Bye Bye Japan, we will miss you!

We had an evening flight back to Australia, so if we caught an early Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, stowed our luggage in lockers, booked onto the Narita Airport Express we should have a few hours to enjoy one more part of Tokyo. The area that we had missed out on was the Bay area & it was serviced by a driverless elevated railway called a Yurikamome so we headed off on the Yamanote line for a few stops and bought a day pass. Chris got the hang of this one & enjoyed feeding his brightly coloured pass into the gate and retrieving it at the other side. Tokyo Bay has some terrific attractions;

I snapped this amazing clock from the train

I snapped this amazing clock from the train

The Yurikamome

The Yurikamome

I better you did't expect to see the Statue of Liberty here!!

I better you did’t expect to see the Statue of Liberty here!!

Fuji Tv Building

Fuji Tv Building

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

Gundam; really impressively big!!

Gundam; really impressively big!!

Tim by Gundam's foot to show just how big it is!

Tim by Gundam’s foot to show just how big it is!

Naturally we ate; pizza for lunch and afterwards we ate Hello Kitty..

Black-headed Gull [not right now though...]

Black-headed Gull [not right now though…]


Hello Kitty was delicious!

Hello Kitty was delicious!

Tokyo Banana, banana flavoured cake, filled with banana cream & decorated with daisies!

Tokyo Banana, banana flavoured cake, filled with banana cream & decorated with daisies!

And one last dinner at the airport before we reluctantly farewell Japan.

One last dinner [good way to use up leftover money!]

One last dinner [good way to use up leftover money!]

We decided NOT to try Wasabi Kitkat...

We decided NOT to try Wasabi Kitkat…

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Gold and gaudy

Today is our last full day in Japan, so we packed a lot in! First stop was Kinkaku-ji [The Golden Pavilion], an absolutely beautiful building, situated next to a lake and garden. It is quite gaudy really, but quite astonishingly lovely [although there was a man loudly announcing that he didn’t care for it at all!]. The hoards were definitely out in force, as were the school excursions!

The Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

The Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

Looking back at all the people trying to get a photo without any people in the way!

Looking back at all the people trying to get a photo without any people in the way!

Part of the lovely garden

Part of the lovely garden

I think this is a Phoenix on the roof.

I think this is a Phoenix on the roof.

More garden

More garden

Even Hello Kitty likes the pavillion!

Even Hello Kitty likes the pavilion!

Then we caught the bus back to Nijo and then the hotel shuttle into Kyoto Station to catch a train to Osaka. This actually involved 3 different trains, but it all went smoothly. Our goal was to head to a food & shopping area to visit an Owl Cafe & get lunch & then onto Denden town for the boys to have one more “fix” of Japanese games arcades. Dotombori was amazing, definitely part of another planet, with huge models outside the shops advertising their wares and all sorts of signs and fixtures. It is a terrific place to sample Takoyaki and other tasty street foods. It also has an owl cafe and I was just unable to resit a visit…!!

We met this teenager on the train. He was very keen to show us his homemade mask and practice his english skills [pretty good]

We met this teenager on the train. He was very keen to show us his homemade mask and practice his english skills [pretty good]

Columns outside a hotel..!

Columns outside a hotel..!

A dragon on a shopfront

A dragon on a shopfront

Cute statues and figures everywhere

Cute statues and figures everywhere

Another dragon

Another dragon

A Great Grey Owl

A Great Grey Owl

Tim stroking an owl

Tim stroking an owl

Nick stroking an owl

Nick stroking an owl

Adorable!

Adorable!

Rod patting an owl

Rod patting an owl

Tiana, a HUGE owl

Tiana, a HUGE owl

The Great Grey Owl

The Great Grey Owl

Jenny stroking these absolutely tiny owls

Jenny stroking these absolutely tiny owls

Jenny patting another owl.

Jenny patting another owl.

The crazy busy streetscape!

The crazy busy streetscape!

Yum, lunchtime!

Yum, lunchtime!

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Heartbreaking Hiroshima

Today we visited Hiroshima; very lovely but also heart breakingly sad. It is nearly 400km away from Kyoto where we are staying, but quite a manageable day trip on a 300km hour bullet train!

Bullet train coming in to the platform

Bullet train coming in to the platform

Rod's phone clocking the speed!

Rod’s phone clocking the speed!

Rod’s father Innes was in Japan as part of the Occupation Forces in 1945 and visited Hiroshima just a few months after the bomb went off. He was photographed in the no doubt quite radioactive site holding a pair of chopsticks he had found.

Innes Stiles [Rod's father] at Hiroshima in April 1945

Innes Stiles [Rod’s father] at Hiroshima in April 1945

It was very eerie and sad to walk around the beautiful park and remember all the people who died there, many of them children.

Chris in the Peace Park

Chris in the Peace Park

Rod by the dome

Rod by the dome

Autumn trees along the river

Autumn trees along the river

Paper cranes in memory of Sadako

Paper cranes in memory of Sadako

More paper cranes

More paper cranes

charred lunchbox belonging to Shigeru, aged 12. He died holding it.

charred lunchbox belonging to Shigeru, aged 12. He died holding it.

