Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

the famous hanging veranda of Kiyomizu-dera, sometimes I do think how much weight it can hold esp with all the "chibi maruko" lil feet on it. I must say Japanese kids are so well behaved, never once I see them screaming, bullying, running, stomping their feet or fighting.

oh now I just described myself....who screamed in glee at beautiful sights, bullied JS to buy me ice creams, ran around courtyard and gardens, climbed every monuments I could, and fought with JS for the last bite of Dorayaki .
I am so shameless....tsk tsk tsk....Malaysians.....

the shameless notti Monkey. She was quite a notorious menace in Japan -_-
tsk tsk tsk beyond control~~~~

Kiyomizu-dera is best accessed by foot...the slow uphill walk was a sight to behold. As u walked, throngs of buses made their climb too. It is by foot that u get to do tonnes of pitstops at those lil shops selling knick knacks from food, snacks to souvenirs.

Once u have arrived, the first Niomon Gate greets you in such happy sight. Most of the attractions in Japan is surprisingly free. Kiyomizu requires a small entrance fees of 300 yen.

most stairs....huffed and puffed...
Right after this flight of stairs, there is a much forgotten hall....yea so forgotten till JS forgot to snap pics of it. Hahahahaha

It's Zuigudo Hall dedicated to Buddha's mother. After removing our shoes, we took a narrow flight of stairs down the basement of this building...It was pitched black with nothing to see....the really old attendants who worked there told us in japanese, to hold our belongings with our right hand...with only the left hand freed, we were supposed to hold a wooden rope that guides us through the walk in pitched black.

It was really pitched black, our feet were cold touching the semi stone semi wooden flooring....right hands carrying cameras and bags....left hand glided across a long dangling wooden rope...As I felt it, the wooden rope is the shape of rosary. Huge beads...I wouldn't even call it beads...huge wooden balls follow one another on the rope.

Inside the basement hall is said to be the womb of Buddha, the walk was short, less than 5 minutes but u won't know where it leads u to. U won't know when to turn or will there be steps...so I was gliding my feet as well WAHAHAHAHAHA. Soon I realised the purpose of this walk....it is not to SEE with your EYES *u can't see anything anyway*...u are supposed to calm urself..close ur eyes...use ur left hands and touch the rosary, say your prayers and move through.

I am glad I found "enlightenment" in those few seconds and realised this quick...which was to close my eyes and walk through. It was so much easier rather than walking in frantic and squeezing ur eyes trying to see where's the end of this tunnel.

Somewhere towards the end, u'll see a stone with a single spotlight on it. Visitors can make wishes in front of this single lighted stone before proceeding to the pathway towards the daylight. The sudden glare of daylight hit us as we re-emerged out on the other end, gleaming at each other for the short surreal experience.

and we continued on our visit after putting on the shoes. U'll need a good walking pair of shoes in Kyoto...not just any good walking shoes but one that's easy to be removed all the time...or should I say perpetually. Hahahaha.

my loyal pair of Tod's is the best travel shoes-mate ever :)))

and we arrived on the famous hanging veranda of Kiyomizu-dera
there were so many japanese and local tourists plus all the super well-behaved and CLEAN "chibi marukos"

where on earth do u find CLEAN children? Only in Japan and maybe outer space.

Chibi Marukos of all ages praying and trying to get a whiff of incense for good health.

As we were busy wandering and snapping pics...there was another group of really really young chibi marukos...think they were about 7-8 max....they politely removed their shoes and head to the main hall. Folded their legs and sat down on the wooden floor. Hats all removed.

Soon the "leader" of all the young cute and clean chibi marukos lifted the wooden stick and hit the gong. He lead his classmates and soon they started praying.

Such well behaved children..... Soon I joined them at the back, watching their actions intently. Yes notti monkey, u better behave urself. Young children can be so well-mannered and you....tsk tsk tsk...I guess they were trained since young....hehehehehe and as for me, I m too old to be re-trained on etiquettes BAHAHAHAHA...yeah even I luff like a Hyena. Maybe we can start with laughing gracefully and mouth covered with my hands.

From the veranda, among the lush greenery there is another Pagoda on the South of Kiyomizu. The Koyazu Pagoda, if you want to wish and pray for children and safe birth...this is the place.

Join the path and walk to the other end of Kiyomizu, this side is nearer to the mountain and u'll have a spectacular view not only on Kiyomizu but Kyoto city. Even the Kyoto Tower is so prominent from here and its mountain range.
*pic stolen fr the web*

if you visit Kyoto in late Autumn, this is the beautiful spectacular scenery u'll have....oh my~~~~~There are some renovation works around here, in fact most of the heritage buildings in Kyoto are being restored. So do visit their website for notices and update. These kind of restoration works are important and take years. Some till 2019. Just right before the Olympics 2020.

we then made our way down to view the veranda from the bottom with its wooden base structure. Founded in 778 and built without a single nail makes you wonder...a lot....

