Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 6: Bamboo Forest Arashimaya, Maruyama Koen & Gion (Kyoto)

31th March 2009

We checked out from Kazariya because their place is full and we only managed to book for 2 nights. Our next sleep-over place is Kawashima Inn, still a ryokan and still in Kyoto. Luckily it's just one station (Shijo station) away from Kazariya so we just dragged our luggage and walk down the road. It took us about 20minutes walking and we reached Kawashima around 12PM. Oh ya, breakfast was breakfast bars and tea hehehe.

After we placed out bags in Kawashima and prayed there, we quickly proceed to Arashiyama for some temples and bamboo forest!

On the way to Kawashima, we saw this camouflage tree, like wrapped in army uniform.

Even though Kyoto is considered oldest town in Japan, but we can see more cars and big building in Kyoto compared to Osaka. Maybe because public transportation in Osaka is very convenient and comprehensive (they use totally JR lines) whilst in Kyoto use combination of Subway and JR.

Since land is pretty expensive in Japan and limited, everything is squeezing in. A small house/shop in the middle of gigantic building.

Lunch was as usual, we bought 2 fish onigiris, 2 sandwiches (tuna & egg) and pet drink from local newstand.

The route: Shijo (subway) - Kyoto - Saga Arashimaya (JR Line) - Walk distance to bamboo forest
Admission: 500 yen

At Kyoto station I think. Kyoto station is very big as it stores 30++ lines under one roof!

Saga-Arashiyama park has multiple attractions such as the the bamboo forest, Mount Arashiyama as the backdrop, Zen temples all the way and the famous one is Tenryuji Temple. The 500 yen admission is for all of this.

The big sakura in the park

In front of their lake. The temp is around 10 degrees that time, still very cold, but the sun is blaring.

Pond in front of Tenryuji temple. The golden Koi is humongunous

Mt Arashiyama. The view will be magnificent during autumn.

Under one of the sakura trees

Taken by one of the local. Everytime we wanted together-picture, all we have to do is approach anybody walking by and said "sumimasennnn (while showing the camera)". And they will say "Hait!". One thing about them that I noticed, they like to see back pictures they took, so we will view the pic with them everytime right after they snap and said "Nice!" or "Good!", ending with "Arigatou Gozaimasu!" and they will grin broadly.

In front of the bamboo forest.

Me inside the bamboo forest

The path inside

The bamboo forest is quite interesting. You get to walk in a path surrounded by lots lots of bamboo. They have two path, one is about 1 km and another one is 250mtrs I think, and we chose the later of course hehehe.

In the middle of the forest

The cool cool green bamboo

At the end of the road, there is a villa of a Japanese movie star (I forgot the name, not that I know him :P) turned into a museum and can be visited. There are splendid views from the villa and it is famous for its garden design. The admission quite expensive, 1000 yen each and since it's not autumn, I don't think it's worth it, so we skipped this.

We had our lunch on a bench along the roadside and I saw this:

An automatic car park! After you park, the blocker (right in front of the number) will rise up and you have to pay the fare at a parking machine then the steel will go down. Interesting isn't it?

Our new lunch (after days of onigiri) - tuna sandwiches

We also had some local icecream - Matcha and Sakura swirl!

Actually it is light pink (sakura) and the green one is matcha (green tea) and the combination really delicious! I wish we had one each instead of shared!

Arashiyama also has a park where lies a big river. There is a gondola for you to canoed to enjoy the cherry blossom but the area still not overally bloomed, so we pass it.

The big river

Everybody has SLR including this makcik!

Trees and flowers. It was very breezy and fresh that time and I wish we can spend longer in Arashiyama but we need to see other places too.

Then we off to Maruyama Park. On the way out of Arashiyama, we stumbled upon a local shop selling grilled fish. This is our first time seeing grilled fish in Japan (finally!) so we bought one big chunk and had it at the train station while waiting for ours :D

It's thick and cold and bland! Taste like our local tenggiri. Oh ya, 400 yen (RM15) for this small piece!

