The Magical Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

Tourists in Kyoto have always raved about the beauty of Kiyomizu Dera temple and they are 100% right when I get to see it in my own eyes. For most visitors in Kyoto, I find this is one of the must-see especially in spring and autumn. 20160401_123253-01[1]The walk from the bus stop to the temple complex is a great experience, with shops, small restaurants, crowds, people in kimono, etc. – definitely worth a good look around. The temple and associated buildings are beautifully and lovingly cared. The large wood balcony is definitely a sight to be admired and the view is splendid. Looking at it from below, when you go around the circuit is also really worthwhile as you see how the balcony is set up, truly an intricate work.20160401_113010-01[1]20160401_131110-01[1]20160401_113310-01[1]20160401_113304-01[1]20160401_113441-01[1]20160401_113526-01[1]20160401_113747-01[1]

20160401_114205-01[1]20160401_114826-01[1]20160401_114303-01[1]

Although there were lots of people, the crowd added to the charm of our Kiyomizudera experience since a lot of Japanese locals were in their colorful kimonos.20160401_115321-01[1]20160401_115641-01[1]20160401_115446-01[1]20160401_115413-01[1]

20160401_115759-01[1]
And oh, what a strange thing to be under those lovely cherry blossoms! 20160401_115041-01[1]20160401_115215-01-01[1]20160401_115222-01[1]

FACT CHECK:
During the Edo period, a tradition where people would jump from the 13 meter tall veranda to the ground. It was said that if one were to survive such a plunge, one’s wish would be granted. Of the 234 recorded jumps in history, approximately 85% survived the fall. The practice is now prohibited, I couldn’t imagine how many could have died if they still do it until now. I just can’t. haha!20160401_122811-01[1]20160401_122736-01[1]20160401_121222-01[1]20160401_120948-01[1]20160401_120853-01[1]20160401_120831-01[1]Once you’re finished exploring the balcony area, follow the path out from the balcony and you’ll see a flight of stairs that will lead you up to the Jishu Shrine. This small but pretty cute shrine is dedicated to the deity Okuninushi, the god of love and matchmaking.
Praying there is said to help one succeed in finding an appropriate love match. And of course! I did mine. lol.20160401_121340-01[1]20160401_121706-01[1]20160401_121639-01[1]20160401_121606-01[1]Walk the trail across and then down to the triplet Otowa waterfall. People come to the temple to drink water from the falls by collecting it in tin cups; the water is said to have therapeutic properties, and drinking from the three different streams is said to confer health, longevity, and success in studies.20160401_123253-01[1]20160401_123145-01[1]20160401_123040-01[1]20160401_125115-01[1]The walk was apparently a great way to be able to view and take photos of the temple’s wooden stage. The main hall is built out on a veranda onto pillars, a structure constructed without nails. Amazing Isn’t it?20160401_125136-01[1]

Heard some noise from my tummy. Oops! didn’t realized it’s about time for lunch, well I say late lunch! lol.

20160401_124032-01[1]20160401_124258-01[1] A perfect combo for the freezing cold weather!

After feeding those hungry pangs! Hmm. Recharged! Who’s not? lol. The awesome Kiyomizu dera experience doesn’t actually stop the moment you finish your meal in their ramen shop coz even on your way out is a beautiful surrounding filled with lovely cherry blossoms, garden and a view of the temple from afar. The walk through it is absolutely amazing!

20160401_125316-01[1]20160401_125402-01[1]20160401_125542-01[1]20160401_125538-01[1]20160401_125711-01[1]20160401_125638-01[1]20160401_125739-01[1]20160401_130032(0)-01[1]20160401_130052-01[1]

First part of the day ends here. If you are like me who never gets tired when it comes to exploring places, then let’s head on to Fushimi Inari Taipa. Click to read the famous landmark of kyoto.

Get There and Around

Kiyomizudera can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206 (15 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a ten minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively, Kiyomizudera is about a 20 minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station along the Keihan Railway Line.

 

 

20160401_114003-01[1]Stylishwanderer.com

 