Japanese has a saying "to jump off the stage of Kiyomizu"
it literally means to take the plunge....in fact during the Edo period 234 jumps were recorded of coz not all survived. Come on!!! it's a 13 metre jump how could one survive unhurt. So right now, the jump has been prohibited unless one would like to commit suicide.
the other important sights is this waterfall. Drink from it for longevity.
The name Kiyomizu derived from Clear/pure water, precisely from this waterfall.

If drinking from the waterfall and jumping off the veranda isn't ur thing, there is a Jishu shrine dedicated to the God of Love

One for the album :))))))
Isn't Kiyomizu beautiful? :))))))

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kinkaku-ji the Golden Pavilion of Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji, famously known as the Golden Pavilion. Founded in 1397 it was a villa purchased by Shogun Yoshimitsu. His grandson built the other famous Silver Pavilion Ginkaku-ji on the other side of Kyoto.
*read about it here*

Early in the morning, we took a hotel limo there. The staffs pronounced our destination clearly to avoid confusion between the Silver and Golden Pavilion.
There was a time, I was so confused between which one is what. Well you don't wanna arrive at the incorrect destination because both are located opposite of each other.

When we arrived, it was still very very early and the crowds was thin. Kinkaku-ji is one of the die die must visit attraction in Kyoto so u can imagine the throngs of ppl and this will hinder any excellent photo opportunities.

Ladies clad in beautiful kimonos walked briskly on the gravel road, in their lil white slipper. I don't know how do they learn to walk this fast in such dress code. When I finally wore kimono, I realised it wasn't as easy as it seems. This will be in a separate posting :)))

Alwiz ready with her notes and books.....prepared myself to be questioned by Mr. JS.....Yea I must do my homeworks before visiting every attractions. This made traveling even more fun.

The sky was overcast on that day, otherwise it would be so stunning. The reflection of Kinkaku-ji on the water. We've seen pics of the Golden Pavilion on the books, brochures and www but seeing it live was something of a whole different dimension.

While there's not many tourists and local visitors around....time to snap snap snap. The view was all ours to conquered. JS was really eppy there isn't anyone else fighting for the perfect spot with him.

We walked around this zen garden to capture different perspective of the Golden Pavilion. The garden was so well manicured and designed to complement the beauty of the Golden Pavilion.

Finally JS decided this is still the best spot!!!!! Him doing the Shogun pose again :P

It was difficult to use his Leica M series....bcoz it was a manual focus camera. For an idiot like me, it took quite a fair bit of practice, common sense and passion. But u know Monkey...I'm too lazy to practice, too hyper to pay attention and have common sense and compared to JS, my passion in photography is somewhat shallow.

The top 2 floors of the pavilion is all wrapped in Gold Leaf. Yes as in pure real gold. The landscape and garden was designed with "borrowed" scenery to further enhance the beauty of its original architecture.

its lake consist of 10 different smaller islands, each with their own manicured trees or plant. I noticed that the pine trees here are of a different species. Its pine needle were shorter and finer.

Then we proceeded to the Tea Garden for some tea and sweets. I insisted that we take the bench with a red umbrella.....JS rolled his eyes 5 times. Women!!!

yummy frothy fragrant green tea...it was so so good :))))))))
for 500 yen you get a bowl of freshly made tea and a piece of sweets.

While waiting for JS to kepoh around photographing and documenting the surrounding....I made notes. Well I realised for long trips like this, you really need to make notes, else you can't really remember wat's wat....

a few steps from the tea garden was this Fudo Hall that housed the statue of Buddha protector. Since it was so happening, we joined in the fun with the rest of the Japanese.

All the "Chibi Maruko" students were trying to get some whiff of the incense. It is believed that the smoke from the incense will protect your from illness.

Lil Notti Monkey was more interested in creatin havoc :P
Ker-tong ker-tong ker-tong
I know....u r not supposed to simple "wake" the deities...but I did anyway to the horror of local visitors.

pull the rope and ring the bell....clap twice to awake the god and make ur wishes. Kinkaku-ji is really a must visit whenever u are in Kyoto. Its beauty hold itself in every season, when it's hidden among the autumn foliage, or all decked in snow...or during the beautiful cherry blossom hanami season...and even during its green lush of summer.

Come here early in the morning or late afternoon just to avoid the crowd. There are numerous ways to get here, be it by a 40 mins bus ride froom Kyoto Station, or 15 mins subway line followed by 10 mins taxi....or just be lazy bums like us...catch a cab :P which is also the most expensive way to travel. The truth was, we weren't lazy, we just wanted to avoid the crowd and be there as early as 9am.

Opens daily from 9am till 5pm.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Destination: Bamboo Forest and Tenryu-ji Temple
District: Arashiyama

On the North West of Kyoto there's a quiet lil district hidden like a gem, away from the hustling busting of central Kyoto. Most of the sights in Kyoto are pretty spread out so if you ever plan to visit, do make more time. In fact there's more sights than Tokyo and definitely way way beautiful.

Tokyo = Concrete Jungle
Kyoto = Cultural UNESCO natural beauty :))))

we took this scenic privately operated electric train to Arashiyama. Because it's operated differently from the rest of the train lines, the ticketing system is different too.

