Tag Archives: japan

Random photo #1

Hopefully to inspire myself to take/post more photos, I’m going to aim to put up one photo of mine once a week, feel free to add any comments you may have. I’m thinking it’ll be mostly older photos (unless it’s new and never made it to an album). One for this week will be this shot:

Jellyfish at Osaka Aquarium

Taken at Osaka Aquarium.

Details: Nikon D700 | Nikon 50mm 1.4D | f/2.0 | 1/80 | ISO: 3200

Day 22 – Nara and home

So during our last day in Japan, we will explore the city of Nara, since waking up and leaving the hostel, every step I had taken was painful, but we pressed on to check out the deer and the largest wooden structure and bronze buddha. We got to Nara in the morning and had a few hours to explore around.

Nara station
Colourful glass panes

We took a bus up to the temple area which is listed as a World Heritage site. From around here you can already see deer lurking around, I decided to buy some crackers to feed them, it was a terrible idea. Once they saw I had food, a couple of them converged, butting me and even nibbling my leg! I was simply like WTF these deers are crap and disposed of the crackers as quickly as possible. Not impressed.

World Heritage listed

Once I had escaped the deer, we proceeded onwards, the entrance itself was this grand wooden structure. Despite looking rather aged, it was magnificent heaps of detail and just gives the impression that there is something big behind it.

Grand wooden entrance

One can only wonder what the original would have looked like before it was weathered down, must have been just spectacular with all the detail that’s there.

Spectacular detail

Inside the entrance lies two guardians, unfortunately they’re netted off so it’s hard to see their size and the detail that’s gone into it. A bit hard to see their facial expressions, but they looked FIERCE.

Very large guardians

Going in a little further, the Daibutsuden is surrounded by a wall and there lies another entrance, it was closed off however and we had to enter from the side.

Smaller entrance before the wooden hall

And also because ‘everyone else was doing it’ I lit up a stick of incense and fanned the smoke onto myself, not sure why everyone does it, but it seemed appropriate.

Burning incense

From the entrance, the building itself looks large, but you don’t realise how big it actually is.

Largest wooden building, the Daibutsuden

It’s not until you’re standing right under it that you realised that it’s ‘friggin’ huge’! and the detail and architecture is simply exquisite. Such fine detail and it must have been a real piece of work to get it built.

Monstrous size looking up

So this extraordinary building houses the largest bronze Buddha in the world, while I was kind of expecting it to be rather shiny and pretty, but instead it looked pretty worn out. It however was quite massive and looked extremely heavy.

Largest bronze buddha

Inside were some models and relics of various things from the original building, it’s interesting to note that the structure we were in isn’t the original. What’s even scarier is that the original was 33% bigger! and had the two pagoda’s standing at the front beside it.

Original layout and design

One of the highlights of this place was a certain pillar in the building, at the base of it however is a small hole. It’s said that if you are able to crawl through it, you will be enlightened in the next life! It was rather small and during my attempt, I felt a little stuck, but after wriggling, I finally made it all the way through, to the surprise of the onlookers.

Enlightenment in the next life!

Gavin managed the same feat, but he’s a lot smaller.

Gavin too!

Walking around the site, we bump into this sign telling us what the deers here can/will do. Wasn’t much good as I had already been molested by the hungry deer.

Yep, already aware of what they do

Up the hill from the Daibutsuden lay another temple, it was pretty large, but no where as impressive as the Daibutsuden, we went up to have a look around anyway and it had provided a pretty decent vantage point.

Another temple nearby
View from above

Now I noticed I didn’t post up any pictures of the deer, so here they are, nowhere as nice as the ones on Miyajima Island. I noticed a lot of them had patches in their fur, looked like they’re from bites or just them licking their own fur.

These deer are nasty

The walk back was rather painful with my tired legs so I just tried to get back as quick as possible so I could get a little rest before the flight home.

Strange building design

Despite my desires to go home quickly, I just had to stop by this Pagoda and check ti out, it’s one of the original ones that used to be outside the Daibutsuden, you can see it from the model previously.

