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  • Day12

    Kyoto West

    March 27, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    There are many really interesting things to see around Ōsaka, but not really in Ōsaka^^. So also on the third day we were staying in there, we left early in the morning to explore temples on the west side of Kyoto. Unfortunately René had a bad stomach starting from this day and was in constant search for toilets which certainly made his experience much worse :-(

    Right after leaving the train station the way to the first temple was already very beautiful! The street was lined with many many Sakura trees and accompanied with them many girls in beautiful kimonos. Since all the temples are extremely touristy there are always lots of people around... For the first time I saw a Rickshaw kind of wagon which was pulled by a walking man. I really didn’t envy these poor guys with calves like tree trunks, pulling fat tourists all day long… At some point the path was going along a nice river on which old staking boats were transporting more tourists^^

    Before reaching the first temple we had to pass a cool bamboo forest which seemed to amaze all the other people much more than me judging on the time we needed to pass it… But the temple or better saying the garden of the temple was really worth it. It’s a gorgeous Zen-Garden with many trees and plants blooming in all different kind of colours on a slight slope around the temple. On the highest point we had an amazing view on the temple lined with cherry trees almost in full blossom! Every Zen-Garden also has to have a clear lake with Koi which is so elaborately nurtured that I also want to have one :-( And also came the moment we needed the 1 Yen coins I was collecting during the whole trip so far. We came to several small ponds with different statues inside where had to throw them on top of the frog's head or in some small basin to get lucky. But since these coins are just aluminum that’s much more challenging than one would might think and I think no one of use hit the jackpot :D But just judging on the amount of money which is thrown there I can understand how they finance these beautiful temples and gardens :D

    After a couple more toilet breaks, several small temples and a second big temple we came to a truly amazing place. A whole city out of temples! On an area of maybe 1,5 x 1,5 km there so many different kinds of temples or shrines or temple-like building that I felt in a completely different world. Some of them were even connected with wooden bridges and in many of them were even residences of wealthy families which was already indicated by the many different emblems on the keystones of the roofs but what we also learned when Claudi was kicked out one of them sticking here nose a little bit too deep inside^^

    After passing this city everyone was hungry and we went to the first place to eat that we saw which happened to be a small Udon store. So I had my first Udon, which is a thick wheat noodle with light taste in a smooth broth which is not so strong and completely different from Ramen and with much less toppings. Even though I prefer the very strong taste of Ramen this is also a very delicious meal!

    The we had to walk a long way to see another highlight of the trip: The Golden Pavilion. After unsuccessfully trying to enter the back entrance and skipping the fee we entered it’s area. And while usually there are many other things before you see the main act here you’re directly overwhelmed by the view of the pavilion. It sits on the shore of a beautiful Zen-Pond and is a gorgeous building completely covered in gold leafs. While we were there the sun was slowly setting and reflected by the building… A truly terrific view!

    Having many more chances to throw coins on several things – and failing – we took the train back to Ōsaka.
    And even though all these days were very amazing we were always covering a lot of ground by foot mostly on paved streets which was very tiresome for everyone… And so the evening program usually was short with a single beer at home :D
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  • Day11


    March 26, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    On our second day in Ōsaka we went to Nara, a smaller city in the east which is a former capital and thus holds a couple very important temples.
    On the way from our apartment to the train station we passed a small park with Sakuras of more and more buds started to open. Every day the cherry trees started to look more and more beautiful! On a soil ground a group of maybe 50 high school students performing a traditional dance to some relaxing sounds with one guy standing in front of them giving commands. While I was taking a video he said something and suddenly the moved faster und started shouting until one guy from the center came running towards me, jumping and landing in some pose! :D

    Nara is a smaller city with around 300000 inhabitants with the temples on the feet of the surrounding hills. We first went to the Kofukuji temple and as soon as we left the city centre with all the small shops and bling bling again deers started to appear everywhere around and just merging with the many tourists without even caring. And well if I would get fed with cookies everywhere I wouldn't mind either^^
    Even though I really don't like this huge crowds of peoples it's really worth seeing these temples. It not just like one beautiful church but all the gardens, small shrines and other buildings around are really amazing. That's why this temple was impressive even though we were a little unlucky because they were renovating the main building... Since almost all the temples are constructed only from wood and they have the huge overhanging roofs they have to be renovated quite oven which can take several years. And then they're covered with huge scaffolds and one cannot see anything of the building^^ The greatest thing at this temples was a five story pagoda which is with 50.1 m the second highest in whole Japan. Because they're holy and hold important relics and graves one cannot go inside and is just allowed to admire them from the outside.
    Going a little further between trees and accompanied of endless deers we came to another temple and we had pay an admission fee for the first time. This temple mainly consisted of a huge gate and then immediately came a huge building which we quickly entered. Inside we saw an absolutely huge Buddha statue made of solid bronze and about 16m tall! I've no idea how many tons this fat thing must weigh^^ And this monument is so enormous that they had to build the building around it and there was also a time when the temples was burned down and the poor Buddha had to sit in the rain :D There were also more big statues in the temple but this Buddha with it's palpable aura just outshone everything.
    After spending some time with the Buddha we went on to the temple of a thousand lanterns which lies on a small hill and whose winding paths are all surrounded by many many stone lantern :-)
    Again not seeing a single cloud we were all a little exhausted from sun and walking and rested in a small café on the way back to the train station where I had some cool jelly like sweets from anko beans.

    Back in Ōsaka it was already dark we went to the Umeda Sky Building - one the highest to skyscrapers in the city to enjoy the view on Ōsaka at night. The building alone is already quite impressive with it's two towers and round skydeck sitting on top of them. When I saw the two skewed metal constructions connecting the towers right underneath the deck and René told me that these were escalators I started to feel a little queasy... But we took the elevator up to highest possible floor anyway which just took a couple seconds. For another admission fee we went up to the observation deck without having to take these crazy escalators! Under the open sky and on a sparkling floor lit with UV-light we could enjoy an amazing view on the city of Ōsaka and its impressive skyline. Not having as high skyscrapers as in North America this view still never seizes to amaze me and we spent quite some time up there relaxing and enjoying :-) On the way back we then had to take one of the escalators to the other tower... But even though they looked scary it was totally normal to use them because they were surrounded by so much metal that one couldn't even see so much^^

    After so much walking and not having any lunch we were all very tired and hungry. Claudi wanted to show her parents Okonomiyaki and luckily we just had a nice restaurant across from our apartment. So went there ordered three different kinds of Okonomiyaki and one portion of Yakisoba (grilled Soba noodles) and some Japanese long-drinks with Yuzu (citrus fruit) and calpis of which the latter testes surprisingly similar to Smirnoff Ice.
    Then we just climbed the stairs to our apartment and fell to bed :D
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