One of the holidays during Golden Week is Greenery Day! Free admission to ALL Tokyo Metropolitan Zoos, including the Sea world Park.
Of course, since its FREE, and its a National Holiday, it is FREAKING CROWDED. So not much pictures…
Only took some pics at the start of some birds, and gave up.. haha..
Baby and I..
My dearest schoolmate, Phuong and I :)
You can see the backdrop of the Tokyo Skytree and the city from where we are standing…
Actually, entrance to the zoo is only ¥500. Very affordable, so i think i would choose to just pay and enjoy the zoo without the crazy crowd next time…
On a side note, i finally watched a movie in Tokyo! Haha.. 1st May is movie day in Tokyo, and it only cost ¥1,000 for a movie ticket. PERFECT! Since Iron Man 3 is out, and i simply cannot miss it!
Watched at Shingawa Prince Hotel (Yes.. this hotel has a movie theather, a bowling alley, and a aquarium!), since it is near our house.
A movie ticket on normal days are crazily expensive.. Around ¥1,800. There are also designated “ladies day”, “Coulple day”(only for senior citizen couples!!), “Men’s day” where tickets are cheaper. It varies with different cinema companies, so do check their website for more details..
Took an express train from Kobe to Kyoto.The journey took about 1.5 Hours, passing by Osaka on the way. Cost about ¥1,050. Will visit Osaka another time.. Kinda regretted, as i should have done a Osaka & Kyoto Trip instead. Kobe was not really interesting.
Kyoto is filled with many temples and shrine. Also, the temples and shrines are kinda spread out all over the place, so it is advisable to get a bus pass where u can take the city bus as many times you like. I got the 2 days Bus + Train pass which cost ¥2,000. The subways in Kyoto is pretty useless, as they are not really connected well. But since it was the weekends, and it also happen that the national holidays coincided with out viist, the train pass did save us some time. Basically, the train pass was used to help us skip some bus stops, as the traffic was really heavy. Bus is still the best way to get to the places of attaction. There are announcements and signs in English on the bus, so its not a problem for tourist.
Another thing to note is that if you are planning a trip to Kyoto, please do book your hotels WAY IN ADVANCE. it is really difficult to get cheap and/or reasonable priced hotels, guest houses and even hostels, as Kyoto is constantly flooded with tourist(both Japanese and foriegn tourist).
I manage to get my accomodation at bon guesthouse after searching for so long(i only planned this trip 1 week ago!). The owner bought 2 properties, and made one into a guesthouse, while his family lives next door.
Very nice owner who used to be a sushi chef who worked in NY and Australia before, so he could speak pretty good english. He was very friendly and welcoming, telling you all the ammities and places you can find food around, since no meals were provided. He could also advise you on the fastest and best way to get to the attraction you wish to go. We stayed in the winter room, which was one of the smallest.
However, it was the only one available, so i took it anyways. Downside was that the toilets and bathing facilties was in the garden outside, and it was SO DAMN COLD to bath, pee and brush teeth outside at night, even with the electric heaters placed around which we could turn on when we need it.
Since nearly all the temples and Shrine requires admission fee to visit, we only picked a few more interesting ones to visit.
1) Sanjusangendo Temple (三十三間堂), ¥600 entrance fee
This temple house 1001 gold-plated wood carved statues of Kanon (a.k.a 1000 arm guan yin). Unfortunately, no photos allowed inside, so i only have pictures of the exterior. It is a MUST SEE temple, as the intricate carvings of statues are pretty impressive!
2) Kinkakuji (金閣寺), ¥400 entrance fee
This temple is plated with Gold, hence the name Kinkakuji, meaning Gold Temple.
3) Ryoanji (龍安寺), ¥500 entrance fee
This is a very famous Zen temple, and the Zen garden is a world heritage site. Zen gardens are basically a garden with just rocks, where you are suppose to write sutras, then meditate and look at the garden to appreciate the simple things in life.
3) Kiyomizu-dera Temple (清水寺), ¥300 entrance fee
It is made up of a few temples together, here is one of the building:
Another temple, to pray for love:
So in this temple, there is this 2 stones, where it is believed that you close your eyes, think of your lover and walk from one stone to another successfully, your love would be eternal. Thanks to the crowd, i did not manage to get a pic of the stones.
The last temple is at the other side, and it is meant to pray for the souls of dead babies (miscarraged, etc…) I think? Or fertility? Not too sure..
This temple is suppose to be a World Heritage Site. I think it is WAY OVER-RATED. I guess it earned its title just because it resides on higher elavation, on top of a hill, and has a view of the Kyoto city.
3) Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社), Free entry, and open 24hrs!
Take the JR Nara Line, and stop at Inari Station(just 2 stops from Kyoto Station). The shrine is just in front of the station.
We visited this in the evening, when all the attractions were closed. This shirne is open 24hrs, so you can still hike up to see it at night. It is about 4KM hike up to the top, and you will bypass several shrines. The paths is lined with Tori gates, and it is pretty amazing! This was the highlight of our Kyoto trip.
