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Asia Journal

Kōfuku-ji and the Five Story Pagoda

 Kōfuku-ji and the Five Story Pagoda

Kofuku-ji is another millenary temple in Nara and one of the eight Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The site of the temple consisted of more than 50 buildings, though today just a few remain, one of them is the Five Story Pagoda that is also the second tallest in Japan and considered as a symbol of Nara.

I walked a bit around for some photos, and honestly, at the moment I didn’t know important that site is just until a few moments later I read the flyer I was given to. At first I thought it was just another temple in Nara, but I think it is important to keep in mind that Nara is the ancient capital, even before Kyoto. So, it shouldn’t be surprising the amount of important sites in that small city.

View of the Five Story Pagoda at Kōfuku-ji Temple site

I few meters below there is a lake with a lot of turtles, I enjoyed a bit of time around that lake, maybe a bit too much because of that I missed other stuff I was planning to visit, but well, vacations 🙂 On my way, I got some stamps and I assured my postcards would reach their destinations 🙂 And then, passing through another temple that unfortunately I arrived just a few minutes after closing, the Gango-ji Temple.

With everything else closed, I went back to the lake where I saw an amazing sunset and a few more photos to remember one day later 🙂 Nothing else left to do, so I went back to the hostel to write the postcards, and I have to say, even though the hostel was quite nice people staying there weren’t much backpackers-alike, a very awkward silence at the common space, we were like 10 people there reading, writing and no one was talking. Very very awkward, something I didn’t expect at all…

Sunset at a Lake in Nara

That said, I also didn’t bind with anyone for dinner, so I ended up going alone to the local Food Street looking for some nice food, which I decided to go for some sushi. Japanese people might not have the warmth I am used to, they might not be the best communicators either, but for sure they are helpful! I didn’t manage to get myself understood about what I wanted to eat, so, we both went outside and I just had to point to the plate I was craving for. Most of the restaurants have a plastic representation of the dishes they have available, which is really useful when you are trying to decided where to eat, or, how to order your food 🙂

One thing I learned that night, never ever leave your camera behind! I went for a walk, alone, and that night was full moon! I have no record of that view, but I enjoyed it a lot with my moments of solitude and peace.


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Kōfuku-ji and the Five Story Pagoda

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Asia Journal

Tōdai-ji Temple and Kasuga Taisha

Another day, and again, time to move! It was nice to stay a few nights without having to pack again, but it was time to move to the next city. Kyoto indeed it is a fantastic city, with a lot of history, cosmopolitan, a very good connection with nature! It was a strange first impact, but I got in love and I honestly think I could live there for a while 🙂 But it was time to move, time for Nara!

Nara

Getting there from Kyoto it is really easy, for those that have the JR Pass you don’t need to pay extra for that, it just takes around 45 minutes to get there. Once there, you’ll have to walk a bit to get to the interesting part of the city, but the city also has a circular bus route very handy mostly when you have a heavy luggage with you.

Alike Kyoto and Kurashiki, the first impact in Nara wasn’t the best either. The train station is right on the other extreme of the fun part, lucky me, my hostel was close to the temples. Which also means, I had to cross the city… on foot… Distances never are as close as they look like, lesson learned. I think…

The hostel has a very nice hall, the bedrooms are also quite nice though the stairs to the first floor a bit too steep, going down with all my luggage was challenging… After all the checking, paperwork and dropping the luggage, it was time for some sightseeing. And that’s when I started to love Nara!

Tōdai-ji Temple

Most of the historical area is inside of a small forest, some temples and some pathways for very cool and relaxing walks. My first stop was at the Todai-ji Temple, where you can see the largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, which I didn’t know and totally made my jaw drop. Part of the temple is under reconstruction, it was interesting to see one of the ways they asked for funds, you could buy a tile and write whatever you want there. You would leave not only your money to help rebuilding the temple but also the temple would have something really yours. I really liked that idea, simple and a more personalized.