Journey Through a Thousand Gates – Fushimi Inari

The moment we got off the train, I started craning my neck, looking for all the orange. Yes, to be honest! lol. Even if you have never heard of the Fushimi-Inari shrine, I’ll bet you’ve seen pictures of those reddish-orange torii gates, stood closely together forming like a tunnel. And a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was shot here, Who can remember? :p20160401_142154-01[1]20160401_142208(0)-01[1]The torii gateway snakes all the way up the mountains, creating several tunnels of redness amidst the heavy greenery. It was beautiful and as you can Imagine me on my first time visit, would be like, non stop snaps even if they all look the same. lol.20160401_143347-01[1]20160401_143349(0)-01[1]20160401_143348-01[1]The significance of the shrine located at Fushimi Inari is to honor Inari, the Shinto god of rice. You will see foxes sculpture throughout the grounds, as they are said to be the messengers for Inari. Each torii gate was donated by companies and individuals thankful for their blessings, the long tunnel of toriis is one of the most iconic and sacred landmarks of Kyoto. But, if you’re more interested in sightseeing than knowing the history, you can still enjoy the Fushimi Inari shrine. There’s so much to see and you could easily spend over four hours exploring the offerings of the religious site.20160401_142216-01[1]20160401_142354-01[1]20160401_152556-01[1]20160401_152558-01[1]I actually had no idea how much hiking would be involved just to get up the mountain. (My bad! I never made a search on this) So, we just followed the trail with boldness? haha! As it gets steeper, freezing cold as we get higher, sadly, I just can’t. Too bad to stop at the middle of the hike but I literally felt like grasping for air. Nasal flaring to its highest level. Sorry. I fail. haha! The torii tunnels are literally going up to the top of the mountain, and if you are tough enough to climb the whole thing, then it would be a very rewarding feeling when you reach the top. 20160401_143926-01[1]20160401_143612-01[1]20160401_150219-01[1]20160401_144559-01[1]20160401_144613-01[1]

Okay, back to the main entrance after the failure hike with these kawaii ladies. :p 20160401_152819-01[1]20160401_152810-01[1]

If you can make it at the top of the mountain you surely will witness a beautiful scenery but like me who fail the hike, haha! Just head back, food stalls are waiting for you! lol. (the main reason why I’m no longer fit) I must admit! :p
20160401_154417-01[1]20160401_153447-01[1]20160401_154835-01[1]20160401_155832-01[1]20160401_154302-01[1]


GET THERE AND AROUND

20160401_161702-01[1]
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, 140 yen one way from Kyoto Station, not served by rapid trains). The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.

20160401_161001-01[1]

 

Coat/Romper/Turtle neck top  Dotonbori Shopping Arcade

Vintage suede shoes F21 Osaka Japan

Loose-type Backpack Esprit

20160401_160453-01[1]Stylishwanderer.com

 

 

 

Kinkaku-ji: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji Temple, in all its majesty is something you must see with your own eyes to believe. A stunningly beautiful temple covered in gold leaf, even seeing it in person feels almost illusory. It’s as if viewing a famous painting for the first time. But it is so much more than just art, it is a piece of history that solely rests in the peaceful pond of Kyoto.20160402_142656-01[1]20160402_142641-01[1]

Admission is ¥400. 20160402_141746-01[1]

Walking towards the Golden Pavilion, you’ll see the hojo, (Ooops! this ain’t yet the temple) lol. :p This is actually the head priest’s former living quarters. 20160402_141542-01[1]20160402_141538-01[1]

Voilaaah! From afar you can see the glimmering glory of this temple reflecting its beauty in the surrounding pond. 20160402_142028-01[1]20160402_142251-01[1]20160402_143109-01[1]

The Golden Pavilion, as it’s commonly known, was originally built in 1397. It withstood wars and time only to be burnt down in 1950 by a monk suffering from mental illness. The current temple is rebuilt in 1955 based on the original structure and more extensive gold leaf coating was used in this version. In all its glistening glory, stands as a legacy of medieval Japan. It is a World Cultural Heritage Site and one of seventeen locations that comprise the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. 20160402_142448-01[1]20160402_142524-01[1]I wasn’t expecting it to be that gold! lol.
And as you walk past the temple is a small native hut with pretty old mementos. They also sell some souvenir! :p20160402_143215-01[1]

Just follow the pathway inside the temple grounds and it will lead you to their zen garden.

20160402_143528-01[1]20160402_143748-01[1]20160402_143720-01[1]20160402_143822-01[1]

There’s still a lot to see though, infact there is also a silver temple located nearby called “Ginkaku-ji”. Despite the name, the temple isn’t covered in silver but is believed to have earned its name from the moonlight reflecting on its dark exterior, which used to be covered in black lacquer. It isn’t not a waste if you can’t make it to the silver pavilion (my tip) :p

Pathway heading out flooded with tourists 🙂20160402_144253-01[1]

From Kyoto Station:

Slowest and easiest route:
Bus #101 or #205 from Kyoto station, about 40 minutes, ¥230.

Fastest route:
Karasuma line train to Kitaoji, 13 minutes, ¥260. Then take bus #101, 102, 204, or 205 to Kinkaku-ji, 10 minutes, ¥230.

As per my Itinerary, I spent half day in Arashiyama district  (Click to read post). Leave the Scenic Countryside of Kyoto around 1 or 2 to visit Kinkakuji temple. You probably will end around 4-5 depending on the crowd, traffic etc. and just nice to be back in kyoto station before sunset. If you are planning to take the shinkansen ride bound for tokyo then this I say is the most time efficient course if you still want to explore kyoto before leaving for tokyo on the the same day. ENJOY!

