Thursday, January 28, 2010

Japan Trip (31-12-09) Kyoto 京都 Arashiyama 嵐山 

Guess what building is that?

After a long wait to witness the scene of snowing , finally we got the chance.
This was the second last day before we went back to Malaysia. I was looking forward to visit Kiyomizudera 清水寺 once again after the first visit when I went there back in 2007.

Arashiyama 嵐山
My father was very anticipated to see the lush green of bamboo grooves in Arashiyama 嵐山.
The bamboo grooves was the among the most fascinating scene of natural occurrence.The bamboo grooves was before you reach the Nonomiya Shrine 野々宮神社.
We went there from Kyoto Station to Keifuku Arashiyama (on Keifuku Arashiyama Line).

Bamboo grooves with Han Yee and I.

Arashiyama 嵐山 is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. It also refers to the mountain across the Ōi River, which forms a backdrop to the district.

The romantic "Moon Crossing Bridge" (渡月橋,Togetsukyō)

Romantic Train in Arashiyama (CLOSED)

The famous Romantic Train in Arashiyama begins running its scenic tour along the Hozugawa river on March 1st and will continue running until December 29th.

The Torroko trolley travels 7.3 kilometers in distance along the river and through 8 tunnels between Torroko Saga and Kameoka stations. The duration of the trip is 25 minutes and costs 600 yen.

Enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms, bamboo groves, or momiji Japanese maple leaves depending on the time of year you go. It’s a wonderful way to spend the day sightseeing and a must do activity if you visit Arashiyama!

Ryoanji 龍安寺
This the place where my long awaited dream came true . I witness the snow falling from the sky onto the beautifully arranged stones in Ryoanji 龍安寺. It was forecast that at around 6 pm there will be snowing in Kyoto 京都. The most unforgettable scene was when I was standing on the open space , i was 'blessed' with the tiny snow flakes falling from the sky . It was a simply amazing .

Nice setting to meditate.

Snow falling from the sky.

Miniature of Ryoanji

In an article published by the science journal Nature, Gert van Tonder and Michael Lyons analyze the rock garden by generating a model of shape analysis (medial axis transformation) in early visual processing.

Using this model, they show that the empty space of the garden is implicitly structured, and is aligned with the temple's architecture. According to the researchers, one critical axis of symmetry passes close to the centre of the main hall, which is the traditionally preferred viewing point. In essence, viewing the placement of the stones from a sightline along this point brings a shape from nature (a dichotomously branched tree with a mean branch length decreasing monotonically from the trunk to the tertiary level) in relief.

The researchers propose that the implicit structure of the garden is designed to appeal to the viewers unconscious visual sensitivity to axial-symmetry skeletons of stimulus shapes. In support of their findings, they found that imposing a random perturbation of the locations of individual rock features destroyed the special characteristic

Kinkakuji 金閣寺
From the outside of the temple, there was a beeline appeared, we waited for our turn to visit the Kinkakuji 金閣寺 which is a few metres away from the main entrance. The buildup of the structure is simply stunning, the golden colour blend with the sunlight produce a glittering pattern of elegance .
From the outside of the temple, the golden colour are very appealing to the eyes . Especially you looked from opposite the lake .

Kinkaku and I

The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku, is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (Buddha's Ashes). The top floor is built in traditional Chinese cha'an style, also known as zenshu-butsuden-zukuri; and the middle floor in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. The ground floor is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the Heian imperial aristocracy. The building is often linked or contrasted with Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Temple), and Shōkoku-ji, which are also located in Kyoto.

The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden (kaiyū-shiki). The pond in front of it is called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond). There are many islands and stones on the pond that represent the Buddhist creation story.

Kiyomizudera 清水寺
We reached there around 3.30 p.m. but the sunset was around 4.30 p.m. After a while , the whole area was engulfed with darkness. The silence of the evening make it perfect for people to reminisce about the past. From the above , you can see a skyline of Kyoto town scenery with lights come into place. Although it is a bit dark , the whole temple still looks very magnificent.

Night view on the pathway towards Kiyomizudera

An aged man is writing and drawing something related to Year Of Tiger using calligraphy before selling to his customers.

