Saturday, June 30, 2012

Strong wind from the Ocean - Outer Banks Day 2

Hey!
So had another great did doing some stuff around the area. We enjoyed out continental breakfast that is included with our stay there and it was alright I guess. Any who we headed south into the Cape Hatters Park where we drove over Oregon Inlet and onto Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge where we usually go to enjoy a walk and see what we can see. You should go for it if you are in the area! Also keep driving south =along the banks to Cape Hatteras where you will see the iconic Hatteras Lighthouse! I went there before they had to move it back from the ocean for the threat of the ocean moving to close and possibly taking it down and I have been to it since it's new relocation after the move. We also went over through Manteo on 64 to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on the other side of the Croatan Sound. There you can drive through some of the dirt roads along canals and wetlands and see Alligators in North Carolina! Pretty cool, also if you are lucky you can see some Black Beers, deer and if you are really lucky the introduced the Red Wolf there but they are hard to see as there is a hundred there I guess. I was standing in my seat and out of the window was we were safari-ing through the refuge so I could spot an alligator, it was fun till the mosquitos started to eat us alive! We then  went to the beach and chilled out with a beer. The wind was really strong and made some strong current and waves which was different from the previous day. Was great though. Dinner was great, look below for photos and description of how that was and also we did Putt-putt (miniature golf) after which was fun! Check out the photos of the day below everyone!

The sun rise in the morning was great, love it every time...
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Ryōan-ji (Temple of the Dragon at Peace) - Kyoto, Japan

The famous rock gardens of the Ryoan-ji temple in the Northwest part of Kyoto Japan.
The rock gardens are revered as one of the finest examples of a stone rock garden, a Zen garden, other know as kare-sanui. It is also on the list of World Heritage Sites.
It's a pleasure to look at and just relaxing and stare at it for periods of time.
The secret of the rock garden is that there really ins't a secret as to what it is. The original creator is still a debate and what it represents can be interpreted in so many ways it's insane. the gardens have even been in a small study from Nature journal and have been analyzed to see what it meaning is. There really might not be a mean but something that is suppose to draw the viewer into deeper thought and stimulate creativity in the mind possibly.

The Japanese and few foreigners sat there for long periods gazing at the gardens of Ryoan-ji. 
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Need to take off your shoes before you enter the building and go to the gardens...

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Storm is Brewing- Outer Banks, North Carolina Day 1

Hey everyone!
So a small little break from the posts from Japan, I had just gotten back from a two night trip down to Nags Head, a town on the Outer Banks, that my family and I go just about every year for the past...well for a long time I guess haha. We have done pretty much everything that you can do down there so that is why we don't really go for a week but for like two nights. Going for a week with someone that hasn't really been there is fun though, especially if you rent a house for the week or a small condo and do some cooking!
Anyways the first day of our trip we drove down there and the sun and temperature was really hot but the wind was like non-existent and the ocean had like no waves. It was really weird because the Outer Banks usually has some rough waters with a strong undertow but for some reason it wasn't there when we got there. Plus the water had a great feel to it and wasn't really cold, and there was nothing in the water! No seaweed, jelly fish or anything floating in it, very surprising.
We did though find out when we left home, Richmond, that there was some really bad weather and when I mean bad I mean like a tornado went through the areas there and did a lot of destroying. Lots of damage and the power was out for a lot of people for a while. I had a friend in my neighborhood to check out my house to see if there was damage because I had heard that someone else had a tree get struck by lightening. Luckily he said that our property looked to be in good shape. We live in the woods, if you have noticed from my photos of home, so the trees really buffer strong winds from knocking them over. Thats the secret!
Anyways enjoy some of the photographs from day 1. I started to use a mix of cameras, my T3i, my old Fujifilm Finepix S1800 and our old Nikn coolpix L3 which is really bad but I think it did ok haha.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dandelion Flower (Taraxacum)

