Saturday, September 20, 2014

Island in the Sky - Clingmans Dome, Smoky Mountains

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There were books inside the store that called it the Island in the Sky. It is the highest point in Tennessee and it is around 6600 feet. It has a special type of environment up there with old fer trees and the moisture is great. I loved coming up to the top even though I didn't hike up there just walked up a long paved trail to the view.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

B's Hobby in Shijo Kyoto

B's Hobby shop is right of Shijo and you will sorta notice it since there is a few toys out front. You go down the stairs to the store which a lot of hobby kits and supplies are waiting for you! I recommend going here if you are into this stuff, other place that I would recommend is the toy floor/hobby floor of Kyoto's Yodabashi Camera which is great as well. At the end of the stairs there is a few completed kits.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bonsai Exhibit Kyoto Botanical Garden

Kyoto Botanical Gardens is a large area and there was even a Bondai Exhibit which I decided to make a separate post here for that. I enjoy Bonsai if you don't know and have a few myself...

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sanzen-in Temple Ohara, Kyoto, Japan

Sanzen-in Temple in Ohara was such a spectacular place to visit. It is a Tendai Sect founded by Saicho who brought Tendai to Japan in 804. It is a Mozeki Temple which means the founder is also from the royal family. This is a fantastic place if you get the chance to take the bus to Ohara. Yes you only have the bus to take from Kyoto and then there is the approach up to the temple of shops and restaurants. 
The temple has a lot of little faces that smile at you from the moss...

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wonders of Nanzen-ji

Nanzen-ji Temple complex is really amazing. Lots of people grove to it and love seeing the gardens and the aqueduct. Original post here. I didn't see nearly as much as I saw the first time and it is worth spending the time there! 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Todai-ji Temple's Daibutsudden and The Great Daibutsu in Nara

Todai-ji is one of those spectacularly large structures that you can see. Meaning the Eastern Great Temple, it is located in Nara Japan where the old capitol resided before moving to Kyoto. This is the Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) where it houses the worlds largest bronze Buddha statue (Vairocana) known in Japan as Daibutsu. The temple is the home of Kegon school of Buddhism and it has been rebuilt a few times and is actually smaller then the original! The now standing building was built in 1709 and 30% smaller then the last. 
Up till 1998 it was the largest wooden building in the world.

It is massive when you fist see it!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tenjuan Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Tenjuan Temple is a sub-temple that is with Nanzen-ji and right next door. It was founded in 1336 by a guy named Kokanshiren who was the chief priest of Nanzen-ji at the time in honor of Nanzen-ji. It has two lovely gardens one dry and one pond.
The colors make it a famous one to view as well, plenty of people were there...

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gio-ji Temple Arashiyama, Kyoto

Gio-ji is a really small temple area and was a Shingon Buddhist nunnery. There is a single building which is small with a thatched roof and an amazing moss garden but yet small. The history of this little building is that it was part of the Ojo-in Temple founded by Ryochin (disciple of Honen) and over time the temple became in disrepair and fallen that the only thing left was this little building. In 1868 it was abandoned to only have Daikaku-ji take over and a ex-governor of Kyoto in 1895 donated a building from his villa to Gio-ji which is now the present building. This temple is 500 Yen but if you are going to Daikaku-ji pay 600 Yen for both!

I am all about moss and this was great, small but immense satisfaction came from viewing it...

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Philosopher's path in the Autumn

My first trip to Japan one of my favorite days was when I walked along the Philosophers path going to Ginkakuji and Nanzenji and other smaller temples. Was amazing and if was quite beautiful in the fall time as well. I visited all those temples that day too! Here was the original post that has some background information of this amazing path. 
Lots of color but there was still some trees that were holding out!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ōi River in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

The Oi River is on the western side of Kyoto and most people visit it probably at Arashiyama at its picturesque bridge. It travels out of the Southern Japanese Alps and thought the Oi valley. I hope you get to go out there some time!

