Category: Travel

Ise (Nov 2015)

By , April 3, 2016 7:13 pm

伊勢駅 Ise station

伊勢神宮外宮 Ise Shrine Gekū
The Ise Shrine (Ise-jingū) is the most important Shinto shrine complex.

河崎の町並み Kawasaki Street
There was nobody around. The Old-timey Buildings were quite nice.

We tried Ise Udon at lunch.

The noodles were thick and soft. The soup was tasty and not as salty as it looks.

伊勢河崎商人館 Ise Kawasaki Shoninkan(Merchant museum)
The building was originally a sake wholesaler (Ogawa Saketen) established in during the mid Edo period. Inside the building was quite spacious. There were a lot things to see.

商人蔵カフェ Merchant warehouse cafe

二見浦、二見興玉神社、夫婦岩 Futamiura, Futamiokitama shrine, Meoto Iwa

Oishiya Ryokan(Japanese style Inn)
The ryokan is steps from The Futamiokitama shrine.

We had dinner in the hotel room. We enjoyed a huge kaiseki meal. We were stuffed.

We borrowed an oil lamp from the hotel and went for a walk on the beach.

It was a sunny day and we had a relaxing time.

Nara (Nov 2015)

By , April 1, 2016 4:16 pm

Unfortunately it rained again in Nara.

法隆寺 Hōryūji
I haven’t been Hōryūji since a school field trip.
Hōryūji Temple was founded in 607 by Prince Shōtoku(聖徳太子 Shōtoku taishi). Horyuji is one of the country’s oldest temples and contains the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures.

There were many things to see in the temple, but we rush through.

東大寺 Tōdaiji
The Daibutsuden (大仏殿 Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building.
The Buddha is 14.98 m (49.1 ft)tall.

We didn’t have much time to visit the Nara museum, so we decided to go to the Kasuga shrine which we have visited before.
春日大社 Kasuga Grand Shrine
The shrine is famous for its many bronze and stone lanterns.

興福寺 Kōfukuji
Kōfukuji’s pagoda is a landmark and symbol of Nara. It was first built in 730, and was most recently rebuilt in 1426. The five story pagoda is Japan’s second tallest.

Dinner at Nikko hotel.

We were only in Nara one day, but we were able to visit many places.

Kyoto (Nov 2015- day2)

By , March 31, 2016 5:31 pm

We stayed Otsu Prince Hotel beside Biwa lake. The room which we stayed in was big and very clean. One drawback was the hotel is a little far from the train station.
We got up early and could see the sunrise from the room. We went for a walk by the lakeside park near the hotel. Too bad it was getting pretty dark and cloudy.

Breakfast at Japanese restaurant in the hotel. There were not many people. We are able to enjoy a quiet meal.

嵐山の渡月橋 Arashiyama Togetu Bridge
The bridge was very crowded.

天龍寺 Tenryū-ji

竹林の道 Bamboo Forest Street

When I came here a long time ago, it was quiet and peaceful. But this time, it was quit crowded.

野宮神社 Nonomiya Shrine

京都駅 Kyoto station

lunch- Steamed vegetable dish(Fried oyster lunch set)

東本願寺 Higashi Honganji

Higashi(East)Honganji and Nishi(West)Honganji
Nishi Honganji (West Honganji) was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and it is the head temple of the Honganji faction of the Jodo-Shin sect.
Higashi Honganji (East Honganji) was built only eleven years after and a few blocks east of Nishi Honganji as the head temple of the Otani faction of Jodo-shin Buddhism.

西本願寺 Nishi Honganji

I heard that when they fix the damaged spots of the wood colom, they put some design piece on the wood to cover the spots. There are many of them in this temple. When you vist there, you should look for them.

Dinner at the hotel. Oumi beef Sukiyaki Kaiseki
(Kaiseki is a set menu of select food served on an individual tray)

Kyoto (November 2015)

By , March 30, 2016 3:33 pm

Fushimi Inari Shrine
(伏見稲荷大社 Fushimi Inari Taisha) is a very popular Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. We arrived there in the early morning, but so many people were already visiting the shrine.