I lurve hopping into a train in Japan. It's such a scenic ride everywhere - especially this one. If you come here during the cherry blossom period, almost the entire track were lined with cherry blossom trees. I could really imagine how beautiful it looks then :))))))

our cute electric train is here!!!!

Keifuku Electric Railroad has been operational since 1910 before changing hands to different companies. That makes it more than a hundred years old rail road!!!!

yes be civilised and queue up. Everyone in Japan usually queue up already before the train/MRT/bus arrives. They queue at the shops, from buying ice creams to snacks....at the check-out counter in departmental stores, at the tourist information counter, at the ticketing counter and public toilets.

That's me in colorful apparels and bag so that JS won't lose me. Yea that's the whole idea. I must looked like a HUGE NEON billboard shouting "I am here" with an arrow pointing my head. During travels, sometimes u may be so engrossed with sights, u lose each other. Hahahaha I'm just kidding bout the billboard thing, I lurve to be decked in colors. It makes me eppy :))))

During Autumn and Winter, everyone is usually decked in dark boring colors....We were discussing that the fashion buyers in Japan must have been quiet an easy job coz there's not many colors to choose for your market. It's basically brown, black, grey and white. Everyone just looked the same most of the time.

there are a few stops and locals used it as a means daily transports while tourists like us used it to reach out to Arashiyama. The journey took less than 15 minutes.

We have arrived at Arashiyama!!!!

"Bamboos" of kimono lined the station. It's so pretty.

JS: "Try not to have that bamboo straight face and smile a bit for the camera please...."
Monkey grinned....ok ok ok

"JS.....why didn't we come here with pulled rickshaw? the peddler is soooo cute!!!!"

Rickshaw has been thought to have been invented in Japan. It's still everywhere around Japan with cute looking peddlers all the time...yes could be their "marketing" gimmick to get u onboard. WAHAHAHA. doesn't matter it's true or not, it sure works for me :P

dark, tall, strong with Colgate smiles. All of them. Guess there's a selection process to be a rickshaw peddler?

First stop the United Nations World Heritage Site - Tenryu-ji Temple

Founded in 1345, it's a Zen Buddhist Temple. There's so many types of temples here in Japan and un-Buddhist me tend to be confused...prollie I should be a Confucius huh?

In the system of 5 Mountain 10 Monasteries System, Tenryu-Ji is ranked number 1 in Kyoto so be sure to come here :)

The highlight for us was the beautiful garden, curated by Zen Master Muso Soseki...backed by the beautiful mountain, it serves as a backdrop for this beautiful garden

The foliage just turned yellow...when it's RED it should be very stunning.

*pic stolen from the web*

see wat I meant......view from the garden to Tenryu-ji. Somehow this year, the autumn foliage came late. I would love to visit again in 2 different season....autumn and spring :))))

They seemed to sense our arrival and gathered at this corner. Sorry I don't have any food for u...anyhow I am not allowed to feed u food.

errr....which Shogun is this?
A Shogun is similar to a military commander or an Admiral for a fleet. It has alwiz been his "dream"....oh well I think he's already one at his office.

I wiki-ed the word shogun and its origin came from as far as 794 during the Heian Period. The original word was Sei-i Taishogun....which translates to...okie dun luff...
which translates...to *behold*
Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians

okie dearie JS there's isn't any barbarians at home, so please don't execute ur power and commands at home...do continue to do so at your office. Only at ur office OK?

One pic for the missie Monkey. I lurve the garden so so much. The water in the pond was so still and clear, the reflection of the trees gave some zen-ness to it. The pebbled gardens was so well maintained *which they have to prepare everyday*

JS: "Wat are u doin?"
Monkey: "Talking to the fishes!!!!"
The fishes lurve me :P
I had to convince them I dun have any food...now go and eat ur planktons.

ladies and gentlemen this is a Cherry Blossom Tree...minus the flowers...hey it's autumn.

After monkey-ing around at the garden, we walked to the famous Bamboo Forest. We were transported to a different place and time. Time was forgotten, everything was so quiet here...it felt good to be lost inside here.

JS was really popular with Japanese gals. Seen here he was snapping pic for them.
including school kids whom I referred to as "Chibi Maruko" all the time. hahahahaha

the 4 Chibi Marukos then tail-gate JS, b4 hopping out in such cuteness to ask him questions. Giggling they asked where is he from :P then they continued to tail-gate him

I was suppressing my giggles as well bcoz it was so so farnie!! JS can start a mini fan club here bcoz most of the Japanese here are very intrigued with his background.

"Is your mother Japanese?"
"Are you half japanese?"
"you have very nice camera."
were the most common questions thrown at him. He might as well answer yes to all hahahahaha.

The moment spent here is simply magical. Even the camera couldn't capture its magical beauty. Tall straight REALLY GREEN bamboos.

the famous movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was shot here.

Only thing is I couldn't fly on top these beautiful bamboos like Zhang Ziyi and Chow Yun Fatt
:P tee hee hee

There are many other things you can do and visit at Arashiyama. Do visit the website below for more details. *click here*