Archive for ‘kyoto’

May 22, 2016

2015 Year-In-Review

Here is where I reflect on the past year and talk about highlights (or lowlights). I haven’t done this in a couple years and I say it’s high time I got back to it. Even if 2016 is nearly half over.

January

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May 26, 2012

Kyoto Spring 2012: Day 5, Uzuki Cooking Class

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Last Day.

When we woke up, it was raining. It rained and rained. I thought to myself, “Well, at least the weather held out while we got our most important sightseeing done.” And actually, it was a perfect day for rain. Any other day would have been disastrous, but it was actually okay on this day. It was our “do anything we didn’t get to do, etcetera” and Uzuki Cooking Class day.

So we lazed about our room at the guesthouse for a while (omg I watched the new Batman Rises trailer on my iPhone) and organized our things that morning.  It would save us time packing later.

Aunt Jan wrote her last few postcards and then we were ready to go. We asked where the nearest deposit box was and found one at the nearest Lawson. It was kind of funny because even the mail carrier did not know if he was supposed to pick up international mail from that location. He had to call someone and make sure it was okay.

From there we were off to the bank. We stopped at the huge Mitsubishi-UFJ on the corner of Karasuma and Shijo. The experience was painless! They didn’t even make us fill out where she was staying in Japan, phone numbers, etc, etc. She just showed her passport, filled out how much she wanted, and that was it.

I wanted to stop by Takashimaya since we were in the area and I love Takashimaya (also reminds me of my Singapore days). On the way to Takashimaya, Aunt Jan noticed a counter that was selling tickets and stuff. I read that they were selling theatre tickets, bus tickets, sports game tickets… and bus passes. We were planning to buy the 500 yen one-day unlimited bus pass anyway, so this was quite fortuitous. Good eye! And the passes even ended up being 490 yen each. Yay, 10 yen discount. ^^;;

We didn’t spend too long in Takashimaya, but decided to have a quick lunch in the downstairs deli area. It was, of course, absolutely delicious. Aunt Jan said that it was one of her favorite meals in Kyoto!

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May 25, 2012

Kyoto Spring 2012: Day 4, Kyomizu, Kinkaku, Bicycles

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Tuesday, May 2, 2012

Aunt Jan and I left the guesthouse around 9:30am via… bicycle. Despite the fact that she had not ridden a bicycle with any regularity for 10 years (am I remembering that right?), I wanted to try it. I had always wanted to bicycle in Kyoto! I have my bike here in Hirosaki and even though it is a simple 1-speed bike, I feel free whenever I ride it. I was convinced that it would be faster to get places if we rented bikes, so Aunt Jan relented.

We started off slow and made our way to Kyomizu-dera (清水寺, Kyomizu Temple). We mistakenly walked our bikes all the way up the hill and then asked where the bicycle parking was once we got to the top. It turned out that there was no designated bicycle parking near the temple complex, but the guard told me where to stash our bikes (off to the side near some public bathrooms in the shade).

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As we were walking up to the temple, we noticed a procession of workers and monks carrying a huge THING wrapped in white sheet-like cloth. TV cameras, crew, reporters, the whole nine yards. Apparently it was a new buddha statue that was being installed in one of the halls. It was a bit of a mess, so it was probably a good thing that we did not enter at that time.

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Instead… I suggested we go down the road a bit and look at shops. I was actually feeling a little hungry from our bike ride and was craving some mochi samples. If you ever want to sample some famous Kyoto Yatsuhashi, Kyomizu Temple is the place to go. There is this one particular shop not far down from the temple that will give you a cup of tea and beckon you inside to try every single thing they sell. And I did. Multiple times. Ahem.

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May 19, 2012

Kyoto Spring 2012, Day 3, Fushimi-inari, Uji

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Monday, April 30, 2012

For this trip, both my aunt and I prepared for cooler weather because we had assumed that it would be spring. Well, it was spring in Aomori but definitely more like summer in Kyoto for those first couple days. It was a bit cooler on Day 3 in Kyoto, so I was able to wear one of the long-sleeve shirts I had brought.

We were both sore and tired from the first two days of walking all over tarnation, so we got to a later start in the morning. We walked from Yahata to Kyoto station and found the right train to go to Fushimi-inari Shrine.

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The first time I went to the Fushimi-inari Shrine, it was snowing. The white was a stark contrast against the thousands of red torii gates. It was a sight that just about took my breath away. I went again that summer and it was blazing hot. After walking around a while, my friend and I had taken solace inside a inari-zushi restaurant for inari-zushi and noodles.

This time, in spring, the temperature was nice. It was a little overcast, but that was a good thing since we were walking around. I even had to roll up my sleeves after climbing a bit. The shrine is at the base of a little mountain covered with torii gates, one after another.

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May 16, 2012

Kyoto Spring 2012, Day 2: Arashiyama, Obanzai

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Much to my surprise, I slept through the night on that futon at the Yahata Guesthouse. I think I woke up sometime around 6am. I never sleep in till 6am. I guess it was just a testament to how tired I was from the previous day’s travel. Aunt Jan was still sleeping, so I snuck downstairs as quietly as I could to get myself some breakfast.

We left Yahata around 8am and thought we might catch some of the action around Nishiki Market in the morning. Usually it would have been open and bustling around that time, but I remembered when we arrived that it was Sunday and a national holiday. Only a few shops were open and busy, so it was a bit of a letdown.

But we had bigger plans that day! We walked to the Nijo JR train station from Nishiki Market. Since my aunt had the magical JR rail pass, I wanted to make as much use of it as we could. So that meant using JR transportation as much as possible, which was not hard to do.

We took the train from Nijo station to Sagano-Arashiyama station. Arashiyama (嵐山) means “Storm Mountain” and is a district on the western outskirts of Tokyo. My roommate Asako took me there for the first time in 2008 and I fell in love with the area. My aunt had never been there before and I was anxious to go again, so it was a plan!

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May 12, 2012

Kyoto, Spring 2012: Days 0, 1

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The Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays within seven days. For many Japanese people, it is longest vacation period of the year. I have never traveled in Japan during Golden Week before, but I decided to take advantage of the national holidays and… my Aunt Jan came to visit! We had quite the adventure.

Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture: April 28-May 3
Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture: May 3-May 9

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