Archive | August, 2013

Byebye for now, Japan!

27 Aug

Looks like it is time to leave Japan again! How Piggletino wishes to visit so many other places in the country!

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Guess it’ll mean another visit here someday soon!

Oh look, Piggletino got some souvenirs for himself!

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Golden Pavilion and the Kyoto Imperial Palace

22 Aug

What? A Golden Pavilion?

Piggletino was excited to visit the Kinkakuji (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion) – this time a Zen temple in Northern Kyoto.

An extravagant structure that overlooked a pond of waters, the Kinkakuji is said to have different architectural styles on each level of the Pavilion. Unfortunately, visitors were not allowed to enter the Pavilion to see the first floor built in Shinden style, the second floor in Bukke style, and the upper floors that was in the style of a Chinese Zen Hall.

Piggletino quickly took a snap – it was such a popular area for tourists, there wasn’t even much space to stand and enjoy the view! What a pity!
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After the Kinkakuji, Piggletino made his way to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所), where the Imperial Family resided until the 1860s.

The complex is highly guarded and one can only enter the palace grounds with a guided tour (be sure to book in advance!) of about an hour. It’s a short and slightly rushed visit, but worth a visit if you’ll like to find out more about Imperial Family and the Palace!
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Kyoto Nijo Castle

20 Aug

A short walk from the Nijojo-mae train station, the Nijo Castle (二条城) was built in 1603 for the first shogun of the Edo period.

Piggletino welcomes everyone to the Nijo Castle – first beginning with the traditional Japanese landscape garden, the Ninomaru Garden.

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The Nijo Castle has three main areas – the main circle of defense, the secondary circle of defense and the gardens.

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You can rent English audio guides to learn more about the Nijo Castle during your visit! Of course Piggletino’s scout went around the tour route that showcased where the highly-ranked visitors of the past would wait for the shogun in the audience rooms, understanding how bodyguards hid in closets to protect the shogun, and other offices or living chambers in the premises.

And Piggletino? That’s right – photos, photos and more photos!
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Shrine City – Kyoto

15 Aug

As a historical city of Japan, Kyoto boasts of its numerous shrines and temples.

A popular concentration of shrines and temples in Eastern Kyoto can be found at the Higashiyama district. A great place to experience traditional Kyoto along the slopes of the eastern mountains, Piggletino’s scout visited so many shrines and temples that Piggletino lost count!

He heard several names, such as the Yasaka Shrine next to the Maruyama Park…
the Kodaiji Temple constructed in 1605…
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…the Kiyomizudera Temple in the wooded hills…
…the Chionin Temple of Japanese Buddhism…
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There were so many places to visit that Piggletino’s scout had a hard time deciding where to go first! And this list wasn’t all there was to the Higashiyama district!

While the scout was figuring out the map, Piggletino was having some difficulties as he busied himself with deciding between…
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The sesame or green tea ice creams! If in Japan, don’t forget to grab a green tea ice cream cone, it’s awesome!

Cultural City of Kyoto

13 Aug

Piggletino welcomes everyone to Kyoto! Although ravaged by natural disasters like many other areas of Japan, Kyoto was relatively spared from the destruction of WWII, and today stands as testament to the cultural richness of Japan.

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Most of the historical attractions are easily accessible by local train. Only 3 minutes away from the Inari station, this the Fushimi Inari Shrine (recognise the Torii Gate?) No, this isn’t just ‘yet another shrine’ – rather, it is famous for the thousands of orange torii gates that line its walkways and leads into the wooded forests and heads up to Mount Inari.

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The Fushimi Inari Shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. Piggletino highlights the hiking trails behind the main shrine building, which starts with two parallel rows of Senbon Torii – literally ‘thousands of torii gates’ which are donated by individuals and organisations. This forms a covered walkway to the summit of the mountain (it takes 3 hours!) Of course, you can take a 45 minute walk to an opening which offers great views of Kyoto city!

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Trip to Kobe: Nunobiki Herb Garden

4 Aug

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Whee! Piggletino is taking a trip to Shin-Kobe by Shinkansen! That’s how the bullet trains look like; pretty cool isn’t it?

Guess where Piggletino is?
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That’s right! It’s the Shin-Kobe Ropeway (新神戸ロープウェー, cable car) that takes us up the slopes of the Rokko Mountain Chain, towards the Nunobiki Herb Gardens!
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Look!! That is the 43metres Nunobiki Waterfall. Did you know, that it got its name because it looked like a hanging cloth? Ah, what a great view Piggletino has from here! Don’t miss this if you ever come to Kobe!

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And after the Ropeway ride, Piggletino welcomes everyone to the top station of the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden!

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Here, you will find local produce of honey, a rest house, beautiful rose gardens, a fragrance house that teaches you about the flower extracts used in perfumes, and a glasshouse growing seasonal fruits and flowers!

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Remember to take a day to enjoy the beautiful sights of the Nunobiki Herb Garden when you’re in Kobe!

Osaka Museum of Housing & Living

1 Aug

Hidden from the usual ‘tourist’ attractions, an intriguing sits in the Kita area of Osaka, on the 8th floor of a building somewhere along Temjimbashi. Easily accessibly by local trains as well, this is no ordinary museum – it is a remarkable re-creation of the past of Osaka!

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This museum has streets that made Piggletino feel like he was back in the Edo period… Look! Even the cats on the roof are models!
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You can check out the life of Osaka’s past as the museum highlights various facilities such as an ancient apothecary, fabric shop, traditional Japanese kitchen, poor man’s house vs rich man’s dwelling…

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An interesting thing to note – the museum lets visitors experience day and night in an ancient Osaka street, through the use of awesome lighting and sound effects! Don’t be surprised if it turns dark all of a sudden!

The Osaka Museum of Housing & Living is definitely worth a visit. While there might be small problem of the absolute absence of English or other translations (everything including the descriptions comes in the local language), Piggletino is sure that you will still enjoy looking around these wonderful remade models of a town!