The route: Saga-Arashiyama - Nijo - Higashiyama - 20 mins walking to Maruyama Koen (Maruyama Park)

Maruyama Koen is a public park in Higashiyama district and Kyoto's most popular spot during cherry blossom. We arrived here around 530PM and the dawn is approaching.

You have to walk inside the small road

Kyoto is a bit warmer than Osaka so we starting to see more flowers yeay!

Their famous "shidarezakura" (weeping cherry tree)

People starting to book their camping place

We bought squid again! What else to eat hehehe


Me with some local girls wearing kimono! Kawaiiii!!

When the night falls, the whole park is lit up by bright lights and a lot of stalls already selling foods. I was wondering if they have any function that night that I asked one of the guy selling kebab (he can speak English and he isn't local! Haha. I think he is Persian).

Oh ya I know he can speak English because he shout calling me from far

Kebab Guy: Heloooo! You are from Indonesia?
Me: No, Malaysia
Kebab Guy: Ohh Malaysia. Welcome!
Me: Thank you, hmm excuse me, why everybody is camping here? Is there any speacial show tonight?
Kebab Guy: No no no. It is because of the cherry blossom season, so they are out just to have fun under the trees, with friends and families. Just having fun eating and drinking at night.
Me: Wahh nice. Thank you. Hmm sorry, I can't buy your kebab, we don't take meat (haha I feel bad sbb tak beli apa2 from him yet he still borak2 with me)
Kebab Guy: Haha it's ok. Enjoy yourself

The salted fresh fish being grilled with barbarian way. Haha barbarian ke? But it's very unique and cute. We were so tempted to try this fish until we saw one couple eating it and guess what, the fish is not being cleaned! Tak di siang langsung! We can see the stomach inside the fish but I'm not sure they eat the whole thing or spare the stomach but blueghhh I can't take it la.
Oh ya, this guy kindly smile for my snap. Arigatou and you are so comel!!! :D

It's getting darker

We made our way to Gion around 6.30PM on foot! According to the map it is nearby but it took us 45minutes (plus minus sesat lagi kan hehe). We read online that you can see a lot of geisha/meiko walking by the street getting ready (for performance I guess) during the evening but the thing is you have to be there early around 6-7PM. When we reached there, we saw only one geisha in full costume and make-up walking very FAST in her little terompah (slippers) and didn't stop even for a second while a swarm of people ushering her with their SLRs and flashes.

Gion Street

We went to Gion Corner (down the Gion street) and bought the ticket for daily show. Admission 3150 yen.

The daily show has two slots, 7PM and 8PM, we watched the later. Seats are limited so you have to go early. They don't sell early ticket which means, if you want to watch 8 oclock show, the queue will be opened at 745PM.

The show falls into 7 performances - puppet show, kyoto style dance, comic plays, court music, flower arrangements, tea ceremony and japanese harp. All in Japanese but they have a walkie talkie like for English explanation and it is upon request. You have to pay it for 1000 yen and it is refundable, when you return the gadget.

The tea ceremony

Japanese Harp

Flowers arrangement - how they do it traditionally (penuh sopan santun ok). By this time we already restless and whispering to each other "Why takde yg comel2 ni? Semua makcik tua"

Court Music. The real court music will have more musician (the group in purple) like 100 something like that. It's quite hard to decide, nak dengar the explanation in the earphone or listen to the performance in jargon. I chose to enjoy the whole performance without the earpiece so I don't know the details of this show.

Comic plays. The story is about the master wants to go to the town but he don't trust his guards afraid that they will steal his sake. So he made plan to trick the guards making them tie each other and he's gone. While he's away, the tied guards try to drink the sake and we drunk when the master came back.

The kyoto dance. Finally! Some real girls come out! We get to see the geisha real close and they have different painting at the back of their neck. I think showing the level or something like senior geisha, meiko, etc.

Puppet play, about a princess wants to save her lover and the only way to do that is by ringing the big bell on top of the hill. The bell is only for emergency and she is in dilemma to ring it or not.