Popular spot in Kiyomizudera

Entrance to Kiyomizudera

Kiyomizudera 清水寺 is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site.
The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims

Pontochō 先斗町
A night out was said to be incomplete without visiting Pontocho . A few narrow street with only a couple of people to walk in the same time , small and stylish eateries with exorbitant prices , pleasant atmosphere with a touch of traditional Japanese authenticity ---are the trademark for Pontocho.

The name Pontochō is said to be a portmanteau of the English word "point" or the Portuguese word "ponto" (also meaning point) and the Japanese word meaning town, street, or road. The district crest is a stylized water plover or chidori.

Main Street of Pontochō

Back Alley of Pontochō

The shop is selling foodstuffs with live demonstration.

Nice temple with lots of lanterns .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Japan Trip (30-12-09) Kobe 神戸

With the tired body and enthusiastic mind , we hit the road again but this time we did it with a friend ,Han Yee. He was kind enough to guide us around and gave us some insights during the whole journey.

Today we went to Kobe 神戸 which is is the sixth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture and a prominent port city in Japan with a population of about 1.5 million. The city is located in the Kansai region of Japan and is part of the Keihanshin (京阪神, Keihanshin) metropolitan area. Kobe is classified as one of Japan's seventeen designated cities.

First up , we went to Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia Kobe Porto Bazaar which is at the west side of Kobe city center.

Open "Shop: 10am-8pm, Restaurant: 11am-10.30pm (Depends on the shop)"
Address 12-2 Kaigan-dori"Tarumi-ku, Kobe-shi"Hyogo
Phone 078-709-4466
Access "From JR Tarumi Station / Sanyo Rainway Sanyo Tarumi Station: 9 mins on foot (shuttle bus services are available on Sat, Sun and holidays)

There are lots of outlet shops, approximately 70 stores selling luxury designer brand clothes and other brand items produced by well-known companies in Japan and overseas.This includes Nike,Adidas,Lego,New Balance.

We stopped to try the Okonomiyaki in a chain restaurant called 嵐月 which is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki meaning "grilled" or "cooked" (cf. yakitori and yakisoba). Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region.

Okonomiyaki in my plate,Yummy!

After an afternoon of shopping , the rain started to kick in so we decided to go window shopping again in the area.

The next destination is
This shopping district was made on the site of the former freight yard, Minatogawa Kamotsu Station of the Japanese National Railways. The yard was removed in 1982 and the shopping district opened in 1992.

There is a very big Ferris wheel beside the sea where you can spot the Kobe Tower and the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park.

Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

大きいなFerris wheel

The next destination is

The Kobe Port Tower is a sightseeing tower considered as a landmark of Kobe. It stands in Meriken Park facing the Kobe Port where the Kobe Maritime Museum and a number of hotels can be found. 

With a red pipe structure, it beautiful curves in a shape of a Tsuzumi (traditional Japanese musical instrument) and has received many architectural awards since it was completed in 1963. 

The following destination is
Kobe Chinatown (Nankin-machi "Nanjing town") (Japanese: 南京町; Simplified Chinese: 南京町) is located in Kobe, Japan. There are over 100 restaurants, shops and a Chinese temple (関帝廟).

Kobe's Chinatown developed as the residential area of Chinese merchants, who settled in Kobe after the city's port had been opened to foreign trade in 1868. At that time, Japan didn't have a peace treaty with China, and so it was not permitted to live in this foreign settlement for Chinese people, so they lived in the designated foreigner residential quarter. That was the beginning of Chinatown. Now there are over 10,000 Chinese people living in Kobe, there are few residents in this Chinatown, as it is in the commercial area of Kobe city.

After a day of touring around the city of Kobe , we went to a quick meal restaurant which is near to the train station Motomachi 元町駅.

Food Vending Machine

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Japan Trip (29-12-09) Haneda A/P 羽田空港

This is the day when we set to go to another suburb area-Osaka,Japan Although last time I did the way from Tokyo to Osaka by train , we did it a different way by using flight .

The time taken for the journey is around an hour but the waiting process of getting us seats on a busy holiday season in Japan is an uphill task.
Even though we went to the Airport terminal from 浜松ちょ駅 (Hamamatsucho station) to 羽田空港第1ビル (Haneda Airport Terminal 1) for JAL 日本航空 .

