Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fall-time in Kyoto...

Kinkakuji Temple... more commonly known as the Golden Pavilion.  Katie and I spent the weekend in Kyoto.  It was one of my goals to check out as many of the cities around Japan during the Fall this year... since it would be my LAST!  Kyoto was definitely number 1 on my list, and it definitely held up to its high expectations!  Many other visitors had the same idea as we did, so it was extremely crowded.  The first day we went to the Golden Pavilion, a huge tour of Japanese high school girls were all running around and giggling, so it was hard to actually enjoy it.  I decided to go a second time on Sunday before I headed back home.  It was definitely worth going again!  The reflection pond in front of the pavilion was amazingly still the first day, but due to the storm that was coming, kind of choppy the second time. 

The colorful leaves framed the pictures perfectly!  Definitely worth seeing in the Fall!
View of the pavilion from on top of the hill behind it. 
Kiyomizudera Temple does a night illumination of the leaves during the fall.  This temple is located on a hill on the Southeast side of Kyoto.  From the wooden deck high above the trees on the hillside, we were able to have a great view of Kyoto's skyline.  The weather was definitely holding out for us.

I liked all the candles, lights and lanterns all over the temple illuminating it.  Such a cool ambiance!

View of the Temple's wooden deck and the Kyoto Tower in the distance.  The clouds looked pretty cool at night.

Katie and I 

The Otowa Waterfall is located at the base of the Kiyomizudera Temple.  Its waters are divided into 3 separate streams.  Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life.  However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.  I definitely did as I was supposed to... hmm can you guess which one I drank from?  :)
Kyoto Tower up close

Mino Park, Osaka...

Katie and I found the Mino Park waterfall hike just a short train ride from Osaka before heading back to Yokosuka.  It started drizzling a little on our hike, but it still wasn't bad as the day before.

Sweaty and wet from the rain and hike... but still fun!
Pretty temple along the way.
Mino had the street leading up to the hike full of little stands selling fried maple leaves.  Yes, they were actual leaves, dipped in batter and fried to deliciousness!!  :)


Katie and I coupled our Nara trip with 2 days in Osaka.  It was a really good time minus the fact it poured the whole time we walked around the city.  Good thing I brought my umbrella.  And plus, the umbrellas kind of look cool in a lot of the pictures!
In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi chose Osaka as the location for his castle.  The castle is surrounded by impressive stone walls, moats, and gates.  Not to mention the large park with fall colors!
View from the top of the castle.  The gold plated fish was thought to protect the castle somehow. 

View of the park across the moat. 

Having fun as a traditional Japanese women in front of the castle.
Love the umbrellas and the rain!
Umeda Sky Building.  Too bad we weren't able to go to the floating observatory on the top because of the rain.  Guess I'll just have to go back!
Okonomiyakai Osaka style and Takomiyaki (squid balls).  Osaka is known for it's exotic food.  Dontonbouri is an area of Osaka full of street vendors and amazing restaurants and nightlife.
This hole in the wall restaurant was DELICIOUS!!!!  The takomiyaki was actually pretty tasty... it's a must if you ever visit!
Nama (Minambi) area has Dontombouri Street which is the famous for it's nightlife and food stands.  Dontonbouri was actually featured on the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods episode with Andrew Zimmern.

The famous Galico Runner sign in Namba.

Nara... Temples and Lanterns and Deer, OH MY!

Katie and I went down to Nara... a little side trip from Kyoto and Osaka.  We stayed the first night in a tiny guesthouse that served a delicious Western style breakfast in the morning.  Nara was Japan's first permanent capital before it eventually moved to Tokyo.  Today, Nara is full of historic treasures including some of Japan's oldest and largest temples.  Kasuga Taisha was my favorite shrine with it's many hanging lanterns around the shrine.  The gold and bronze lanterns complemented the red temple perfectly.  I would love to go back during one of the two times each year all the lanterns are actually lit!
The 5-storied pagoda of the Horyuji Temple, one of Japan's oldest temples.  The main hall was under construction when we were there, but the rest of it was still pretty.
Another building of the Horyuji Temple.
Nara Park is known for the wild deer roaming around the green fields.  The leaves were just starting to change colors when we were there.  It turned out to be such a nice day walking around the park!
Some of the many lanterns leading the way along the path to the Kasuga Taisha shrine.  The deer were just wandering around the whole temple and park area of Nara.  They would come up to visitors hoping to get some food.
Kasuga Taisha

Wild deer going up to local street vendors in the park.  
A group of Japanese high school boys came up to Katie and I asking us questions for their school project (we actually saw their teacher, so we knew they weren't lying...).  Their last question was "Can we take picture with you?"  So I respond, "Only if we can take one with all of you too!" 
The deer were relaxing to watch... there were so many of them!

Todaiji Temple is one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples.  It's the world's largest building and also houses Japan's largest bronze Buddha statue (Daibutsu).  The present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple's size from 752.  I could not get over all the details and the massive size of the wood pillars and construction inside the temple.  I loved the iron details on the doors.
There were two gold plated Buddha's on either side of Daibutsu.
Daibutsu, Japan's largest bronze Buddha.
Along a canal in Nara Park... beautiful leaves are starting to change! 
One of my favorite pictures from Nara.  This was right before it started to rain, so it brought out all the colors perfectly! 
On the pavilion looking the other way.