Lunch at Nezameya. Inarizushi and Nishin(herring)Soba noodle soup.

Inarizushi (稲荷寿司) is a pouch of deep fried tofu(油揚げ aburaage)filled with sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu.

寺子屋本舗 Terakoya honpo’s Rice crackers.

宝玉堂 Hogyokudo’s Shiro Miso crakers.

銀閣寺 Ginkaku-ji
Silver Pavilion

哲学の道 Philosopher’s walk
the path begins around Ginkakuji and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzenji.

禅林寺(永観堂)Eikando Zenrinji
Zenrin-ji is the head temple of Jodo-shu Seizan Zenrin-ji sect. The temple has more than 1,100 years of history and is dedicated to Amida(Amida is one of the loftiest savior figures in Japanese Buddhism).

南禅寺 Nanzenji

青蓮院 Shōren-in

平安神宮 Heian Shrine(Heian-jingū)
When we arrived at the shrine it was almost closing time. So we could only visit for 5 minutes.

Gion district

清水寺 Kiyomizu-dera
Kiyomizu temple’s light up event. There were so many people.
It took so long to enter the temple and we gave up on some of the sites.

Haneda Airport

By , November 14, 2015 7:36 pm

We arrived at Haneda International Airport and we went to the Royal Park Hotel, straght away. The hotel was clean and the staff were very nice. The room was a bit small but comfortable and quiet. We slept well.

On the fifth floor of the airport, there are some big structures, a wooden bridge(Nihonnbashi), restaurants and shops.

The next morning, we went out find breakfast around 6:am. Most restaurants and shops were closed so the whole floor was deserted and quiet.

We found that a few restaurants were open and spotted an Ochazuke place.

Ginza Odenya. Dashi ochazuke.
The dishes were simple (rice with toppings, pickled vegetables, fresh tofu, oden dashi broth) and delicious.
The staff was courteous and friendly.

Later on, we sat down for some green and brown tea ice cream at an Ito-en tea salon.

Green tea and hojicha ice cream. Hojicha.

We had ramen noodles for lunch at a Setagaya chain restaurant.

Haneda is now comprised of 3 terminals following a recent expansion. Terminals are connected by shuttle buses. There is a huge array of shops and restaurants across all terminals.

We were already having a good time and had yet to leave the airport(^-^)

Japan Trip – Enoshima

By , June 19, 2010 2:59 pm

May 21 (Friday)

Today my friend N took a day off and we went to Enoshima.
I used to go there often when was a child. Last time I went there was about 16 years ago.

We met at Kamakura station and took train called “Enoden” to Enoshima Station.

江ノ電  江ノ島駅

It was sunny and hot, almost 30 degrees.
江の島弁天橋 Enoshima Benten Bridge

青銅の鳥居 Blue bronze gate (built in 1821)

Place hasn’t changed much since I last visited. I remember that there were a lot of shops on either side of the hill on the way to the shrine and the street was always crowded with people. It was early morning so there were not many people around. I thought the street seemed cleaner than before.

瑞心門 the entrance of the shrine.

When we went up the stairs and arrived at Zuishin gate. There were two paintings of lions by Kayo Kataoka. In front of the gate there were statues of Benzaiten and Doshi.
Benzaiten is the goddess of music and entertainment.
Enoshima-jinja Shrine consists of three shrines.


辺津宮  江島神社辺津宮 Enoshima Shrine Hetsuno-miya

We prayed and we bought written fortunes. The fortunes we both drew predicted very little good luck. We bundled them on a tree and left Hetsuno-miya.
After going through the little garden, we came upon a beautiful ocean view. A lot of birds (Tobi – kite) were flying about.

