美しいですOsaka

 

Near Kyoto, Osaka is also a big city where you can spend some days there. However, I just
_DSC5327.jpgspent one day and tried to do the maximum during this beautiful day. So, the first thing that I did was the Osaka castle. It’s one of the most famous in Japan and it played a huge role during the 16th century. Nowadays, in the castle you can find a museum. The museum is starting from the last floor until the first floor and retraces the history of Japan. Moreover, at the last floor you can see a panoramic view of Osaka which is not that bad.

After this  stop in the castle, I decided to go in the city center where all the other famous places are. I walked into Den Den Town which is basically the electronic town of Osaka. However, there is not only electronic stuff there. You will find CD shops, manga shops, costume shops… Everything that you can imagine is there! I really enjoyed this place because of its variety of crazy stuff. There is also a lot of “free taxes” shops where you don’t pay the tax on the articles.

In Den Den Town you will find everything related to the crazy Japanese culture such as winning yogurt or chocolate bars into a machine game. The drinking machines are also decorated it give them a fancy look. You can find the costume of manga’s heroes and buy them (if you are courageous or crazy enough).

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Which is also surprising is the contrast of modernity and old objects. Indeed, you can find entire shops of old video games with old player station and on the other hand you’ll find extra modern shops with huge screens and the last game on the market.

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Before going to the last place that I wanted to see in Osaka I tried typical food from the city. I tried the Takoyaki which is basically some small balls with octopus inside. When I tried that, I didn’t know that some octopus was inside so I was really surprised and disgusted at the same time when I saw a tentacle coming out of the ball. Moreover, I took the plain version of balls but most of the Japanese people put some sauce on it like soy sauce.

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People who make these small balls are basically putting the dough into some half circle molds and when it’s starting to cook they turn it really quickly with chopsticks.

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So, the last thing I did in Osaka was going to see the beautiful and famous Dotonbori arcade. This huge street is full of restaurants, shops, crazy things… It’s a really beautiful avenue because of the outside of the buildings which are all full of lights and decorations.

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Hanging out there was really good and I was once again in the crowd of Japanese people. This place also gives you a lot to laugh about because of weird things such as pet’s clothes or restaurant where you can fish your fish to eat.

In one of the bridges of this long street, there is THE famous place that everyone saw on pictures. This is the place with the big screens and lighting. It was really a good time to spend time there and see the sunset.

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Out of Tokyo : Kamakura and Nikko

Near Tokyo, some cities worth to spend the day there. I have been to Kamakura and Nikko which are two different ambiances. I personally preferred Kamakura because of its beach mood but Nikko is a real cultural place speaking of temples.

 

So, as I said the first place I have been to was Kamakura which is around 45 minutes away from Tokyo by train. The part of the city near the train station is not the most interesting one. Temples near it have nothing really special in comparison of what we can find in Japan. However, there is a cute little street full of souvenirs and food which can be enjoyable if you have some time to spend. Moreover, if you decide to go and visit the temples (especially the Kencho-Ji) go to the upper part and if it’s not cloudy you can a view of Fuji Mont. (I was not lucky enough to see it).

 

I found the other part of the city way more interesting and beautiful. To go to the western/southern part I decided to walk and not take the bus or train. I think it was really worthy because I appreciated the atmosphere of this small city. The place is full of cool cafe, restaurant or street art which is really charming. Moreover, the streets are colorful or white and you feel like you’re not in Japan anymore.

 

Once you crossed the city you can join the famous Hase Dera. I really loved this place which is representative of the zen Japanese garden with its flowers, red fishes, small bouddhas and beautiful temples. This temple also have its own small cavern which is surprising but at the same time give a certain mystery to the place. At the upper part of the place, you can admire the view of the city and its ocean.

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This city is almost known for its Daibutsu which is a huge statue of Buddha. Unfortunately, the place was closed because of renovation until 2017.

 

Kamakura, as I mentioned before strongly represent the sea shore mood. The closest you get to the beach the most you find small little shops, cafe representing this spirit. Because when I went there it was winter almost nobody was on the beach expect few surfers. Seeing the beach was an enjoyable time and real fresh air from Tokyo even if the beach in itself is not spectacular.

 

 

Completely changing the atmosphere with the discovering of Nikko. This place from about 1 hour by train from Tokyo is located in the mountain and colder than the capital. I didn’t really love the place because of the city. Nikko is famous for its gorgeous temples and I agree with that. However, except these few temples the city is empty and doesn’t have any soul.

This is why I really appreciated the colorful and spectacular temples (as you can see on pictures). If you have some time and want to go out Tokyo this is a great option but if you are out of time you can find others gorgeous temples in Japan outside Nikko.

