Friday, August 31, 2012

Chion-in Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Near Gion area you will find the Chion-in Tmeple, which is the head temple of Jodu-shu or Pure Land Sect. It was founded in 1133-1212 by Honen and he believed that by reciting Amida Buddha's name beings will be reborn in the Pure Land. 
Temple was built by Honen's student named Genchi in the memory of Honen where it was named Chion-in.  
A lot of it was being reconstructed and taken care of while I visited it so I could not see all of the temple grounds. 

The Sanmon which is the main gate shown below was built in 1619 and it is the largest structure of its kind that is still around in Japan. It is quite large when you stand next to it!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cliffs of Stony Man Mountain - Shenandoah National Park

Hey Everyone!
So I had gone with my dad one weekend hiking in the mountains and I was happy to find it was a lovely day with blue skies and breath taking clouds floating on by. 
This mountain has the second highest point in Shenandoah National Park offering great views and the hike isn't that bad. I recommend the thru hike if some one can pick you up. Start in the parking lot near Skyland Resort where the trail head for Stony Man Summit is. hike up there and then on the way back go North (it would be a left) on the Appalachian Trail and take it all the way to Little Stony Man Bluffs/Cliffs and then continue on the trail from those cliffs to the parking lot for Little Stony Man Cliffs. I had my dad drive my car and get me after the loop since he couldn't do the entire hike.
This is one of the two mountains that reach over 4,000 feet in the park, and the vistas that you can reach offer rock cliffs that you can stand on free of trees for perfect panoramic views. 

Fantastic skies, must go on a non-hazy day!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Meiji Jingu Shrine - Tokyo, Japan

This is a superb Shrine to stop at in Tokyo and it is a necessary stop if you are traveling to Tokyo.
The Meiji Jingu or Shrine is in Shibuya, Tokyo and I think best accessed from Harajuku Station, just take a right out of the station and look over the bridge and you will see the large Tori gate leading to the complex. 
This shrine was dedicated by the people of Japan to the spirits of Emperor Meiji Empress Shoken. 
Emperor died in 1912 and to honor him and all of his important work in the Meiji Restoration they decided to construct this shrine. The Emperor and Empress were known to go to a certain iris garden in Tokyo and they decided to pick that area to build the shrine. The shrine was built mostly of copper and cypress and was finally dedicated in 1920 with finishing up the entire grounds in 1926. 
Unfortunately it original was bombed in the air raids through Tokyo but a public fund raising was able to pull together the funds to rebuild and completed in 1958.
I didn't know this but in 2009 Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State at the time, stopped here first before any of her meetings as her first foreign trip representing Barack Obama
Emperor Meiji is very important to the up bringing of current Japan and its modernization. He was well respected indeed and the grounds are gorgeous and wonderful in the busy city of Tokyo. 

This is the gate you reach if you are near the Harajuku Station...

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Kyoto Gyoen National Garden & Imperial Palace - Kyoto, Japan

I spent a long time walking around the Kyoto National Gardens it is a pretty large park!
It is located near the center of the city and was the grounds of the Imperial Palace when Kyoto was still the capital of Japan. The nobles and imperial family resided here and once it moved these ground turned into a park free for all at any time. It is ran by the Ministry of the Environment but the actually Imperial Palace there is ran by the Imperial Household Agency and you need to apply for permission to enter and they will set a tour time with you. 

The gravel roads through out the park is vast and wide and it makes the park look enormous. Here is the entrance to the Imperial Palace!

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There are long walls that guard the inner area of the Palace. These walls are cased with motion sensors and lasers as they protect it pretty well. Don't get to close to the walls or you might have Samurai come after you!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple (Western Temple of the Original Vow) - Kyoto, Japan

This was a great temple to stop by at and it is near Kyoto Station!
This is the Tempe of the Western Vow which is one of the two sub temples of the complex of Judo Shinshu in Kyoto with the other being Higashi Hongan-ji Temple. You can see that post here
It was established in 1602 by a Shogun and it was split into two temples to lessen the power. It also happen to be a UNESCO site. This one is older then the other was well.