We arrived up Nakatsuno-miya. The escalators (surcharge) are also available.
Samuel Cocking Garden has a lighthouse. We didn’t go inside.
The entrance fee is 200 yen and the lighthouse is 300 yen.

 Souvenir shops.
江島神社奥津宮 Enoshima Shrine Okutsuno-miya
In the bathroom, I washed my hands with the water coming out of the dragon’s mouth.
My friend N saw a lot of turtles rendered as paintings, statues and objects.

龍宮 龍宮大神 Wadatsuminomiya
The stone hut was closed.

We were getting hungry so we decided to go to Uomitei Restaurant, located on the highest spot on the hill. They had fresh caught Shirasu (baby sardines) from the bay. Shirasu is a kind of baby sardine or anchovy. From January to March fishing Shirasu is not allowed.
Uomitei is a long-established Restaurant in Enoshima.

しらす丼 江の島丼
I had choice between raw or steamed fish and I chose the raw Shirasu don (fish on rice). The fish was a little bit bitter. The steamed one would be sweeter.
My Friend chose the Enoshima don. The dish is made with egg and turban with sweet sauce on top of rice. Both dishes were 890 yen each.

The terrace was narrow but the view was great. We could see the Pacific Ocean clearly.

We felt good just sitting there.
After dinner, we went down the steep stairs to the sea.

That ocean was pretty clean.
There was a cave that was closed from 1971 until 1993. The place is well known as it appears in a Hiroshige Utagawa picture. Admission fee: Adults 500 yen and Children 200 yen.

The inside of the cave was cool. It was nice to get out of the heat.
Had there been no clouds, we could have seen Mount Fuji from the cave. There were many short stone statues in the cave.
Inside the cave, we found a plaque that explained the story of Enoshima. A heavenly maiden and a dragon with five heads. The evil dragon with 5 heads tormented the villagers. One day a heavenly maiden appeared to the island. The dragon fell in love with her. In the end the dragon changed his ways and married the maiden.

This explains why I had seen so many dragon objects everywhere in Enoshima.

洞窟  龍

We had a good time in Enoshima. There are many more places to see. I would like to visit again.

Japan Trip – Nezu Museum

By , June 19, 2010 1:54 pm

May 19 (Wed)
This morning, my parents and I went to the Nezu Museum in Omotesando to see Korin Ogata’s painting “燕子花 (Kakitsubata) – Iris ”. Iris is a painting on a folding screen and considered a national treasure in Japan.

The exhibition was on until 23rd of May. The museum was so crowded because it was close to the end of show.

Admission fee adult: 1,200 yen per person.


“燕子花 (Kakitsubata) – Iris ” has not been exhibited in four years, it is rarely seen.
The painting is missing many gold leaves originally applied to the screen.
I wanted to see the painting from a distance, but too many people crowed in the front and I couldn’t see well.
There were many other folding screen paintings from the Edo era. They were also beautiful.

We went to other floors and saw various exhibits. Most of the exhibits were from China.
I expected more interesting landscape in the garden. I was a little disappointed. The irises had almost finished blooming and the garden did not have many flowers. There were several tea houses but we couldn’t get inside.

The museum opened at Kaichiro Nezu’s private residence in Aoyama in 1941. It is set in a spacious traditional-style garden with a pond surrounded by several tea houses. Nezu was an enthusiastic practitioner of the way of tea. The Nezu Museum is considered especially strong in arts related to tea.
Architect Kengo Kuma designed and supervised the rebuilding of the museum building. The new museum has been opened since October 2009.


There were statues everywhere in the garden.

The Japanese-style museum building itself is beautiful. It would be better, if it wasn’t so crowded.

Nezu Museum
6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
TEL :03-3400-2536

We took the same street back to the station. On the way we had lunch at Blue Brick Lounge (YokuMoku Aoyama). We waited over 30 minutes.
I had a set of sandwiches for lunch. The tartar on shrimp sandwich was okay. The nuts and chocolate mousse cake was delicious. It was nice of them give us some of their famous cookies.


