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Archive for the ‘Sightseeing’ Category

Even though Kyoto is reputed to be the most beautiful city in the world, we decided for once to spend our Sunday not in the old town, but to go see something new instead. Kobe, at only 28 minutes ride by Shinkansen, presented a nearby option. We arrived at Shin-Kobe Station which is located on the slopes of the surrounding hills, and went right on to the Shin-Kobe ropeway, which whisked us up over wooded hills to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens, which present a view of Kobe lying below and its port and bay. The garden itself is in this season not much of an attraction, but one can imagine that it must be nice when it’s all in bloom. The view is of course also good in winter, even though we did not chance upon a clear day.

Kobe Meriken Park and surrounding hills seen from a cruise ship on the bay.

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Unicorn Gundam

Since September of last year, a new giant Gundam statue is standing near the Diver City mall on Odaiba: a 19.7m tall RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. After having paid a visit to the original Gundam one year ago, we obviously had to see the new one, too! It is quite impressive due to its sheer size. Every two hours, its head changes (along with dramatic music and pulsating lights) from Unicorn Mode to Destroy Mode (two horns). (more…)

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Gundam Revisited

gundam-odaiba3-reffert We’ve gone to see the 18m tall Gundam back in 2009 when it was first put up in Odaiba. But after reading that it will be taken away in March, we felt compelled to visit it another time. While it can only light up and turn its head, it is nonetheless an impressive sight. So if you’re heading to Odaiba in the next two months, take the chance to pay your respects! (more…)

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Visit to Uji

Torii leading to Ujikami Shrine

Torii leading to Ujikami Shrine

In the spirit of exploring the region beyond Kyoto, we dedicated half a day to visiting the nearby town of Uji, reachable in a little more than half an hour from Kyoto by local train. One could have easily spent an entire day there, but among work commitments, muggy weather and two little kids in tow, we opted to just go for the two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Ujikami Jinja and Byodoin.
Phoenix Hall of Byodoin

Phoenix Hall of Byodoin

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Hikone-Castle-Main-Keep-Reffert Staying for once for longer in the Kansai region, we were able to venture beyond Kyoto in our explorations. The town of Hikone, located on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, is reachable from Kyoto in one hour by train, making it an easy day trip. Hikone Castle counts as one of the three best castles of Japan (after Himeji and Matsumoto).

View of Hikone Castle across Genkyu-en

View of Hikone Castle across Genkyu-en

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Kyoto-Kinkakuji-Reffert While there are many places worth seeing that we have not yet visited in Kyoto, there are others we keep coming back to, like Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. This time, arriving at opening time did not work in our favor, as about 10 school classes did the same. Kinkakuji presented itself sparkling in a ray of sunlight before a backdrop of moody clouds.

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Japan-Kyoto-Kodaiji-Reffert2Kodai-ji is an all-time favorite of us in Kyoto – but I had never seen it by daylight! Both in spring and autumn, they have evening openings with light-ups, which we had gone to three times already (see here for a spring light-up). Now I made it there for the first time in the winter season, and during the day. Not surprisingly, it was a treat.

Dry landscape garden at Kodai-ji

Dry landscape garden at Kodai-ji

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