This temple was so much fun to view...


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Shijo Dori - Kyoto, Japan

Shijo Dori is a street that you can find at the entrance of Yasaka Shrine. It was many stores along it for goods if you are a tourist or looking for a good time. You might come across some Geisha or Maiko girls walking down some of the ally ways in the area later in the day!
You can get around well on the bus lines!


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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bamboo of Sagano - Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

This bamboo grove is always famously seen when ever I search bamboo pictures or Kyoto. It was really amazing to walk by it and it had people passing through looking up in aw. I wished I spent more time there.
Best an most interesting way to go out there other then the JR line is the Keifuku Electric Railroad. Also known as the Randen. The station is located right there in Arashiyama where it is easy to access all the great places in Arashiyama. The service line started in 1910!
Also enjoy more photos of Arashiyama here, Nonomiya, Moon crossing bridge here, and Tenryu-ji Temple!
Anyways 
The bamboo was large!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ueno Park - Taito, Tokyo, Japan

Ueno Park is a nice public park in Taito area of Tokyo. Best way to get there is stop at the Ueno Station and follow the signs in the station that point the way to Ueno Park, don't worry it is in English!!
It was established in 1873 and houses a lot of museums and a zoo! It is the most popular city park in all of Japan and it was one of the first established. It is a large area park with 133 acres. You will find tons of trees, baseball field, buildings, the zoo and ponds. There are also a few small shrine and temples there as well.
It is a great place to retreat to in Tokyo to get away from the busy city. It is free and there is plenty to walk around!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mary's Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive

This tunnel that was constructed in 1932 cuts through Mary's Rock which is a 3,514 foot mountain along Skyline drive. This tunnel is 610 ft (190 m) long and cuts straight through. This was impressive for the CCC (Civilian conservation Corps) to build as they built Skyline Drive for Shenandoah National Park. 

Its fun to drive on through and yell out your car window and hear the echo!

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info from Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tenryū-ji Temple - Arashyama, Kyoto, Japan

Tenryū-ji is the head temple of the Tenryu branch of Rinzai. It was founded in 1339 and construction finished in 1345 and was related to Emperor Ga-Daigo so it was held in the up most respect and there for it is ranked number one in Kyoto's Five Mountains. In 1994 it was registered as a UNESCO!
Check out the Arashiyama post here

This temple is a must to stop at while visiting Arashiyama! It is right down the street from the Raden station, just take a right!

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There are two parts to the Temple the outside gardens around the building and then inside! Get both! If you get the ticket for outside then the ticket for inside is cheaper by 100 or 200 yen.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden - Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Hey Everyone!
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a fantastic large garden with tons to offer. It use to be meant only for royalty and was finished in 1906 but destroyed from the ravages of war. The gardens transferred jurisdictions and opened to the public in 1949. Now it is ran by the Ministry of the Environment in January 2001 and get it's name then.
The gardens has a good mix with a large area. It offers Traditional Japanese garden with a tea house, English landscape style and also French formal. The place has a circumference of 3.5 km which is a good size in the middle of the ever so bustling are of Shinjuku and Shibuya of Tokyo. 
There are three entrances to get in, I used the Shinjuku Entrance. Near the train station there you can find signs that point the way to the entrance of the gardens, that is how I found it and don't worry it's in English. Entrance fee is 200 Yen for Adults and 50 Yen for children.


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The gardens are lovely to walk in with all the environment around you with the towering skyscrapers of Tokyo standing in the background...

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nonomiya-jinja Shrine (Shrine in the Country) - Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

In the lovely area of Arashiyama you can find this quaint little Shrine called Nonomiya-jinja or Shrine. It is also called the Shrine in the Country and it is a Shinto Shrine. 
During the Heian period of Japan, imperial princesses would stay at the Nonomiya Shrine for a year or more to purify themselves before they are able to represent the imperial family at the Ise Shrine.
Also the famous literature, The Tales of Genji, the shrine appears in chapter 10!