Blue Brick Lounge (YokuMoku Aoyama)
5-3-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku Tokyo 107-0062

Japan Trip – Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

By , June 18, 2010 8:08 pm

May 6th(thu)

My mother wanted to go to Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo. We decided to go there that morning.

It was a little windy but the weather was nice. we enjoyed walking on Marunouchi-Naka-Dori Ave.


Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum has just been opened this spring.

The Original building was taken down in 1968 because it became too old.
The new red brick Museum is a reproduction of the original Mitsubishi Ichigokan building.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan was designed by British architect Josiah Conder and completed in 1894. It was the first Western-style office building in the Marunouchi area.
The building was a red brick building of the Queen Anne style.

The admission fee was 1, 500 yen.
It was pretty crowded.
Everybody had to start from the third floor and followed the directions.
There were many small rooms in this museum.

The exhibition was showing more than 80 pieces by Manet and his contemporaries: oil paintings, drawings, prints, construction drawings, sculptures and about 80 photos. the show is an introduction to the artistic background that Manet was experience while living in Paris.

I liked well-drawn lithographs by many different artists and Manet’s cat drawings.

Manet and the modern Paris exhibition is on until July 25th, 2010.

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo

Last time I was in Marunouchi Brick Square, it did not have so much greenery.

We went to New Marunouchi building and bought a Gyoko rolled cake at 14 Juliette Tokyo.


Gyoko rolled cake was delicious. It was fluffy and not too sweet. I prefer more cream. Gyoko is the beautiful ginkgo tree-lined street that goes to the Imperial Palace from Tokyo Station.
The egg sponge is made of 100% domestic flour. 1,200 yen
I would like to eat it again.

Japan Trip – Mt. Jimba and Mt.Takao

By , June 18, 2010 7:26 pm

May 2nd (sun)

It is Golden Week Sunday. Golden Week is a civic holiday in Japan. Me and My friend N met at Takao Station North Exit en route to Mt. Jimba and Mt.Takao.
There is a bakery at the station sells bread, rice balls and candy. It would have been a good idea to buy lunch here.

高尾駅北口 Takao Station North Exit

We took a bus from Takao Station and got off at Mount Jimba Kougen. Cost:¥ 540-
We walked for quite a while on the concrete road before entering the mountains pass.
We started up a mountain pass that was so steep we couldn’t see the top.
At this point I wondered “can I make it to the top?” . . .This was not going to be easy.

陣馬山  陣馬山 2 

We climbed and climbed, pondering over and over: “Are we almost there”.
Finally we came close to mountaintop of Jimba (857m) and we saw some beautiful flowers.

I was a little relieved but we still had to make it to the top.

Nice! I took this photo on the way to the summit. When we finally arrived at the mountaintop, we could see Mt. Fuji.

陣馬山頂上 陣馬山頂上2 Mt. Jimba
It was tough but good climbing. The view from the mountaintop of Mt. Jimba was a wonderful. We had an early lunch before leaving for Mt.Takao.

We walked slowly through the green woods (it was a lot easier going downhill), toward Myoou Pass.

  明王峠 Myoou Pass. 

We had to turn back a little and take a different path to get to the mountaintop of Kagenobu (727m). There was some beautiful scenery on the way there.

小仏城山 Kobotoke Pass (670・3m)

Climbing the stairs near Mt. Takao was challenging but we made it.

The top of Mt.Takao (599m).
高尾山頂 Mt. Takako
We arrived at Mt. Takao around 5 o’clock. Most of the shops were already closed.
Also Yakuōin was closed.


We went down and found a store that had ice cream. We had grape ice cream ¥ 300-.
Delicious. It was more like a sorbet than ice cream.
I bought a bottle of tea.


