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190612105709 On our final sightseeing outing in Kyoto, we went back to the nearby tea-growing town of Uji. We were headed for Mimurotoji, a temple famous for its flower gardens. Mimurotoji is located at the Northern edge of town, nestled at the foot of the surrounding lush green hills. The location is lovely: the whole hillside was fragrant and filled with birdsong. And it was a great moment to visit, as now is the season of the ajisai, the hydrangea bloom. Mimurotoji main hall Continue Reading »

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190609115531 While Kyoto is surrounded by wooded hills and the need of getting away from it all is not as pressing as in the concrete-desert of the Kanto plain, it’s still nice to spend a few hours surrounded by nothing but majestic Japanese cedar trees. Kurama, just a 40 minutes train ride from central Kyoto to the north, is just such a getaway. At Kurama station, the visitor is greeted by a chorus of wind bells hung under the roof. Kurama itself is a one-street town with the station at one end and Kurama Onsen, a hot spring ryokan at the other. Its real attraction is Kurama-dera, an extended temple complex reaching up Mt. Kurama.

Niomon at Kuramadera

Looking up to Niomon

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190608102623 Apart from re-visiting our favorites, there are still many places in Kyoto we haven’t seen. One of them was Shosei-en, the detached garden of Higashi Hongan-ji near Kyoto Station. It’s a beautifully landscaped garden with several interesting buildings and bridges, amounting to “13 views”. In its style it reminded me somewhat of Tokyo’s Korakuen. Unlike many of Kyoto’s temple gardens which are nestled in the foothills of the surrounding wooded mountains, Shosei-en can’t hide its very urban location. Tall buildings are visible all around it.

Bridge at Shosei-en

Shinsetsu-kyo

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Back in Kyoto

Kyoto matcha and warabimochi

Matcha and warabimochi

It’s been a week now that we’ve been back in Kyoto (as usual, for work). Apart from enjoying the food and going to our favorite shops to stock up on Japanese essentials, we’ve not yet had the chance to do many touristic things. But we’ve walked the philosopher’s walk yet another time, which is always pleasurable. So far, we’ve been relatively lucky with the weather, only one day of rain… let’s hope the weather holds up another bit, we still have one more week to go!
Kyoto Philosopher's Walk

Along the philosopher’s walk

Day Trip to Kawagoe

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Kurazukuri warehouses with some appropriately dressed gentlemen in front

Having another free weekend in the Kanto area, we decided to finally visit Kawagoe, a town with many preserved kurazukuri warehouses from the Edo period, also known as Koedo (little Edo). Kawagoe, located in Saitama prefecture Northeast of Tokyo had been on our radar for a while, but we had never actually made it there. From Kawagoe station (Hon-kawagoe is a little nearer), it’s about 1km walk along a pedestrian shopping street to the Kurazukuri zone of the historical buildings.
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Toki no kane – Kawagoe’s signature bell tower

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Kon-do (central hall) seen from behind

In our quest to see new sights in Kyoto, we decided to visit Chishakuin, the headquarters of the Chisan School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism, located at the height of Shichijo, at the foot of Higashiyama. Being somewhat off the beaten track, it was wonderfully quiet and peaceful there (and as often, not really any worse than the completely overrun main sights). Behind the majestic Kon-do, smaller temple halls are nestled in the wooded foothills of Higashiyama. A special attraction is however its scenic garden.
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Scenic garden at Chishakuin

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190107091510 Since we’re supposed to be working and it gets dark early, the only moment to squeeze in some sightseeing for us is the early morning. Kiyomizudera, unlike most other temples (which open at 9), opens already at 6am, so it’s a recurring destination for us. Another perk of showing up in the morning is that the place is empty, and we were able to just see the sun rise over Higashiyama. 190107092516 Continue Reading »