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The Dandelion is from a larger group of flowering plants from the family called Asteraceae. Native to Eurasia from about 30,000,000 years ago and eventually brought over to North America by immigrants. They are seen as a weed world wide as they grow so fast and root out other plants. A good piece of information is that the two different species are entirely edible if you ever need to live in the wild! You will find that the dandelion is yellow and then of course there is the seed head that looks like the photographs in this post. When flowering is completely finished the head drys out for a few days and the petals and stamens drop off. the bracts and ball opens up into the sphere in this post where they are like mini parachutes waiting for the wind to lift them off and take them to an area so they can seed.
Interesting how the name came to be "dandelion." The name dandelion in the English language is from the French "dent de lion", which means lions tooth because the yellow leaves are coarse toothed. In Chinese language it's called pú gōng yīng which means "flower that grows in public spaces by the riverside." Fancy right?
Now even though it is a weed doesn't mean it is bad. First it is edible so eat them up if you like. The tap root of the plant brings nutrients up to the top soil where it helps other plants and it also attracts pollinators so it might not be all that bad if it is in your garden!
I will warm though, if you are allergic to pollen DO NOT EAT them when they are pollinating or have pollen on them. 
more below...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ninna-ji Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Another Temple! This Time it is Ninna-ji which I also saw on my first day in Kyoto!
These grounds are rather large and spread out but definitely worth a visit.
This is the head temple of the Omura school of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism and was founded in 888 AD by Emperor Uda. It is part of the World Heritage Sites!
This was a great temple ground to go to, it isn't to far from the famous rock gardens of Ryoan-ji temple and well worth the detour after you visit there. 

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This is the main gate Niomon at the front of the grounds.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Feeling restless and them some work

So I was only a week back at home and I had already had the restless feeling of leaving once again. I actually just gave my grandmother a call to see if they needed any major work done like they have had in the past. I wanted to be out there and needed some work and they needed someone to fix their garage and not pay the money for a contractor. So it is a win-win on both sides and plus we get to visit between working as they were very interested in my trip to Japan and wondering what I plan for the future!

I took the long way to their house in Northern Maryland up route 301. More country and easy driving but longer then interstate 95...
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kinkaku-ji, Temple of the Golden Pavilion - Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan

Hey Everyone!
So the very first place that I visited on my trip, besides the airport, Kyoto Station and such, is Kinkaku-ji better known as the temple of the Golden Pavilion! Technically the area where the Zen Buddhist Temple grounds are was once a villa and dates back to 1397 where it was purchased and then transformed to the present temple complex. The present structure has been there since 1955.
It is also a World Heritage Site!
You will also notice it as one of the main attractions of Japan and especially Kyoto!

This is the main part of the Golden Pavilion Temple of course. 
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kamo River (Kamo-gawa) - Kyoto, Japan

Hey everyone!
In Kyoto, Japan you will realize there is this river called Kamo River that runs along the eastern side of the city. It is pretty much a controlled river with walls on the side and also the bottom of it looks artificial with concrete. Also some spill ways here and there as it really isn't that deep or fast moving river. When the palace was constructed in the 8th century they re-routed the river to the east to avoid the palace since the floods would cause damage.
I recommened a walk along it if you stop by Kyoto on your travels. there is a nice path that runs along it for a long time. I stayed in Northern Kyoto off Kitayama Road by the Botanical gardens and take the path from there all the way to Kyoto Station if you would like to!
I wish I had spent more time on its banks then I did! If you are biking this is the way to go as well, just ride along the river and skip lights and the crowds on the sidewalks!
I don't have any photographs but my last night in Japan when I went back to Kyoto I spent on the bank at night for a little while. The other side was lit up by bars and restaurants with orange lanterns and of other colors. Day or night you must stop by the Kamo River!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Imamiya Shrine in Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan

Hey Everyone again! Another post from my lovely trip to Japan!
This time from Kyoto. I stayed off of Kitayama dori (way/street) where I was able to easily walk to Imamiya Shrine (Imamiya-jinja). This was a great shrine to walk to every evening almost as I just enjoy walks through the city.
It was built originally for the praying for safety of Kyoto that was under going an epidemic in 994 and moved to where it is now in 1001. There are some structures that are there now that have been built since 1902.
There is also a festival every second Sunday in April called the Yasurai Matsuri.


This is the East Gate into the Gardens, the one I used the most since I came from this direction.