But my expectation to try a foreign airlines was cut short . I knew that by using the Z fare ticket I can chose to travel with any carrier in Japan , but to my surprise that tickets only apply to their code share partners . Therefore , only ANA 全日本空輸 which I can use the tickets on.

We took all our baggages to the bus terminal and find for the free shuttle which is at platform 8 . Thats the time I could take a closer look at the surrounding . The surrounding is integrated with linked bridges and pedestrian pathways .

When we were inside the new Terminal 2 Building 羽田空港第2ビル , I was amazed by the glittering features at the top of the lobby . As we took the escalator to the check-in area , the crowds started to appear into our sights.

The system with Malaysia Airlines are totally different in terms of waiting for your seat using stand-by tickets. There , you are allowed to check-in your baggages and also allowed to enter the waiting area after you are being screened by the airport customs. Boarding passes are printed with relevant time , date and gate number for your convenience.
There are also a large screen to show you the next 2 flights which will be using that particular gate .

By waiting at the particular gate for the flight , there will be a LCD monitor to show the numbers of passengers who are waiting in the line .And when your name is called , boarding ticket will be presented to you!

In Malaysia , there is no such system but you are required to be at the check-in counter to take your boarding pass when your name is called.

Finally , got to board the aircraft from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Osaka (Kobe).

One more thing that I notice is that the boarding pass scanning system . The ticket scanning system which need to be touched with your pass to allow you to go through and there will be a cute sound emitted from the system.

Come back to the story , there are monitors in the cabin to show to the passengers the real time landing and take-off situation.

In ANA , they served green tea , peach tea, coffee tea etc but they don't serve groundnuts whereas in MAS they served peanuts and drinks (guava or orange juice).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Japan Trip (28-12-09) DisneySea

The third day , we planned to The Most Happiest Place On Earth - DisneySea. Actually , the slogan is for Disneyland but Never mind la I think it can be used interchangeably.

From 浜松千代駅 (Hamamatsucho Station) to 舞浜駅 (Maihama Station) using the JR line , and then change to Disney Resort Train at Resort Gate Way . We reached the destination which is Tokyo DisneySea at around 10 am .

Mediterranean Harbor
The first place we went was the Mediterranean Harbor which is located near to the main gate . We watched The Legend of Mythica performance after a few rides in the Mysterious Island and Lost River Delta .

Quotes from DisneySea :
Legend of Mythica
The legend of Mythica has been lost for ages, but now, through the Disney magic, it will be reborn! Taking place on both the land and waters of Mediterranean Harbor, this impressive show tells the fantastic tale of friendship and sorrow between humans and the legendary creatures. What is Mythica, and what is the secret to unlocking the door to this mythical world?

Mysterious Island
In Mysterious Island, we get our first fast pass (Journey to The Center of the Earth)at 11am . The validity of the ride is from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. The ride was a bit scary at the end with a sudden drop and gone through a waterfall.

Quotes from DisneySea:
Journey to The Center of the Earth
Travel through mysterious caverns to the earth's core as a scientist aboard fantastic vehicles designed by Captain Nemo.
Duration: about 3 minutes
Capacity: 6 persons per vehicle
Top speed: about 75 km/hr

Port Discovery
Then we proceed to the Port Discovery where we enjoyed with the Aquatopia. If you happened to go to Disneyland California , the park also has this kind of rides but it is Autopia which a car to make u drive around through a specific course.

Quotes from DisneySea:
The Center for Weather Control usually uses this facility for testing out new types of navigation systems. However, to commemorate today's festival, the scientists at the CWC have made some special modifications.
Guests can board one of the experimental watercraft and embark on a twisting, whirling, wild ride through a labyrinth of fountains, rock formations and whirlpools.
Duration: about 2.5 minutes
Capacity: 3 persons per vehicle

Lost River Delta
Next we went to the more action packed rides which is located inside the Lost River Delta , there are 2 very exciting yet thrill ride :Indiana Jones Adventure(Temple of the Crystal Skull) and Raging Spirits.
I like both of the rides as they are of high quality thrill rides which will give the passengers feel the excitement and enjoy in the same time .