Us in front of Gion Corner

After Gion visits, we wandering along to road to search for suitable shops for dinner but didn't find any. So we settled for 2 packets of prawn crackers + 1 cup on instant noodles (curry) + 2 fish onigiris + 1 Lipton caramel tea.

Oh ya, we walked back home (Gion to Kawashima) and it is 2km!

Ps: Have a good holiday guys. See ya on Monday. I'll back to my hometown this holiday and will try to update as soon as possible ya. Mwahhhh!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poor my baby

Hi all,

Sorry for no update esp about the Japan trip.

MrComot is a bit sick (since Monday) and I'm quite worried. He can't breathe and can't sleep. I think it's a kind of asthma attack. By the way he's feeling better now. We went to the clinic yesterday and doctor gave some kind inhaler to clear out the lung, and some antibiotic.

According to the doctor, it is asthma induced by weather and few cases already recorded with our current hot and dry weather.

I was worried because he is the type won't mengadu too much and I am the type yg a bit ignorant. Just imagine that Monday he can't sleep the whole night and I didn't know! I only know after he woke me up for Subuh, which is very weird as it is soo early (yeah, we are not early people and I'm not proud of it) that I asked:

Me: How come you bangun Subuh awal?
MrComot: Me can't sleep
Me: Since when? Pagi or the whole night?
MrComot: The whole night
Me: Whyyyyyyyyy!!!??

Then baru lah I tahu he can't breathe. Then on Tuesday night he can sleep but breathing only by 60%. I made some hot water mixed with vicks for him to inhale and rub the back and chest with a lot of vicks. Seriously I never seen him in that state and I was teary and praying to God to lift up some of the burden.

His condition quite bad on Tuesday, dah la time tu I dragged him to watch Mahsuri in Istana Budaya (so ignorant of me! but he said he's ok) and the crowd after the show made him feel stuffy and weaker.

And now he's ok, but still need a lot of rest and this guy memang DEGIL (boleh tak marah hubby sendiri dlm blog? :P) sbb orang suruh cuti tanak tanak tanak. Got meeting la apa la. Memang la he can work, but he need sleep to recover 100%. Even his own mom advice him to take leave, but still no effect ok.

Oh ya, on another note, my carry forward leave keyed-in and I have 20 days leave now yipppieeee!!!!

Ps: Since he's dah OK now, I can update my blog in peace hehehe

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 5: Fushimi Inari Shrine & Byodoin Temple/Park (Kyoto)

30th March 2009

Kyoto used to be Japan's capital for few hundred years and still very traditional at now. There are so many places to see in Kyoto but since our time is quite limited, we only managed to cover few area. The weather still cold, around 10 degrees. We had breakfast bars and tea before going out (breakfast not included in our stay at this guest house) and pushed off from Kazariya around 12PM to Fushimi Inari Shrine.

The route: Gojo - Kyoto - Inari - Few mins walking to this shrine
Admission: Free

Fushimi Inari Shrine
is a Shinto shrine, dedicated to Inari (the God of rice, sake and prosperity). It is also well known for its orangey gates and foxes statue. The fox is like the guardian to their shrine.

MrComot in front of the big orange gate. See the policeman behind with the STOPPPP sign? Haha he tried to stop us for taking picture because there is a car wanted to reverse and we don't understand what he saying. Nasib baik we saw the car.

There are orange pillars everywhere and built climbing the hill. We didn't cover the whole area though as it is too big! Since it is surrounded with hill trees, I think the scenery will be at its best during the autumn.

Me among the pillars. Each pillar is written with different words. Maybe it's the prayer or simply historical. I'm not very sure.

Wording in Katakana and Kanji. Anyone can read this?

The local praying. They will ring up the bell by pulling those ribbons/ropes

MrComot with the guardian fox

Most of the shrine/temple also selling charms with very specific purpose such as, good luck for work, good luck while driving, good luck for taking trains, and good luck for love.

The fox prayers. You can buy this piece of wooden-fox-face, draw the face and write your wish behind.

