Jun 19, 2014

Sakura Fever

I just can't get enough of sakura eventhough it has been 2 months since I came back from my epic trip to Japan. First trip to many more to come, hopefully and I am already thinking of going back there again next year during sakura season. It's something to do with the pinkness (and I dont even like pink), flowery and everyone seems to be in happy mood.

I noticed there are actually a few variations of the flowers though so far all I can distinguish are whitish pink, pink pink and reddish pink. Most of the flowers I saw in Nara park in whitish pink while in Kyoto mostly are pink pink and only in Arashiyama I can se reddish pink.

Not going to talk much of the sakura tree species as you can get a good guide at this website.

Here's some of the upclose sakura flowers that I managed to capture.

Along the Philosopher's Path

At Imperial Palace Kyoto

At Heian Shrine, one of the willow tree

At Tenryuji temple

Not sure whether this is sakura or not, oh well, it's quite pretty 

Among the red and white sakura

Hybrid colour of white and red sakura flowers at Tenryuji Temple

At Arashiyama, you can see some buds are still not opened yet

Jun 12, 2014

Arashiyama 嵐山, Kyoto

Arashiyama is a place that I quite look forward going to after seeing the gorgeous pictures on the internet. It's not very far from Kyoto but you have to take the correct train to get there, as in take the rapid train instead of the local one. We took the JR Sagono Line and stopped at JR Saga Arashiyama which is around 5 minutes walk into the town. Some of the places that we managed to visit are:

Tenryuji Temple

The entrance fee to the temple is 500 yen for garden and additional 100 yen for the temple. We only went into the garden and it is one of the must see garden here. Beautiful, scenic and serene, just like a Japanese zen garden.

Bamboo Groves

From the temple, it was about 10 minutes walk to the Bamboo Groves and it's easy to get into by just following the signboard. I read from some forum saying that it is difficult to find the entrance, but for us it was quite easy to locate. Although the bamboo groves is something I really look forward to, but I don't really enjoy that much as it was crowded and difficult to get a good photo of just the bamboo groves alone without tourist lurking in my photo. Luckily, I spotted a tiny spot to take some good potrait shots of us which I discovered later to be someone's home.

Nisonin Temple

After the bamboo groves, we continued walking around Arashiyama following the map provided to us. We were trying to locate and find out how far the Saga- Toriimoto Preserved street and asked an elderly Japanese man for directions. Bad move. He is nice and accomodating but lack of English hampered communication between both of us. Finally, we gave up and just walked and walked until we saw a few temples and decided to go into one that looks niced from outside. Nisonin temple required 500 yen to enter but the lack of tourist really brought out my inner photography madness, this time for potrait shooting, haha. We had multiple shots sitting at the stairs and I can already imagine, this temple is perfect during autumn. Even during sakura season, it's really beautiful.

Togetsukyo Bridge

After Nisonin, we decided to turn back and walked towards the bridge, famous for the sakura trees lining along the bridge. We just chill out and relax here, people watching and sunset watching. Time to hit Kyoto after feeling some cold chill.

This the map I used for the planning of my Arashiyama trip

Jun 9, 2014

Laziness Creeping Back In Again

Sigh..my motivation to write at least once a week gone down the drain again. Fact is I have been quite lazy to write much these days plus I always think that no one actually read my blog, haha. And my life doesn't have much things to write about and I have not been to much places since Japan in April. Yes, I have yet to finish blogging the trip and many trips eons ago and I don't really want to dwell much in the stress in life that I am having now. Plus, after my favourite TVB dramas end last few week, I don't have much dramas to look forward at night. So, I guess it's time to bring back the blogging mojo and not forgetting the 5 photobook vouchers that I need to finish by October!

Sad things aside, happy stuff is that I will be going to Japan again in October, this time to Tokyo with my BFFs and I am dying to try out the ryokan style accomodation and onsen (hot spring bath) that I missed out last time. And also visiting Hakone for the Mt Fuji view and not forgetting lots of shopping and luggage allowance this time. I learnt my lesson the previous trip. Now I am going into Japan full force, haha.

Before that, Singapore for The Sound of Music musical from West End.

Jun 1, 2014

Best Spot For Sakura Viewing (Kyoto Version)

Before my trip to Kyoto last April, I had googled the whole internet in search for the best spots for sakura viewing in Kyoto. I guess we were lucky that although we only arrived 5 days after the full bloom, the chill during the weekend actually 'freeze' the sakura and by the time we arrived on Sunday, many of the spots around Kyoto were still full of sakura. If not for the frozen state, I think most of the flowers would be gone in a week after full bloom.

Some of my favourite spots of sakura viewing are as follows:

                                                                                          Hirano Shrine

1. Hirano Shrine
This has to be my favourite of all spots as we came here for the Oukasai festival and end up taking lots of photos sitting under the sakura trees with pink sakura petals on the floor as carpet. It is romantic, pinkish and dreamy with the wind blowing the petals off the trees making it look like snowing sakura petals. Before coming here, I was determined that Philosopher's Path is my favourite

2. Philosopher's Walk/Path
This is my second favourite as we arrived at the right time with the sakura flowers still basically full bloom. Imagine the two sides of the river/canal/longkang/whatever with water inside were planted with sakura trees spanning about 3 kilometres long. It was like a scene straight out from Winter Sonata but here more like Sakura Sonata.

Nara Park

3. Nara Park (ok, technically this is not in Kyoto)
I wasn't that looking forward to visit Nara as there is nothing much to see (at least, that's what I assume and how wrong I am). But let me tell us, Nara is a must if you are in Kyoto or Osaka. Todaiji temple itself already makes the trip worth, I will explain that in another entry. The highlight got to be the Nara Park which is besides full with deer roaming around freely, is the entire park is full of sakura trees, every corner. I went crazy here with my tripod taking the photos of us, finally without people peeking and photobombing us from behind. I can imagine taking all the stunning pre-wedding photos here. Sigh, too bad  I am already married.

Garden inside Heian Shrine
4. Heian Shrine and the canal along the way
When we were in the bus enroute to Ginkakuji temple, we passed by Heian shrine and even from outside, the view of the cherry blossom trees along the canal was enough to make us go 'wow'. Most of the sakura are planted inside the garden and we had to pay to get into the garden. Otherwise, the shrine itself is free. There are many types of sakura trees inside the garden ranging from normal to weeping tree. Unfortunately, I feel that it was too crowded and we were not allowed to use the tripod inside here, otherwise, it would rank third.

5. Kiyomizudera temple
It's my favourite temple in Kyoto and although there were not much sakura trees left blooming here when we came, but I can't get the sight of the temple against the backdrop of the sakura flowers out from my head. I heard/read/saw from internet that the view is even more amazing during autumn. One day, I will come back to Kyoto for the autumn scenary.

Yozakura at Yasaka Shrine

6. Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park
We were here when it's dark so I can't judge how is the scenary of the cherry blossoms during day time but night time was superb. The pink flowers illuminated at night actually brought out the pink colour of the flowers even more as compare to day time. Coupled with such a happening place for yozakura (night viewing sakura) with lots of food stalls and locals having hanami under the pink trees, this place got to be in the list. The hightlight of the park is the weeping cherry tree in the middle. So beautiful yet at the same time looks a bit eery. Haha.

I planned most of the sights using this website