Photos from Japan (mainland)

27 04 2013




Kyoto’s Sakura, Neko and Buddhist food

6 04 2010

On our final 3 days in Japan we stayed with Atsu in Kyoto.

We saw beautiful sakura near Ginkakuji along the Philosopher’s Path and at night time under illumination in Maruyama Koen.

We made funny poses and made photo seals in a purikura amusement centre.

We had tea with cats in a neko cafe.

We ate lots of plates of Japanese pickles at hale Vegan Organic restaurant, hidden down a little passage in the Nishiki markets.

We enjoyed vegan parfait and lunch at Mumokuteki, off the Nishiki markets.

We met up with Benno’s high school Japanese teacher at Cafe Proverbs.

We enjoyed vegan kara-age, gyoza and a huge curry at MikoAn, a Buddhist vegan pub/cafe that is even more hidden than hale, down a long alley behind the main street front.





Final days in Japan- Kyoto

1 04 2010

On our final 3 days in Japan we stayed with Atsu in Kyoto.

We saw beautiful sakura near Ginkakuji along the Philosopher’s Path and at night time under illumination in Maruyama Koen.

We made funny poses and made photo seals in a purikura amusement centre.

We had tea with cats in a neko cafe.

We ate lots of plates of Japanese pickles at Hale Vegan Organic restaurant, hidden down a little passage in the Nishiki markets.

We enjoyed vegan parfait and lunch at Mumokuteki, off the Nishiki markets.

We met up with Benno’s high school Japanese teacher at Cafe Proverbs.

We enjoyed vegan kara-age, gyoza and a huge curry at MikoAn, a Buddhist vegan pub/cafe that is even more hidden than Hale, down a long alley behind the main street front.





Local trains to Kyoto

30 03 2010

We had 2 trips on our seishun 18 kippu left so we embarked on another 8 hour local train journey from Tokyo to Kyoto. The highlight was seeing Mt Fuji from the train when it stopped at Fuji station.

Snow-capped Mt Fuji from the train window near Fuji station.





Expensive Kyoto Mushrooms

16 11 2009
P1000235

The picture speaks for itself.





Kimono and Kaimono

7 10 2009

The need for sleep (especially after the overnight bus ride) overtook us so our first outing was for brunch at noon. We went to Cafe Proverbs 15:17 as we had enjoyed it so much last time we went. There seasonal menu had changed for autumn so there were new dishes to choose from. We feasted on the tempeh burger XD and teriyaki tofu set. Then we had the fig tart with tofu cream and cinnamon for dessert.

We caught the bus to the Nishijin Textile Center and watched the last few minutes of a kimono fashion show. However, there was a bus load of Chinese? tourists with all their cameras out so it was difficult to see. After the show the tour-group raced upstairs, tore the shop to pieces and then ran out the their buses again. We looked around at the silk kimono fabrics and watched people working the looms.

Although it was raining we next went for a walk along the Philosophers Path. From below Ginkakuji we wandered along the river, doing some shopping along the way for omiyage (chestnut yatsuhashi, a bamboo water gun, a wooden doll) and followed the path all the way to Nanzenji where we got on a bus back to where Atsu lives.

After dinner we went to the station near where our overnight bus was departing and found a Karaoke place. We sang songs until it was almost time for our bus to leave. Our bus was a ‘relax’ bus so we had these space-age seats. They tilted back 140 degrees, had extra padding around the sides and head, a little canopy to pull over your head when sleeping and long leg/foot rests. See the futurist seats here . We slept much better on the bus home, and then caught the express bus from Tokyo to Kisarazu where it was still raining, just as we left it.

The distant future, the year 2000, futuristic space seats on overnight buses - the canopy you can pull over your head to sleep well on the bus.





Meeting the Vikings in Kyoto

5 10 2009

One of the temples/shrines that we hadn’t visited yet was Sanjusangen-do. While not a big complex, the one big wooden building houses 1001 statues of Kannon, each with 42 arms (which each save 25 worlds and somehow that adds up to saving 1000 worlds each). There are 500 statues in 10 rows either side of a larger central Kannon. At the front are 28 life-size statues of guardian deities e.g. thunder god, wind god etc. The kannon, made in the 12th century, were carved from wood and coated with gold leaf.

Unfortunately, photos were prohibited inside the building. However, there are heaps of photos on the internet so someone(s) obviously took photos anyway…

We were feeling hungry so decided to go to viking, which is a buffet in Japanese. We went to Obanzai and enjoyed fake meats, potato croquettes, salads, rice etc. Most of the food offered was vegan. While we were eating we met the director of the movie ‘The Cove’. He was in Kyoto promoting the movie, then heading to Tokyo for the film festival where ‘The Cove’ is being shown.. We also met the 2 main people behind the ‘Vegan Society of Japan’. After a long lunch-time chat we went with them to Nishikidori Markets and to Mumokuteki that has vegan ice cream and desserts. The icecream was totally delicious, as was the cheesecake we had. We wandered around the markets, got some yaki-tofu for dinner then headed our own way back to Atsu’s. We had BBQ for dinner and skyped his younger sister so Benno could practice his Japanese.