Entrance to the long series of Tori gates to the top!
And the path splits! Okay don’t worry, you end up in the same place anyways..
We stopped at the midpoint and rest by the lake. As it was dark already, and we were hungry, and there were too many mosquitos, we turned around and headed back.
We didnt purely just visit temples and shrine in Kyoto. We took our time to stroll leisurely along these places as well:
1) The Kamo River (鴨川) a.k.a Duck River
At this portion of the large river, it was made into a fun place for people to picnic and hang out. There were huge tortise shaped stones placed across the river for people to cross, and kids were playing in the water, and some were even catching fishes! With clear blue skies, and eagles flying overhead, it seem like a perfect day!
2) Philosopher’s Walk
The Philosopher’s Walk is a pedestrian path that follows a cherry-tree-lined canal in Kyoto, between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. Unfornately, the cherry blossom season is over, but neverless, the path is filled with greenry with leaves of the cherry blossom.
We had a nice evening stroll, fed the ducks in the river with our leftover bread from breakfast, and played with the stray cats along the way..
And we caught a glimpse of the sun setting across Kyoto..
3) Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
This is suppsoe to be a beautiful bamboo forest, residing amongst several shrines in Arashiyama. Again, the beauty was spoilt by the crowd, so please go there only on weekdays where there would be significantly less people in order to enjoy the peace and serenity of the bamboo forest.
Didnt have time to fully explore the Arashiyama area though…
Goodbye Kyoto.. And of course, one shall not leave Kyoto without a picture of the Kyoto Tower!
Seems like many cities MUST have a tower eh? lolx..
A 8 hours long overnight bus jounery back to Tokyo.. :(
And rush to school straight after arriving to attend classes again :(
If only holidays ever end….
After finally adjusting to school life and all.. It is finally time to travel again. To avoid the Golden Week crowd, we decided to head out the weekend before golden week. Screw lessons! yay!! Even some of the professors disappeared without informing us that he is gone, even though classes were suppose to go on as usual. =.= Golden Week in Japan, is when the whole of Japan is declared to be on holiday, as a series of many national holidays fall within that week.
Rushed home after class on Thursday to catch our 11pm overnight bus to Kobe. Reached Kobe at around 8.10am in the morning. Still early with nothing open yet, so just chill around and have a long breakfast.
As i mentioned before, taking the highway buses is the cheapest way to travel in Japan. One-way ticket from Tokyo to Kobe only cost me ¥3,000 while taking the Shinkansen(bullet train) would have cost me
at least ¥14,000.
Headed to the tourist information office to get maps, and the discount coupon booklet. Please either print out the coupon from their website, or get if from the tourist information centers in Kobe. It could save you some money off your admission tickets to many attractions.
First off, we headed to Suma Aquarium. It is located quite a distance away from the city center. We learnt a very valuable lesson to check the train’s path before boarding the train. hahahaha!! We took an express train which skipped many stops! And we ended far far away… :(
Oh wells.. no choice but to take another train back. This time we stopped somewhere near the aqaurium, and took a stroll along the coastline towards the Aquarium. Arghz.. forgot to take pictures as i was too busy enjoying the seabreeze.. Been in the city for too long, so deprived!!
Sneak peak of the Aquarium:
Okay.. The dolphins didn’t seem very synchronized. But they are dolphins afterall, and aren’t really meant to be used for our own amusement. So we shall just simply appreciate what they can do alright?
Oh.. And these lazy sleepy sea lions are adorable!!
A closer look…
This silly one is sleeping with its head in the water!
It stormed after that.. So we waited till it cleared before heading to Shin-Kobe Ropeway.. Took the cablecar up to have a view of Kobe City..
You can also see a waterfall and a dam along the way between the bottom and the middle cablecar station. Alternatively, instead of taking the cablecar, you can actually hike up. If i am not wrong, it is about a 4KM hike from the bottom to the middle cable car station.
Approaching the middle cablecar station..
And so we continued on towards the top cablecar station. Between the middle and top cablecar station is a beautiful flower & herbs garden. Entry to the garden is already included in the cablecar ticket. If you are hiking, you have to buy the admission ticket at the entrance. There is a big greenhouse that house certain flower and herbs there too!With a round-trip ticket, you can take the cablecar as many times you like between the middle and the top cablecar station. We started our hike through the flower & herbs garden from the top cable car station.
Arent i as pretty as the flowers? ;P
As we were rushing to catch the last cablecar down at 5pm, i did not manage to take more pictures of the herbs, and we didn’t have time to explore the glass house which was at the other end, which required a detour. We were too busy being amazed by the herbs we see, and trying to identify them..
Headed to Chinatown for dinner. Was to hungry and busy looking for food, so i forgot to take pics, hence i took these pictures of Kobe’s Chinatown off the internet for illustration purposes:
I swear every chinese resturant there were selling the same things! They all had stalls setup in front selling all these stuff..