Tōdai-ji Temple

I was really lucky with the weather, really sunny and I could walk a bit through the gardens and buy a few souvenirs before my next stop, the Nigatsu-do. The Nigatsu-do is one of the main structures part of the Todai-ji temple, with an amazing view towards Nara! I had a brief stop there for a cup of green tea, something that I was already getting used to in Japan 🙂

Lanterns on the way to Nigatsu-do

Kasuga Taisha

Traditionally, the Kasuga Taisha has been periodically rebuilt every 20 years for several centuries, though, this custom was discontinued by mid XIX century. Nowadays they are restoring some parts of the roofs using the bark of some local tree, hence the protecting you can see around most of those trees so that they can collect the bark.

Lanterns on the way to Kasuga Taisha

One of the main characteristics of this temple, if not THE characteristic, is the amount of lanterns they have in and around the temple. The lanterns inside the temple are made of bronze, while the ones outside are in stone. These lanterns are lit twice a year, in February and August for their Lantern Festivals. The amount of stone lanterns is really amazing, I wonder how long they take to lit all those lanterns.

Bronze Lanterns at the Kasuga Taisha

As I previously said, the surrounding areas are very relaxing, nice pathways through the woods where I found one restaurant for my lunch break, even though that’s a very touristic place, the restaurant wasn’t even pricy. I proceeded with my walk through the woods, and at some point I stopped again at a Garden Café, really nice and that day was just amazing! Perfect for an outdoor tour 🙂

Stone Lanterns


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Tōdai-ji Temple and Kasuga Taisha

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Asia Journal

Visiting the Kinkaku-ji Temple and Gion District at night

Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple

Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, the temple was initially a villa until one of his owners passed away and by his wish it was then transformed into a Zen Temple. The temple that we can see nowadays is a reconstruction of the original temple, that in 1950 was burned down by a novice monk.

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Asia Journal

Nijo Castle, Kyoto

Nine days since my arrival at the land of the rising sun, I was still jet-lagged! Honestly, I am not sure anymore if it was jet-lag, or if it was just tiredness forcing me to sleep earlier and therefore waking up earlier as well. Again, 6:30 and I was wide awake! I did my morning routine, and then I went to the living room to take a look at my still unplanned days. The transportation was mostly the issue, I wanted something central that I could take a option B and that I still had chance to do what I wanted to do.

Planning the last days

By a friend’s recommendation, I really wanted to see the 48 waterfalls of Akame, so basically, another hiking day with a lot of photography. Getting there was a bit tricky, I had to take a train that was not covered by the JR Pass, a bus from the middle of nowhere to nowhere land and then the hike that normally would take about 4 hours. Considering that I would spend a lot of time taking photos, I was already planning to spend around 8 hours there (yep, a bit too much I know). So, for all of this, I needed to stay overnight somewhere that I could have an alternative plan and not too far from the waterfalls. Initially I considered Iga because of the Ninja Museum, but finding online accommodation there wasn’t easy and I was not up to take the chance to go to the middle of nowhere without a place to stay (maybe if I had more than two weeks around, I would do it). So, Osaka was the place! A lot to see there, and 1 hour away from the train stop near the waterfalls.

Autumn Colors @ Nijo Castle
Autumn Colors @ Nijo Castle

 

Nijo Castle

With all of that considered, it was time to enjoy my last day in Kyoto! First thing to see was the Nijo Castle, another World Heritage Site in Kyoto, the castle of the Tokugawa Shoguns. One of the main characteristics of the castle is the Nightingale floor, basically an alarm system against intruders. Walking through those corridors while hearing the chirping everywhere is really amazing! Myth or not, some say that this was a defense mechanism against the ninjas, the corridor is quite wide and around the palace, so I bet it was quite hard to pass through it undetectable.

