Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Golden Temple Grounds

Unfortunately we were not offered the chance to go inside this temple, and I am not sure it was even open to the public. We did however get to have a little wander around the grounds which were traditional in style.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Golden Temple Pt 3

A different vie of the temple for you today. If you look closely you will see the phoenix shining on the very top. I must say that I love the reflections of this building in the surrounding lake.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Golden Temple Pt 2

 Just another shot of The Golden Temple, a closer view than yesterday. This Temple is formally named Rokuon-ji Temple, but is commonly called  Kinkaku-ji Temple ( The Golden Pavillion). In it's past, it was used as an official guest house by Emperors and other nobility. Gold foil on lacquer covers the upper two floors.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple is another Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It's history dates back to the late 1300's when it became the property of a retiring Shogun. As per his will, the complex was turned into a Buddhist temple. Along with many of the old buildings in Japan, this one also succumbed to fire many times, and the current building was constructed in 1955. The top two levels are completely covered in gold leaf!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Traditional Roof Line

This roof line is in stark contrast to the one I posted yesterday. This one is very traditional, with the slightly curved eaves that extend a good distance. The roof is the main feature of a building and can feature all kinds of decoration from the top of the apex to the end of the eaves. Even under the eaves can be decorated. The round ends to the ridges on the roof are also all decorated, and are different from one roof to the next.

I personally found the Japanese buildings fascinating. They are so much more interesting to look at than 99% of our modern day clean cut buildings,and to a textile worker, they are full of inspiration.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Building Decoration

Some of the buildings in Kyoto are richly decorated, especially the shrines and temples. I am not sure what this building is, we passed it on our taxi tour of Kyoto, so the pic is once again taken out the car window at speed. I found it interesting, and different to the traditional Japanese architecture.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Japanese Religion

Well, today is Christmas Day in the Christian calendar. It is the most important day of the Christian calendar as we celebrate the birth of Jesus on this day.

While in Japan we learnt a little of the religions. The two main ones are Buddism and Shinto. I found it interesting that one of our guides told us that most Japanese are born into one religion and die into another, then come the 25th of December, they all turn Christian for the day!

So for everyone reading this today, Merry Christmas to you all, and hopefully I will continue my Japanese adventure again tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Scare Crows

On our driving guided tour around the best of Kyoto, we spotted these scare crows. Some farmer was going to great lengths, and creative lengths, to keep the birds from his crops. All the scare crows were different!
Looking closely at the second photo you will notice a "Hello Kitty" scare crow. "Hello Kitty" is huge in Japan and can be found everywhere, from key-rings, to t-shirts and now even scare crows! A clever marketing industry worth millions. 

What may be more note worthy are the hedges on the side of the road. Looking closely they look like camellias that have been pruned into shape. i dare say they would look beautiful come spring.

Both pics were taken through car windows

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Mountain Drive

To get to the tea house our guides took us up a mountain road. It was very different from the flat areas of Kyoto that we had been in the day before. Much greener, much cooler, and obviously much wetter in general. There was moss everywhere. This is the view of the narrow road we drove up. We didn't go right up, just far enough to get to the tea house.

As ! said, moss everywhere, even on the roof!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Morning Tea - Japanese Style

Part way up the mountain, our guide thought we might enjoy a spot of morning tea, so we stopped at a 400 year old tea house. Tea is the national drink in Japan. The above is cherry blossom tea, quite pleasant, even if a little on the salty side, especially when getting to the bottom.

Along with the tea came some food. I have no idea what I was eating, just that some of it was sweet, and some of it was disgusting, all very pasty and thick. The eating implement was also interesting, if not a little dangerous. The brown powder at the back was like a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon and very sweet. I think we were supposed to pick up some of the paste and dunk it in the sweet powder. Though that sweet powder did nothing to help that green paste!

Now we get to green. I found a lot of green processed food in my travels, and now think that they may have been green tea flavoured. Green tea is huge in Japan, but it is nothing like the green tea I am used to here at home. The green tea that I experienced was bright green, opaque, and very frothy. I might also add not to my taste!

Coffee, now that is another story again! I do drink coffee, and love a good percolated coffee with milk. Cappuccinos, lattes and iced coffee also go down well. So when travelling on the Shinkansen train the day before, I was surprised to see an iced coffee sign ( in English! ) on the food trolley that came around. As I was hot and thirsty, I ordered one. Mmmmmmm...................not good!  Iced coffee Japanese style is hot percolated coffee poured over half a glass of ice cubes! I did get a tiny finger nail sized container of milk to put into it, but that didn't do much to help!

