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  1. #1
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan for New Year with the Thai Girlfriend

    Flew into Kansai International Airport today and visited the Golden Pavilion, Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple (where the Jishu Shrine is located: Kyoto Jishu Shrine, the Cupid of Japan), the Sanjusangendo Temple (Sanjusangendo Temple), Daisen-In Temple (Daisen-In Temple) and took a walk through the Higashiyama district in the former imperial capital, Kyoto.

    The last two temples mentioned above wouldn’t allow us to take pictures.

    On the way to the first temple we stopped by a bamboo garden and next to it was a cemetery. I was told that some of these spots hold the cremated remains of entire families. The woman with us told us she knows of one man who had passed away and both his former wife and his 2nd/last wife were with him (when the last wife passed she requested to be placed with him and the ex).




    Golden Pavilion




    Kiyomizudera Temple








    Higashiyama District






    The Jishu Shrine/The Cupid of Japan is located at the Kiyomizudera Temple and it is said if you can walk from one stone; with your eyes closed, to the other stone safely your wish will be granted. Seems lots of Japanese girls come here to get their love fortune told for them.


    We had a nice lunch at Honke Owariya (Honke Owariya) which has been in business for 547 years.



    Tonight we went to see some traditional Japanese show.




    We’ll be sightseeing in Kyoto and Nara for a couple days before traveling to Tokyo for New Years. While in Tokyo we might try to visit a temple to watch the Joya No Kane ceremony (Joya no Kane) or visit Tokyo Tower for our New Years Eve celebration. We’ll also try to celebrate Hatsuhinode (Hatsuhinode) January 1st if we can find an area nice enough to view the first sunrise of the new year.

    We’ll visit a few places in Tokyo (January 2nd the Imperial Palace Garden: Visit the Palace for the New Year Greetings - The Imperial Household Agency) and travel to Kamakura for some sightseeing.

    The places that we will be visiting; this first trip to Japan, will be routine tourist sites and I will try to post a link related to the sites giving the reader some history about each place. However we will try to visit a couple places in Tokyo; recently recommended by Robuzo (a poster here at TD), during our scheduled leisure days that look to be off the regular tourist path and which look/sound much more interesting, than what we have already scheduled.

    I’ll also do a short review of the two places we stayed at while in Kyoto and Tokyo.

    The procedure for a Thai to get a Visa to Japan can be challenging. Visit this site: Japan Visa for Thai Citizens and follow these 7 procedures: Japan Visa Information

    You do not contact the Japanese Embassy itself (there’s a middleman).
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    OhOh's Avatar
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    I included a link to the Imperial Palace links but you have it covered already.

  3. #3
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    sensational views at that temple mat.e

  4. #4
    Molecular Mixup
    blue's Avatar
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    I like the bamboo sided path best

  5. #5
    Member Aguda's Avatar
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    Awesome photos, thanks for sharing. I have always wanted to visit Japan, particularly Kyoto. Hopefuly someday!

  6. #6
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    Great pics, mate!

    Hoping there are more along the way.

  7. #7
    Member bushwacker's Avatar
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    Great shots. Looks like a very interesting trip. Thanks

  8. #8
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    ^&^^&^^^&^^^^&^^^^^&^^^^^^Thanks everyone!

    Today we spent the day in Osaka (Osaka), the third largest city (by population) in Japan. It’s just southeast of Kyoto where we are staying.

    We started the day at Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Taisha), one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines.

    Couple of things we learned while at the shrine. A large of amount of visitors come to celebrate and try to gain good luck for the coming year at this shrine. In the picture below you’ll see a white tarp in front of the building that is used to hold the coins tossed (then you wish) into/at the building.


    In the picture below you’ll see wishes granted. Each bag hanging is a wish granted and contains three pebbles with three different Japanese symbols on them in each bag. Each pebble; gathered at the site directly behind the hanging bags, has its own symbol. You pick up these pebbles, make a wish and when the wish comes true you return the three pebbles in a bag and hang it. But you have to replace the pebbles with one you find and mark (each pebble with its own Japanese symbol like the ones you gathered).