20160402_143134-01[1]Stylishwanderer.com

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: A Walk Through Another World

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights. Without a doubt one of the most photographed attractions but no picture can capture the feeling of standing in the midst of the sprawling bamboo grove – the whole thing has a profound sense of oddness that is somewhat unlike any normal forest we know of.
20160402_095109-01[1]20160402_094648-01[1]20160402_094646-01-01[1]This should be a must in your itinerary. Its small breezy paths flanked by tall bamboo on either side create a bizarre atmosphere. Walking into the extensive bamboo grove is like entering another world – the thick green bamboo stalks seem to continue endlessly in every direction with an odd quality of the light.
20160402_094459-01[1]20160402_094549-01[1]20160402_094848-01[1]
And there you are who can’t resist taking many snaps end up disappointed with the results: I tell you, photos just can’t capture how enchanted the place is.
20160402_094129-01[1]20160402_094045-01[1]

 

20160402_095032-01[1]
Stylishwanderer.com

Universal Studios Japan: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

20160330_134208(0)-01-01[1]On my visit, Universal Studios had a “Re-born” parade to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.  So glad to have witnessed the fun parade where casts of different attractions were present. Teary-eyed as I was watching right in front of my eyes, like as if I was part of it. Too dramatic. Lol. But yes, it’s true. A sprightly mood from everywhere. Crowded but fun. Staffs drones smiling and waving to everyone. A vibe literally contagious.20160330_152024-01[1]20160330_151612(0)-01-01[1]20160330_142526-01-01[1]Great if you fancy a whole day out. And if you do so, then I recommend getting a fast pass, if not you might end up losing your temper. Fast pass gives you fast access to most of the attractions from the massive queues especially the rides. But for some who don’t usually take rides, like me,haha (Yes, I’m a scaredy cat.) Lol. then single pass is fine since the park alone is already a fun attraction. Amazing sight with a sublime atmosphere. Definitely, never a dull moment for all age group.20160330_142157-01[1]20160330_161610-01-01[1]20160330_161615-02[1]20160330_162204-01[1]20160330_162414-01[1]20160330_162425-01[1]20160330_162514-01-01[1]20160330_154742-01-01[1]20160330_161131-01[1]20160330_161229-01[1]20160330_155302-01[1]20160330_160732-01[1]20160330_160306-01[1]

Lucky I’m not fond of the rides, and if you are then just go get ready for the insanely loong queue for each one.

So, here’s where I was busy queueing from. Foood! I prefer queueing for them. lol. :p

20160330_142025-01[1]20160330_141958-01[1]20160330_145912-01-01[1]20160330_152414-01[1]20160330_152848-01[1]20160330_171618-01[1]20160330_171731-01[1]20160330_154434-01-01[1]

My visit to USJ was not even a full day. The morning itinerary was in NARA and back to Osaka, headed straight to Umeda and finally spent afternoon here till around 7 in the evening. It may look packed but it was not. See blog post for the morning trip to NARA. As to my memory, reached nearly 3. Despite the crowd, still able to get in. Hurray for luck! lol.20160330_154927-01-01[1]20160330_154933-01-01[1]20160330_154935-01-01[1]20160330_155746-01[1]20160330_155531-01[1]20160330_155514-01[1]20160330_160218-01[1]20160330_155130-01[1]20160330_155114-01[1]20160330_155329-01[1]20160330_154539-01[1]If you are visiting japan, do visit Universal Studios in Osaka and never miss to get a feel of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Apparently it’s the main attraction and whether you are a fan or not, most likely you will end up getting stunned.20160330_172024-01[1]20160330_172048-01[1]20160330_181506-01[1]20160330_182143-01[1]20160330_181938-01[1]20160330_181951-01[1]20160330_182013-01[1]20160330_182110-01[1]Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hmm.. Need I say more?20160330_182152-01[1]20160330_182652(0)-01[1]20160330_182503-01[1]20160330_182652-01[1]20160330_182807-01[1]20160330_182250-01[1]20160330_182320_001-01[1]
Each attraction has time entry specially during peak season. So for a 5pm timing for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was just perfect. As the sun finally set off. The lights making it more real. The weather dropped further making me feel even more cold. Brrrrr!20160330_182902-01-01[1]20160330_183147-01[1]20160330_183345-01[1]20160330_184755-01[1]

I’m really lazy to queue especially when I see it’s too looong. But okay, I’ll try for once. Just for this famous one, Butter Beer!

20160330_184815-01[1]20160330_185209-01[1]20160330_185309-01[1]20160330_185443-01[1]

And since I survived the long queue, I bought one with the mug instead of the disposable cup. My memory for this awesome trip to Osaka!