My next experience of coffee was at breakfast the next morning. Percolated coffee, that was way too strong to drink .Mmmm........................... I decided that Japan cannot do coffee and from then on drank normal roasted black tea. When I say that Japan cannot do coffee, I will give them credit for having Starbucks, and for the little coffee shop we found a few days later that did a great cappuccino!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Shrine

After leaving the Tenryu-ji Temple and the Bamboo Forest, we continued our journey up into the mountains on the outskirts of Kyoto. The road was narrow and winding, and there were lots of tourists. It was also an area of the more simple living. This shrine was spotted along the way, set on somebody's front porch. I am not sure what it is a shrine to, but I found it interesting, if not a little ugly. The long hair extruding from eyes or eyebrows kind of creeps me out a little. Though I am sure it has some meaning to the Japanese and it's owner. The photos was taken out of a car window.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Walking from the Bamboo Forest back to to our waiting taxi drivers, I spotted this rickshaw in action. I mentioned before about the rickshaw drivers being very trim. He must have a few arm muscles too to be able to pull not only the rickshaw but the two adult occupants as well. I wonder who provided the blanket?

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Bamboo Forest

The Bamboo Forest is in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan. It is within walking distance of the Tenryu-ji Temple, at the foot of the mountains. Walking through this grove is like nothing I have ever seen or felt before, it is certainly another place and time. I am not sure how far the pathway goes, we walked a little way, but because we were on a schedule for the day, the walk was kept short. Note the use of bamboo as fencing.

The Moss Sweepers

Walking through the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple we spotted the moss sweepers. Our guide told us that the moss has to be kept clean so it does not rot. Falling leaves, pruings etc that are left on the moss for any length of time will destroy the moss underneath. They both had little tiny hand held straw brooms.

Note also the use of bamboo as support for some of the trees.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


As we walked around the gardens of the Tenryu-ji Temple, we spotted the beginnings of the bamboo grove. Bamboo is used everywhere, but more on that later.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Garden Art

This mean looking fellow was found in the garden just outside the main hall in the Tenryu-ji Temple. There was a group of them, all in a row, all slightly different. This one was undamaged. I think he may be representing the Water Dragon, which is supposed to protect the buildings from fire.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Schoolroom

This was a schoolroom inside one of the buildings of the Tenryu-ji Temple. Note the height of the tables and lack of chairs. Sitting on the floor is the order of the day in  traditional Japanese culture. The floors are meticulously clean, hence no shoes allowed. Note the artwork on the the sliding doors and the paper used for walls.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tenryu-ji Temple Garden

The gardens of the Tenryu-ji Temple are noted to be the best in Japan. As we only visited a small section of the country, I cannot say if this is true or not, but how beautiful is this? Green moss, running water, stepping stones, garden lights, shady trees, what more could we ask for?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The PineTree Pruners

Moving around the gardens of the Tenryu-ji Temple I spotted these gardeners. They were pruning the pine tree, by hand! Pine trees do not take well to mechanical implements of any kind, so the trees are meticulously pruned by hand, that is just with fingers breaking the pine needles. I can only imagine the time involved. I hope he has good balance standing on that ladder! Once again the colours of Autumn are beginning to show.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Shrine

This was the shrine inside one of the buildings at the Tenryu-ji Temple. I would have liked to get a little closer to get better pics, especially of the patterns in those fabrics. Even with the  zoom ability of my camera, I missed the detail of those patterns.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Artwork was rare inside the Tenryu-ji Temple. This horse was in a stand on the floor, not hung from a wall, and from memory the only one we saw.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Another Pot

This pot, or vase, or whatever you would like to call it, was the only thing in this room of the Tenryu-ji Temple besides tatami mats on the floor. The pot itself was beautiful, I would have like to have gotten closer to take better pics and to be able to see all the detailed decoration.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Pot With Decorative Stand

There were many buildings inside the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple. Those that we had the pleasure of going inside were very simply furnished. Tatami mats on the floor, maybe a single pot somewhere, and maybe a piece of artwork if were were lucky. This is one of the pots that we saw, sitting on it's stand in the center of the room. It probably had some significance, but I am not sure what.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Temple Gateway

