Thursday, October 09, 2014

I love Japan: Nara

We went to Nara solely because of the deer at the Nara park. Why? Cause they are seriously awesome! Let me elaborate. They bow to you when you bow to them and feed them food. Whaaaatt?? Yea.

Nara is about an hour of a train ride away from Kyoto, so it was a perfect city for a half day trip. Apart from the deer, we also went to Todai-ji, which was only a short walk away from the deer park. This temple houses the biggest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana--go look this up on google if you're wondering what it means.

So here's a funny story. When we got to the Nara train station, we got in a taxi thinking that if we just tell the driver to take us to the deer, he'd know what we were talking about. So while he was driving I tried signing "deer" cause I had no idea how to say "deer" in Japanese (Also, I just learned how to sign "deer" from Liam). The driver was like..."huh?" You can see questions marks in his eyes. So I starting telling Mr.L to look up the word "deer" in Japanese with his google translate app. After Mr.L looked up the word "deer" (shika) and told the driver to find the deer, he still wasn't getting it. Also, Mr.L didn't know what we were gonna do in Nara--obviously I was the only one informed about our schedule for the day--so I was getting a little frantic and said to the driver, "shika pa-ku" (attempting to say "park" in Japanese...which probably sounded like gibberish to him). In the end Mr.L showed him a picture of some deer and the driver was like "Ahhhh..." He finally got it. Smart phone, NEED them when you're traveling!

Here are some pictures and videos of our half day trip in Nara if you'd like to see.
Nara Park


Salut!

There is deer everywhere at the park. 

Liam is intrigued and excited!


When they see you with biscuits they just swarm right up to ya.

Mr.L is so calm even though a deer bit him on his belly before this.

I am awkward when I feed the deer. Seriously, when they get really close up and trying to nib at your belly and hands for biscuits...they are scary!

Liam excited to touch the deer. He was also kinda terrified of them. 

A buck walking in the middle of the street

The entrance to Todai-ji


photobombed. 

Todai-ji is big!

It may not look like it but this buddha statue is huge!

Found a tree with a hole...


...must climb through it.

Daddy too!

Got stuck!








Thursday, September 18, 2014

I LOVE JAPAN : Kyoto

Yikes! Yikes! Yikes! I am super late at posting our Japan trip! If I can only blog about one trip my entire life, it is this Tokyo-Kyoto trip back in July. It really was that great! I want to hike up to Mount Timp just so I could scream on top of my lungs "I SO FREAKING LOVE JAPAN!" But I don't really like hiking, so...

We went to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara in 5 days. We were on the go most of the time, which is fine with me since I really don't like to "take my time" when I am traveling. I like to see as much as I can with the time that I am given. Lucky for me that my mom came on this trip too, so when Liam needs to go to bed early she stayed in the hotel and watched him for us. Parts of the trip felt rushed, like trying to catch the bus leaving for Tokyo from the airport (we were so lucky we made it 2 seconds before it pulled out of the bus terminal!), but overall it was a fun, fun, fun trip.

Anyways, why do I like Japan SO MUCH? Just look at the pictures below (they are a mix of my iphone pics and my DSLR pics) and you'll know! Seriously, if you have a chance to travel to Asia, go to Japan! I divided the pictures into sections with subheadings that tell you where those places are.

This post is about Kyoto. I'll blog about Nara in the next post and Tokyo in the one after.

If you go to Kyoto, you have to visit Arashiyama. We went there twice. Once on a rainy day and once on a beautiful evening. There are a lot of things to do there: shopping, mochi testing, dining, bamboo forest, Ten Ryu Ji temple, row-boating, and snow monkey viewing. Just strolling down the alleys and looking at souvenirs can take a long time because there are so many shops there! But you can also just walk over the bridge and appreciate the green and misty mountains, river, and forests. It was a beautiful, beautiful place!

Other than Arashiyama, you should also visit the Geisha street to see if you can see some geisha! We didn't see any real ones because they are like semi-celebrity and so it is not that easy to see one. But you can always dress up as one, which I didn't do because it is way over my budget ($400 with a photo shoot and all).

