Sunday, February 26, 2006

京都 2005 - 27 Arashiyama

[251105] Arashiyama in northwest Kyoto city is one of the places in Kyoto for enjoying e autumn glory of maple leaves. a beautiful district at e foot of e mountains, it has more temples than one can hope to visit, as well as e 桂川 Katsura-gawa river running through.

most guidebooks & travel sites touch on e 'standard route' covering e main sights - starting with e Togetsu-kyo (bridge) over e Katsura-gawa, & ploughing through e must-see temples & villas on e north bank. but e public park on e north bank (亀山公園 Kameyama-koen) & a path running some distance upriver along e south bank deserve their fair share of attention too.


e round hill (is it Iwata-yama?) on e south bank looks like a yummy multi-coloured gum drop =P

e famous 渡月橋 Togetsukyo crowded with tourists:


this guy found a way to escape (above) from e massive hordes. walking upriver along e south bank of e Katsura-gawa, where there were far fewer tail-less monkeys (humans) than 'tail-ed' ones (in Iwatayama Monkey Park):


Atago-san (above), climbed 9 days ago....

autumn colours of Kameyama-koen:


further upriver:


& even further upriver, as e path started to climb uphill:


Kyoto city has been left far behind by this point:


just like stepping into a full-colour version of a 水墨画 (Chinese inkbrush painting)....


beyond this point (above), e path ended at an onsen resort & a long steep climb up to Daihikakuji temple, perched high up on e mountainside overlooking e river. more views from e path:


Daihikakuji aka. Senkoji temple must be quite a deserted place, being rather out of e way. copies of (magazine? news?) articles with photos of e temple were pasted on signboards along e way, promising great views for 400 yen (e admission fee):


gave it a miss as e cat's knee was still lousy.

tourists disembarking after e boat ride down e Hozu-gawa from Kameoka :


toriigata daimonji:


finally seen all 6 of them! =)

warning sign (below left) at Iwatayama-koen - to warn e public against celebrating hanabi by setting off fireworks on this side of e river in summer?

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a channel of e Katsura-gawa (above right)

at e southern end of Togetsukyo is a toy shop full of cute stuff including soft toy versions of Totoro & Jiji, e kuro neko from Majo no Takkyubin:

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e store sells CD compilations of instrumental music, & e chiming music played in e store can be heard from afar =)

rickshaws on e opposite bank of e Katsura-gawa:


setting off after passengers have fastened e seatbelt across their laps beneath e red blanket:


on e way to Nonomiya-jinja & Okochi Sanso villa:


cute jizo outside Tenryuji - e last guy looks quite constipated:


CARPARK FULL at Tenryuji (& just about every other temple & attraction in Arashiyama):


Arashiyama on a Friday afternoon at e peak of e maple-viewing season - some of e main streets were converted into one-way roads to cope with e surge in traffic, leaving many confused people hunting around for e correct bus stops:


so glad to have visited Tenryuji about a week ago. it was madness today - e photo above shows e less often-used back gate. many of e temples sent staff out in bright yellow caps & vests to help direct traffic:


e matcha & vanilla ice cream sold in cones at just about everywhere in Arashiyama is advertised in e background (above). e cat tried this (below right) instead:


no matter how chilly e weather, enjoying matcha ice cream (& pudding & cream puff & chocolate) is a MUST while in Kyoto prefecture, e home of Uji city & e best green tea in Japan =)) e wagashi sweets (above left) were too horribly ex to try.

this guy seemed kinda lost in e crowd surging by:


Sunday, February 19, 2006

京都 2005 - 26 Kitano Tenmangu

[251105] whales obstructing e way at e Kawaramachi-Shichijo intersection early in e morning:


no wonder e Japanese are keen to eat them up ;)

e ride from Kyoto station to Kitano Tenmangu-mae on Kyoto City bus #50:


neat ginkgo-lined streets where drivers stop for pedestrians instead of trying to beat e red signal, e elderly & mobility-impaired can cross safely, buses call at every stop, cyclists don't get honked at nor tailed closely (primary school kids can cycle safely to school), drivers give way to one another & signal well in advance, & 1001 other little things that make life on e road here a far less stressful experience than it is in e little red dot. maybe it's e way Japanese are brought up, maybe it's e cooler weather, but whatever it is e cat is going to kena another round of reverse culture shock on return to Singapore.

in Tokyo e train stations, underpasses & pavements have raised lines & bumps to guide e visually-impaired. in some other Japanese towns/cities, kerbs are almost flush with e street, making life easier for those with wheelchairs, prams & shopping trolleys, & public buses have wide-enough aisles & no steps to allow wheelchair (& pram) access. bus drivers & train station masters are ready to assist with ramps, & e station master will call ahead to e destination station so that his (have never come across a female station master?) counterpart there will be ready & waiting on e platform to assist with disembarkation.

