1]20160402_103032-01-01[1]If there is one place in Kyoto where I could say I fell in love with at first sight, then It would be the scenic view of Arashiyama Mountain. Surrounded by wonderful scenery of nature and the togetsu-kyo bridge as its most iconic landmark. It’s definitely magnificent! Here, you will be listening to relaxing sounds of the river, spotting boat rowing, and running into visitors enjoying their rickshaw rides. I spent a few hours to savor the picturesque setting. So, you definitely must dedicate at least half a day at Arashiyama district. Now, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 🙂
20160402_113612-01[1]20160402_113253-01[1]20160402_113340-01[1] 20160402_104133-01[1]20160402_104507-01[1]20160402_114441-01[1]20160402_120610-01[1]20160402_114806-01[1]20160402_115221-01[1]And To cap off the morning part is my favorite activity, EATING. lol. It’s time for lunch! There are lots of small souvenir and food shops lining both sides of the street. So for a choice of place to eat is definitely not a problem. Just don’t be afraid to try any of them. Gladly, I’ve picked the best place to dine in. The Japanese resto which I forgot the name (sorry) :p situated right across the end of Togetsukyo bridge. Gazing at my favorite view, the quaint countryside of Arashiyama Mountains with many tourists walk blissfully in different direction while eating my authentic Japanese meal is beyond any doubt unrivalled. A great combo of food and setting. 20160402_104814-01[1]20160402_112854-01[1]20160402_111035-01[1]20160402_111044-01[1]

Itadakimasu!20160402_110656-01[1]20160402_111455-01[1]

I purposely had a simple meal cause I know that on the other side of togetsukyo bridge lies a lot of  Japanese food stalls by the river.

And who do not want to try as much food as you can? lol.

TADAAAH!
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The sunny freezing cold weather paired with yummy matcha vanilla ice cream! Ahhh.. Heaven!20160402_122008-01[1]

The first part of the day ends here. So, the next part is to visit the famous Golden Pavilion Temple before taking the Shinkansen ride bound for Tokyo. I’ll be making a separate post for the Ginkakuji Temple coz I find this post a bit lengthy now. lol.

 

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I hope you find this blog post helpful, especially for you guys planning to explore the Countryside of Kyoto, Arashiyama district. It actually is one of my fave!

-Stylishwanderer.com

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: A Walk Through Another World

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights. Without a doubt one of the most photographed attractions but no picture can capture the feeling of standing in the midst of the sprawling bamboo grove – the whole thing has a profound sense of oddness that is somewhat unlike any normal forest we know of.
20160402_095109-01[1]20160402_094648-01[1]20160402_094646-01-01[1]This should be a must in your itinerary. Its small breezy paths flanked by tall bamboo on either side create a bizarre atmosphere. Walking into the extensive bamboo grove is like entering another world – the thick green bamboo stalks seem to continue endlessly in every direction with an odd quality of the light.
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And there you are who can’t resist taking many snaps end up disappointed with the results: I tell you, photos just can’t capture how enchanted the place is.
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Why I Fell In Love With JAPAN

I was fascinated with Japan back when I was in College. The culture, people & food captivated me. As I recall, I even wanted to take up International Studies Major in Japanese Language and Literature, haha that’s how I’m enthralled over this country but then again I ended up with the famous course in town, Nursing. Yes, a distinct fact. lol.

Backtrack 2011, I was a full time Nurse and a part time online English Teacher for Japanese thru skype video call. Even if I get too tired working in the hospital, I still enjoyed every conversation I had with my Japanese students. As they were learning from me, I also learn from them. And there grew my love for this country even more.

So finally! My first time going to Japan! Like finally!
(You surely have an idea how excited I am) Yay!

Indeed, it was a life-long dream to experience and explore Japan and it lived up to all my expectations. Japan has fantastic food, beautiful temples and shrines, zen gardens, national parks, and a culture with long and rich history. Bonus part is, I went during Spring. Oh Yes Sakura! Those lovely sakura, so delicate and marvelously formed. Such a delight to be walking under a canopy of Cherry Blossoms. Japan is without a doubt a wonderful place and, while it may be an expensive country to visit, there are plenty of ways to make this country affordable.

There will be a series of post about my very first trip to Japan and the trip covers OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO and TOKYO. 🙂

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