 

 

Here are two options out of Tokyo which can be a one day trip outside of the capital and enjoy your free time.

Spending one night in a temple

Japan cannot be only resumed as Tokyo, Kyoto and other big cities. This island is also a country full of rich countrysides and rurality. You can feel a real different adventure if you go further in Japan’s land and there discover an amazing culture. In the little village of Koyasan there is a lot of different temples where you can spend the night . I personally went to Eko-in temple, and warmly recommend it. IMG_1117To go there you will have to take a special train which will go there and after take a cable car to access the village. Indeed, it’s kind of lost in the middle of the mountains…

 

 

 

Sleeping in a temple means following the rules and way of life of the monks. Dinner is around 5pm, wake up at 7am and breakfast at 8 am. The room in the temple are simple and sober which represents the way of life of monks. No extravagance. However, you will find some electric heater in your room during winter which can be really cold.

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In the middle of the room  there is a table with a blanket in it. At night, the monks will come in your room to transform this table into a bed. The blanket will become your bed’s blanket and you will have a small mattress on the floor.

Dinner and breakfast are directly served in your room and are composed of typical Japanese monk food. This Buddhist vegetarian meal is made of tofu, miso soup, rice, vegetables, fruits and tea. You’ll have almost the same thing for breakfast and dinner.

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The temple I went in proposed some activities that I experienced. The first one was a meditation introduction also called Ajikan meditation. From 4 pm until 4:30 a monk explained us what meditation is and we tried to meditate on our own lives. It was a really great experience, and I’m glad I did it. However, be aware that staying in the same position for 30 minutes doesn’t seem as easy as we can imagine. It’s more impressive when the monks say that they stay like this for hours and sometimes during all night. If you want to try at home (as they recommend at least 5 minutes every day) this is how you are supposed to seat :

  1. Bend your left leg first and place your right leg on your left thigh. Basically, your knees and buttocks must be grounded to the floor.
  2. Place your right hand on your left hand, put your thumbs together and make a circle.
  3. Push your stomach out to lift your pelvis. Relax and let the tension out of your shoulders, neck, arms and chest. So your stomach must be tensed, but the other parts of the body must be relaxed.
  4. Place the head on the spine.
  5. Your eyes must be neither open nor closed. Be with your eyes half in order to watch both the external world and internal world at the same time.

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Moreover, after dinner around 8 pm this temple propose a visit of the cemetery at night. Even if I already did it during the day, seeing it at night with explanations, horror stories and rumors was really fun.

On the morning, you can wake up early to see the morning prayer. It’s an incredible experience. The atmosphere is full of emotions with the monks saying prayers, singing and playing drums. At the end of the morning prayer, the fire ritual is taking place. During this ritual, the monks burn the wishes that you can give them the night before. At the end of the ritual they give some offerings to the different divinities in the room. The fire ritual is also charged of emotions while the monks are praying,talking, playing drums and making fire.

 

The village of Koyasan is a really small village so during the day you can visit the famous cemetery (called Oku no in) which is also full of  a special atmosphere. The place is really green and you’ll find a lot of small divinities dressed. At the end of the cemetery, there is a temple ( Toro-do temple) full of lanterns which is really beautiful.

 

On the other part of the village you will find a grouping  of temples which are good to visit. There is no admissions fee and it’s really enjoyable if you have some time to spend there.

 

At the end of the day, spending one day and one night in a temple in Koyasan make you feel so many experiences and emotions that you could ever meet in your life.

Lights of Japan

Japan is one of the more lighted country I ever saw. Most of the time, big cities are lighted and it gives a special charm by night. In Japan, you are discovering another city by night. Everything is changing to become more colorful, more alive! Here, this is just some pictures from Japan … Hope you’ll appreciate the night life of this amazing country!

 

These two pictures are showing exactly what the streets of Tokyo are when it’s lighted. All the restaurants, bars, clubs, shops want to attract people. They fix themselves the goal to put the most lights as they can to make you go in. These streets were taken in Tokyo, in the area of Shinjuku.

 

This picture shows the famous area of Ponto Cho in Kyoto. In this area, the streets of Sanjo-Dori and Shijo-Dori are lighted of lanterns. The houses made of wood and the lantern are creating a special atmosphere which bring you to an older time in Japan.

 

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In every important city in Japan there is an electronic/game area. These areas are the most lighted ones and are creating the illusion that you’re not at night. These lights will not make you feel tired and this is why many Japanese people stay all the night there to play games or enjoy the area. This picture was taken in Tokyo in the area of Akihabara.

