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A day of temples!

Posted on : 01-05-2010 | By : Nathan | In : Travelogue

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Today was spent making our way around the city looking for 2 famous temples. We decided to try our hand at the subway system here in Kyoto. Thanks to a couple of Brits, we were able to figure out how to purchase the correct tickets, but figuring out the rest was up to us. I would classify the public transport mission as a success, as we were able to get to where we wanted without even getting on the wrong train.

The 1st temple we visited was: Kiyomizu Temple. All I can say about this is WOW ! I have never seen anything quite like it. The entire walk up to the temple was through a narrow street, likely unchanged for centuries, where merchants were selling their wares. This is “Golden Week” here in Japan, so the temple was extremely busy. Entry was free, and the tour was self-paced throughout the entire temple complex. There were numerous buildings, prayer areas, bells, gongs, and shrines. It is placed high up in the mountains and offers picturesque views of Kyoto from high. We were even lucky enough to see a Geisha who was making here way up for prayer. This is by far my favorite experience since landing in this beautiful country.

After a couple hours venturing back through the public transport system, we finally made our way to: Nishi-Honganji Temple. Unlike the mountainous position of the previous temple, this temple was located right in the heart of Kyoto. The entire compound was several city blocks in size and offered a peek into hundreds of years worth of history.  There were lanterns over 20 feet tall/wide, and compound doors over 8 inches thick. Beautifully decorated in gold, and sprawling for acres, this temple was more then impressive. Highly recommended for anyone visiting this city !

After touring the entire grounds, it was time for a well deserved nap ! Not much else to report, as the nap turned into a full on sleep. Plans for the day include museums, tasty local cuisine, and whatever else we get ourselves into.

unordinary: Check out the beer vending machine … for only about $3.00, you can partake while on a walk around the city.

Thanks for reading my travel log !

Imperial Palace & Kyoto Castle

Posted on : 01-05-2010 | By : Nathan | In : Travelogue

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Yesterday we got a really early start (because our sleep schedule was up-side-down). The days plan was to check out the Imperial Palace and the Kyoto Castle. These 2 places were really easy to find, as they are surrounded by gigantic parks. I added some good pics to the gallery of the parks and structures for you to check out. We spent most of the day walking through the various displays, and reading what little English we could find regarding the descriptions.

On our way back to the hotel for a power-nap, we stopped into a thai-indonesian restaurant and had some lunch. I tried sum-tum for the 1st time, and it was really freakin good. The place only sat a total of 10 people, so I guess you could call it “crowded” since there were 5 total people eating.

After to the power nap, we ventured out for the evening. We found an Irish pub called “the Gail”, which was gaijin friendly. After a $10.00 beer, we headed to get some dinner at the famous Coco Ichibanya. They are famous for their japanese curry, and are open 24/7. Wow, it lived up to it’s reputation … We went with a spice level of 3 (out of 9) and it about lit me on fire. I have to say, it looks like crap, but tastes AWESOME !

It was about 2 am after dinner, and neither of us were tired, so we headed out to find another bar that allowed foreigners. Taking the bartender’s advice from the Gail, we headed over to  a club called Sam & Dave’s. With a name like that, we had to be allowed in ;)   The cover charge was ridiculous, but the beer prices were pretty low. We stayed there hanging out and BSing for the rest of the night. There was a couple live DJ’s and decent music. We even heard “it’s time for the perculator”, so you know it was good! It was definitely a good time and the people watching alone was well worth the price of admission.

After 3 hours sleep, we are back up and going on the hunt for some temples. We are also going to try out hand at the subway today… Well, I will check in later. Thanks for reading.

unordinary: Be sure to check out the picture of me in the gallery eating fried octopus balls sold out of the back of a mini-van. It is classic !

The eagle has landed !

Posted on : 29-04-2010 | By : Nathan | In : Travelogue

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I am finally here ! Japan has occupied the #1 spot on my “places to visit” for about the last 10 years & I finally made it.

It took a total of 27.5 hours of travel time since leaving my house to get to my final destination here at the ANA Hotel in Kyoto Japan. The hotel is super-plush, and the internet is included, so that is a huge plus. I think I will skip the $50.00 morning breakfast buffet though !  I did not get to see many sites on either of the trains we took to get here though, as it was only light for a few hours after I met up with Derek.

We decided to go out for a late dinner after checking in, but not much was open that late. We decided to go to a place that reminded me of a Japanese waffle house, open 24/7 serving popular Japanese dishes instead of waffles. It was affordable & tasty. and I got to order from a push button machine LOL.

We then ventured out to find a place to get a few beers. However, much to our dismay, it did not appear that any of the bars allowed “gaijins” (foreigners). We asked around and finally found an “American Dart Bar” which allowed us to come in and partake. We had a good time throwing darts and drinking a few beers. We crashed around 3:30 am after making it back to the hotel via taxi.

Hopefully we can find a few more “gaijin-friendly” bars. We are heading to check out the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Castle, as well as other cultural sites today. Should be a good time, so check back for more pics and updates.

Check the gallery for some new pics !

Tokyo, here I come !

Posted on : 27-04-2010 | By : Nathan | In : Travelogue

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tokyo tripThis is my 1st post in years, so I may be a little rusty. I am heading to Japan for a total of 11 days.  Japan has been #1 on my list of places to visit, so this is literally a dream come true.  I will be spending 4 days in Kyoto and about a week in Tokyo. I am really interested in the ancient cultural side of things, as well as all of the cutting edge futuristic side as well. Some  activities include:

- Cultural districts & temples
- Sumo match (already have tickets)
- Climb Mt. Fuji
- Visit the Sony store
- Tokyo-Disney
- The world-famous fish market

I will make sure to upload images and make posts as often as possible. Be sure to leave comments if you visit the site, just to let me know you stopped by. This should be a pretty good trip, and while I will be working, I am going to try and enjoy myself.

My buddy Derek (who is stationed in Japan) is going to be accompanying me on the trip. Actually, he pretty much set everything up, so I guess I am actually his side-kick. He organized the hotels, trains, sumo, and everything. I just had to use some frequent-flyer miles and get over there ! He even gave me a little “mission” package with a pre-programmed cell-phone, yen, tickets, and everything I need once I step off the plane. Thanks Derek, for putting all this together!

Well, I’ve gotta to pack, the plane leaves in 18 hours ;)