& fellow passengers will not complain (at least in public) about having to wait - perhaps because they know that with their kinda life expectancy, they will live long enough to require such help themselves one day =P & somehow even with all these measures e super fast-paced society can still stick to its strict schedules....which makes all those excuses in official replies to letters in ST & Today forum pages look kinda lame =P e cat doesn't mind forgoing all those NSS & ERS & dunno-what-ass shares & top-ups if e $$$ could be used to make daily life more barrier-free for all.

sometimes wonder if e Japanese obsession with perfection has a part to play - something like we take pride in being so perfect that we can cater to everyone regardless of ability or disability, & if anyone under e rising sun faces any obstacle in using our services, we have failed *deep bow*....

hope it's nothing to do with their attitude - wonder what company owns this truck (below left) & what do they deliver? e 'f' got flower some more =P

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殺菌済車 sign on a taxi (above right)

北野天満宮 Kitano Tenmangu shrine, where people come to pray for luck in studies & exams:


e 12,000(!!) Tenmangu-jinja throughout Japan are shrines dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, some 9th century government official whom e Japanese regard as e 'God of learning'. e grounds of Kitano Tenmangu has plenty of ume (plum) trees, which were Sugawara's favourite, hence e five-petaled plum flower motifs on e 'banners' (above middle, & below). e cat visited 湯島天神 Yushima Tenjin in Tokyo in e spring of 2002 (just before e release of its honours year results =P), & decided to pop by its Kyoto counterpart since it was e 25th & there was a flea market on.

三光門 Sankomon gate:


praying here (below) will let people know if you're balding =P


5000 yen to pray for success in studies:


in this form you fill in (from left to right) e name of e institution you hope to qualify for under e 志望校 column, your name, address & circle your status - 受驗 (taking entrance exams?), 在学中 (a current student) or 新入学 (newly-enrolled?):


anyone knows why e red coloured version costs 1000 yen more than e blue version?

there are plenty of bull (associated with hard work?) sculptures like this one in front of e shrine:


more Kitano Tenmangu:


in one corner of e shrine compound are racks & racks of ema - e wooden boards on which people write their names, ages & wishes & then hang from hooks:


written by 6-year-olds, e one on e right from 立命館 Ritsumeikan primary school:


this junior high school class saved $$$ by sharing one ema for e entire class of 30-odd students =P


senior high school:


university entrance exams:


[1] Kyoto University of Education [2] some medical university [3] Kobe Pharmaceutical University [4] to major in Chinese in e foreign languages department [5] international relations in Ritsumeikan University (quite near to this shrine) [6] sociology? [7] law [8] Nippon Sport Science University, Osaka University of Health & Sports Sciences & International Budo University [9] Osaka University of Health & Sports Sciences again

& when you think you're done with uni, more lies ahead:


[1] to qualify as a dentist [2] to qualify as a nurse [3] to get a minimum score of 730 on e Test of English in Conversation [4] civil service?


[1] something about police [2] to fly a Boeing 777? [3] tax accountant?

something closer to e heart:


大学院 daigakuin =)

e two triangular purple 'cushions' used to hold e painting in place are so cute:


a few of e temples & shrines in Kyoto have monthly flea markets on their grounds. Toji temple's is on e 21st, & Kitano Tenmangu's is on e 25th which was today:


here e cat got 1300 yen worth of kimono cloth remnants for e (long way off) day it has time to sew tsurishibina again =)

figured that e quickest jam-less way to Arashiyama from here was e 京福電鉄 Keifuku railway. one of those complicated automated parking structures along Imadegawa-dori, on e way to e Keifuku Kitano Hakubaicho station:


e hidari daimonji above Kinkakuji temple, seen from e Imadegawa-Nishi-oji intersection:


from Kitano Hakubaicho to Arashiyama:


[1] e trams that look like streetcars [2] yatsuhashi advertisements on e pillars of Keifuku Arashiyama station [3, 5] e tracks running through e neighbourhoods of northwest Kyoto [4] 嵐山温泉 「駅の足湯」onsen footbath for tired feet on e Keifuku Arashiyama station platform

e only thing e cat knew about this private railway was that it had a station right smack in e middle of Arashiyama. no idea about e route(s), e fare nor any of e station names - didn't even expect e trains (more like trams) to be so small & quaint, much like e carriage that e brother & sister sat in in Miyazaki Hayao's Grave of e Fireflies anime =P

there were a couple of announcements in Japanese that e cat couldn't understand. & suddenly, there was plenty of space as everyone rushed out of e carriage at one station....blur cat finally realised out that e hard-to-pronounce Katabiranotsuji-eki was an interchange, & somehow scrambled onto e right connecting tram to Arashiyama....