    There are also ropes hanging around the shrine area. These ropes will hold fortunes (told/read) that the receiver does not wish to take home with them. What happens is,………….people will pay/donate money to receive (or pick) a thin stick. Each stick has a number on it. That number corresponds with a note (your fortune) that is given to you. You read it and if you like what is contained in the note (good fortune) you take it with you. If you don’t like what the note reads you hang it on the rope, not taking it with you.


    You’ll also see flags that are at the shrine. These flags are purchased and placed at the site for good luck/fortune by businesses. Large businesses, large flags. Small businesses, small flags.


    The picture below is a bridge that was restricted only to Gods to cross over to get to the Shrine, taken from the bridge people used to cross to the shrine. Nowadays everyone is able to cross the bridge.


    One more picture at the shrine. There isn’t enough time to go over the things we learned while at the shrine about other superstitions practiced there.


    After visiting the shrine we took a walk around the Kuromon Ichiba Market (Kuromon-ichiba market) where a lot of vendors were selling things related to the New Year’s celebration. It was busy!








    Wasabi


    Within walking distance to the market is Osaka’s Time Square (considered the city center) or the Douonbori area (Dotonbori Area). We ate lunch and took a walk to observe the massive amount of people coming and going.




    After lunch we took a boat ride along the Okawa River (Osaka suijo bus). The boat that we were in has the ability to raise and lower its ceiling to pass under low bridges.


    In the two pictures below you can see the before and after the ceiling is raised and lowered.




    Some pictures along the river.




    Where they mint Japanese coins.


    The day ended with a visit to the Umeda Sky Building (Umeda Sky Building) where you can see the entire city of Osaka from their rooftop.





    Last edited by S Landreth; 29-12-2012 at 07:57 PM.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat
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    When i was there some years ago during a similar boat ride my host was reluctant to point out all the "salary men " living in tents beneath the bridges. Are they still there?

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat reinvented's Avatar
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    outstanding SL
    really capture the feel of the place; the contrast of colour with the natural drab

  11. #11
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    Superlative pictures as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  12. #12
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    ^&^^ Thank you both.

    Nara (Nara) is a city just south of Kyoto and where we spent most of our day today visiting the Todai – Ji Temple (Todaiji Temple), Nigatsudo Hall (Omizutori) and Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine). On our way back to Kyoto we stopped by the Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Shrine) which is located on the southern outskirt of Kyoto.

    Todai – Ji Temple is the largest wooden structure in the world and houses a Great Buddha.






    If you can pass through this opening you’ll be able to reach enlightenment sooner (?).


    Nigatsudo Hall is where monks will light fires and run along the balcony of the hall, once a year. The embers from the fire/torches are said to bring you a safe year if they land on you.




    Wishes are written on these sticks which monks will collect and bless (?) later. This time of year schools are holding exams, so you’ll see more requests for wishes (for a passing/good grade).


    Kasuga Taisha is where you’ll find thousands of different types of lanterns donated to the temple to bring the giver good luck.






    These temples above are in an area close to Deer Park (Nara Park) where you’ll find deer running free. Some can be a little aggressive if you’re feeding them crackers (purchased at the park for the deer).






    Fushimi Inari Shrine is where you’ll see thousands of gates that were donated to the shrine to bring the giver good luck.







    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    When i was there some years ago during a similar boat ride my host was reluctant to point out all the "salary men " living in tents beneath the bridges. Are they still there?
    I didn’t see any. However I did ask about homeless people today. I was told Osaka has the largest participants receiving public assistants in Japan today. Public assistant is given to the elderly and low income families for the most part and the homeless are only a small percentage receiving help.

  13. #13
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    Some superb shots there. I would definitely love to visit Japan, but I think it will be a few years before I have the time.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  14. #14
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    ^Thank you

    Today we left Kyoto for Tokyo using the Shinkansen high-speed rail (Shinkansen, Bullet Train). It’s a nice way to travel.