This was one of the gateways in the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple. I am sure we were told what it was a gateway to, but my memory evades me. It may have been the entrance to the Dharma Hall. As you can see it is very much bolted. Note the raked gravel in front of the gateway, very much a part of Buddhist Zen Gardens.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Pine Tree

Just a pine tree, an older pine tree, that I found interesting. This one was in the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple. Pine trees are few and far between in my neighbourhood, and never look quite like this. We have gum trees, bottlebrush trees, and other Australian natives. I really liked the lines in the branches, and you never know, they may appear in my stitching somewhere, somehow, sometime in the future.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tenryu-ji Temple Grounds Pt 4

One of the buildings in the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple with  more of those autumn colours in that Japanese maple tree just starting to change colour. Note the use of bamboo as protection around the azalea bush in the center of the walkway.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tenryu-ji Temple Grounds Pt 3

Just another view of the beautiful grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple, a little further around the lake. Such glorious colour to be seen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tenryu-ji Temple Grounds Pt 2

 Just another view of the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple. More Autumn colour, and that beautiful old pine tree that has nearly toppled into the water. If you look closely, you can just see the moss & ferns on the waters edge under the trees. More on the moss a little further into our story.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tenryu-ji Temple Gardens

A view of  the grounds of the Tenryu-ji Temple. The lake contained fish and the trees on the other side were stunning. In a few weeks time the colour would have been amazing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tenryu-ji Temple

The Tenryu-ji Temple ( a World Cultural Heritage Site) was the first stop on our taxi tour of Kyoto, Japan. Our tour  was a full day, whirlwind tour of the best of Kyoto.

Tenryu-ji ('Temple of the Hevenly Dragon),  is a Buddhist temple dating back to 1339. The site has a history of fires, so the current buildings only date back to the late 1800's. This was another shoes off experience.

Such a shame that we didn't have more time. I would have loved to explore all the buildings and gardens some more. I think it could be the kind of place to come and spend a whole day, we only had limited time as there were a few more stops ahead in our day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pretend Maiko

Walking back through Gion, we spotted these ladies. They weren't shy like the ladies in the last pic, nor were they in a hurry. I asked permission if I could take their photo, and got greeted with a very friendly Canadian accented "yes"! These ladies were tourists just like us, playing dress-ups to have a good time. What a great way to meet other tourists, though I am sure the real Maiko would not approve. What do they say " When in Rome.........."

Once again I just loved the costumes, pretend or not.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Geiko and Maiko

Geiko is the Kyoto dialect word for what we know as Geisha. What I did learn though is that we would never see a real Geiko or Geisha. These ladies may have been Maiko. What is the difference? A Geiko ( Geisha ) is highly prized and protected, surrounded by body guards, and slipped into and out of buildings with the utmost discretion. A Maiko is an apprentice Geiko.

Gieko  ( or Geisha ) entertain with dance, music, playing instruments, performing tea ceremonies and conversation. They are highly trained professionals whose main objective is to make guests feel at ease.

Whether these ladies are Geiko, Maiko, or just ladies playing dress-ups for the tourists, I loved the costumes! I would have loved to have touched, felt and turned inside out to see how they were made. That was a no-no though, these ladies are treated with the utmost respect, and do not stay still for photos. I was lucky to get this one.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Transport in Japan has moved on from the rickshaw, there are cars, buses, trains and planes now. I had forgotten about rickshaws though until I saw this one waiting for a customer. Yes, the rickshaw does still exhist, I saw a few of them in my travels in Japan. Though I think they are mainly for the tourist market to say we have had a ride in one. We walked, caught buses, taxi's, trains & ferries, but sadly no ride in a rickshaw. I must add here that all the rickshaw "pullers" were very trim! I wonder why?