Gardens @ Nijo Castle
Gardens @ Nijo Castle

 

I have to say, when I got there I was a bit disappointed with what I saw, the entrance isn’t appealing, and until I got inside the palace I was a bit bored, but Nijo Castle is definitely one must-visit place in Kyoto! The palace is fantastic, the old paintings really beautiful, and you really can feel history while walking through the corridors. For me, everything was so amazing! A pity that it was a rainy day, walking through the gardens wasn’t that pleasant, and it is an amazing place! But to be enjoyed on a sunny day… I got totally soaked while trying to take photos, the rain drops on tree leaves are fantastic! And I could really see that Autumn was really close, some golden colors already 🙂

And since being soaked is not much fun either, I went to the lounge area to dry a bit, and on the way I saw another Japanese wedding! After drying out, more temples to see! And a very wet day ahead…


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Nijo Castle, Kyoto

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Tips and Mistakes

Planning vs Preparing

I used to be a planning-freak, I had to prepare all the details, plan A, B and even a “When everything fails” plan. A friend of mine changed my mind when I did my inter-rail (PT), and almost everything failed! After that I became the opposite, the guy that never prepares nor plans anything! Like everything in life, extremes are not way to go… So I have to readjust (yes, I am using the present tense here).

Planning a trip

One thing you should know about plans, they often fail!

Nothing happens like planned, there are always details that we forget to think about, there are always new things we discover on the way that we want to try that will bend our plans. So, from my perspective, planning is a bit pointless and it spoils a lot the adventure that it is traveling.

Planning a trip also can lead to frustration, mostly if you are traveling with more people. You want your plans to be as perfect as possible, but it is quite hard to handle with different opinions and different moods. Even if you plan your trip together with your friends, there is always that person that wants to try something out of the blue, or that person that wakes up late, or that forgets something important. And these small details, that could make an adventure, often result in unnecessary argues and even more time wasted with pointless stresses.

Planning can also mean tight schedules, and again, hard to bend if we are relaxing at some place but we have to take that bus to point B. One thing I learned with my trips, is that it is impossible to see all I want to see, so it’s better to enjoy the moment and keep the memories of good moments than returning totally exhausted with the feeling that it was just a dream.

Milan Main Train Station
Milan Main Train Station

Preparing a trip

Preparing however, it is almost crucial for me. I don’t mean to be a freak, and read all the guide books and blogs, and spend hours researching, but you should have an idea of what it is around where you want to go.

My last trip, to Japan, I missed a place that I really would love to see and I just didn’t because I didn’t prepare my trip. When I came back to Ireland and I saw that that place was so close to where I was, I kind of felt sad, but then I also had a lot of fun.

It is important to know what you can see, not in an obsessive way that might even spoil the surprise element, but due several factors you might want to know about those other places.

So, these are my tips to prepare a trip:

  • In my opinion it is important to get at least two guide books, and read through them. Using these guides you can get an idea of where you wanna go, which part of the country you want to explore and what you can see there;
  • Having that as a starting point, it is important to know what’s around those places, some times you get to know about less touristic things that you would totally do, like some hiking trail, or night-photo walks, etc;
  • Some safety tips are always welcome. You should research a bit about that, some countries are less safe than others, and there are some small details that can make a huge difference;
  • Health precautions and vaccination. Some countries require some vaccination prior the arrival, contact your doctor or look for a tropical medical bureau, they’ll know how to advise you;
  • Visa requirements, this might seem obvious, but a lot of people assume that for tourism they don’t need a visa. That depends on your nationality and the country you want to visit;
  • Just in case, get some money of the local currency. It happened to me in Peru that all the ATM at the airport were out of money, and sometimes that might not be the ideal. Usually taxi drivers are quite ok with that and they drop you next to an ATM, but if you can avoid that, even better;

Trying to summarize a bit, almost all what I’ve written is common sense, but for me what can improve the experience by knowing what’s around to visit. In Japan even with almost nonexistent plans, I had to change them anyway because of the weather, I still had a lot of fun, but instead of trying to figure out what to do, the decision to go to place X would be easier.

Also, talk with locals! Touristic guides usually are really helpful, but they are for tourists. If you want to experience the culture, no one’s better than the locals to give you tips. Interact with them, ask them what can you do for the day, tell them who you are and they’ll tell you what you can do.

And as a conclusion, my last tip is to be spontaneous! Do things out of the blue, and be open for surprises 🙂

A trip without surprises is worthless to share.


