Sunday, December 27, 2015

wanderlust: kyoto (part 2)

Day Four (4) was the last day of my trip and I have planned to explore the city wearing a lovely kimono. Before renting one, I did a bit research on where to rental kimonos, the cost, etc. There are blogs on this and finally I picked Okamoto. It was a great fun wearing a kimono.Be warned that a tourist or two would assume you are local (especially you are Asian) and would like to a photo with you!

I arrived early at the store and took the opportunity to explore its nearby area; the Maruyama-koen Park.

maruyama park 1

maruyama park 2

After my appointment, I went to Kodaji temple and its garden for cherry blossoms viewing. I do not think I can get enough of cherry blossoms as they are so lovely.

kodaji temple

kodaji temple garden

me 2

Next stop was to look for lunch and I randomly picked a restaurant, bearing in mind I wanted to try some tofu (beancurd) meal. On my way, I came across Yasaka Pagoda. 

yasaka pagoda

lunch 6 apr

After lunch, I headed to one of the must-see temples; Kiyomizu-dera Temple. It was beautiful and it offered a great view over the city. Not forgetting, packed with many tourist as well.

kiyomizu dera temple entrance

kiyomizu dera temple

Next stop was to wander around the nearby area as I needed to return the kimono no later than 6 pm. I walked pass Maruyama-koen Park and tried to look for Chion-in Temple.Somehow, I got lost and reached the temple after its closing time. Though I did not manage to enter and explore the temple, it was enough to snap a photo of the entrance of the temple. After days of relatively intensive of sight-seeing or walking, I took a bit slower pace this time.

chion in temple entrance

If you love ice creams, I would recommend to try soft ice cream with sakura flavour. It was yummy!

soft ice cream sakura

Whilst exploring the area, you might come across a 'fortune telling board'. I have not tried it but I heard one needs to put money into the black box in the middle of the board and pick a piece of paper under her or his date of birth. The prediction is written on this piece of paper.

fortune telling

After returning the kimono, I strolled around Maruyama-keon Park again for my last cherry blossom viewing as it was the last day of my trip. The whole trip was great fun and an opportunity of lifetime to see beautiful cherry blossom. I think I will visit Japan as I would really love to see the autumn foliage.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and till my next post, stay chic!

Friday, December 25, 2015

wanderlust: kyoto (part 1)

This is a very delayed post on my trip to Kyoto (apologies) and I am trying to pick up from the last post on Kyoto trip. A lot has happened in the past few months (mostly work related) and finally I managed to allocate some time to blog again.

On Day Three (3), the first area to visit on my list was Arashiyama.Getting here needs a bit of work; it was not easy to reach by Raku Bus (Kyoto City Bus). From where I stayed, I needed to change train lines but it was manageable with very little or almost zero knowledge in Japanese language.


ticket machine

My 'fear' was to work out the train system; how to buy tickets and what is the cost. At first, I was quite shocked to see the ticket dispense machine. However, there was a helpful staff who assisted me. He was friendly and helpful, despite he did not speak English at all. Phew...


map of stations n travel time

So systematic and organized! Destinations with travel time.


At the platform with trains details


Upon exiting the station, do take provided maps on Arashiyama area. I followed some signs and just followed the crowd (assuming they were heading the same way or place!).

sign direction

After walking for about 20 to 30 minutes, I reached the entrance of Tenryuji Temple Garden and next to it was the entrance to the Bamboo Grove.

tenruji temple 

bamboo grove

I spent a relatively short time, about half an hour in the Bamboo Grove; I did not walk the whole path. Why? It was because there were quite a number of places I wanted to cover and time was definitely not on my side.After Bamboo Grove, I visited Tenryuji Temple Garden. Despite the bad weather, it rained lightly, the place is definitely worth to visit. I could imagine how beautiful the garden could be when the Sun is shining.

tenruji temple garden 2

tenruji temple garden 3

tenruji temple garden 4

Next on my list was KinKakuji Temple. The KinKaku-ji is also known as the Golden Pavilion. Everyone who has been to Kyoto would say this is a must-see temple and indeed it is. The majestic golden pavilion is truly breath-taking however, the place is very crowded and taking a good photo with the temple as background takes a lot patience.

Getting to KinKakuji Temple, I took another train; Randen.And would highly recommend to take this train to Kitano Hakubaicho station (the nearest train station to Kinkakuji Temple). Between Naturaki and Utano, there is a Cherry Blossom Tunnel. Too bad, I was not quick enough to snap a photo or two of the tunnel.

randen rail map

ticket randen

randen rail

randen train


From Kitano Hakubaicho station, I took a bus (101/102) and headed to Kinkakujimichi station. Thereafter, i followed signs and also the crowd.


kinkaju-ji temple

What do you think of the temple? Amazing, no?

After spending less than 45 minutes in the temple, I headed to the next destination; The Path of Philosophy by bus.

path of philosophy

path of philosophy 2

From here, I headed to Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion. There is an oddity, the Silver Pavilion does not have a trace of silver on it. Unlike the Golden Pavilion.

map 2

ginkakuji temple

ginkakuji garden

After a half day of sight-seeing, I have decided to stop for a green tea break. I have wondered the reason the tea was served with sweets.After taking the first sip, I knew the reason. The taste of green tea was so strong that I needed to take a bite of the sweet. This is worth to try if you like green tea or just to experience it.

green tea break

After a short break, I continued my journey and headed  toNanzen ji Temple. It is believe this temple is one of the best temples in Northen Higashiyama district. It is a sprawling Zen paradise surrounded by lush green hills.

nanzen ji temple

nanzen ji temple garden 2

nanzen ji temple garden

nanzen ji temple garden 3

The next stop for the day was the Heinan Jingu Shrine. Entrance to the grounds of the shrine is free but to enter the beautiful garden there is a charge of 600 JPY.

map 3

heinan jingu shrine

heinan jingu shrine 2

heinan jingu shrine garden 2

heinan jingu shrine garden

During Cherry Blossoms season, do look out for any night light up events. Some temples extend their opening hours and visitors could see night light ups of cherry blossoms which offer a different kind of experience.

As for me, I went to Nijo Castle's night light up Besides that the cherry blossom tree were lit up, there were few sound and light shows within the castle area. It was interesting and great experience.

nijo castle tower

cherry blossom light up 2

cherry blossom light up

Day three was pretty full on, don't you think? I visited eight places of interest within a day! I was kind of on 'go and shoot' mode at each place. There are so many places to check out in Kyoto and I wanted to cover as much as possible as it was not easy 'catch' cherry blossoms season. It was indeed tiring but I think it was worth.... 

Stayed tune for my next post on Day Four. To all who are celebrating Christmas, have a great and blessed Christmas!