One of the original pagodas near the Daibutsuden

Walking through the arcades and alleys, I noticed something strange, a Vietnamese restaurant! This is the first time I had seen Viet food in Japan, didn’t go in to try any as you’d obviously prefer to eat Jap food while in Japan.

Finally, some pho!

Quick snaps of the surroundings before I decided to be a lazy shit and take a bus back to Nara train station.

Random fountain

As I got back, I packed my bags sat down for a bit before going out to find my last meal in Japan. It was also a good time to spend the rest of my money, so I decided to head to a restaurant nearby, Udon with Tempura would be my last meal and it was pretty good. Although looking back, I think I would have  preferred some Okonomiyaki as that is just simply amazing.

Last meal in Japan

While back at the hostel, we met some fellow Australians who were also on their last day in Japan, they also coincidentally had the same flight as us to the Gold Goast. The group of 8 were from Queensland and we all headed out to the Airport together, the timing was pretty bad as it was peak hour and the trains were packed! It was especially difficult with our bulky luggage and it was hard to dismount our backpacks as it was just too tightly packed.

Packed train to the airport

Finally getting to the airport I spent the last of my Japanese currency buying some more kit kats and sweets, after that it was time to board and have a much needed rest. We were also lucky enough to have the front row seats meaning extra leg room which was a definite bonus to help my aching legs. Well, these 21 posts sum up my trip to Japan, it’s seriously an amazing country and somewhere you definitely have to visit and visiting just once isn’t enough. I’m definitely going to have to plan another trip back as soon as possible.

Day 21 – Miyajima, Nara and Kobe

Again we had an early morning to hope to catch the morning light and get some nice shots of the floating torii gate, this time though, it would actually be appearing to float as it was no longer low tide.

The torii gate floats

We also got the chance to explore the Itsukushima shrine as it closes at night.

Entrance to the Itsukushima shrine

Continue reading Day 21 – Miyajima, Nara and Kobe

Day 19 – More Kurashiki and Naoshima Island

So because we couldn’t get good view of Kurashiki by night, we decided we would get up early and see it in the morning light, as you can see, the sun was barely up when we left the hotel room.

Early morning start

We basically walked to the same shrine and explored around there and could see where we walked passed during the previous night. There were actually quite a few cemeteries around the place and they’re all quite small, with only a few burial plots.

Cemetery around the shrine

We also saw a few of these little ‘poles’ in the ground which I didn’t really understand, not sure what it was actually referring to.

May peace prevail on earth

Continue reading Day 19 – More Kurashiki and Naoshima Island

Day 12 – Yoyogi Park, Ginza and the Ninja Cafe

Another day and another adventure, a good day always starts out with a good breakfast, and not much can be katsu curry with an egg. For some reason I have a strange liking for Japanese curry even though it’s hardly a proper curry.

Katsu curry breakfast

Being a Sunday, we wanted to go see some Harajuku girls, or the people dressed in cosplay as the last time we went, it was rather disappointing. This time round, it wasn’t spectacular either, but we had an interesting look into the culture of the Japanese youth in Japan.

Entering Yoyogi

Upon entering Yoyogi park, there was a very vibrant atmosphere, almost like a festival. The first sight was the water feature above and surrounding us was the sound of drums from the guys below.

Drumming away

Continue reading Day 12 – Yoyogi Park, Ginza and the Ninja Cafe

Day 11 – Yokohama

So our day starts off with lunch at a random restaurant, for some reason we decided it would be a good idea to visit one that was downstairs, sorta like a basement. It looked fairly well decorated so it didn’t seem dodgy or anything.

Lunch downstairs

Walking in, the interior was quite nice and we were brought to a little table which was shielded away from everyone else. I treated myself to some udon and sashimi as well as sharing some tempura. It was quite a feast and we didn’t manage to finish off all the food.

mm... lunch

While we waited for Gavin to grab his camera, we walked around Asakusa to explore before heading to the onsen there. The temple below was touted to be the oldest one in Tokyo or something, but we weren’t too sold, many places seem to claim their the oldest or biggest or something.