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Planning vs Preparing

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Asia Journal

Tōfuku-ji Temple

Tōfuku-ji

I kept walking in direction to the city, and I passed through another temple, the Tofuku-ji Temple and the Zen Garden, honestly for me the garden was the most enjoyable part. The Tofuku-ji Temple is a Buddhist Temple founded in 1236, one of the five great temples of Kyoto. The garden is more recent, designed in the last century, with the very Japanese maple trees. I just regret coming to Japan in October, a few weeks later and I would get all the autumn colors, it was already changing a bit, but that place covered in golden colors must be even more magical! There is a fee to get in though, but for people who like that kind of landscapes it’s totally worth it, besides, the entrance fees usually aren’t expensive, with 500¥ you can get inside most of the temples.

Corridor @Zen Garden

 

It was also at the Garden that I saw a Japanese monkey, unfortunately he was faster than my reaction to take a photo, but I don’t mind, better enjoying the moment than wasting time trying to capture it. The garden is very beautiful, not too big and very relaxing. I walked through the garden for a while, I even spent a few minutes there enjoying a book before I moved again.

It was that time of the day that I needed to satiate my addiction, I went back to Kyoto Station and I spent a long time trying to find a Starbucks. I was at the wrong side of the station trying to find a street that was totally at the other end…, but well, I managed to find it after a while. While having my dose of caffeine, I used that relaxing time to write a few postcards that I would send later that same day. I guess they all arrived at their destinations, I have no complaints yet 🙂

Maple Trees @Zen Garden

While at the Starbucks, I checked the map to see what was around and I considered going towards the city center passing through another temple, though on my way I changed my mind and I went back to the hostel to take a fast rest before dinner.

Even the dinner was a challenge, I spent a lot of time trying to find a restaurant not too full nor too empty, and I got even kicked out from one because it was too full. Well, that’s what they told me, I saw free places but for couples, so I guess a solo tourist wasn’t the best for them… I ended up eating something again at a small street restaurant in Gion, not fancy at all but a very nice experience, and with a lot of Japanese people unlike the other restaurants. So in the end, I think I had a more local experience and less touristic 🙂

After the dinner, again, I went back to the hostel to write a bit on this blog, and to get ready for another long day ahead!


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Tōfuku-ji Temple

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Asia Journal

Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto

It isn’t surprising that I woke up really early, after a long night resting, this was kind of expected. So, why not use that in my favor? If you want to enjoy properly a touristic place, the best is to go really early so that you can be there with fewer people around you. Jet lag can also be a good friend if one knows how to use it properly, and so I did it.

Fushimi Inari-taisha

I went to the train station, and I took a train to Inari, I read about that hill and all the shrines, all the photos I saw looked like a really cool place, that easily can be spoiled by crowds. I had almost all the hill for myself, and a few other tourists that decided to go early as well. The weather was also helping to be less crowded, it was a bit rainy but not enough to spoil the fun either. I managed to take several photos without a single soul around, I had my time to enjoy the place, the mystical area around, to take photos and to have my relaxing walk through the hill.

Entrance to Fushimi Inari-taisha

But guess that not only early tourists go there during the first hours of the day… I saw a few priests having their walks too, one of them, that looked like he was in a higher place, considering the way he was dressed, had such a wide umbrella that literally was almost touching both sides of the shrines. So big, that he couldn’t see what was ahead of him, and guess who was there? Yep, me! I had to say a few times “excuse me” in a very crappy Japanese, for him not to hit me, and he did it anyway!

Pathway between the shrines

Going around the mountain was really pleasant, few people, contact with nature just next to the big city, the first bamboo forest I saw, a lake at half way to the top and a lot of photos! The area has a lots of stations through the whole path where there are vending machines, two or three restaurants and places to buy souvenirs, also a nice way to make stops along the way.