Sayonara!20160330_190405-01[1]20160330_191057-01[1]Get There and Around

By train

The entrance gate of the Universal Studios Japan is located a five minute walk from Universal City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line (also referred to as JR Sakurajima Line). From Osaka Station, there are several direct trains per hour (15 minutes, 180 yen) and many more connections that require an easy transfer at Nishikujo Station.

20160330_191516-01[1]Stylishwanderer.com

Forever 21 Knee high boots, Warmer tights

Online Free flow trench coat and Turtle neck top

Side Trip To Nara: Maximizing Your Day From Osaka

Nara is a pretty small city. It was the capital of Japan before Kyoto. It can be visited as a side trip from Kyoto or Osaka, but, its relatively nearer to Osaka.20160330_094246-01[1]20160330_094253-01[1]Half-day (four hours) would be enough to see a lot of Nara’s major sights. But we managed to make it less than that. Why so fast? No it wasn’t at all, just nice to cover the most visited areas. The major sites too were situated just around the grounds of the park. Yay! Easy breezy for a lazy me. Lol.

First stop, Nara Park. A public park located at the foot of Mount Wakakusa. Over 1,200 wild sika deer classified as a natural treasure roam freely around the park nudging tourists for food and playfully snatching maps and anything else they think could possibly also be food. As they were EVERYWHERE, and so are their poop. Be careful! Haha
20160330_094904-01[1]20160330_094851-01[1]20160330_090541-01[1]20160330_091740_001-01[1]20160330_091907-01[1]20160330_094043-01[1]20160330_094105-01[1]The fun part is feeding the FOREVER-HUNGRY deer! Lol. You can buy “shika sembei” (deer biscuits) from any random vendors to feed them. But be sure to buy at your own risk. Amazed as I was since the deer knows not to steal from the vendors but once they caught you buying the biscuit, gotcha! They literally will chase you till you hand them down all your biscuits. Clever!
20160330_092817-01[1]20160330_092457-01-01[1]20160330_092445-01[1]Tōdai-ji alone is even worth making the trip for. It is a World Heritage site and possibly the most popular destination for tourists. Capping Nara off is Kofuki-ji Temple and its 600-year-old five-storey pagoda, the original of which was moved in Nara from Kyoto in the 8th century.20160330_091148-01[1]20160330_085236-01[1]20160330_085309-01[1]20160330_085538-01[1]20160330_085618-01[1]20160330_085442-01[1]20160330_091133-01[1]20160330_091003-01[1]20160330_090739-01[1]
Nara is really just a quick trip from Osaka. You can have it half a day or even a few hours if you only wish to see the most visited attractions.

Left around 11 and roughly would take about 45mins travel back to Osaka. Decided to eat lunch there so trying out the sushis in Lawson (Convenience store in Japan) definitely a big help to ease my hunger pangs. Eee!

You might want to take a grab of these sushis. WORTH a TRY of your 1 dollar, 100Jpy. Yes I said it right!

20160330_095533-01[1]

WHERE TO NEXT? Arriving back at Osaka head straight to Umeda Sky Building.

UMEDA SKY BUILDING

There’s no better place to get a bird’s eye view of Osaka than the Floating Garden Observatory. Stands 173-meter-tall. It gives viewers a 360° panoramic vista of the entire city. Umeda Sky Building is the most amazing piece of architecture featuring two 40-storey towers in the district of Osaka. The two main towers are connected with each other by the Floating Garden, a rooftop observatory on the 39th floor.Screenshot_20160512-003132-01[1]20160330_120613-01[1]20160330_120617(0)-01[1]20160330_120555-01[1]Screenshot_20160512-002813-01[1]Screenshot_20160512-002710-01-01[1]20160330_120457-01[1]From Jr Osaka Station take the “Chuo Kita Guchi” (north central exit). As you are heading Umeda, You’ll walk past by Grand front Osaka. It is a large commercial complex north of JR Osaka Station in the Umeda district that was opened in 2013. It consists of a wide variety of shops and restaurants, an Intercontinental hotel, office and event space, as well as a residential tower.Screenshot_20160511-001841-01[1]20160330_113004-01[1]20160330_112957_001-01[1]After the panoramic vista of the entire city of Osaka from the Sky building of Umeda, take the way back to Osaka Station. Eat yourself broke by taking a stop at Grand Front Osaka for shops and restos inside the huge mall.20160330_124708-01[1]20160330_124707-01[1]20160330_123433-01[1]Spotted a nice Japanese small resto just across the Grand Front Osaka and with No regrets for a random pick of place to eat. I say, really not bad when you are in Japan. The authentic Japanese food, Oh, well I just love it!

So, for a first time traveller in Japan, never get your lazy feet off to rest! haha After pumping some fuel in my tummy, time for an afternoon journey. Hurray for Universal Studios Osaka. See my separate post for the awesome theme park! 🙂

20160330_072749-01[1]stylishwanderer.com