Kiyomizudera (清水寺), Kyoto (京都) – Beautiful all year round

Recently, I just moved from Yokohama/Tokyo to Osaka for less than a week. I’m still not at all familiar with life in Kansai yet. However, the good thing about being in Osaka is that it is close to many great places in Japan – Kobe, Nara, Kyoto, etc. So many places to explore. All my weekend schedules are now filled. 🙂

This is probably the 7th time I visited Kyoto ever since I came to Japan and this temple is one of places I never miss every time I go – Kiyomizudera (清水寺), one of the most celebrated temples in Kyoto. Kyoto is definitely one of my favorite cities in Japan. It is an old city with so many beautiful temples and  historic places. Everything is just so charming here.

I came to this temple many times in different seasons. First time in winter..then fall, summer and now spring. Summer is not recommended since the sun will burn you like you are on the beach. Spring and fall are probably the best seasons to visit especially fall when the leaves turn yellow and orange. This temple is just magical in so many ways I can never explain. It is huge and the view from the temple is just amazing.

How to get there: Kyoto station -> Bus number 100 or 206 to Gojo-zaka (五条坂) or Kiyomizu-michi (清水道) stop. Each ride is 220 yen so it is recommended to buy 500 yen 1 day bus ticket.

From the bus stop, you can walk up to the temple. Along the way, there are many shops you can buy Japanese souvenirs, snacks, ice cream and others. One thing I always have to buy here is the Kyoto famous snacks- Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋). It is a thin slice of flour..mochi-like snack with stuffed flavor inside. If you don’t want to buy, don’t worry! Go try some they give out for free with a cup of tea. 😉

20130409-090957.jpg

20130409-091005.jpg

I have some of the pictures from my earlier trip to Kiyomizudera in winter and the recent one in spring. Can’t remember where I put other photos from other trips. You can see that this temple is beautiful all year round.

Winter 2010

20130405-224739.jpg

20130405-224745.jpg20130405-224749.jpg

Spring 2013

20130405-224819.jpg

Now in spring, sakura is visible and it goes perfectly with the temple. Just beautiful!

20130405-224826.jpg

(I wanted to sit on this guy’s spot and take a picture! oh well…)

20130405-224838.jpg20130405-224849.jpg

20130405-224905.jpg

20130405-224928.jpg20130405-224940.jpg

20130405-224918.jpg

Advertisements

Sakura viewing – Hanami in Tokyo!

This year, sakura (桜) started to bloom a bit earlier than it usually does. Normally, sakura should be in full bloom around early April, just in time for entrance ceremony (入学式-nyugakushiki) for schools in Japan. But this year, the season has started from mid-March which is around the time for graduation ceremony (卒業式-sotsugyoushiki). This probably explains why there are a lot of girls in “Hakama (袴)”, a Japanese costume for graduation ceremony, taking photos with beautiful sakura scene.

I used to live in Beppu city, a small city in Oita prefecture, for about 3.5 years. Every year, our only option was always Beppu park (別府公園). So I got a bit excited when sakura started to bloom this year having heard that there are so many good spots here in Tokyo. Last year, I was also away for a company training in Nagano (長野県), a famous city for skiing and winter activities. Therefore, I can say that this year is actually my first time for sakura spotting in Tokyo.

When we talk about going out picnic under the sakura trees or just simple going for a walk along the river with beautiful sakura and others, the word ‘hanami (花見)’ is used. This word literally means ‘flower-viewing’, hana (花)= ‘flower’ and mi (見)= ‘see’ from the verb ‘mi-ru (見る)’ . Thus,  in other words, it means flowers viewing which is particularly imply to sakura.

This time, I visited two places for hanami in Tokyo: Naka-meguro and Yoyogi park.

  • Yoyogi park

Yoyogi park is a famous park in the city center of Tokyo. The closest JR station is Harajuku- one of the most famous shopping area so, it is always packed with people during this season. This time, my friend and I decided to walk into the park just to see the sakura. We did not expect to sit down and have a picnic under the sakura tree at all since we can predict that the park is already full of people. We took a lot of pictures. It was enjoyable just to see beautiful sakura and people having fun with their families and friends. 🙂

20130325-211707.jpg20130325-211752.jpg

20130325-211818.jpg

  • Naka-meguro

I have heard a lot of good things about Naka-meguro. It is located in meguro-ku and is only one station away from Shibuya on a rapid train on Tokyu-Toyoko line which is the line I use to commute everyday. The sakura view here is famous since there are sakura trees are along both sides of meguro river. It is an amazing view. 🙂 I had the best time there. I can say it was the best hanami I’ve ever had. The whole area was so beautiful with all the sakura in full bloom. It looks kind of like a sea or a huge cloud of pinkish-white sakura. I can just walk there all day. There are many interesting shops, cafes and food carts all around, too. So the hanami experience in Naka-meguro is definitely worthwhile.

Moreover, in Naka-meguro, they have lanterns hanging on the branches of sakura trees. They light them up at night during sakura festival. This year the festival starts from April 7th which is too late for the season this year. All the sakura will probably be gone by then…

20130325-211917.jpg

20130325-211947.jpg

20130325-212856.jpg20130325-212902.jpg

Some other good spots I have heard of:

1) Shinjuku Gyoen, 2) Ueno park, 3) Sumida park, 4) Inokashira park

…and so many others. Enjoy your hanami everybody!

20130326-100621.jpg

A relaxing day in Minato-mirai, Yokohama

I have been living in Yokohama since the mid of 2012. Before that, I used to come around here on weekends and spent time sightseeing around the harbor or eat some delicious Chinese in China town. Then, I found some amazing restaurants and cafes and loved coming here ever since.

Now that I live around here, I get to explore a lot more. I often find a cozy cafe and just sit…and read or just relax with a nice warm coffee..or PIES at BUBBY’S! 😀  Today (Jan 19th), just like any other day here, I met up with friends at Queensquare where Minato-mirai station is located in. We went there around lunch time so we had to look for restaurants. I visit Queensquare a lot and I have so many favorite places in there but today, we went up to the 3rd floor and found a nice cafe called “24/7”.

The place is very nice with unique designs and great atmosphere. They also have free drinks corner as well.

20130119-212630.jpg20130119-212640.jpg

My favorite spot at this cafe is a long seat where you can lie down and eat as in this picture. How comfortable. 🙂

20130119-212634.jpg

After lunch, we decided to go to a spa. We took a short walk there. It was really a lovely day- not too cold and it was very sunny. The sky was clear. I love walking around this area. It’s just very relaxing.

20130119-212644.jpg  20130119-212650.jpg

The spa is called Manyo club. It has great onsen and offers lots of relaxation plan such as massage services, relaxation plan, meal plan and others. It is a bit expensive but I think we really needed it after a long week. 🙂

20130119-212654.jpg

  From the onsen pool, we could see the sky and the sea..it was so refreshing. We were there for 2 hours. I had a great time.

20130119-212705.jpg

Then we had dinner at the red brick house or Akarenka-soko. It was lovely evening.

20130119-212714.jpg

(This is an old picture)

I really recommend exploring Yokohama. It’s a beautiful place. I wish you all a great relaxing day like this!