The way back was even better, realizing how great the jet lag was when crossing with a big crowd of tourists. Waking up really early is the best way to enjoy highly touristic spots with fewer people! Even before I got to the main junction I started noticing more people, when I got to the station at the junction between the two paths that go around the mountain, then I saw the crowds! There I had an ice cream, and I sat for a few minutes enjoying it and seeing even more people passing by, I didn’t have a clue how many I would find on my way back yet…

End of a tunnel

The path starts with just one way, and at some point it splits in two forming a loop. Until the junction I mentioned before it is just one way, then people can decide which way they want to reach the top. So, since I was already coming down, I had to pass again through the one-path way and it was ridiculous the amount of people, taking a clear photo was almost impossible, sometimes was even hard to walk peacefully.

That walking made me hungry, I guess I am always up for eating and I was loving Japanese food! I walked a bit around trying to find a place not so close to the temple, maybe I would get a cheaper deal, but I ended up going to the area just outside the main entrance. It wasn’t expensive, Japan is not that expensive as people think, might be for people living there, but not for tourists. Eating is fairly cheap, and fresh food can be found everywhere. After the lunch, I had to buy a few souvenirs to take back to Europe, and there isn’t lack of shops around that temple.


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Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto

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Asia Reviews

2013 Review and 2014 Goals

I have done these reviews and goals for a while, it is nice as a self-slap in the face and / or to see how things went good. Not that I try to follow my goals religiously, but I like to think of them as a path to follow, that some times it decides to take one or two unexpected turns.

So, refreshing my last year’s post, these were my goals:

Learn or do something that pays for my travel bills.

 

Oh, no…, another huge fail! I actually kept going to the gym, this year I even changed gym twice…, but I also managed to “recover” those 8-9kgs I lost the year before…, this is definitely a goal to 2013! And I am going to go even further, I might even consider to attend to the Cork half marathon! (This is not a goal)

Yep, just two goals! One of my last year’s goals was not to make goals, and I guess I didn’t, so let’s review these two a bit.

Learn or do something that pays for my travel bills.

Nope, I didn’t. However I figured out what I really want to do, and what I am going to invest to make this become true. It will be damn hard to achieve, not a goal for 2014 definitely, but a life-term work in progress. I do love writing, I do love traveling, and I definitely do love to share my experiences with my peculiar sarcastic style, and with a bit of humor (some times). I want to become a travel writer, so I decided to make a big change on my blog.

I archived all my personal posts, they all are visible for those that have a registered account here, but I thought that would be nice to keep the blog clean as a travel blog. I also changed the template (I still need to tweak it a bit), I reorganized all the posts by new categories and new tags, and well…, a lot still to be done.

As for the income, not that is going to help much, but I added a small ads banner, not intrusive but might help in some way (or not).

Recover those 8-9Kgs I lost the year before

Ups! Nope, I didn’t…, but this was not a fail, au contraire, I bought a bike last May and I meant to use it only for weekend escapes, but I ended up surprising myself a lot, this last Summer was the best of the last 15 years in Ireland! I bike to work every single day for four months in a row! I saved money, I did a lot of exercise and I did a few detours outside Cork! I quit the gym though, with the bike I felt less motivated to go to an indoor area…

Overview of 2013

These reviews are very important for me, because I get a better perspective of how my life is changing reading my own words. The impact is unbelievable, reading old posts, written by me, and realizing that my life is changing so fast and though I can’t notice that unless I look back, it is kind of fascinating!

I wrote this for last year’s review:

This year ended up to be one, if not the one, of the best years of my life!

I could write the same for this year, but now I truly believe that hardly I’ll have such a big year! On a personal matter, so many things happened that I can’t still believe it, though most of them nor sharable on a public blog, sorry folks. But trying to sum a bit the things I can share: I did my first tattoo which, not surprisingly, it is related to my travels, I a greek meander; I bought my bike, and that really changed my routine! I went to Asia for the first time, publishing now my posts about Japan;

And though, this doesn’t sound “better than 2012”, the things that I won’t share beat any kind of event you can think of! I turned 30 this year, and this year also means a new beginning for me, I have a new birthday date to commemorate from now on 🙂

Goals for 2014

Writing and speaking English is not an issue for me, but I want to take this travel writer thing really serious, and for that I decided to attend for some Advanced English classes which I’ll pay a bit for… but I see it as an investment.

