Thursday, 17 April 2008

Craving A Bacon Butty...

Greetings from Nara.

The monks in the hills did have the internet after all but I couldn't log in to my blog, so two days worth again today.

Checked out of Tokyo early yesterday and made out way up some very steep hills to Koya-san which sits in between 8 mountains, the highest of which is Mount Koya. Koya-san is home to about 150 monasteries and temples. We stayed in the temple below last night.

There is a huge cemetery at one end of the town which is lined with huge cedar trees. At the end of the cemetery is an amazing shrine with thousands of lanterns inside and the wafting smell of incense burning. The was chanting going on when we were there and it really sent a shiver down the spine.

Woke this morning at 5.50am to a monk banging a bell. We were called to morning service at 6.30 followed by a fire ceremony at 7.

Low point of the day was someone stealing our umbrella from a temple when it was pouring with rain. Looks like there are more than two Scousers in Japan.

After a quick walk around Koya-san we took a long way round trip (not intentionally) down through the clouds to Nara.

We've just got back from visiting a huge temple with a giant Buddha inside. The temple was rebuilt many years ago and is now only 2/3 the size it was. We were the last ones out and managed to get pictures of the temple without any other tourists in the way.

One of the columns at the rear of the temple as a hole in the bottom the same size as one of the Buddhas nostrils. It's said that any one that can fit through the hole, with be enlightened. Kids get through easily but neither I or Claire are enlightened.

The grounds of the temple are patrolled by herds of deer with apparently mystical powers.

Rest of tomorrow in Nara and then a late flight home from Osaka

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Luckiest Photo

I just wanted to post one more picture.

I can't begin to describe how lucky I was to get this one shot a couple of days ago.

This Way For Sunshine...

Final greetings from Tokyo and possibly for this trip.

We leave Tokyo early tomorrow to make our way to Koya-san which is a small town in the mountains. We're staying with monks in a small temple so Internet coverage might be a bit sketchy to say the least. We'll see. After that we are off to Nara and then home.

It's been a glorious day in Tokyo today, especially compared to the drizzle and cloud of yesterday. Visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tokyo National Museum. The latter of which afforded us a better view of Fuji than we got yesterday.

We then went shopping in Ueno and picked up all sorts of tasty treats to bring home including the infamous squeezey cheesy fish. We then headed over to the worlds 2nd biggest department store at Ikebukuro. It was the biggest until the same chain built a bigger one in Yokohama.

Finally we've just got back from a visit to Senso-ji one of the biggest temples in Tokyo.

This way for Sunshine....

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Sake Louts & Hidden From View


The PC I have to use is shockingly poor so there may not be any photo's with this post but I'll try my best. Two days worth below.

Late start yesterday after getting every penny's worth out of the Park Hyatt. We moved to a hotel over to the other side of Tokyo and then went to Akihabara (electric town) which is full of electronic shops and then walked around the Imperial Palace gardens.

We then headed towards the posh area of Ginza and got some photos of the Shinkansen passing between buildings. We then had amazing Yakitori (grilled meat on skewers) underneath the railway arch with the Shinkansen roaring over head. Great place, great atmosphere and great beer.

Finished yesterday with a walked around the expensive shops of Ginza (Cartier, Dior etc). Wallet stayed firmly in pocket.

A very early start this morning to get to Tsukiji Fish Market. Huge place with every type of fish you can imagine and plenty that you can't. Giant tuna just off the boats were being sawn up and hacked with giant axes. Before leaving we had sashimi breakfast.

We then headed out to Hakone to try and see the elusive Mount Fuji. The journey involved 3 trains, 1 funicular railway, 2 cables cars and a pirate ship....I kid you not, a pirate ship! Anyway, after all that we didn't even see Fuji as it was too cloudy.

Museums and art gallery's tomorrow followed by shopping.

Lost In Translation

Another long day yesterday, followed by late drinks in the New York Bar & Grill on the 52nd floor over looking Tokyo meant no post yesterday.

Started yesterday with shopping (department stores and amazing camera shops) in Shinjuku followed by bento (boxed lunch) in the Botanical Park (below).

We then walked to Shibuya, home of the famous crossing (below). Manged to do a little light trail camera work. Photo's of that in another post.

Finally headed to the trendy Roppongi Hills and up the Tokyo City View tower which has stunning 360° views over Tokyo. Dinner in Roppongi was followed by super expensive cocktails before bed.

Just been for a swim, checked out and heading over Tokyo to Ueno to our next hotel and another long day.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Asleep at 285kmph

Greetings from Tokyo.

No post yesterday as we didn't get to Tokyo until late last night.

A long day yesterday started with a visit to the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. We then headed 45 minutes South of Hiroshima to the small island of Miyajima which has a famous Torii gate (below) in the sea which appears to float at high tide.
The town is full of deer (below) which are totally tame and on the lookout for your lunch. We then took a cable car to the highest peak of Miyajima. At the top the deer are replaced by monkeys (below), which are even more interested in your lunch.

