Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fushimiinari-taisha shrine

1000 or more red shrine posts. Lots and lots of steps. A really good workout. Absolutely beautiful! Oh, beware of the shaky camera in the video.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ryokuon-ji temple

While Yuuki was attending her friend's wedding I took an 8 kilometer hike to The Golden Pavililion (Kinkaku), a famous villa that was built back in 1220 and eventually turned into a temple (Ryokuon-ji tera) in the 1400s. In 1987 the lacquer was redone as well as the real gold-leaf coating, and the roof was restored about 5 years ago. The shape, detail, and strength of these Japanese historical buildings amazes me. The building contains 3 types of architecture. The 1st floor of the building is palace style, the 2nd is samurai house style, and the 3rd is Zen temple style. On the upper roof sits a Chinese golden phoenix.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kyoto night

We arrived in Kyoto in the late afternoon and were unable to see any historical shrines or temples up close because they all close around 5pm. So Yuuki and I decided to just wander around the city near our hotel and here are a few random pictures of what we saw. The temple that is lit up is called Toji temple and is 5 stories tall and has quite impressive architecture. I'm not sure about the meaning or significance of the white lanterns but I always see them hanging outside of restaurants and find them beautiful. Behind the red shrine gate were some food and souvenir stands from a festival that took place earlier in the day. The lady bug I'm sitting on looked very sad and lonely so I decided to sit on it and say hello.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dinner in Kobe

Before venturing off to Kyoto, Yuuki and I made a stop in Kobe to visit her sister and aunt. Her aunt cooked us a delicious dinner and I did not even capture everything in this picture because I took it before all of the food was served. Eventually we had to get another table because we ran out of space for the beers, rice and soup and also needed a little elbow room when we started eating.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nixon sighting

I had no idea, but as it turns out, Richard Nixon is cool here. He even has his own billboard and kanji. Not fair!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kokubu sunset

This is the sunset view from Shiroyama park in Kokubu, my new town as of 3 weeks ago. I really love it here. The people are super nice, my students are great, and the town is a perfect size, not too countryside or too urban. There's a train station really close to my apartment, which makes traveling easy and fast. I've had nothing but good experiences here so far and I look forward to many more in the future. I have no idea how long I'll be living here but I'm in no rush to leave.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shiroyama park

Some of my students, coworkers and I celebrated spring time by having a hanami party. We first had a potluck lunch at our school since it was raining, but later in the day the rain stopped so we visited Shiroyama park. It's such a beautiful park and provides an amazing view of the town I live in. It also has a ferris wheel, which lights up at night and can been seen from my apartment, an old steam train, a children's playground, beautiful landscaping, cherry blossoms, and numerous public grass areas to play FRISBEE! Yes, I taught my coworkers and students to play frisbee and I couldn't have been happier. It was exactly what I had been needing to do. All of the stress from moving and starting over again in a new place vanished out the door once we started playing. They all had so much fun that we're planning an ultimate frisbee event in the future.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hanami the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. Flowers, in this case means cherry blossoms, or "sakura" in Japanese. The flowers on these trees bloom for only 2 or 3 weeks in the spring time and signify the change in season. Japanese people take a lot of pride in the fact that they have 4 very distinct seasons and have holidays or events to celebrate each one. The cherry blossoms I saw were already starting to fall to the ground, but that actually made the experience even better since the ground was littered with fresh, pinkish white flower petals. I also ran across an interesting bush that was covered in bright pink flowers while on my stroll through Shiroyama park in my new town, Kokubu.