 

The show of Senso-Ji by night is incredible. This temple is one of the most visited in the city of Tokyo and during the day the place is crowded. However, if you are going there by night you’ll find an empty place, which gave a completely different atmosphere of the temple.

 

Two more pictures of the lanterns of the restaurants in the area of Ponto-Cho in Kyoto.

Kyoto : my route of temples

During my Japanese trip, I visited lots of temples. I will not lie; first I was really impressed by everything I saw, meaning by all the temples I discovered. But after seeing dozens of temples I thought they all looked kind of the same. (Too many temples is killing temples). But some of them have marked my mind by their originality and beauty. I spent four and a half days in Kyoto where a lot of beautiful temples are located in. I’ll give you a list of my favorites temples from Kyoto to see without exceptions !

To start, some ( okay lots of) temples are grouped in the eastern part of Kyoto. What you need to know is that the subway is not really spread in these areas but you can walk there or rent a bicycle. Kyoto is full of bicycles renting places and most of people are not using the subway (which is the opposite of Tokyo). Anyway, in this area there is a path called the “philosophy path” or Tetsugaku-no-Michi. This is basically a street surrounded by cute little shops with in the middle a little river and cherry blossom tree all around it. The place is really magical to spend an afternoon. When I went there it was snowing and gave an amazing charm to the place. During spring, you could enjoy the cherry blossoms blooming which could be really charming as well. Around this path, the temples are really close and you can find them with some signals. But because there are so many temples to see  I’ll give you the 2 temples that I appreciated the most in this path.

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1 )   So the first one, that I LOVED was the Ginkaku-Ji temple. I already visited Japanese temples but this one was the first one that I felt like zen and quiet. When you go in, you’ll first find a zen garden of small rocks which I really appreciated. Because the temples are also near water it gives a special atmosphere. When you go deeper in the place you’ll be in the nature surrounded of trees, small waterfall and also these small but stunning temples. This is definitely a place that I recommend to see if you’re looking for a zen temple to visit.

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2)  At the end of the “Philosophy path” I visited the Nanzen-Ji temple. This temple was recommend by a book I read before coming in Kyoto. The temple in itself is not that beautiful but the interesting thing to do is that you can go up and see Kyoto and other temples in the area from an upper point of view. The thing that I loved there was its zen garden. Even if the Nanzen-Ji garden is not really famous if you didn’t see one zen garden already (because they all looked kind of the same) it’s really interesting to go and enjoy the beauty of simple rocks and small trees.

 

 

3)  Still in the eastern part of Kyoto, if you are courageous enough to continue to a southern part by walking you’ll see the well know Kiyomisu-dera. If you are not that courageous, just go another day or take the bus to go there (because it’s really worth it). This temple really looks unreal because it’s basically in trees. This is why I really loved this temple, it’s uniqueness charmed me. When you are on top of the Kiyomisu-dera you can see Kyoto and feel like you’re going to fall because the wood can break at any moment. Obviously, this is just in your mind because the place is really secure. I went there during winter so the trees were dead but if you’re going during autumn, spring or summer the result will be way more impressive.

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4)  The next temple is in the area of Arashiyama and it happened to stumble across my IMG_1017 (1).jpgway. I was actually visiting the palm groove which is splendid when an old Japanese man wanted to take me in picture and then show me this temple and tried to explain me to go there. First, I didn’t listen to him and continued to visit the palm groove but on my way back  I decided to go there and I was not disappointed. The Tenryu-ji was really peaceful and quite big in comparison from what I saw before. The huge lake in the middle with red fish is doing a lot to the place. Moreover, the garden is really big and you can spend few hours there, enjoying the nature and the quiet place. The architecture is in wood, as usual for zen temples, and has a rock garden. Even if the place is off-center of Kyoto if you are in this area you should take a look because the old Japanese man was totally right.

 

5)  On the north of Kyoto there is a golden treasure, well known, really shiny and beautiful. Yes! this is the Kinkaku-Ji temple. I don’t have much to say about it, the pictures are speaking by themselves. I loved it as everyone because of its golden color and it gives a superior feeling in comparison of other temples. The bad thing about this place is that it’s really really touristic so really crowdy. Moreover, you can’t see the inside of the temple, just guess but the little guide they gave you at the entrance and the tour of the place is really short.Except that this place is beautiful as you can see by yourselves.

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6)  Lastly but not the least, you can’t go to Kyoto without going to the Fushimi Inari-Taisha. This place is the symbol of Kyoto and it’s true that the place is extraordinary. Surrounded of orange you are walking to go up to the main temple. You feel like you’re in a movie thanks to the atmosphere. Japanese people are dressed in traditional clothes, the forest is everywhere around you …. A magical place to see in the South of Kyoto (really accessible by subway).