Sadarko who died from Leukemia. She was exposed to the bomb aged 2 and tried to make 10,000 paper cranes in the hope that she would be cured. Thousands of cranes are still bought to Hiroshima in her memory [& all the other children who died]

Sadako who died from Leukemia. She was exposed to the bomb aged 2 and tried to make 10,000 paper cranes in the hope that she would be cured. Thousands of cranes are still bought to Hiroshima in her memory [& all the other children who died]

After an interesting but rather gut-wrenching visit to the museum we walked on to Hiroshima Castle. Unlike Nijo Castle which is flat & pretty empty, this castle is five stories high and has some furniture and a display of armour and swords.

Shrine statue

Shrine statue

a Common Pochard Duck in the moat

a Common Pochard Duck in the moat

A wedding in the park near Hiroshima Castle

A wedding in the park near Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle

Autumn colour from the castle

Autumn colour from the castle

Tim lifting a Katana

Tim lifting a Katana

Nick trying on some armour

Nick trying on some armour

Samurai Armour

Samurai Armour

Hiroshima Castle reflected in the moat

Hiroshima Castle reflected in the moat

Our bullet train "home"

Our bullet train “home”

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Groves and Geisha

Another beautiful sunny day as we set off on the train for Arashiyama. First stop was the beautiful zen garden of Tenry-ji temple; a beautiful lake surrounded by trees and slopes all carpeted with thick green moss.

Autumn leaves and last seasons lotus.

Autumn leaves and last seasons lotus.

A sacred shrine is no reason to be more than a few metres from a vending machine!

A sacred shrine is no reason to be more than a few metres from a vending machine!

Jenny in the garden

Jenny in the garden

The garden exits into a bamboo grove; lovely but a lot smaller than I was expecting after the rave in the Lonely Planet guide.

Bamboo grove

Bamboo grove

Bamboo Grove

Bamboo Grove

The river at Arashiyama

The river at Arashiyama

We crossed the river [spying a trainee Geisha and a wedding] and walked [slowly!] up a series of steep paths and steps to another monkey park and a fabulous view across Kyoto. It provided another opportunity to eat more excellent ice-cream [Black Vanilla, Musk Melon & Mango were today’s selections]. The monkeys at this park are fed so they were rather more feisty!

Trainee Geisha

Trainee Geisha

Macaques in a tree

Macaques in a tree

monkey with a vew

monkey with a vew

Come and get chestnuts [monkeys only]

Come and get chestnuts [monkeys only]

The boys were keen to go back to Kyoto city in the evening, so we headed off again on the subway. Fortunately the shopping arcades have plenty to keep Rod, Chris and I amused while we wait for them to tire of the game arcade [or get hungry which comes first!].

Very cranky!

Very cranky!

Would you eat here?!

Would you eat here?!

Handbag with a test pattern design

Handbag with a test pattern design

An entire shop of Harp Seals [including a Pancake Seal complete with butter & a Toast seal!!]

An entire shop of Harp Seals [including a Pancake Seal complete with butter & a Toast seal!!]

This is edible, a cartoon character apparently to be served on top of salad or vegetables for children! It actually had very little flavour.

This is edible, a cartoon character apparently to be served on top of salad or vegetables for children! It actually had very little flavour.

Tim's dinner from a selection of food from the local supermarket. Even Japanese sandwiches taste amazingly good & surprisingly we can eat really cheaply.

Tim’s dinner from a selection of food from the local supermarket. Even Japanese sandwiches taste amazingly good & surprisingly we can eat really cheaply.

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High Quality Bambi

I have no idea what product this banner was for, but we spotted it in a shopping arcade in Teramachi, Kyoto;

High quality Bambi!!

High quality Bambi!!

Well, today we visited Nara and there was certainly a lot of “High Quality Bambi” there; in fact everywhere.

Sika Deer

Sika Deer

There are also temples, shrines, a five story pagoda and an enormous Buddha, all set in a beautiful huge park. Some areas are open grass, others forests of huge trees with twisted roots and draped with moss.

Five-storey Pagoda

Five-storey Pagoda

Nick and Tim feed the deer

Nick and Tim feed the deer

Rod feeding a deer

Rod feeding a deer

More deer feeding

More deer feeding

The bucks were a bit scary; many had bleeding heads.

The bucks were a bit scary; many had bleeding heads.

Rice cakes can be purchased to feed the deer & they can be a bit over enthusiastic! We discovered that the bolshie deer hang around the entrance. The deer further into the park were gentler. If you bow to the deer, they bow back!

A Sika deer bowing politely for a biscuit.

A Sika deer bowing politely for a biscuit.