    The hotel we stayed at while in Kyoto was the Hotel Kanra: Hotel Kanra

    It was a nice place and the food was excellent. If you’re ever in the area and are planning to eat here for dinner try to reserve early. It’s difficult to get a table on the weekends.


























    Couple of things, new to me.

    They have a restaurant; Yayoi-ken (Yayoi-ken), in Japan that serves some pretty good food. But what’s different about it is that you order you food using a touch screen that shows you different pictures (with descriptions), you insert money, it is subtracted from what you ordered and a receipt is printed out that you give to a waitress and your order will be with you in a short time.

    I was told these types of restaurants don’t have much trouble with crime (even though they are open 24 hours) because they don’t have cash readily available.






    Another thing. They have vending machine all over the place and in places you wouldn’t expect one to be, next to homes, next to warehouses, etc. I am told the owner of the property that the vending machine is on will receive payment/commission from the products sold. The owner supplies the electricity and the space. Strange to see so many all over the city.


  15. #15
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    Great stuff mate. Ive got a free trip to Japan, must get there soon.

    How much you paying for your gaff on average ?

  16. #16
    On a walkabout
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    Terrific thread to end the year on a forum high.

    All the best for you on this trip and for the coming year.

  17. #17
    Thailand Expat raycarey's Avatar
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    Excellent thread, S_Landreth!

    IMO your travel threads are the best on TD.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat
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    SL, bear in mind when you get to Kamakura that the great Buddha there used to be inside a structure equal in size to that housing the Buddha at Todai-ji in Nara. The one covering the Kamakura Buddha was wiped out by a tsunami in the late 15th century, a well-known fact that might have given the Japanese pause before building a nuke plant near the shoreline.
    “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” Dorothy Parker

  19. #19
    Newbie Traxster's Avatar
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    Great story and pics thankyou so much.

  20. #20
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    ^&^^&^^^&^^^^&^^^^^Thank you all

    We spent New Year’s Eve celebrating at the Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple (Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple) here in Tokyo to hear the ringing of the bell, Joya no kane (Traditional New Year in Japan).

    There was a ceremony, midnight celebration, then the monk/priest (?) marked a symbol on a piece of paper (everyone had to get a picture?) and afterwards I went up to ring the bell (I was one of the 108). The girlfriend stayed back and I gave her ticket to the little girl in the picture below. I do want to apologize, I don’t know what the ceremony was about and what the symbol represents.











    This morning; January 1st, 2013, I was out to watch the first sunrise (Hatsuhinode) of the New Year overlooking Tokyo Bay.

    I thought I would have this area to myself (Wakasu seaside park aerial photo), …. Or maybe a few others just might show up, because the area isn’t the easiest place to get to. I was there way too early, huddling up next to some rip-rap boulders trying my best to use them to break the freezing wind, when a fisherman showed up setting up 5 different reels and then slowly the crowd started coming in. People/vehicles were even stopping on the bridge next to the golf course (police tried without success to move them) to witness the sunrise.








    Pity the clouds showed up. I put together a short time lapse video of the first Japanese sunrise of 2013.


    Quote Originally Posted by terry57 View Post
    How much you paying for your gaff on average ?
    Terry, I am not sure how much we are paying for the room/s. We went with an agency we use in Thailand and they set things up for us and didn’t give us a breakdown except for the flight. You’ll be able to check at each website I posted for our accommodations. It’ll give you different rooms and the prices for those rooms.

    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo View Post
    SL, bear in mind when you get to Kamakura that the great Buddha there used to be inside a structure equal in size to that housing the Buddha at Todai-ji in Nara. The one covering the Kamakura Buddha was wiped out by a tsunami in the late 15th century, a well-known fact that might have given the Japanese pause before building a nuke plant near the shoreline.
    Thank you again for more information, robuzo (the history lessons you have been giving me have been invaluable).

    Something extra,…….To let everyone know, the structure that houses the Buddha at Todai-ji used to be much larger than you see it today. It was rebuilt three different times and a model of each is sitting in the complex at Toda-ji. Today you see a structure that has 8 pillars/columns in front of the structure. There used to be 12 pillars/columns. They did not have enough money to rebuild it to its original size. One more thing, the Buddha inside was also rebuilt.