It was a nice stop when you are walking throguh the bamboo groves of Arashiyama. It is a very small shrine but is quite popular.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Life Size Gundam at Diver City - Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

While I spent my days in Tokyo in June I went to Odaiba and had to visit Diver City Tokyo Plaza and Gundam Front Tokyo being I love Gundam. I went on a Sunday afternoon and it was crowded and there was a pop star there for a mini concert so it was crowded. I recommend checking out the mall, the Life Size Gundam statue and of course on the top floor you will find Gundam Front Tokyo!

Spectacular to see!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Yasaka-no-to Pagoda - Kyoto, Japan

Hey Everyone!
Walking from Kiyomizu-dera Temple through the back streets of tradition I came across the Yasaka-no-to Pagoda. This Pagoda is a center piece of the Hokanji Temple which is under the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. It is 46 meters high and has been burnt down many times and the current structure has been standing since 1440
I was surprised that I came across such a lovely Pagoda standing in the streets of traditional Kyoto. It added to the excitement. In this area is where I came across Maiko Girls dressed up. You will find many traditional shops, restaurant, tea houses and a Geisha Houses in this area. I added the location at the bottom of the post to find it.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

View of Black Rock Summit - Shenandoah National Park

Finish up some of those photographs from camping with my friends!
Our first hike was Black rock Summit and it is roughly near mile post 85 on Skyline Drive.
It is a super easy hike and with a great view and a rock scramble that you can climb up upon. 

Grab a sandwich and bring it with you for a quick easy walk up the fire road trail to sit on the rocks and look out over the valley and mountains that surround you. This is an example of why they call it the Blue Ridge Mountains through here. It is from all of the isoprene from the trees that is released in the air that cause the bluish tint and haze through out the mountain range.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Poke Center - Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Hey everyone!
While I was just traveling around for fun in Tokyo I got off a station some where in Minato after I had viewed the Tokyo Tower and I stumbled upon a crowed of parents and children walking to this building. I was curious and I took the escalator up there and found piles of people sitting outside with their Nintendo 3DS playing Pokemon that is when it hit me that I was looking at the entrance of the Poke Center!
I didn't think I was going to be able to find it or stumble upon it. I decided to take a walk through and it was really crowded. Probably because it was a Sunday that I decided to go in. 
Lots of parents and children picking out Pokemon goodies. They had a wall of plushies that were cute. They had a lot of great stuff but I didn't stay long nor did I get anything because of the line at check out. They did have a sign up page at the entrance where you could get exclusive downloads for your Pokemon White or Black for the DS.
If you are going through Tokyo with a child, I am sure they would be tankful if you stop by here!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tokyo Banana

Hey Everyone!
So right about now, literally I think as I type this, is when exactly two months ago I got back from my trip to Japan. It seams like a dream that I was there but so real. It is an odd feeling that has yet left me.
Anyways more on that later...On my my home at Narita Airport after I went through security, I had to get rid of my Mets Grapefruit soda since I wasn't allowed to bring any outside liquids so I was very sad to depart from it. Especially when the vendors inside didn't have it. I did however manage to get my hands of the famous treat called "Tokyo Banana!"
Tokyo Banana is considered at least in the top 3 treats that are bought to be given as gifts from people that recently went to Tokyo. I was coming back and got it at the duty free store for my family and myself to try! On the outside they are Twinkie like but inside is like a banana custard that taste like mashed up bananas. It was really interesting and I enjoyed having them. I got a box and there was a total of 8 I think. My family didn't like them that much though ha. If you are going to stop by Tokyo any time, grab a box for a friend or family members, or even for me! 
Also they do happen to come in many different varieties but I got the standard banana tasting one.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Tōfuku-ji Temple - Kyoto Japan

Hey everyone.
Today I will share with you guys Tofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto. It was founded in 1236 and burned down and rebuilt in the 15th century and is one of the five temples that are of the Five Mountain System. It is also a Kyoto Gozan or "Five great Zen temple of Kyoto."
The main gate is the oldest sanmon gate in Japan.
I hear that this temple looks spectacular in the Autumn since the grounds have a ton of Maple Trees, try to go!
I did not get to many pictures as when my friend and I were here we got there when there were only 40 minutes left for it to be open!

