Friday, 13 November 2009

How to apply Saiho-ji Temple (Moss Garden)

Sorry I haven't updated my blog for a long, long time!!

Here are the photos I took in the middle of October @Moss garden.
Now is a good time to see coloured leaves there, I'm sure. ;D

Since I've written about this temple, I've got the same question from a few people. It was 'how to apply Moss Garden from overseas.'

Here's the answer. :)

Send the following information to Saihoji Temple.
(Moss garden's real name is Saihoji Temple)
**You had better type it as it's hard for the Japanese to read English handwriting.

1. Your name & address
2. Number of people to visit the temple in total
3. The date you want to visit (You'd better write down 2 dates)
4. Envelop for reply with your name & address on it

They advise you to post the letter 2 months prior to your visit.

Address of Saihoji Temple is:
56 Jingaya cho, Matsuo
Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto
615-8286 Japan

Saiho-ji used to ask a person in a foreign country to enclose an international reply coupon with the information above, but I heard you cannot get it anymore.
If you cannot purchase it in your country, just forget about it. They will give you a permission anyway.

As I've written before, admission fee for Moss Garden is 3,000 yen per person. (33 USD @today's rate)

Monday, 31 August 2009

Duck tour in Osaka

From Kyoto to Osaka, it only takes half an hour by JR express train. By Keihan or Hankyu rail ways, it takes about 40 minutes. It might be a good option to have a day trip to Osaka♪

This year Osaka has been having a tourist promotion 'Aqua Metropolis Osaka 2009' and one of the attractions is Duck Tour Osaka.

This is newly built Hachikenya pier in Temmabashi for duck tours.

During a tour, a guide tells you a history of the duck tour in Osaka, about a bus (or a ship) and where to look at... in Japanese.

From Hachikenya pier to a launching point, we had a short on-land tour of Osaka.

This is OAP (Osaka Amenity Park) consists of Imperial Hotel, residential towers and an office building.

Five minutes later, we had the most exciting moment in this tour.. Launching!! But sorry, it happened so quickly that I couldn't get a photo. =(
(And I'm afraid photos couldn't explain how exciting it was...)

Now a bus became a ship!

And we are watching OBP = Osaka Business Park.

This area used to have an armaments factory and the whole area was in ruins following the concentric bombing in 1945.

Here you see Osaka castle with lots of railway cables.

If you wanna climb it up, you can walk from Hachikenya pier to the castle. (20 minutes on foot.)

This is the back side of Hachikenya pier.

It has a French restaurant where you can have a wedding party. ;D

The view of OAP from the ship.

After a ship returns from the river & becomes a bus again, it has to have 10 minutes break at the pier under the regulation.

This is where it launched & landed in.

Wet tires tell us it was a ship 2 minutes ago. :D

The car number '808' is the symbolic number for this tour. As I said Osaka is now promoting itself as an aqua city. It is known for having lots of bridges. During Edo period 808 was the number meaning 'a lot' and people said Osaka had 808 bridges. (In fact, there were about 200 bridges though...)

On the way back to Hachikenya, we had another on-land tour.

This is the famous scenery of Osaka in Dotonbori area.

In my opinion, this 3,600-yen tour (on season price) was worth trying! You can see Osaka city which you cannot see if you travel by subway.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Moss Garden.... Saihoji Temple (西芳寺)

In the end of June, I visited Saihoji Temple known as Moss Garden, which is one of the 17 properties of the World Heritage Sites registered as "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto".

However, this temple is not a 'sightseeing temple.'

Advanced reservations required by a Japanese reply postal card. So if you're not a resident in Japan, you'd better ask a travel egency to make a reservation for you.
(If you want to do it by yourself, let me know. I can tell you how to. :D )

And admission fee @3,000 yen per person (30USD) is not cheap. This includes a fee to join a Buddhism ceremony to chant & copy Buddhist sutra. At this temple, joining the ceremony is of principal importance and seeing the garden comes in the second place.

Well, let me tell you a little bit of the history of this temple.

Although there's a lack of any conclusive evidence, but it is said there used to be a villa of Prince Shōtoku in the early 7th century. And about 100 years later, Priest Gyoki , who exerted himself for construction of the Great Buddha of Nara, founded a temple of Hoso sect in 8th century.

It was devastated in 14 century, but a famous landscaper Muso Kokushi refurbished it in 1339.

Now it is said that more than 120 species of moss are flowing over the ground in the central garden.

The amazing thing is.... was never planned to be covered in moss.

It is considered this scenery was born in 18th to 19th century. Now we can enjoy what Muso Kokushi could not see or imagine. ;P

The garden of Saihoji Temple is divided into two parts. One the circuit-style with woods and pond while the other is the stone garden style.

The circuit-style part has a pond in the shape of '心(kokoro)' , the Chinese character meaning 'heart' or 'mind'. So carefully watching this garden may lead you to reexamine yourself.