Quotes from DisneySea:
Indiana Jones Adventure(Temple of the Crystal Skull)
Follow in the footsteps of Dr. Indiana Jones in a harrowing, life-or-death quest for the legendary Fountain of Youth.
But beware the Fountain is purported to be guarded by a vengeful, supernatural spirit known as the Crystal Skull!
Duration: about 3minutes
Capacity: 12 persons per vehicle

Raging Spirits
A new adventure awaits you at the mysterious Lost River Delta! This roller coaster attraction takes everyone on a high-speed ride through the ruins of an ancient ceremonial site.

Quotes from DisneySea:
As you pass by the vengeful spirits awakened during the excavation, the bursting flames, encompassing steam, and spine-tingling 360-degree loop will make it a truly thrilling experience!
Duration: about 1.5 minutes
Capacity: 12 persons per vehicle

Mermaid Lagoon
Next up we went to Mermaid Lagoon where all the rides are specially made for kids and the young at heart . We lined up in the chilly wind condition to have a photo session with Ariel (Mermaid) in Ariel's Greeting Grotte.

Quotes from DisneySea:
Ariel's Greeting Grotte.
Princess Ariel from the Disney film The Little Mermaid is waiting to meet all the Guests here in her seaside cave. And after you meet, don't forget to pose for a few memorable photos!
Note:  Hours 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
During high Park attendance, the attraction entrance may be closed earlier than 6:00 p.m. Please confirm with a Cast Member.

American Waterfront
During the night , we went to American Waterfront which is next to the Mediterranean Harbor . In American Waterfront, we went to Big Band Beat . The show is very new to me with the live band and dancing .

Quotes from DisneySea:
Big Band Beat
Come swing to the music in this exciting jazz revue with energetic tap dancing to the sounds of a live big band!
You'll also find Disney characters taking center stage in song and dance, and Mickey's incredible performance on the drums is not to be missed!
Location: Broadway Music Theatre (presented by Japan Airlines)
Length of show: about 30 minutes
Capacity: about 1,500 persons per show.

That week , Disneysea had longer opening hours till 10p.m. Then , I went to the Tower of Terror . The elevator which is part of the ride , lifted about 6 floor above the ground before it dropped down . My heart trembled as I kept holding on to my seat belt . I was in the middle seat at last row ,in front of me there is a aisle . This makes me more scares , I was thinking if i were to drop off my seat I will be in trouble .

Quotes from DisneySea:
Tower of Terror
New York, 1912. Since the owner's mysterious disappearance 13 years earlier, Hotel Hightower been called the "Tower of Terror." Now, the New York City Preservation Society has finished restoring the landmark hotel and has started giving tours to the public. But what mysteries might still lie in wait within?
Duration: about 2 minutes
Vehicle Capacity: 22

We bought some of the seasonal gifts from Disney Store . During my visit , I managed to spot some exclusive new year gift sets .

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Japan Trip (27-12-09) Tokyo

Exhibits in Suginami Anime Museum

Second day of my tour, we went to lots of places in Tokyo using the unlimited one day pass Tokyo Metro メトロ .
First up is the Nakano sakue 中野坂上, we took the Metro from Shimbashi 新橋 ( Ginza Line) and change at Akasaka-Mitsuke 赤坂見附 to (Marunouchi Line) . And take the train bound for Ogikubo 荻窪 . We get off at Nakano sakue station 中野坂上 駅 to see the Flea market .

This type of flea market is almost the same as our Malaysian 's flea market . What surprise me most is that the CD in the flea market selling for either 20 円 or 100 円. Bought some CDs , i think i couldn't get this kind of price in Malaysia. Although the CD is quite out dated , it is new. One of it is 平井 堅 --- Life is .

Next we went to Suginami Anime Museum in Ogikubo 荻窪, we took the Marunouchi Line again to reach Ogikubo Station 荻窪 駅.

Suginami Anime Museum--Gundam .

After that we went to Shinjuku , Ginza for window shopping , Shibuya for 120 円 sushi , Asakusa for temple visit.
When we went to Asakusa to visit the Sensoji Temple , it was drizzling but later the sky was clear again!

Shibuya Busy Streets

120 円 sushi restaurant in Shibuya.