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains

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Chimney Tops trail is a popular trail as it offers a 360 view. It is a great view on top but it comes with quite a bit of work. The trail it's self is 3.8 miles long and 1487 feet gain in elevation. The first half is steady up but the last half is quite steep and was rough. You wont regret it as the scenery on the trail going up is nice. Enjoy the photo's.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nison-in Temple - Sagano, Kyoto, Japan

Nison-in (Two revered images), is a Tendai Sect of Buddhism temple located in the Saga area of Kyoto out west. It is a great place to see maples in the autumn. The name of the temple come from the fact of the two main images; statue of the founding Buddha and one who has reached enlightenment. Founded in 834 by Emporo Saga and is now part of the Enryaku-ji Temple. All of the structures that are present are not original as it all didn't make it thorough the Onin Wars. The cemetery is known for being the resting places of famous people and emperors. 
This was a great place to stop!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Kyoto Botanical Garden Conservatory

The Kyoto Botanical Gardens Conservatory is really awesome. I haven't been in one that large in a long time and offered a lot of plants to see. In 1992 the green house opened with 4,612 square meters with 9 zones inside. There is 25,000 plants approx inside! You do have to pay an extra 200 Yen to go inside or buy a joint ticket at the gate before entering the gardens. Was wonderful to get out of the chilly air and in the humid zones...
The design was inspired by the near by Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion).

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Driving in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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Driving in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is really a sight to see. There is water near all the roads and I stopped to get a few pictures one the way to Elkmont for these. Smoky Mountain have something magical about them that just inspire me. I would go and hike for a week there if given the opportunity. The river's babbling over rocks covered in a carpet of green moss and the rhododendrons and laurel hanging over grasping for a little bit of light. Coming to the park again in the future is a must for me, I enjoyed it more then the beach and I don't think it will ever change my opinion about it. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunrise over the Smoky's

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Some great sunrises in the Smoky's but more then likely there will be cloud cover, mist or fog. Still is an interesting landscape.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cades Cove in Smoky Mountains

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Cades Cove is a very interesting place in the Smoky Mountain National Park. It is an open flat area that is in the mountains, like a cove. An isolated valley if you will. It was settled by people long ago before the park and there is still homes and churches to see within the loop you can drive. It draws in 2 million people a year! It has a 11 mile loop road that is one way that circumnavigates the entire area. There are also hikes a long the road that you can park for. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Laurel Falls in Great Smoky Mountains

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Laurel Falls is along the road between Gatlinburg and Cades Cove which was where we were spending the first night camping. Called Laurel Falls because of the Laurel in the area, it adds beauty to the areas 80 foot waterfall. The trail is paved the entire way to the falls which helps anyone attend. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Roaring Fork Motor Trail in Gatlinburg TN

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The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is an awesome trail/road that goes through the mountains and over streams not to far from Gatlinburg Tennessee. If you want to get away from all the bustle of the town take a drive along this road and enjoy nature in it's shady humid misty glory. Loved this road but remember it is closed in the winter. It is a one way road that has trails along it that you can park and hike. We completed Grotto Falls which can get really popular anytime and might be hard to find parking close to the trail head. Towards the end of the road you will cross over and follow the Roaring Fork (river) that goes all the way to Gatlinburg. There are also old buildings of historical significance that are along the road to check out.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grotto Falls in Smoky Mountains

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Grotto Falls is off of the Foaring Fork Motor Trail which is a one way road that is a very short drive from Gatlinburg, TN. Trust me it is worth the drive to take it and this hike is really easy and pleasing. It is maybe 3 miles round trip. The misty environment and hemlock forest is really magical and something that I wouldn't get the opportunity to see in Shenandoah National Park.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cedar Run in Shenandoah National Park

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Cedar Run is another great trail to see some minor falls and running water over rocks in the mountains. I did it part of the Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run loop trail which is 8 or 9 miles round trip but worth it. I did a post not to long ago on Whiteoak Canyon. Enjoy the photos.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park