I would say Kobe’s Chinatown is not worth the visit. The food is mediocre! The only reason why i ended up there was because i intended to head to see the Kobe tower nearby after…
Sitting by the bay, you can admire all the expensive bayview hotels and apartments nearby. Oh, and i forgot to mention, Kobe actually have a large proportion of foreginers, because of its history of being a port town. Hence, Kobe is quite westernized, and you can find many fine dining western resturants, bars can clubs in this area too. And recently, the opened this HUGE mall, with a feris wheel by the bay.
Goodnight Kobe, im heading to Kyoto tomorrow. I guess i would not visit Kobe again, as there is nothing really interesting there. Much of the place is mordernized, and is pretty much just like any other city.
Being a girl…Isit a gift?
Sanitary pad. The bane of girl’s life.
When i was buying my pad at the supermarket, they wrapped it up nicely in a paper bag to keep it nicely hidden when it is placed in their plastic bags.
Was lucky to be invited by Qian’s Jap friend to his grandmother’s house somewhere in Yokohama to experience the traditional tea ceremony. Yokohama is next to Tokyo, and can be easily accessed by taking the train. Anyone can experience tea cereomony in Japan, at certain teahouse establishments, and mainly at hotels with a fee of about ¥2,000 Onwards.
First, we got to see the different kinds of bowls being used. The host can use any kind of bowls, and usually they do have some bowls which is designed to represent the different festivals and/or seasons. Flowers from the garden is usually used to decorate the “waiting” room for guest to admire as well.
Here is a sneak peak of the tools used for a tea ceremony:
In the tea cermony room, there will be a pot set up to boil water over charcoal to be used to brew the tea:
To enter the room, each of us had to be in kneeling position, and slowly “crawl” our way in. First, you will crawl towards the scroll hung on the wall and/or some antiques displayed, and you are suppose to spend a little time admiring it.
Round 1 of tea ceremony was done by his aunt:
We had Matcha Tea, which was simply Powdered Green Tea. Japanese sweets are also served during tea ceremony, to go along with the tea. In this round we had “Gyoikozakura”(御衣黄桜). “Gyoikozakura” is a special kind of sakura(cherry blossom). When it starts to bloom, its color is green,but it gradually turn to yellow, and finally red.
At the end of the ceremony, you are suppose to go back to the waiting room again.
The whole process of crawling into the room is being repeated for the 2nd round. This time, we were served by Ryo(Qian’s Jap classmate).
This time, we had different kind to sweets to go along with our tea:
All so pretty right?
Yes, in Japan, all the sweets and pastries you see sold at the stall all look so nice and fanciful, and comes in elaboarate packaging as well. But be warned that not all of them taste as good. It is better to ask a Japanese where to find the nicer ones. Otherwise, you would just fall into buying the fanciful but awful tasting stuff meant to con tourist. :(
Yes. it is the famous Gindaco Balls. Finally tried them at Harajuku.
¥500 for 4 balls. Its so yummy! its actually crispy!!
Getting a student commuter pass would definately help you save on your travelling cost! So how do you get it?
Firstly, you must have already registered your residence with your ward office, and have your student ID from the school. Usually, the student ID would have your address written on it as well, as the school would have registered your address in their records.
Next, head down to any pass office. Not every station has a pass office, so do check here. You would be required to fill up a form:
There are posters with instructions in English at the pass office to help you to fill up the form.
Do note that the discounted fares are only applicable if you travel anywhere between the nearest station to your house, and the assigned stations near your school. if you travel anywhere out of/further than the 2 stations between your home and school, you would have to pay for the additional fare. Hence, it is advisable to store some credits in your card too.
You have the option to get a 1 month, 3 months or a 6 month pass.
How much the pass would cost depends on the distance you travel. You can check out the cost of the pass here. For me, a 3 months pass for travel between Shirokanedai Station and Lidabashi Station on the Namboku line cost ¥11,720.
After which, the details would be printed on your existing Passmo cards, and you can start using it right away (Okay, not really cause it depends on the start date that you have filled up on the form)!
This week was spent attending numerous lessons, and taking “placement test” while deciding which classes to take.
Back to school, and time for projects, tests and readings once again. :(
Some classrooms at Hosei use chalkboards still.. So reminds me of good old primary and secondary school days.. The oh-so-familar sounds of the chalk knocking against the board sound.. Tok.. Tok.. Tok….
Also, it seems that students just paste posters about their sports club everywhere in the school! Really messy.. But i guess it kinda decorates the cold grey concrete walls of the school…
Really spooky looking corridor.. Like a scene from a typical Japanese scary movie…
Also, got a peak at the school band and cheerleaders during a lunchbreak performing for the school, hoping to recruit the freshmen.
It is really strange to see them cheering to the music played by the band.. Hmmm…