Old temple

Continue reading Day 11 – Yokohama

Day 8 – Kyoto

So our second day in Kyoto would be to explore various touristy attractions, getting off the train in the morning I found the design of their seats to be rather strange. Personally they looked like wheelchairs, don’t know if that’s intentional or not.

Wheelchair bench =D

Who knew Bonsai trees got so big, but looking at this one, I immediately felt it had a human stance to it. What do you guys think?

Big bonsais

Outside the train station there were a heap of stalls selling various kinds of foods, from onigiri, yakitori and steamed buns. I don’t think we went on any particular special day, so I’d assume they’re there to appeal to the travelers and tourists.

Food skewers

Continue reading Day 8 – Kyoto

Day 6 – Tsukiji

So as part of my New Years resolution, I had vowed to finish blogging about japan and hopefully get all the pics uploaded soon after. I’ve quickly gone through the 7278 shots and selected a few from each day which I thought highlights our trip and now it’s just time to post them up and write a few things about the adventure of each day. Day 6 would be the long awaited wait to visit the Tsukiji Fish Markets to check out the sights and have some delicious sushi. We didn’t go for the tuna auctions as they were at 5am, so when we arrived, we just perused the fish markets themselves. On the way there we saw a bunch of police officers (or something) handing out fines to bikes parked on the street, gave me a bit of a chuckle.

Cops fining bikes

Like the Lonely Planet book warns, you really have to get out of the way of these carts which blaze along the markets. The operators are in a real rush and get rather impatient annoyed when you’re in the way (unlike what you get in the streets of Japan where they just wait until you make room then they make the run for it.

Carts used in the markets

First thing going through the markets, we see various stores selling kitchen knives, they were rather expensive, most selling for over a hundred Aussie dollars. Other things that were for sale were picks, at first we didn’t know what they were for, but it became apparent that they were used to handle the large tuna.

Knives for sale

 

Continue reading Day 6 – Tsukiji

Day 5 – Harajuku and Shinjuku

On the 5th day of the trip, I was completely messed up and buzzing from the night before. I just felt completely drained after three nights of booze and partying that I was mostly quiet for the whole day and just walked casually to experience Harajuku and the shrine/park with the Meiji Shrine. Andreas came along with us as we strolled the streets of Harajuku.Being so tired, I ended up giving my camera to Gavin and Ed to take pics, so a lot of the pics from Harajuku will be from them. Walking down Harajuku street, there was a lot of people lining the street. Going along we saw quite a few interesting looking people.

Harajuku St
Interesting fella

Straying away from Harajuku street we also enjoyed the sight of a few interesting shop names, one being candy strippers and another being Cannabis. A quick snack was found on the way as well, Takoyaki balls =D.

Candy Strippers
Cannabis!

One comment I must make about Takoyaki in Japan is that it is completely different to what you get in Sydney. They’re actually very soft and at times still somewhat liquid in the centre. They also come in different varieties, but without knowing any Japanese I can’t event begin to describe the differences or the ones I prefer.

Takoyaki

Coming on a Sunday, we were expecting to see a lot of people cos-playing, unfortunately they were far and few and we only caught glimpses of a couple. The walk down wasn’t as fantastic as I had hoped, it wasn’t until going to the Meiji Shrine that we saw some interesting things. Crossing the bridge to the other side we saw this guy with a funny hat hiding in a box.

I am your father

The park was rather large and it leads to the actual Meiji Shrine where inside we were fortunate enough to witness a couple of traditional weddings. The bride is in white traditional gown with this rather large curved “hat” on her head, followed by a guy holding a large umbrella above her. Everyone else follows them from behind and it was a rather interesting sight to see.