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White Oak Canyon is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Shenandoah National Park. It is a great hike and I did it as a look with Cedar Run on the way back down the mountain, refer to this link for the trail. There are 6 waterfalls ranging from 23 feet to 86 feet. Also if you like cold water to take a dip hike in swim trunks as there are decent pools under the falls but it may be crowded. I also parked at the bottom outside of the park. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple - Sagano

Adashino Nenbutsu-ji is located in Sagano part of Kyoto which is a nice area to travel around in. Kukai is said to have founded the temple in 811 and then it was altered by Honen. It is in an area that is believed the people use toe abandon bodies to the elements. Now there is 8,000 Buddhist statues that are around the complex to honor the dead and during a ceremony they light candles on 1,000 of them.

I was surprised that there were that many statues. 

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Taizoin Zen Temple - Kyoto, Japan

This temple is the oldest inside of Myoshin-ji temple complex. Was founded in 1404 by Muinsoin but he original buildings got burned in the Onin Wars. Now the dry garden there, Motonobu-no-niwa, has large and smaller rocks with evergreen. That was the original garden and the newer one with azaleas and the stream running down the center seen below was built recently in 1963-66 (recently in terms of temples in Kyoto). I nice garden to see and I am surprised that the azaleas that are seen here and trimmed so perfect that it looks like small hills of grass.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Traveling in Sagno and Arashiyama

The Sagano and Arashiyama area of Kyoto is lovely to walk around at. There is a bunch of temples and the area is gorgeous with some farms land between houses. I took a few pictures while I was walking around that I can show as I traveled between the temples and shrines. 

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Kyoto Botanical Gardens

Kyoto Botanical Gardens is a nice gardens that are located near North Kyoto. I passed on this my first time visiting but I decided to go this past time since I was wanting something different to do. It is next to the Kamo River and started in 1924 but was disused by 1946. Started back up in 1961 and as of recently contains up to 12,000 species of plants and a large conservatory that is shaped like Ginkakuji and surrounding buildings. I have a separate post for the conservatory since there is a lot inside there too. 

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Nishiki Market - Kitchen of Kyoto

I already made a post on Nishiki Market but I found out that I took more pictures here than I though. It is also known as the Kitchen of Kyoto. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Honen-in Temple in the Autumn

I have been here before but could not locate the previous post. Maybe I never posted about it! Honen-in temple is small but right off the Philosophers path which is great. Not to far from Anrakuji either. It is small but nothing amazing, it is nice and quite place. The grounds are always open year around but the buildings are only open twice a year; April 1-7 and November 1-7. The priest Honen left Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei and established the Jodo-shu sect in 1175 and lived in the area that Chion-in was eventually built. The Jodo-shu was found to be heretic and it got Honen exiled at the age of 75 in the year 1207. It took to 1680 for a priest to propose to Chion-in's head priest to have a training hall and the Hondo was completed in 1681. This was the now Honen-in as you now know it and eventually in 1953 it separated from Jodo-shu.
This is the approach that you will see coming from the road...

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Koto-in at Daitoku-ji, Kyoto, Japan

I have previously posted about Koto-in and you can find that post here. I was able to access it this time and was glad that I did. I actually went twice and both times I met really nice people! Anyways hope you enjoy the photographs!

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Richmond's Cherry Blossom's 2014

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I enjoy Cherry Blossom season as most plants are starting to bloom and there is such a great fragrance in the air. Threes are white or other colors before they are all green and adds a different view for everyone to enjoy. The peak bloom only last about a few days or so as long as there isn't any strong storms that destroy the blooms. I love heading up to Washington D.C. for the festival but I missed out on that this year because it was the same day as my move out/in day and that took priority. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shorenin Temple - Kyoto, Japan

I ended up going here really early in the morning before there was much people. I arrived before it opened and waited. Part of the Tendai Sect, it was one of the monzeki temples which had head priests that were associated with the Imperial Family. It is also known as the Awata Palace since at one point in time the palace was burned and this was used as a temporary palace.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tofuku-ji Temple's Hojo Gardens

