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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ninomaru Palace

The Ninomaru Palace is located inside the grounds of Nijo Castle. It is a National Treasure and World Heritage site. Built in 1603, the building was used by the Shogun as his residence and office.

The inside walls, floors  and ceilings of this building are  amazing. The walls and ceilings were beautifully decorated, while the floors were timber, covered with tatami mats. The floors are what is called "nightingale floors", which squeak when an intruder is present. The 'squeak' is very quiet, and sounds like a bird singing, enough to let the residences know when there was in intruder about.

This was a "shoes off" building, as were a lot of the buildings in Japan. Unfortunately I have no photos of inside this building, as cameras were not allowed

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Decorative Structure

Out of all the things I saw on my recent trip to Japan, I found the structures most interesting. The shape of the roofs, the decorations at the tips of the roofs, the decorations on the end of each ridge, the metal trimmings.

Although similar in style, the old structures were all different when you looked closely. The patterns to be found within the decorations are endless. I found the little circles at the end of each roof ridge to also have patterns, and the patterns of these on each building were different.

I can't really remember what this particular structure is. It looks like the end of a wall. What I do know is that is somewhere inside the grounds of the Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Castle Gate

Behold one of the gateways inside the walls of Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan. How stunning is this? From the beautiful metal trimmings, the artwork on the ceiling, the curved structure of the roof shape and of course the  decorations on the roof.

As a stitcher, the patterns in this structure alone would keep me inspired for quite some time. They are so intricate and full of minute detail.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Bonsai Tree

How it this for a bonsai tree? I always thought that bonsai trees were little trees in pots, carefully manicured, trimmed and trained into shape. Even in all my reading that is what a bonsai tree is. But look at this one! It has bonsai written all over it! Carefully trimmed and trained into shape, just not in a pot, it is in the ground!

This tree was in the grounds of Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Japan. The garden there was stunning, as were the buildings. More pics to come.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yellow Fields

Some crop growing in the fields between Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. The photo was taken through the window of the Shinkansen train that we had the pleasure to travel on during our recent adventure to Japan. The Shinkansen is the hi speed train (or Bullet train), that can travel to speeds of up to 320kms/hour. This train lowered our journey time between the two cities to just under two hours. A great way to travel I must say, very, very smooth.

As for the crop, I still am not sure what it is. Not the right colour for rice ( at least that's what I think). Our travel group had a small discussion as to what it might be but we came up undecided. A few days later, on a tour, I asked our guide. He was not sure either, but came up with canola, as they use canola oil in their cooking.

Whatever it is, as usual mass plantings make for dramatic views.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Taste of Japan

How is this for a garden? No, it is not my Sydney suburban garden, but one in Kyoto, Japan. It is part of the Nijo Castle grounds. Nijo Castle was built in 1603 for one of the Shoguns. I was lucky enough to visit the grounds on a recent trip to Japan, where some of the gardens are amazing. Not only the plants, but the architecture and the water features are so different to here in Sydney. More pics to come in the future.