FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Kyoto – Whisky & Sake

April 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Suntory Whiskey Tour… in 1923, Shinjiro Torii inspired by traditional Scottish whisky…

…envisioned one filled with the essence of Japanese nature, hand-crafted by artisans…

…subtle & refined, yet complex & suited for the delicate palate of the Japanese…

…to enhance their dining experience.

  • Fushimi Sake District…charming & picturesque willow-lined canals…

…home to nearly 40 breweries…dating to 1637…

…with traditional Japanese lunch in original Sake Storage House.

Today’s Special Secret Treat! – Sekihoji Temple… Zen temple where famous artist Ito Jakuchu spent over 10 years creating the 500 statues of disciples of Buddha.

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine…1300-years-old & famous for its magical…

…seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant vermilion torii gates…

…lining the paths up and down a mountain.

FUN-fact – Fushimi Shrine was dedicated to the god of rice and sake is known for bringing fortune.

More FF – Sekihoji Temple was not on our itinerary. It’s not even listed in guide books because it’s so remote.

More Treats! Yellow Cherry Blossoms!

FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Kyoto – Totally Templed

April 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Totally Templed & Uniquely UNESCO…

…as Kyoto has a grand total of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

  • 1st Stop – Kinkaku-ji…the Golden Pavilion…

…whose top two floors are completely covered in glittering gold leaf…

…started life in 1397 as a retirement villa for the Shogun…

…and based on his wishes became a Zen temple after his death in 1408.

  • 2nd Stop –Tenryu-ji Temple… one of the city’s five great Zen temples.

The tranquil temple has one of the most attractive Japanese stroll gardens in Kyoto…

…particularly stunning in spring with cherry blossoms & fall with autumn foliage.

  • 3rd Stop – Outside the temple…is the magical Arashiyama Bamboo Grove & Togetsuyoko Bridge.

  • 4th Stop – Royan-ji Temple… known as the “Temple of the Dragon at Peace”…

…famous for its iconic Zen rock garden…

…that features 15 mystical rocks floating adrift in a sea of white sand…

…& the perfect spot to contemplate the world…

…& the meaning of life.

  • 5th Stop – Kiyomizu-dera Temple…one of the most celebrated temples in Japan…

…perched high atop a hill…

…offering spectacular views of Kyoto…

…with its huge wooden veranda…

…at 38 feet high & 120 ft long protruding over a steep cliff…

…built in 1633 without using a single nail…

…& the reason we made this trip!

FUN-fact – Kiyomizu-dera  was one of the 21 places vying for the New 7 Wonders of the World. We have now officially made it to 20 of them!

Not so FF – Today was the coldest day so far! Glad I brought my silk long john’s!

  • Today’s Treat – “We be Stylin”… in our private car…with driver!

Our Guide Katsue, Me & Mr. Moto

FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Himeji

April 12, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Himeji Castle…AKA White Heron Castle…

…widely considered Japan’s most spectacular castle…

…due to its elegant white appearance & for its imposing size…

…& beauty was completed in 1609.

  • Its well preserved complex castle grounds…

…made up of over 80 buildings…

…spread across multiple baileys…

…& connected by a series of gates & winding paths…

…creating a labyrinth-like approach intended to slow down & expose attacking forces.

  • At the heart of the complex stands the main keep…

…a 6 story wooden structure with a series of steep, narrow staircases…

…with each level getting progressively smaller as you ascend.

  • The roof ornaments – incorporating a lion, dragon & fish – are believed to protect from fire.

FUN- fact – The Himeji Castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. And unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles.

  • Engyogi Temple…mountain top temple complex…

…requires a cable car to reach is over 1000 year old…

…& spread over a spacious densely forested area.

The Last Samurai Buildings

  • Takes 15 minute walk uphill to reach the first gate…

…& another 15 minutes to reach the Maniden…

…a beautiful wooden temple hall constructed on pillars on a steep slope.

  • Another five minute walk along forest trails brings you to the three massive wooden temple halls.

  • Belief was anyone who climbed this mountain would be purified both in body and spirit….so it became a pilgrimage site.

FUN- fact – Engyogi Temple was the location for movie the Last Samurai.

Not so FF – Full day of trains… buses… walking…thick cloud cover…coldest day of the trip so far…to the point of bone chilling!

FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Osaka

April 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Osaka Castle…

…five-tiered & nine-storied…

…with large golden sea creature ornaments…

…shimmering on the rooftop…

…surrounded by moats…

…gates & turrets…

…secondary citadels…

…& really impressive stone walls…

…with 40,000 rocks.

  • Construction began in 1583…

…with most buildings…

…& the castle tower…

…completed in 1585.

  • The entire Osaka Castle Park…

…covers about two square kilometers…

…has  600 cherry trees…

…a tea house…

…& incredible views of the castle tower from below.

  • Dotonbori Canal….

Clearly I Didn’t Take This!

Osaka Castle Park

…Osaka’s most famous tourist destination…

…jam packed shopping area…

….lively entertainment…

…renowned for its gaudy neon lights…

…extravagant signage…

…& enormous variety of restaurants & bars.

FUN-fact – Today’s Temps… warm & windy… very pleasant 75 degrees…with light rain & thick cloud cover.

FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Kanazawa

April 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Kenrokuen Garden…

…justifiably classified as one of Japan’s…

…“three most beautiful landscape gardens.”

  • The spacious strolling-style landscape & grounds…

…used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle.

  • Constructed by the ruling Maeda family…

…over a period of nearly two hundred years…

…opened to the public in 1871…

…features a variety of flowering trees…

…which provide the garden with…

…a different look for each season.

  • The name Kenrokuen literally means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”…

…referring to spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, abundant water & panoramic views…

…which according to Chinese landscape theory…

…are the six essential attributes…

…that make up a perfect garden.

FUN-fact – Winding streams & ponds were created by diverting water from a distant river via a sophisticated water system constructed in 1632.

Kanazawa Castle Gates

  • Nomura Samarai House…

…historic home & garden in Nagamachi…

…a very well preserved district…

…to the west of Kanazawa Castle.

  • Nagamachi was formerly the area…

…where the samurai of Kanazawa…

…lived with their families.

  • Today the area looks…

…pretty much the same…

…as it did in the Edo era…

…with canals & cobbled streets…

….that run between earthen tile-topped walls.

  • This has been a samurai…

…warrior house since 1583…

….many of the rooms are arranged….

…so that the lush green awe-inspiring garden…

…can be viewed from different angles…

…which includes an exquisite waterfall…

…winding stream & bridge made of cherry granite…

…various kinds of garden lanterns…

…& a many-storied tower…

…arranged here & there.

FUN-fact – Higashi Chayagai features traditional Japanese style houses where Samurai & Geisha walked the streets.

Higashi Chayagai Bridge

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