Tofuku-ji Temple complex has some amazing gardens. I missed out a lot my first visit and I am glad I put a few hours time into visiting in the Autumn this past November. I arrived right after my visit in the morning to Fushimi Inari Taisha. The main building when you walk in has some great gardens and this is what this post is on. These are part of the Hojo or the abbots quarters. 
Below is the Southern Garden, where it has four rock groupings that represent the Elysian Islands. East to West; Eiju, Horai, Koryo and Hojo. The far right corner has moss covered mounds that represent the sacred mountains.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Path of Bamboo in Sagano

The bamboo in Arashiyama and Sagano are a wonder to walk into. If you really want to enjoy it without anyone present you need to get there early or you are out of luck. I remember the first time that I had walked down it was in 2012 and it was super crowded around noon. I traveled through it in this past Autumn at 8 am and it was quite and such a serene thing to be apart of.  

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seiryoji Temple - Arashiyama, Japan

Walking back from Sagano to Arashiyama areas in Kyoto I came across  this large temple complex. It is commonly know as Shaka-do. The main hall is seen below...

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Japanese Tea Ceremony

So I looked up on a day of down time about the Traditional Tea Ceremony. I wanted to see what it was all about and found one that was near the Kyoto Station. It was in a small courtyard of this hotel where there was a small garden and a hut in the middle. This being a tea room. I was able to see what takes place during the ceremony and actually follow along with my own tea. It was me and three others besides the instructor so it was nice and personal. It is rather fascinating what they do and if we had done the actual one it could have lasted for hours. 

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Iwatayama Monkey Park - Kyoto, Japan

I didn't go here on my first trip to Japan because I was uninterested but was glad that I gave myself a chance to visit. I had time and visited a lot of Arashiyama and I wanted to get away from the strong crowds that was down around the bridge so I came up here. It is located on Mt. Arashiyama and has 180 Japanese macaque monkeys. I will give you a heads up that you will pay at the bottom of the mountain and then hike up for about 20-30 minutes to the top which is a little strenuous. You will enjoy a great view of the city though!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deer of Nara Japan

Now you probably have heard about Nara and their deer. They are literally walking all over the area mostly in Nara park. They are friendly but don't "try" to pet them. They don't mind you and you can walk up to them and they wont run unless you are running at them. You can buy deer crackers to feed them and once you have it in your hand they will attack. They come over quickly and start head butting you if you don't start feeding them. It was funny and I had a few people start taking pictures of me with the deer butting my butt!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Walking in Higashiyama, Kyoto

The Higashiyama area near Kiyomizu-dera is certainly an interesting place to walk around. Lots of shops with souvenir things but also original crafts and foods. Lovely old buildings and 98% pedestrian streets making it awesome to walk around. If you get to Kiyomizu-dera and need something to do, walk along the streets and head north to Gion, you wont regret. 
This lovely lady was posing for some pictures, she was very elegant.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Isuien Gardens - Nara, Japan

These gardens are truley beautiful. There was a single spot that you just didn't want to move your eyes from, everything about it was great. It was like the perfect spot for viewing. I met some American's that were traveling in a senor group and she agreed with me that she didn't want to leave and was even 30 minutes late to the tour bus because of it! It was created in the Meiji Era in Nara and was once two separate gardens before being one. The garden is 145,000 Square Feet! This part of the garden had a great view where you can see borrowed scenery with the mountains in the back and the top of the Nandimon Gate door that leads up to Todaiji.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Jackson Ward in Richmond

Few weeks ago I went to a Meetup for the Photography Group and we walked around Jackson Ward in downtown Richmond Virginia. Jackson Ward has a lot of history behind it as a historic African-
American neighborhood. It is called Jackson Ward because it was named that at the time when there were certain wards in the city and it stayed. Jackson is a registered National Historic Landmark as of 1976.
It was the center of Black Commerce in the community and it was called "Harlem of the South" for its commerce and entertainment in the ward. If fell is disrepair for awhile with the growth of Richmond like 95 and oddly enough the growth of the Civil Rights movement. It wasn't till the mid 1900's that investors came to fix up homes and restore the area. There is a lot of neat architecture in the area and lots of iron work. 