Kyoto Veggie Festival

4 10 2009

We took the overnight bus from Tokyo to Kyoto. It left around 11.30pm from outside the Tokyo bus station and arrived around 7am in Kyoto. While we may not have gotten much sleep, it was very quiet (as Japanese people are), we were in the back row and the lights were all out most of the night.

We were worried that it might be pouring with rain for the festival as the day we left Kisarazu a typhoon had passed. However the day was perfect – warm and sunny and around 26 degrees.

Before heading to the festival we first went to Chion-in. It has a bell that reportedly so big it needs 17 monks to ring it. There were lots of people and some sort of service going on in the main hall with lots of people singing/chanting.

Then we went to the park in front of Heian Shine (with a massive vermillion torii) where the Veggie Festival was held. There were lots of stalls – 98 different small stalls. There were (raw) vegetable stalls, curry stalls, ethnic food stalls, lots of cakes, scones, a ‘bar’, bread stalls, NPO information stalls, drink stalls, soap stalls, massage stalls, jewelery and clothing stalls… most of them were small but all had delicious food. The flyers encouraged people to bring their own cutlery and plates. We brought bowls fro home so had our lunch served out into our own crockery. If you didn’t bring your own you could buy cups/plates which you could return for a refund after use. There was also a stage with different music- flamenco guitar, indian dance, steelpan, african drums…

We ate hemp seed scones, fried gluten with green salad, the JSDA veg curry, tempeh from the Indonesian stall, chai, a hot blueberry waffle, a tortilla with salsa from the Nagoyan Vegetarians…an excellent feast!

Atsu joined us in the afternoon, then we ate tofu tonkatsu for dinner at his place. We watched TV – on a funny travel show some people went to Italy and collected magnets – “No picture, yes magnet”. 3 overweight woman went to Mexico to eat chillies and try to lose weight. Then some boys went around the world and got haircuts. Interesting…





Maiko Makeover

20 08 2009

The professional photos from the Maiko Makeover at Yumekoubou Studio in Gion, Kyoto, 8th August 2009.

A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha. Sorry a lot of the images are the wrong way up but I just copied them straight from the CD and couldn’t be bothered rotating them.





Final day in Kyoto

17 08 2009

We had two more ‘essential’ sites to visit on our last day in Kyoto. It was still hot and humid so we took it easy. We made pancakes for breakfast, slowly left the apartment, caught the train to the eki, bought a day bus pass and waited for a bus to Ginkaku-ji. However, lots of other tourists seem to have had the same idea and the sightseeing bus was crowded. We waited 20 minutes for the bus, then it took 30 minutes to go a few stops and it was totally packed with standing room only. So we changed plans, decided to head for an early lunch first and then go back to Ginkaku-ji. We caught a local (non-sightseeing) bus to our lunch destination and it was almost empty (hint number 1:use local transport, not tourist transport). We ate a lunch set at Sunny Place which was cheap and delicious.  Soy chai, brown rice, fried gluten chicken and millet burger,  various salads… lots to eat.

After lunch we caught a bus (not full) a few stops to Ginkaku-ji. We walked up the hill, following the path of the ‘Philosophers walk’ for a while until we reached the temple grounds. The main building was going to be covered in silver but never was so maybe the name ‘silver pavillion’ now refers to the silver sands in front of the temple. The gardens were lovely and mossy. We wandered out and past the shops with sweets, souvenirs and yukatas (cotton kimonos for summer). We refreshed ourselves with a traditional Kyoto cider. Lara bought a dark yukata with pink flowers and a yellow and grey obi (belt).

It was getting late in the day so we caught a bus to Nijo-jo (Nijo castle), stopping off on the way to see if Vegie Sweets was open (it wasn’t). Atsu met us and we wandered around the palace on the nightingale floors (floors that squeek to alert the residents of intruders) past all the wall paintings. We wandered the gardens, past honmaru which is flat and quite different to other castles built as tall defences on mountain tops.

Then we bussed to Gion to try to find a sweets shop. We wandered past the giesha district which seemed very touristy with every second person holding up a digital SLR and hoping for a photo of a geisha. We left quickly and headed for Nishiki markets. We found a suitable sweets shop before we even made it to the markets and ate lots of samples and drank green tea before buying a stack of traditional japanese sweets (wagashi). Most of the Nishiki markets were closing by the time we wandered past. There was one shop that advertised tofu doughnuts. We got excited but then found out that they use egg. We bought some tofu and vegetable slices for dinner and went on our way, catching the bus number 11 back to Uzumasa.

We ate forest rice and the tofu slices for dinner, then enjoyed leftover chocolate pudding and hot soy chai for dessert while watching funny tv on the computer.