The day ended with a 5 hour Shinkansen journey to Tokyo. Got lost in the Park Hyatt building tyring to find the reception. The view from the room made up for it though.

Exploring Tokyo for the next few days.

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Greetings from Hiroshima!

Today we used the Shinkansen [bullet train] for the first time. The trains are huge, super fast and perfectly on time.

We took the Shinkansen to Himeji [below] which boast Japans largest and oldest original castle. All of the other castles are more recent concrete reconstructions. We then walked through an amazing Japanese garden [below] next to Himeji castle, that had lakes full of Koi carp.

We then continued on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima. A really beautiful city that was famously destroyed in August 1945. The rebuilt city is spacious, bright and friendly. We walked through the Peace Park and up to the A-Bomb Dome [below]. The atomic bomb detonated 500 feet above the building.

Finally just a bit of fun. A great sign we saw today in Himeji.

Off to Tokyo tomorrow after a little more sightseeing in Hiroshima and Miyajima.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Torii! Torii! Torii!

Final greets from Kyoto.

We're off to Hiroshima tomorrow via Himeji. I Doubt I will have internet access for a few days so might not be any pictures for a little while.

Started very early today with a walk through the Kyoto Imperial Palace Gardens and then got the bus to one of Japan's most famous zen gardens at Ryoanji (below).

We then walked up the hill to Kinkakuji Temple which has a stunning golden pavillion (below) and gardens.
After some Unagi (eel) for lunch over looking the main river in Kyoto, we headed to the far South East to the Fushimi-Inari Shrine which has a Japanese fox (below) as it's symbol and the hill behind it is coverd with 10's of thousands of orange Torii gates (below) set in miles of steep trails.

Finished the evening off with some tempora for dinner and a hot Japanese bath for my sore legs.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Hello again from Kyoto.

Spent the whole day today walking around the East side of Kyoto visiting loads of shrines and temples.

We started early at Nisiki market were you can buy all sorts of weird and wonderful things that go into Japanese cuisine.

Then we headed North East to Ginkakuji Temple which had spectacular zen gardens. Unfortunatly it's famous 'silver' temple was undergoing restoration but the garden was still very impressive.

We then walked down the 'Path of Philosophy' which is jammed full of sakura over hanging a stream (below). It was noticable the damage done by yesterday's rain and how much further along Kyoto's cherry trees are than Osaka's.

The trail lead us to the very impressive Nanzenji Temple were we had Japanese green tea cetemony and saw more zen gardens and temple buildings (1st & 2nd below). Claire then got us lost in the woods trying to find a place Lonely Planet had recommend. They said not many people go there and now we know why. Finally we went to Kiyomizu Temple (3rd below) which was perched high over looking Kyoto and had a great view.

Got back to the hotel just in time for an amazing Japanese dinner (below). The dinner included amazing tempura and sashimi which was sensational. Relaxed my tired legs with another great Japanese bath.

Exploring temples in the North West and South East tomorrow.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Soggy Kyoto

Greetings from Soggy Kyoto!
Firstly yesterdays blog entry now has photos!

It's been raining pretty much all day in Kyoto which will almost certainly ruin the cherry blossom (sakura). Hopefully better weather tomorrow.

Started the morning with the strangest breakfast I've ever eaten. Tofu and miso soup doesn't quite compute. We'll have to wait and see what we get tomorrow.

After a random breakfast we headed to a river gorge just north west of Kyoto for a river rapids ride through the gorge (below). Plenty of sakura and the crew were very entertaining even though we had no idea what they were saying. Probably making fun of the gaijin (foreigners).

Vistied a temple with some great sakura (below) and bamboo forrest (below) but we were absolutely soaked by then, so headed back to the hotel for some dry clothes and then some shopping at the amazing Kyoto station.

Currently dressed in traditional Japanese kimono style outfit after having a very hot Japanese bath.

More exploring Kyoto temples tomorrow with hopefully some better weather.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Hello from Japan! First apologies about the size of the images (after clicking them), I've no way to downsize.

Arrived late on Friday and spent the evening walking around Osaka-Jo park (below). Loads of Sakura (Cherry Blossom) to be seen and people doing Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) until late at night. Like a German with a beach towel they were out at 6am to reserve their spot.

Spent all of yesterday visiting Osaka and spent today at Ise-Jingu (below), Japans holiest shrine. You're not allowed anywhere near the actual shire itself. You have to be a supreme being to get that honor.

Traveled to Kyoto this afternoon and have just got back from conveyor belt sushi, which I have to say left me a little disappointed. I wanted to like it more. But we made up for that by getting thrown out of a Pachinko (below) arcade because they wanted to close. We nearly made our money back as well! If only we'd realised sooner there is no skill involved!

Next 3 days in Kyoto but the weather is about to turn rainy. Much better than at home though!