There are alos a lot of colors that can bee seen with the artwork on the side of buildings there now...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kodai-ji Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Kodai-ji Temple not to far away from Yasaka-jinja or Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is part of the Rinzai Sect of Buddhism and established in 1606 by Nene who is the widow of the late Toyotomi Hideyoshi. I went a guy from Canada that I met earlier on the streets and his fiend a girl from  Taiwan. Was a really nice day!

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Maymont Cherry Blossoms 2014

I love Cherry Blossom season and I wish I experienced more of the cherry blossoms but they are only at a peak for a few days and that is the beauty of them. They are worth the days you get to see them and they are short lived so cherish the opportunity to see them. Maymont Park in Richmond has a few cherry trees on the grounds and the grounds have a nice Japanese Garden with a weeping cherry that I didn't get to see in full bloom this time. There have been some nice days recently and have enjoyed them all.

On my visit with my girlfriend we saw a few monks visiting the area walk around and enjoy the gardens, they were using an iPad to take all their pictures. 

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Issen Yoshoku Okonomiyaki Experience in Gion

This is a restaurant that is in the "Gion" area and it was hard to miss. With the colorful store front and friendly workers I decided to stop in especially for Okonominyaki or at least their version of it! There menu is there one thing that you can get there and of course different drinks like beer or just water which is in a pitcher at the table. Also another drawing thing about this place is that they advertise that you can eat with Geisha!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hokanji Temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto

This I think is part of the temple in Higashiyama Kyoto that has the Hokanji Pagoda that you notice when walking around. There was a lot of color like these things below seen. Do not know much information about it but decided to put them up anyways. 

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Thanks for looking!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nigatsu-do of Todaiji Temple in Nara

So after I visited Todaiji and Hachiman Shrine up the hill I wandered over to this temple which had a view across Nara. Was really nice and you didn't have to pay to go to it either. The name means "Hall of The Second Month" and it is on the side of Mount Wakakusa and it has a few other buildings on its grounds making it a complex inside Todaiji's complex. Sanetada founded the temple in 752 and it made it through the wars in 1180 and 1567 where the Great Buddha Hall did not. 
It has a nice balcony!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Konchi-in Temple - Kyoto, Japan

This temple is located near the front entrance of the Nanzenji complex. When I got here it was shadowed by Nanzenji as hundreds of people were pouring into there and passing this temple and that is what drew me in. Built in the early 15th century by Ashikaga Yoshimoshi and in 1605 was relocated here by  Nanzenji. Kobori Enshu is believe to have built the garden in preperation of the shugun's visit. The fee was 300 Yen.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nanzen-in Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Nanzen-in Temple is located within the Nanzenji complex. It has a nice moss garden and its within a bunch of other things to check out! You can reach it by going underneath the aqueduct on the grounds and up the stairs. It is at the location of the former villa of Emperor Kameyama. These buildings were built in 1703 since previously it was destroyed in the Onin Wars. 
It had a nice garden that had a path that wandered behind the pond and along the trees. It felt closed in with the trees all around, added to the magic...

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Jikkoin Temple - Ohara, Kyoto Japan

Jikkoin Temple is right across from the entrance on Nanzenin on Ohara just north of Kyoto. I almost passed on it since the price was high (700 Yen) and it seamed small but I went ahead inside. I got some tea and a sweet to enjoy while I looked upon the gardens. The gardens were lovely. It is a sub-temple of Shorin-in back in 1013.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Assateague in the morning

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I got up really early on Sunday morning on our trip to view the Sun rising on the beach. That morning was extremely chilly but worth the view. Assateague is really a wonderful park to walk on and view wildlife and recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from everything.
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