Traditional Japanese wedding

We were also lucky enough to be there for “Shichi-Go-San” or literally translated as seven-five-three, which occurs on the weekend closest to November 15. It’s a ‘rite of passage’ ceremony for boys that 3 or 5 and girls that are 5 and 7 years of age. They’re dressed in their lovely kimino’s and taken to shrines and temples to pray for their future. The kids were adorable and looked so cute, except for this one boy we saw in school uniform (or something) who had the shortest shorts I had ever seen.

All dressed up
I like short shorts (not really :S)

We also bumped into three Aussies we had seen earlier in Akhibara, yes the ones from the sex shop.  We chatted a little more and followed them through the park as they had found some Japanese students wanting to practise English.

The Aussies

Heading back, we crossed the train overpass again and saw that interesting guy again, it was only until we saw him the second time we realised what he did (aside from this ‘I am your father’ sign). He also had a sign that said “I can sing a song in your language”. We told him we were from Australia and he started to sing our national anthem out loud. There was also a group of Americans who proceeded to do the same afterwards. Quite a quirky guy that one.

Singing the Aussie anthem

At this we split up as Tang and I wanted to go up Tokyo Tower, but we had to make a detour to Asakusa as Andreas needed to get some stuff. This is where we came across a rather interesting looking building, take a look at the pic below and what do you think it looks like?

Asakusa's golden shit

Some say it looks like a golden shit, while others think it’s a golden sperm. Story is that it’s supposed to be a flame but when they went to put it on top of the building, the crane wasn’t tall enough to hold the flame vertically and they just ended up putting it on its side. We also caught a glimpse of a new building be constructed, known as the Sky Tree (at this point we had no clue) and it would be taller than Tokyo tower. (~680 meters vs. 333 meters).

Sky Tree under construction

We moved towards Tokyo Tower afterwards to go up and look at the view, unfortunately, when we got there, the line was absolutely massive and the wait was closer to 90 minutes. All there was to see was this cute girl sitting alone, if only we knew some Japanese, would have been the perfect moment to say “He’s not coming…”. Bummed that we were unable to go up, we decided to go explore the rest of the Tokyo and decided to head to Tokyo Station.

He's not coming...
Another Tokyo Tower pic

Getting off, we were dumbstruck, there weren’t neon signs and flashing lights, instead there was…nothing (ok, except for the station and the statue below).

Prometheus!
Tokyo JR Station
Tokyooo

And then it hit us, Tokyo itself is a business district so there’s no need for it to have a night life. At this stage we parted ways with Andreas and headed to Shinjuku to meet up with Gavin and Ed. We had agreed to meet at the JR Ticket office in Shinjuku with a 15 minute window to wait. However to our surprise, when we arrived, Shinjuku station was rather large and actually had 5 ticket offices, all rather far apart, even though it was a lost cause, we wait at the closest ticket office for 10 minutes before heading to a second one. Being unable to find Ed and Gavin, we decided to just have a look at Shinjuku.

The place is astonishing, it’s what you picture Tokyo to be, neon lights, flashing lights and large screens everywhere. Walking along there were a few street musicians trying to make a buck by playing and selling CDs. The other lovely sight was an interesting building facade, it had what looked like little windows/compartments, and they were lit up with different colours, very pretty sight.

Coloured windows
Girls singing on the walkway
Screens and lights in the distance

After a short stroll, we decided to eat and randomly picked a place, it was called Witamin-chi and I later discovered that it was a chain restaurant. Inside had a dim appearance and an interesting food menu. They had a lot of Yakitori and other cool dishes.

We ended up with some eel on charcoal, Udon spaghetti, fried chicken breast, karaage chicken and interestingly, horse sashimi. Yes, horse. It was quite different as it came in two pieces, one was the horse meat and the other was fat, eating them together gave a nice chewy texture. Definitely not something you want to have everyday, but nonetheless it was interesting to try.

Eel
horse meat!
Horse Sashimi =D
Almost like vitamin c

When we got back to the hotel, Huynhzie decided to get his hair dyed, but I was just dead and went straight to bed.