We had our lunch at some local restaurant (more like a village area) and as usual, tak pandai tapi buat-buat pandai kan haha. We saw this one restaurant got vegetables drawing so redah saja lah, and yes, it is a vegetarian shop *phewww*

The ambience. You can either sit on normal (western) type seats, or the traditional - on a bench with cushions.

Also our staple - donbori (rice + eggs + kikkoman + seaweed + pickles)

Their authentic pepper shaker only it isn't pepper. It stores some kind of spices and I dare not to try it.

Rice with ebi and vegetables tempura. Really tasty but they sprinkle it with some spices that I think I am allergic to because my mouth feels numb and widened after that. Thank God it gone after I finished eating.

In front of the shop

Grilled unagi. One of their specialty but we didn't take it as MrComot takot ok nak makan belut. He said it reminds him of snake *sigh*. I was so tempted to try this but I'm afraid I can't finish it all.

The small community in Fushimi Inari

After satisfying the stomach, we continue our journey to Byodoin Temple.

The route: Inari - Uji (about 6 stations/stops) - walk 800m to Byodoin Temple
Admission: 600 yen

Byodoin Temple
is built to revive Buddhism in Japan but not successful. The temple is at the centre of the park with small lake. There is also Phoenix Hall (you have to buy additional ticket to enter at 500 yen), unfortunately the tickets are sold out that day (we reached quite late btw, around 4PM) so we have to miss it. Phoenix Hall only can fit 50 pax at one time/schedule. So if you want to go to this temple, make it in the morning.

The temple is at the back

This is how Sakura budding looks like

One of the view. The park setting is very nice and I really recommend this place.

A full bloom tree

Another view of the park

The best view. It's very serene and give you a sense of calmness

Another type of Sakura. The petals are bigger and in bright pink. We found only one tree of this.

It may look hot but it's not. Yes, the sun is firing its fire but the wind still wins.

In front of the temple

Oh ya, we also visit the Byodoin Muzeum but can't take pictures inside :( The museum close at 5PM. Do visit this museum as it is veryyyyyy coool!! They have Buddha figures carved on stones with varies of characters, including the phoenix of fire. It's really beautiful and artistic. I bought a postcard showing inside of the museum, will snap it and update in later entry.

On the way back we saw a woman cycling with heels! And I think it's 5" heels! Or maybe 3". You can click on the picture for larger version.

Cycling doesn't stop me being fashionista (^_^)v

We left around 530PM and planned to go to Gion but it's quite late and will take some times to reach there, so we back to Gojo, had dinner during our stop in Kyoto station.

Kyoto station has numerous of eatineries and here you can see a bit civilization (haha, I mean western thing) where you starting to see coffee shops, Italian shops, etc but the traditional shops selling donbori and sushi still dominating.

So after days eating rice and eggs, we had a 'proper' dinner that night in an Italian shop.


Anyway, finding food still not an easy task for us. Even in Italian shops they do serve pork. Only this shops doesn't have 'direct' pork (as they have dish like 'with bacon bits' and pretty sure it is pork bacon) but at least it's not a cutlet.

Seafood pasta in tomato sauce

Pizza with anchovies, olive and cheese topping

This lemon tea is complimentary. Even though it's free, they serve it properly, siap with sliced lemon, not the instant lemon tea.

And it only costs us 2200 yen (RM84), food only no drink (they give free iced water). Even though it's not that cheap, but I find it cheaper than traditional food as normal serving of donbori and soba for 2 will cost us around 3000 yen and it's only rice and eggs!!

Since it's still early, we had a detour in Kyoto station. They have a HUGE underground mall owned by Isetan and it's 10-floors mall!

I'm trying to snap the never-end escalator. 10-storeys Isetan okkkk!

Btw, most of the brands carried are designers like Burberry, CK, LV, etc and the cheapest shirt with brand that I don't recognize is RM120 after sale! I also checked their cosmetic range, still a bit higher than in Malaysia after conversion. So, I don't buy any :D