It was hard to walk down the steep hill. We ate yam soba noodles at Takahashi-ke restaurant near the cable railway station. It was tasty. Free refills on soba tea. Delicious.
  とろろそば Yam soba (Tororo Soba)

We just managed to finish eating, as the restaurant was closing, so we had to go home. We walked about 18 km today. I was so tired but we had a good time.
The question is do I want to climb again? ? ?

We did not have much time to see around Mt. Takao. I would like to visit some other time.

Mt. Takao (高尾山) is located within an hour of downtown Tokyo.

Japan Trip – Kamakura

By , June 10, 2010 5:58 pm

April 7th (wed)

Today the weather wasn’t great but we went to Kamakura anyway.
We got off train at Kita Kamakura station to go to Engaku-ji temple.
Engaku-ji temple was founded in 1282.
円覚寺入り口    円覚寺三門 Sanmon Gate
There were beautiful cherry blossoms on the way to the Sanmon Gate. I hadn’t visited at Engaku temple a long time and it is the first time I have seen cherry blossoms here.
sanmon Sanmon gate. This gate was rebuilt around 1785.

仏殿 Butsuden 

Butsuden – The Main hall is in the front of the gate. We tossed some coins and prayed.

選仏場 Senbutujyo

Senbutujyo – the dojo for meditation was built in 1699.

We saw the Koumyochi ponds and Shariden (National Treasure) which is open to the public only on the first three days of the year. Then, finally there was Oubaiin.

We went up steep stairs to the lookout. I was a little disappointed because it was cloudy and we didn’t have a clear view.
The bell on the lookout is a national treasure.
展望台   国宝洪鐘
We left Engaku-ji.

We came in front of Tokei-ji temple but it started rain, so we skipped it and started walking toward to Kencho-ji temple instead.
When we arrived Kencho-ji, it was raining very hard.
The small cherry trees on the path to the gate were full of lovely blossoms.
Kencho-ji temple was founded in 1253.

建長寺  方丈庭園
After we visited Butsuden, we stayed at Hojo garden a while.

I wanted to go to the Hansōbō, but it was still raining hard and the cherry trees along the way were being tended to by the landscaping crew.

We couldn’t see much of the place and we left Kenchoji.
建長寺枝垂桜 The Shidare cherry tree in front of the toilet was beautiful.

We took the bus to Kamakura station and walked to Komachi-street. It was raining and we didn’t want to look around for restaurants. So we decided to try a kaiseki lunch at Akimoto restaurant on the third floor of the building near the entrance of the street. We orderd Shirasu-don lunch set. This was the first time I ate Shirasu-don. (Shirasu is baby sardine.)
Cheese Tofu was served first. It was delicious.
The vegetable tempura were delicious: two types of sweet potatoes, turnips, broccoli, komatsuna, maitake mushrooms and carrots. But it was quit big and a little hard to bite.
Shirasu don is steamed and raw Shirasu on top of a bowl of rice.
Delicious ginger and the shiso are a good contrast to the dish. I add a poached egg when half the dish was eaten. It was good, but the taste of the Shirasu disappeared.
Dessert was Yuzu sorbet. It was delicious. the tea was also tasty. It was all very satisfying.

チーズ豆腐 Cheese Tofu 

しらす丼セット Shirasu-don lunch
Miso soup was red miso. Pickles were cucumber with shiso juice.

ゆずのシャーベット Yuzu sorbet

Tsurugaokahachimangu was crowded, so we stayed at the entrance.
I would have liked to see Tsurugaokahachimangu after the big famous ginkgo tree has been destroyed by strong winds in this spring. That was so sad…

八幡宮 桜  鳥居

The cherry blossom at Dankazura were not so pretty and quite small.
段葛 Dankazura

We walk through Wakamiyaooji Street and back to the Komachi Street. We bought some souvenirs on the way back to station.
It wasn’t nice to go out in the rain, but I knew what to expect before we left home…

ゆず蜜 Yuzu honey – Sugimoto bee farm
まめ Bean snacks – Kamakura Mameya
はとサブレー Hato Sabres – Toyoshima ya