Oh, you'll see LOTS of temples in Kyoto--buddhist or shinto temples. I love shinto temples cause you have to clean your hands and mouth before you enter. When you get inside the temples you can pull on the rope hanging from the ceiling to call on the gods and clap your hands and bow to pray. It was such a unique experience!

We had the BEST ramen when we were in Kyoto. Wow, wow, wow! So flavorful and so FATTENING! You can see the pork fat floating on your soup...it's THE best! Of all the ramen I have tried (I've only had shoyu, miso, seafood, tonkatsu, and chasiu) tonkatsu ramen is the tastiest! Apart from ramen, Japanese rice is TASTY! I grow up eating rice everyday and I've never really commented on how tasty white rice can be because I never thought of it as being tasty (it is plain!), but the Japanese rice...I can just eat the white rice and be happy. Every single grain is FAT and round and full...not long and dry. *insert I'm-so-touched-by-how-tasty-the-white-rice-is-I-am-crying face*

Another thing that I really liked about going to Kyoto was that we got to ride on the fastest train in the world, the bullet train (Shinkansen). It glides so smoothly on the rail and it is noiseless...and fast! When the train conductors came into our coach to check our tickets, they bowed and said a bunch of stuff we couldn't understand (probably just greetings and sorry for interrupting your nap/lunch or whatever) and when they left they bowed and said a bunch of other stuff too. They are so polite! I just LOVE that! *oh my gosh...the more I talk about it the more I want to go back to Japan!*


 Kyoto City: Gion area
They have a cigarette vending machine? Sweet! No that I smoke...but it is SO convenient for smokers, you gotta admit!

strolling in an alleyway behind all the restaurants


restaurants by the river



Um...no.1 reason to love Japan is right here!

Kabuki theater


I FINALLY get to try one! Yum!!! Red beans!


So this is where you're supposed to be spot geishas, but we didn't. 


those are not real geishas. Just tourists dressing up like one.

I love traditional looking restaurants like this!

A bonzai tree growing out of the balcony

this is seriously so cool!



more alleyways

just a picture of Japanese kids waiting for the bus for school




Arashiyama: Ten-Ryu-Ji temple and the Arashiyama bamnoo forest


Zen garden at Ten-ryu ji



just in time for the hydrangae blooms. Liam's umbrella and stroller matched!


these can be found almost everywhere...but you'll probably see them most at the temples. You can keep them and carry them around to protect you, keep you healthy, or help you succeed in school. 
Rainy day in arashiyama

it's only fitting to see koi fish at a zen garden, right?

Ten-ryu ji

it was hydrangae season in Japan

blue flowers are so cool!

someone insisted on carrying his own umbrella

the famous Arashiyama bamboo forest.





you can pray for love here


I have a soft spot for moss covered ground

my first ever rickshaw ride. it is freaking expensive! $40 for 10 minutes. But I had to try it!

woohoo...so excited

our rickshaw puller is only 20 years old and very cute!




mochiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

japanese candies. i think they are called wagashi. 

so cute!


Kyoto: Ginkaku-ji Golden Temple





My gaijin husband was stopped by a bunch of school kids and had a short interview in the rain. 

while waiting for the bus...had to entertain him somehow. 

I think you pull on the rope to invoke the gods or something. we had no idea what we were doing.

breakfast at Sukiya. oiishi!!

most people probably don't like to eat meat for breakfast but if i can have this every morning i can die happy. (beef and eel on rice)


Kyoto: Fushimi shrine
Our heavily edited iphone photo. we were on the train headed to see a couple of temples...just the two of us, so let me take a selfie! 
this is the most beautiful temple I saw in Japan. Love the red! It is huge!





















Kyoto: Hei'an Jingu 









he loves riding without his carseat. and he is very possessive of his handle bar. it is his!

Kyoto: Kiyomizudera buddhist temple













Kyoto: Back to Arashiyama...snow monkey forest!














other sights and scenes of Arashiyama. 







Must try!!! Yakiniku! Foodgasm times 1000!

Gyukaku




Shinkansen--bullet train. The fastest train in the world.