I plan to visit another continent, I postponed Africa so or I’ll go to North America or Oceania, I might pick North America first…

By the end of 2014 I plan to be away from Ireland or being preparing my move. I learned to like this country, though I feel that I need another life changing event soon.

Still about Ireland, I am going to buy a car soon which I intend to use almost every weekend to discover new places in Ireland and share with you all my experiences!

As for the blog, I want to post at least once a week and avoid long posts (like this one).

And I think this is more than enough, and a lot of responsibility for one year already! Bring it on 2014, I challenge you to become better than 2013, like 2013 did with 2012 😀


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2013 Review and 2014 Goals

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Asia Journal

A day for Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka-jinja and Gion

Kiyomizu-dera

I asked for tips to one of the girls helping at the hostel, she’s from Taiwan and also new in Japan, she recommended me to start with some temples, so I started with the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, but not before a relaxing coffee and a bit of reading before what would become the longest walk!

Bridge in Kyoto

Yasaka-jinja Shrine and Chion-in

I have to admit my expectations about Kyoto were too high, and I got a bit disappointed with what I saw when I arrived, I honestly don’t know what I had in mind, but I just didn’t like the so urban thing I first saw. After all, Kyoto is one of the biggest cities in Japan, what should I expect rather than a big urban city? When I started my tour, through Kiyomizu-dera Temple slowly I start changing my opinion again, so much green there just next to the city center, then I went to Yasaka-jinja Shrine and Chion-in Temple which was really cool to get lost inside and enjoy all that not-urban area. I also had my first sushi in Japan near the Yasaka-jinja Shrine 😀

Chion-in

Gion and Nishiki Food Market

One area that a lot of people recommended me to visit is Gion district, it is nice during the day but totally different during the night, such an amazing atmosphere there! I really enjoyed getting lost there, I just walked around without a place to go, and by chance I found myself in Nishiki Food Market, the thing is that only back to the hostel I read that’s a very famous street! The food, the colors, the people, all of that looks so magical, I actually ended up eating there, some tuna sashimi on a stick. It is weird to eat big cubes of raw fish, the sashimi served in Europe is quite thin, there I saw it mostly in large pieces.

Nishiki Market

At some point I realized that my 32GB of storage wouldn’t suffice for my whole trip, and I found myself looking for a camera shop before it was too late, I had to buy an overpriced SD card for about 40€, but at least I wouldn’t end up without storage for more photos! Having that figured out, I just went to the hostel, with a few blisters on my feet! I have no idea how many kilometers I ended up walking that day! I was so tired that I almost fall asleep while chatting with Elma, and it was quite early when I fell asleep…

Food at Nishiki Market


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A day for Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka-jinja and Gion

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Asia Journal

My trip from Kurashiki to Kyoto by train

Ok, let’s give another try to the onsen in Kurashiki, I woke up early and since the shower is something that must be done, so, let’s try it again. My experience was a bit different this time, way more relaxing (probably because I was still sleepy) and my expectations about the onsen were now gone. Maybe that’s the way to do it, don’t over think about your travels, what is good for some might not be good for you.

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Asia Journal

Kurashiki, probably Japan’s cutest town

Time for some touring, I went to the historical center to walk around and discover a bit the town center, and it seems that everyone is getting married this time of the year! Kurashiki indeed looks like a nice place for some wedding photos with its canal and cute bridges, they can take great photos from several perspectives if the weather is in favor.

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Asia Journal

My staying at Kurashiki Ivy Square Hotel

The hiking the day before was tough, plus all the walking around, so after my long hot shower I slept like a baby for several hours until 5:30 am. I packed my stuff, I had my breakfast and I went to the train station to head to Kurashiki. Honestly, I almost scratched Kurashiki from my list, the reviews I read sounded like the city was a total tourist rip-off place, but I decided to give it a try, why not? I like small places, probably I’ll enjoy Kurashiki a bit more. At least I know the hotel has good reviews, the Kurashiki Ivy Square Hotel.