We preferred ice-cream and during the day tried mango, grape, black sesame & white peach. The latter was the best with Black Sesame the runner up!

yummy icecream

yummy icecream

One of the main attractions of Nara is the Giant Buddha. Unfortunately in photos it doesn’t look that big because there is no scale, but it is massive. The hall that houses it is huge, so that gives some indication. There is a hand around the back [not sure why] so a person near that gives some idea of the size. Out the front is a really creepy looking statue of Binzuru, said to bestow healing.

The hall of the buddha statue

The hall of the buddha statue

The giant Buddha and one of the smaller statues on either side.

The giant Buddha and one of the smaller statues on either side.

A "spare" hand with Nick to give scale.

A “spare” hand with Nick to give scale.

The rather creepy looking Binzuru...

The rather creepy looking Binzuru…

Chris was pretty nervous of the deer at first & couldn’t be persuaded to feed one [he tossed any biscuit he was given & backed away!] but as he got used to them suddenly decided to pat one.

Chris suddenly decided to walk up to a deer and pat it!

Chris suddenly decided to walk up to a deer and pat it!

Jenny on the other hand patted the deer often!

Jenny on the other hand patted the deer often!

Rows and rows of stone lanters in the forest.

Rows and rows of stone lanters in the forest.

Today was Culture Day and there was a special "Wisteria" ceremony on at one of the shrines.

Today was Culture Day and there was a special “Wisteria” ceremony on at one of the shrines.

More high quality Bambi

More high quality Bambi

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Tori Gates and Castle Gates

Today we visited Fushimi-Inari Taisha, a beautiful shrine just outside of Kyoto. It is famous for its 10,000 orange gates creating kilometres of paths up a mountain as well as 100’s of red-bibbed fox statues. Unfortunately there was some heavy rain so we didn’t go all the way to the top!

Fushimi-inari Taisha

Fushimi-inari Taisha

More gates!

More gates!

Jenny in one corridor of gates

Jenny in one corridor of gates

Tim in the gates

Tim in the gates

Cute children at the shrine

Cute children at the shrine

The foxes are apparently messengers for all the wishes for prosperity and good fortune.

Tiny fox statues

Tiny fox statues

Shrine cat

Shrine cat

A bib wearing fox

A bib wearing fox

A rather menacing fox!

A rather menacing fox!

After lunch [fabulous Sushi and yummy assorted sandwiches and skewers of meat] Rod & I went over the road to Nijo Castle. The most spectacular part was definitely the main entrance gate. It is an exquisite masterpiece of cloisonne.

Gate at Nijo Palace

Gate at Nijo Palace

Bird detail on Nijo Castle gate

Bird detail on Nijo Castle gate

Crane detail on Nijo Palace gate

Crane detail on Nijo Palace gate

Butterfly detail on Nijo Castle gate

Butterfly detail on Nijo Castle gate

Tiger detail on Nijo Palace gate

Tiger detail on Nijo Palace gate

Deatail from Nijo Palace gate

Deatail from Nijo Palace gate

Some girls in Kimonos [we have seen a surprising number of women and girls wearing these]

Some girls in Kimonos [we have seen a surprising number of women and girls wearing these]

Finally another trip into Kyoto for another bout of arcade games for the boys!

Most adorable doughnuts ever!

Most adorable doughnuts ever!

Tim in action

Tim in action

Chris enjoying the games at Kyoto

Chris enjoying the games at Kyoto

Tim playing a drumming game

Tim playing a drumming game

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Hurtling through space and time…

This morning we woke up in the historic ambiance of the Fujiya hotel but by the middle of the day were hurtling across Japan at speeds of 270 km an hour. An early stop on the local train had the train doors opening opposite a beautiful old shrine, but this afternoon’s stops were high-rise and advertisements. Japan is certainly a land where old and new nestle together.

A waterwheel in the Fujiya Hotel gardens

A waterwheel in the Fujiya Hotel gardens

A Daurian Redstart singing loudly from a shrub.

A Daurian Redstart singing loudly from a shrub.

A shrine seen from the open doors of our train

A shrine seen from the open doors of our train

The bullet trains hurtle past the platform so fast that it is scary! They are hard to photograph too because they are gone almost before you can take off your lens cap!

The bullet train we travelled on to Kyoto

The bullet train we travelled on to Kyoto

It was a bit confusing to find our hotel shuttlebus at Kyoto station [the bakery near by looked amazing so perhaps we could have not found the bus a bit longer…], and the traffic near Kyoto station is horrible, but once we got there it was lovely to find that our hotel has a waterfall and that we have a view of Nijo Castle from our rooms.

the view from our room in Kyoto

the view from our room in Kyoto

The waterfall at our hotel

The waterfall at our hotel

Japan is full of this sort of poster!

Japan is full of this sort of poster!

A humongous crab advertising a seafood restaurant

A humongous crab advertising a seafood restaurant

Not sure what this is advertising but I am not buying!

Not sure what this is advertising but I am not buying!

Since we had spent a large part of the day in or waiting for trains we headed in to Kyoto on the subway so that Tim could visit the games arcade. It turned out to be in an amazing shopping arcade so a good time was had by all!

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