Tsūten-kyō is the name of the bridge that is over a stream and over looks the Maple trees.

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I hope one day I can go again and spend more time looking at all of the grounds.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bright Daffodil - Narcissus Flower

Daffodil's are quite a popular ornamental plant for people to have in their gardens, out in front of their house or just in general. The genus of the plant is called Narcissus and they usually flower in the spring and are great because they are perennials and will come back the following year! There are so many different species of them now because they have been crossed and hybridized now. They are native to North Africa, Europe, West Asia with a centralized area of western Mediterranean.
Don't mistake the bulbs with onions though since the bulbs and leaves contain lycorine with is an alkolid poison.
Traditional Japanese medicine of kampo they used the root and also wheat flour paste to treat wounds. they are also grown commercially in Whales to produce galantamine which is a drug used to fight Alzheimer's disease. 

These were taken back in the Spring near my home. They are bright yellow and also many different colors. 

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Teriyaki McBurger - McDonald's in Japan

I probably shouldn't have but I stopped by McDonald's quite a few times while in Japan in both Kyoto and Tokyo. The reason why  did this was because it was cheap and a pleasant experience every time. McDonald's is operated quite different then it is in America. The stores are very clean and operated by very nice people. They strive to make it pleasant for you and I was surprised that most of them had very young and cute Japanese girls/women where in America it is a larger variety looking people but not the young cute girl thing here.
I had always gotten something though that isn't offered in the United States and in this case I go the Teriyaki McBurger. It was a patty that had Teriyaki sauce on it and it was quite good. I also recommend on the 100 Yen menu that McChicken equivalent but it has a mustard-mayo sauce on it that is great tasting! Oh I noticed that it is in the picture, the item next to the 100 circled in red. the sandwich is to the right of it.
Also the fries taste just like they are supposed to! Good!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Pricy Ginza ~ Tokyo, Japan

I didn't actually spend much time in Ginza, just hoped off the Subway and decided to walk around. That and a storm was heading in and started right when I got back on the Subway.
Anyway, Ginza is recognized as a high class area with loads of upscale department stores restaurants and coffee houses. I checked out the Apple Store that was 6 floors and full of merchandise and conference rooms to learn about their products. The staff were very nice and a lot were from America actually so really easy to talk to. 
The clock tower at the Wako Store stands out in Ginza especially when you come up out in front of it.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tokyo Skytree - Tokyo, Japan

Hey Everyone!
On my first day in Tokyo I hung out with a really cool guy and we hung out in and around Asakusa that day. One stop was the magnificent Tokyo Skytree!
It had been open for two weeks before I arrived there and we went during a week day and it was packed! 
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest broadcasting tower in the world and the second tallest structure in the world. It is 2,080 ft (634 m) tall which is impressive. Unfortunately since it had just opened and you needed to reserve tickets before hand him nor I were able to go to the top. The tower's main purpose is for broadcasting and transmission of radio and TV. 

It was a slight overcast day but it was awesome still!

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We walked to the tower from Asakusa since that is where we were staying at. The best thing about the tower is that you can look for it in Tokyo standing there and get your bearings! This was at the Sumida River with Tokyo Skytree standing in the back with the Asahi HQ.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lovely Arashiyama - Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

Arashiyama is such a great trip from the central part of Kyoto! It is in the western district of Kyoto hugging the sides of the mountains with the Oi River snaking on by. It is great to go any time I would say. I hear that It is gorgeous during the fall with the foliage changing into colors and also the Cherry Blossoms of the Spring season coming through. The sky was blue about till 2pm for me that day with puff clouds!
More from Arashiyama, check out the Moon Crossing Bridge/Togetsukyo Bridge post here

Here you will see the Oi River next to the mountain side...

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Best way to go to Arashiyama that I mentioned in previous posted on it is by Raden or the Electric Street car. Since I came from Northern Kyoto I rode my bike to the intersection of Imadegawa and Nishioji Dori where the station is. Can't miss the grocery store called Izumiya next to it. 

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Walking along the Oi River where you can get a ride on a boat...

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