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I was with two very nice people that happened to be staying at the Homestay that I was at! We walked around together that evening to check out the local area.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Azalea's remind me of Japan

Hey everyone!
I had some more photographs of my Azalea's that I took a few months back before the whole school thing got really busy and such and now I want to share the rest of them with you guys.
When I look at azaleas now it reminds me of my time in Japan. they really use a lot of azaleas and you will find at least a dozen at each temple or shrine. They are even planted throughout the city. They are a great bush that are strong against many obstacles and they have gorgeous flowers in the late spring and early summer. I was able to see a Azalea Bonsai exhibit in Ueno park back in Tokyo which was great, these photos will come soon too.
Not only that but there was someone that I taught the word azalea and what the plant looked like to them and I am now reminded of every time I see a beautiful flower on a azalea of her...



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Studio Ghibli Museum - Mitaka, Japan

Hey Everyone!
So first post that I am throwing up from my marvelous trip to Japan and back is the museum of Studio Ghibli! I can tell you right off the bat that it is totally worth going to see if you are a fan. You can not take any photographs inside the building as they want to keep the special experience within your heart and keep it that way. It is really a special experience too! Also get your tickets in advance, you can get them at a convenience store like a Lawson or if you are from the United States get them through the JTB and there offices in the States. Check that here.
The official site for the Museum is here as well.
The best way to access the museum is by getting to the station of Mitaka by the JR Chou Line and from there exit the south side/exit and follow the water/stream/creek along the road towards the museum. You will see signs that says how far you are from there! Or just right outside of the station wait where a local bus that is themed liked Studio Ghibli movies where it will take you there at a cost of 300 yen or 500 yen round trip!
I recommend the walk! Cheap and nice!

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So I walked to and from the museum which is nice and you get to see the little things! Like this sign!

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Here is a local sign pointing the way down the road!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Back at home

Hey everyone!
It is Monday evening now and I arrive back home in Richmond, VA on Thursday from my glorious trip to Japan. It was the best time of my life and totally worth traveling alone. The experience was fully enriching and the friends that I have made are awesome!
I spent eleven days in Kyoto then traveled by bullet train to Tokyo to stay at the Sakura hostel in Asakusa, it was a great place and interesting area! I actually didn't stay my last two days there in Tokyo as I left on a night bus to go back to Kyoto, by far my favorite of the two places. I didn't go back for that reason alone though.
Japan is the best time I have had and hope one day I can go back to Kyoto to finish the places that I didn't get to see. Traveling has put a new perspective for me in life and I am more motivated for my future now then I was a few day before I left.
I am sad that the trip is over as I miss the people, the culture and the country.
It's odd being back home as I notice things really different from the two countries. It's interesting and hard to explain...
Well look forward to more photos coming soon everyone!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Last weekend in Japan

Hey everyone!
It has been a little while since my last little update.
I have been having an amazing experience in Japan. I have met some many great people especially a select few that I can call close friends now. Taking this kind of trip by myself had opened a lot more options and has made me take my trip as it came to me. I haven't kept to the days like I have planned but that is OK as it has been great. I leave in a few days which sadness me. I am not really home sick and I love the people and the country here. I may be planning to come back as soon as I got home. This trip may have influenced the way my life play out from what I did have in mind. I am graduated and need to find a job but I have a lot of opportunities in the world and not just in my city.
Oh!! Another thing, I loved Kyoto a TON. I loved it more then here in Tokyo. Tokyo is a great city but don't spend a ton of time here, well unless you like city life of course. Just don't go to Kyoto for three days. It would be a buzz kill if you found out what you missed out on for sure. Kyoto is great with some city life but lots of culture and history. The sites are great and I would say give Kyoto at least 5 days to visit some great places. I was there for 11 days and I didn't do it all and I had a great fantastic time there that I would love to live there for a while. If you think temples all look the same and the shrines then perhaps Kyoto isn't for you for a extended time. I met a few tourists that were there for a whopping three days saying that they were tired of temples and they looked the same and wanted to move on. OK that's cool but you are missing out, these temples are extremely unique in there own way each one. I could go back to quite a few of them multiple times.
I will post all of the great places with photos once I am home. Tons to recommend for travelers and tips as well.
I will be sad to leave but I think I have an idea of what to do when I do leave.
Well I'll keep in touch!
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