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Asia Journal

A few hours to explore Miyajima town

While I was getting closer to the town, I saw that the tide was low and that a lot of people were next to the tori, I kinda of regretted in the moment the fact that I visited the tori already, it would mean that I couldn’t get inside again without having to pay a new ticket… Surprise surprise, when the tide is low the entrance to the tori is not even through the temple, everyone can go there for free and so did I! That’s an impressive monument, and being next to it it is quite nice, I walked around a bit and then I was happy enough to go back to the town and relax another bit, with the book my Greek friends gave to me last year while having another cappuccino.

People visiting the torii during the low tide

Why do I always drink cappuccino? Because everyone knows what that is, though, some people like to personalize it in such a way that it becomes some other kind of coffee beverage also named cappuccino… Details…

Well, something was still missing, postcards! And so far, I’ve noticed that here they sell a lot of junk, things that you know you don’t need and most probably you really won’t buy it anyway, but postcards were hard to find, and stamps is another problem but I am happy I managed to get what I wanted 🙂

The torii by the end of the day

What else could I do? If not just keep walking around, it was already getting dark so no point in renting a bike for 1 hour, tops 2, and at some point I got a bit hungry, so I decided to try the traditional oysters, they were selling it in several different places and restaurants. Not bad, but I was expecting a meal and not just two oysters… That’s why Japanese people are thin and I am fat 😡

The torii during the sunset

And finally night! Time for the night photo shooting, a few photos here, a few there, long exposures and different arrangements, and… What? Why can’t I shoot? Auto-focus on? Nope… Lack of storage? Nope, but soon it will happen… Battery? Oh no… Time to go back home! I should have prepared myself for that, but no…. Bah! Well, at least I took a few photos, better that than none 🙂 let’s just see how do they look when I check them on the computer…

Nothing else to do, just time to take the ferry back to the mainland, the train and the tram to the hotel. Going to bed at 8pm, that was indeed a long day… Tomorrow another trip to a different city!

The torii at night


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A few hours to explore Miyajima town

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Asia Journal

Hiking Mount Misen in Miyajima

Another long day ahead, I set the alarm for 5am, to take one of the first ferries to Miyajima and enjoy the day properly without having to run. With time for a small hike and maybe bike. And that kind of happened… I indeed woke up at 5 am, I double checked the flyer with the touristic info for Miyajima and I saw a small detail…, the first ferry is at 8:30. Damn, can I go back to sleep? I did try indeed… I guess I was ready for Mount Misen!

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Europe Reviews

A short overview of Killarney town

The weekend of November 23rd/24th I spent in Killarney, I’ve passed through the town a few times but never actually stayed a whole day there. I did it finally, the town is the start/end of the Ring of Kerry Route and it should be properly appreciated.

How to get there?

From Cork you can go either by train or bus, the train is pricy comparing with the bus and in my opinion doesn’t worth much the trouble. It won’t save you much more time, and the price is twice as much. By bus you can use the buseireann company or any of the few travel  agencies that do the Ring of Kerry tour, though if you want to stay overnight isn’t the best idea. By car it is really easy, just follow the N22 and you’ll get there in about 2 hours and half, maybe three.

What to do in Killarney?

Killarney is a very touristic place in Ireland, the city center is full with stores, bookshops, restaurants and pubs (like almost everywhere in Ireland). You can spend a full day just wandering around, we were lucky with the weather, this weekend was really sunny perfect to enjoy the streets and some of the cafés with esplanade.

Really close to the town there are the Lakes of Killarney, you can go there by taxi about 6€, but you’ll want to enjoy it and go around, be prepared for a hiking day or go by car. The lakes are stunning, a must visit place in Kerry.

At night, like it is normal in Ireland, Killarney also has a good variety of pubs, life and traditional music are easy to find, mostly during touristic seasons.

My recommendations

One weekend in one place is never enough to make proper recommendations, but there are some places that stand out, and for me in Killarney the Pay As You Please is a must visit place, for lunch dinner or even just a coffee. The outside area is really inviting just by itself, we spent the whole afternoon and even had lunch there, on a sunny day the esplanade is going to be sunny the whole afternoon. The food was really good, and the staff deserved 5 stars for their sympathy. I’ll come back for sure!