A Step Back in History-Kyoto

Our last and most favorite stop of the trip was Kyoto. I can’t talk enough about the Kyoto attractions available to see.

This is the road leading up to the Kiyomizu Temple. While on a student exchange to Japan 10 years ago, my host family brought me to this same temple. It was so exciting to be sharing the same place with hubs years later.

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Outside the entrance of the temple

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Visitors light incense and try to cover their head with the smoke

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto
Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Overlooking the city of Kyoto

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

Beneath the main hall is the otowa waterfall. Three different channels of water fall into the pond below. Visitors can hold long sticks with metal cups at the end and get a drink from these falls and get a wish granted.

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

There is a popular saying in Japanese that is similar to the states “take the plunge” and it is “jump off the stage at Kiyomizu”. In the Edo Period (no idea what year that is) the tradition held that if you were to survive the 13 meter jump off of the veranda, your wish would come true. 234 jumps were recorded during that time with a 85.4% survival rate. It does not list, however, what injuries were gained by those who survived. Shockingly, the practice is not prohibited.

Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto
Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto

My favorite site of all was the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It is a shinto shrine put in place in order to worship the God Inari, the God of Rice. Foxes are said to be its messengers which is why several fox statues can be seen along the trail. The large orange gateways are called toriis and there are thousands of them along the two hour trail. All of them are donations from individuals and businesses. Prices for the smaller ones start at around 5,000 us dollars while the larger ones start at around 13,000 us dollars.

Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto

It was a gorgeous view of all the torii gates heading deeper into the forest. 

Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto

The black lettering is the name of the donator and the date of the donation

Fushimi Inari Shrine, kyoto

We stopped briefly at the golden pavilion. It really has little history but it’s a cool looking building in the middle of the water and there were about a hundred other people there taking pictures of it. I’d say it was worth it.

golden pavilion, kyoto
golden pavilion, kyoto
golden pavilion, kyoto

We stopped by a nearby temple for new years where they were setting up for a festival. We decided to come back when it got a little closer to the countdown. When we showed back up, the streets were packed with thousands of people with apparently, the same mindset as us. The police had barricaded the streets surrounding the temple so no one could get in until after midnight. When I think of sneaking into a place, often times a concert or some sort of show comes to mind. Apparently to people in Kyoto, the best place to try to sneak into is a temple. I guess ‘sneak’ is the wrong word. Jumping across barricades, running across lanes of traffic and dodging police is more along the right lines. The first few people were successful, the rest…were not. The police became pretty good at lunging at the hooligans and wrestling them to the ground, then proceeding to throw them into cop cars and haul them off to jail. It made for good entertainment while we were waiting.

kyoto

A group of ladies at the temple all dressed up in their traditional kimonos.

An Old School Metropolitan- Osaka

Our next stop was Osaka. to be perfectly frank, it was our least favorite stop of the trip. It was like every other big city, lots of shopping and eating. but this one had, in our opinion, few sites that we, personally wanted to see.

 Osaka Castle

The major stop that we went to was the Osaka Castle. Unfortunately, this castle was also closed due to the new year. We were most impressed by the gigantic stone cut walls that surrounded the castle and formed the base of the castle.

 Osaka Castle
 Osaka Castle
 Osaka Castle

Our next stop is aways my favoite when traveling. We headed to one of the popular nearby markets. They had large amounts of tea in huge containers so you could pick out your favorite and get a large bag of it.

osaka market
osaka market

Inside the market was a small peaceful little temple.

japanese temple
japanese temple
japanese temple

Rubbing the bull’s head for good luck then going and writing good wishes for the new year.

japanese temple
osaka japan

We had a Japanese pancake, Okonomiyaki for dinner. I have no idea what all was in this but it was the most delicious meal I have ever had. It had mac and cheese, hash browns and a special sauce.

Okonomiyaki

From the Textbooks-Hiroshima

We went to Japan during our Christmas holiday and flew into Fukuoka early Wednesday morning. We headed straight for the bullet train station to take the train to see the a bomb building in Hiroshima for the first night. To get from Fukuoka to Hiroshima was only an hour train ride and man those trains are fast! But I’m sure you could’ve guessed that.

shinkansen bullet train

Our first stop was the Hiroshima Castle. There was a gorgeous trail around the entire castle with a large moat around the perimeter. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside because everything was closed for the New Year.

hiroshima castleThere were several men manicuring all of the trees. we just assumed that they grew this way, we had no idea that they had hired workers to make the trees look the way they did.
hiroshima castle
hiroshima castle
hiroshima castle
hiroshima castle

This was one of our favorite stops during our trip. The a bomb building was actually the main reason we decided to stop in hiroshima at all. It was the only building that remained standing after the states dropped the atomic bomb on the city. The bomb was actually dropped almost directly above it and they say that it is part of the reason why the dome survived. Before the bomb hit, the building was known in Hiroshima for it’s emerald green dome. It was amazing and so surreal to see this building after learning all about it in school and textbooks. 

a-bomb building, hiroshima
We went late at night because we heard that it was all lit up and it made for a beautiful sight. The air around the building was hushed as people walked around, speaking in whispers. The picture below shows the before and after affect of the building.
a-bomb building, hiroshima