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At the end, Kyoto is full of amazing places and I tried to give you my favorites places in term of temples. Hope it will help to make a choice between the so many things to see in Kyoto.

Falling in love of deers in Nara

_DSC5475Nara, 45 minutes away from Kyoto, paradise of deer, one-day excursion. This is how it’s possible to sum up the day I spent there. Nara is a quite small city well known because of its huge natural park and beautiful temples all grouped in one place which is really useful for a one day trip. After crossing the bigger road from the train station, the Nara park is full of deers in liberty.

There, you are immersed in another Japan. Deers are everywhere, no_DSC5535t scared of you and don’t care about you. They are in their home, you have to pay attention to them not the contrary. Deeper you go in the park more deer you will find. When you are really in the middle of the park you’ll see huge groups of deer moving together. it’s really impressive and beautiful. You’ll be charm by them.

 

_DSC5467You can find in the park lots of sellers of deer’s food which is basically like biscuits. Deers are fed but when you have food they will follow you and stick to you until you give them food. (it’s better to hide it then if you don’t want to give everything in 3 seconds). It’s really funny to feed them and if you give it to one, the other will see and all of the deer will come around you. Don’t be scared though they are all really nice and don’t bite if you’re careful enough.

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You’ll spend a good moment in Nara park hanging out with deers and can see moments of affection between humans and deers. For example, I saw a deer sticking with a grandpa at least half an hour even if he had no food on him. I guess the deer liked it really much.

 

In Nara Park, there are not just deers, this park is really beautiful in itself and contains a lot of temples which are really famous. The first one is the Todai-Ji temple, really impressive from the outside because of its huge size. Moreover, when you go inside you will see the big buddha, which I honestly didn’t expect to be that big. In the entrance of the temple there is the biggest buddha and then two others smaller one (but still really impressive) in gold. There are so big that you can’t take pictures easily. You have to take some distance from the buddhas to take them in a picture and I couldn’t get all of the three together.

 

More deeply in the park there is a path of columns, really beautiful to get to another temple. The temple in itself is not impressive but the way to go there is really beautiful. It’s really worth it and if it’s sunny you’ll get good lights on the deers, which are running around you or hiding behind the columns.

 

Oh! I forgot to mention something about the deers, even if they are really cute and you want to bring them at home, be aware that they are eating EVERYTHING. They are eating your hairs, your map, the fences, everything with looks funny to take away. If they are taking something from you good luck to take it back… A Chinese tourist try to get back its map for more than 20 minutes… at the end he failed… deers can be really fast when they want to do so!

 

Finally what is funny in Nara is that everything is related to deer even food, souvenirs, hats, everything… It’s really Japanese style and I personally think that’s awesome. Even the little placard in temples where you can make a wish are shaped with the head of deers! Incredible right?

 

Just more cuty deers to enjoy!

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Traditional Japanese clothes

Wherever you go in Japan, you’ll see Japanese people dressed in traditional costumes or also called Kimono. Most of the people wearing them, are girls near temples or important monuments. Indeed, such costumes often come in two forms: one for everyday occasions, the other for festival and formal wear. But you’ll also see people wearing them in the streets which is really impressive and beautiful for tourists which are not used to it. I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures that I took during my trip tp Japan !

 

In temples, you can see monks dressed with fluid and large kimonos, mostly white or with dark colors. As shoes they are wearing flip flop or sandals with socks.

 

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Wearing kimonos is intergenerationel, everyone from the grand mother to the youngest child are wearing it. By the way : kimono on kids is really cute!

 

Japanese couples are dressed together to match. They are taking a lot of pictures together like this ones and sometimes even for their weddings pictures. As you can see on pictures, women’s kimonos are really colorful whereas men’s kimonos are sober.

 

Just more beautiful women wearing really colorful kimono.

 

_DSC4608Here a picture of Japanese women waiting in front of the theater to see a comedy. These kimonos are for important occasions such as this one or going to the opera. As you can see the colors are more neutral but there is accessories like jewels, strass and fur.

 

One of the charasteristics of the Japanese who are wearing kimonos is that they are always moving in groups (2 or more) and taking a lot of pictures. This is a real contrast to see people in traditional clothes but also who are taking selfie with selfie sticks and smartphones… Japan’s contrast between modernity and traditionality.

 

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Last pictures to enjoy the haircut of women wearing kimonos. These haircuts are always well executed and agreemented of jewels, flowers or others accesories.