Saturday, November 29, 2014


On the walk back down the hill, it was very much dusk, and the lights were on in all the shops. We passed this one, which I thought was just beautiful. Just fans! Yes, we can buy fans in Australia, but a shop that just sells fans and nothing but? I haven't seen one like this before. How stunning is this?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Kiyomizu Temple

At the top of the hill in Gion was the prize we were looking for, The Kiyomizu Temple. Originally founded in 798, a lot of the buildings weren't built until the 1600's. Unfortunatley, it was being restored when we were there, so most of it was covered with scaffolding and cloth. A little dissapointing, as we had travelled such a long way to see it. Not to worry, the walk back down the hill at dusk was more interesting than the walk up.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sunset Over Kyoto

It was late in the afternoon when we walked up the narrow street in Gion, Kyoto, Japan. As we walked up the hill we turned & looked back to see this stunning view. If you click on the pic, you will see Kyoto, a great mix of the old and the new.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Kyoto View

As we made our way up the hill of the little narrow street in Gion, Kyoto, Japan. this is one of the views we got as we looked back. A view over the more modern part of Kyoto, with high rise buildings. It's a little hazy, as it was very hot that day. Temperatures in the 30's! If you look closely, you will see mountains in the background, high rise contrasting with old, and touches of autumn in the leaves.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gion Building

This is just one of the buildings in Gion, Kyoto, Japan, that took my eye. We were on a mission, and this cute little building was on the way. It was one of the very few single story buildings that I saw, if not the only single story building that I saw! I am not sure what the building was. We had passed lots of shops that were open, and this one didn't appear to be open. There was no-one out the front attracting customers either. There were signs on the building, but I couldn't read them. It may have been a tea house, or the entrance to some boutique hotel that sprawled down the hill behind. Who knows, I just found it interesting.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Gion is a district in Kyoto, Japan,  Apparently it developed way back in the Middle Ages in front a shrine. The age of the district is apparent with the narrow streets we experienced.

This photo was taken late in the afternoon and I was surprised to see so many people still out and about shopping. Though I found out later that the shops in Japan stay open until very late. At least  the ones that I experienced stayed open  until way  after 9.30 pm. There were many shops along this street, all kinds of strange food, some of it black which I was not game to taste. Things in packets that I could not read. There were fan shops, clothing stores, food stores, souvenir stores, and much more. A lot of them were aimed at the tourist market, which of course included us. Yes, I did buy something, but more on that later. This street was very interesting and there was a prize for climbing right to the end, but more on that later too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Tree

Another tree I spotted on our walk back to the Nijo Caste Gates. I am not sure what this one is, but I found the weeping nature of it and the shape of the leaves very interesting. The other interesting part is the bamboo poles supporting it. I found bamboo used everywhere, but more on that later.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Autumn Colour

On our way back to the Nijo Castle entrance, Kyoto, Japan, I spotted this Japanese maple tree just starting to change colour. In a few weeks time this tree would have been a beautiful red. It was very warm on this day, temperatures in the 30's, a little too warm for Autumn in my books. The tree, however, was beautiful.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Castle Grounds

This is a view of part of the Nijo Castle grounds. We had to climb steps up to the viewing platform for this one, not that high really, I have climbed much higher than this before. After travelling ten hours on a plane with little sleep, then from Narita Airport, Tokyo to Tokyo Central Station, battling the crowds of wall to wall people in a strange station in a strange city in a strange country, finding our way to the correct platform to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto, walking to our hotel from Kyoto Staion with luggage, then walking around the castle grounds before they closed for the day, I was knackered! I wasn't the only one either, others from our travel group were already waiting at the castle gates for us to move on to our next mini adventure. I must add, it was worth the climb up the steps to get this photo though. Hope you all enjoy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Pine Tree

Yes it is a pine tree, meticulously trimmed by hand. Apparently these pine trees do not take to mechanical pruning of any kind, so there are gardeners employed just to prune the pine trees with their bare hands. This tree was also in the grounds of the Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Garden Lights

I found little structures like these all through the gardens that we visited. Silly me just thought they were for decoration, until one day I asked one of the guides. Garden lights! Of  course! Apparently lanterns of paraffin oil or kerosene were placed inside to give light. How well do they suit the garden surrounds? This one was found in the gardens of Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Autumn Colour

Another view of the garden in the grounds of Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan. This time we have a splash of Autumn colour. Yes, it was Autumn when we were there, even though the temperature on this particular day was well in the 30's. It was also very humid, and such a contrast to what we had left at home the night before.

One of the guides told us that if we had of come just a few weeks later, the colours on the trees would be better. I still think it is stunning, going from bright green through to a bright red., all on one small tree.

Also note the beautifully trimmed shrubs underneath the maple trees. Think these may have been Azaleas.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Garden View

Just another garden view, and yes there will be lots more. From memory, this view is from one of the verandahs on one of the buildings inside the  Nijo Castle grounds. Please note the shape of the pine trees on the left. All meticulously shaped by hand, but more on that later.