    There are a couple stories; I might share when I have time, why the Japanese imperial capital moved from Nara years and years ago. Not a good story about people passing away because of chemical poisoning and/or Monks trying to take over.

  21. #21
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    Such a great thread, words, photos and even an epic sunrise video.

    Many thanks.

  22. #22
    Thailand Expat
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    Great photo thread. Thanks. Brings back memories from many of my visits to same locations in Japan.

  23. #23
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    ^ Thank you & ^^ Thank you again

    This morning we had a chance to visit the Imperial Royal Family of Japan (2013 New Year Message From His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan), from a distance.

    You cannot tell from the pictures I have posted below but the police kept the hordes of people moving in an orderly fashion. There was no pushing or shoving the entire time we were in line or while waiting for the family to greet us. Just amazing how courteous the Japanese are, even after the girlfriend helped a woman with her husband by giving him chocolate, something sweet to drink and helping him up off the street (he blacked out next to the girlfriends feet), the sweet older woman wanted to reward the girlfriend for her help, which she declined.

    There were five scheduled greetings by the family today and with the end of one meeting crowd control would move the one group of people out the gate and let another crowd into the viewing area.

    Below are a few pictures of the first viewing today and the grounds going into the viewing area.

    This link provides a recent picture of the family: Imperial Family

    The Imperial Royal Family of Japan will greet well-wisher only twice a year (Visit of the General Public to the Palace for the New Year Greeting), on the emperor’s birthday and during a New Year’s greeting. Dates the Japanese Imperial Palace Garden is open to the public: Imperial Palace, Opening Hours, East Garden

    Something extra. This morning while talking to the hotel staff, they told us it was only recently (compared to the age of Tokyo) that property owners were allowed to build tall buildings around the Imperial property here in Tokyo. The family didn’t want anyone peering in on them.






















    After the greeting event we headed over to Tokyo’s Skytree (Tokyo’s Skytree) for lunch. We did not go in/up, just went to see it and get a couple pictures from the outside.

    The reason for building the Skytree from their website: The major role of TOKYO SKYTREE is transmission of digital terrestrial broadcasting. Digital terrestrial broadcasting has already been in use since December 2003 in the Kanto area, but due to the many tall buildings rising over 200m high in central Tokyo, it has become necessary to build a new tower higher than 600m for broadcasting transmission purposes.




    This evening we headed over to Tokyo Station (Tokyo Station City or Tokyo Station and Marunouchi) which was rebuilt after being destroyed during WW II. This morning we passed through the building to get to the bus stop and decided to come back for dinner and investigate the underground facilities.








    Wonder how they do this? Raise them for food or send them to the butcher and not out to pasture when they get old. We ate there and the food was great. A lot of restaurants walking through the Tokyo Station.


  24. #24
    Thailand Expat
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    ^If the station reminds anyone of Amsterdam, it's for a reason.

    As to the horsemeat, I expect they were raised for eating. Raw horsemeat is also referred to as "sakura" (cherry blossom).

  25. #25
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    ^Thank you. I was hoping it wasn’t someone’s pet at one time.

    Today we took the subway from Tokyo Station to Kamakura (Kamakura City) which is south of Tokyo along the coastline, to visit some temples.

    Tokyo’s subway system (http://www.wa-pedia.com/images/conte...oSubwayMap.gif) is a convenient way to travel here.




    The first temple we stopped at was Jomyoji (Jomyoji Temple in Kamakura) known for its dry landscape garden.






    Next stop was the Kotokuin temple (The Great Buddha) where a large Buddha sits.




    After Kotokuin we visited Hase-Dera Temple (Hase-Dera Temple), which was the nicest temple we visited today.












    We tried to visit the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (Tsurugaoka Hachimangu) but it was packed with visitors, so I just took a few pictures heading to the shrine. Seems Tokyo takes off till January 3rd each year before everyone gets back to work and this place is visited by many with the day off.






    There’s also a “Shopping Town” next to the shrine where we ate lunch.


    That’s it for the temples this trip.

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