The stone garden is halfway up a hill.

And this is thought to be the first dry garden in Japan.

All the Japanese stone gardens including the famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji may not be seen without this garden as an example.

This garden is said to signify the water flow of waterfalls. Can you imagine that??

Friday, 3 July 2009

Mimurotoji Temple is a temple

in Uji area which is famous for

having two of the world heritage sites,

the Phenix Hall of Byodoin Temple

and Uji-gami shrine.

Mimurotoji Temple is an honorary head temple of Honzan-Shugen-shu sect and was founded in the late 8th century.

There is an interesting story as the origin of this temple. It is said that one night Emperor Konin (709-781) found a light thrown from Uji area, so he dispatched an officer to find the source of the light. Then the officer found a image of Bodhisattva (Kannon) in the stream of Shizu river. Emepror Konin founded a temple to enshrine the image, and it's now called Mimurotoji temple.

Mimurotoji Temple is known as 'Flower Temple.'

The garden has 20,000 azaleas & 1,000 alpine roses which bloom from end of April to early May. In June, we can enjoy 10,000 hydrangeas in bloom come out. After hydrangeas, lotus flowers in 250 pots show their beautiful pink flowers. :D

Oh, here is a early bloomer of lotus.

Now Japan is in the rainy season and it means it's a time of hydrangeas.

I guess you don't need too much explanation. ;P
Please enjoy the beautiful flowers♪

To get this temple, take a public bus from either JR or Keihan Uji station. Or take Keihan line to Mimuroto station, then then 15 minutes on foot.

If you stay near Kyoto station, take JR. But if you're in the east part of Kyoto city such as Gion, Shijo, Shichijo, Higashiyama area, I recommend you to take Keihan line. Transfer @Chicho-jima. :)

Uji is a place of tea plantation. You will find lots of cafes & shops which offer you green-tea icecream! Walking from Mimuroto station to Mimurotoji temple made me enjoy the icecream even better. Bon Appetit★

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Iris ensata@Shirokita Park

Long time no see...

It's too late to talk about Iris ensata, but let me introduce you a nice park to visit in Osaka to see it. In Osaka, we can enjoy Iris ensata (a kind of Japanese iris) in bloom from mid May to mid June.

Shirokita park is a city park in east part of Osaka city. If you take a bus from Osaka station, it takes approx 20 minutes to Shirokita Park bus stop.

While irises are in full bloom, the park opens its Iris garden. (Admission @200yen per person).

This year, the iris season is over... I will (probably) inform you on the blog when the opening period is announed next year! :D

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Iris swamp @Ota shrine

I visited Ota shrine near Kamogamo shrine a few days ago.

(To see a map, refer to Kamigamo shrine HP)

Ota shrine is a sub-shrines of Kamigamo shrine which is one of the world heritage sites in Kyoto.

The deity of Ota shrine is Amenouzume who is known as a god of dancing & performing arts.

This small shrine is visited by many people only in this season...why??

Because of its famous iris swamp.

A poem to adremire the beauty of this iris swamp was read in 12 century, so this scenery has been seen for more than 800 hundred years!!

The irises start blooming in the biginning of May every year, and flowers can be enjoyed for about 2 weeks.

Now this iris swamp was designated as a national protected species in 1939.

The contrast of green & purple is gorgeous!

I shouldn't write too much explanation... maybe just photos are enough.

Hope you can feel the beauty of this scenery. ;P 

Monday, 27 April 2009

Hanami @Ninna-ji Temple (仁和寺)

Ninnaji(仁和寺) is one of 17 world heritage sites in Kyoto. It was founded in 888, but, like most historic buildings in Kyoto, it suffered repeated destruction in wars and fires over the centuries.

Ninnaji used to be a monzeki temple, which has an abbot (top priest) from the imperial family by tradition. This tradition was over in Meiji period (about 100 years ago.)

In the map, red circle is where Ninnaji-is and blue circle shows Kyoto station.

Ninnaji(仁和寺) is one of my favorite temples in Kyoto. ;D It's nice to visit here anytime in a year, but this temple is famous for having a beautiful cherry garden in their backyard.

This cherry garden is noted for a rare, locally cultivated type of cherry tree, named Omuro Cherry. The blossoms of Omuro cherry trees open relatively late in a hamami season (usually a week later than other kinds of cherries.)

You may have noticed that Omuro chrry trees are lower than other kinds.

For example, this is a weeping cherry tree in Arashiyama.

You can see a person taking a photo on a left-hand-bottom corner a bit. :D

This is one of the reasons many people visit this special cherry garden every year.

In Kyoto, some people tease a girl with a button nose by calling her 'You are a Omuro cherry' because in Japanese we have a homonymous word 'hana' for both 'flower(花)' and 'nose(鼻).'

Oh, well, it's not bad to be like Omuro cherries, is it? They are so beautiful!!