The deity army and ninjas of Toei

First stop of the morning today was a Buddhist temple called; Sanjusangen-do. The primary reason for tourists to visit this spot is because in the long (approximately 120 meters) wooden hall, it houses more than 800 statues and 1 very huge version.

The special characteristics of the statues is it has 1000-arms and 11-heads atop of its own, as if wearing a crown. Furthermore, when you read its history at the Genjusangen-do, you will learn there were more than 1 sculptor who created the 800 statues, as it took around 100 years to complete them.

Ohayou #sanjusangendo #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam #japan

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Photography and any form of recording, including mobile phones, are prohibited inside the hall. Warnings placed before entry mentions the devices can be confiscated later.

The next time I visit Sanjusangen-do will be to witness an annual archery event adopted from the old Toshiya tradition. Back in the day, only men (I believe) were participants. The version of today; Oh-mato Taikai, draws male and female participants from all over Japan. The best part is most women will be dressed in kimonos when they take part. Beauty and brawn – check.

The next stop we decided on was the Toei Kyoto Studio Park. Also maybe known as the ninja village.

Behind the scenes of Toei kyoto studio park #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam

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Inside the park was a variety of entertainment areas ranging from ninja schools, ninja theater, behind the scenes filming (pictured above) and many others. But I do have to stress this, entry fee is not the only fee you will have to pay because selected areas like the ninja school will demand you pay an additional amount too. The free entertainment (as I recall) apply to the cinema, theater and outdoor performance.

Though to get your money’s worth, be on the lookout for staff cosplaying as samurai or elegant women in kimono. 😛

Cheese-zu ✌️#toeistudio #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam

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On another side of the park, there’s also a mini Toei anime museum to explore their previous works such as Dragonball and One Piece to name the few I remember.

Besides the above, there’s apparently also a cinema or something like it on the 2nd floor of the building. We didn’t go up there but I think they screen some movie / anime done by Toei.

And that’s pretty much been Kyoto for me. Maybe I’m missing on some other experiences here, so I guess until next time Kyoto, during the Oh-mato Taikai – if I’m allowed to witness it. 🙂

Sayonara Tajimi, Konichiwa Kyoto

We said farewell to Tajimi to ride the Shinkansen and make our way this time to Kyoto.

さよなら Tajimi-shi. またね。#tajimi #visitjapan #vscocam

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Using the bullet train, it only took us approximately 30 minutes to reach a stop where we transferred to another subway line and then made our way out onto the surface of Kyoto.

Similarly to when we emerge from the Tokyo station, we needed some time to get our bearings in unfamiliar territory. Thankfully, it didn’t take us long to navigate the direction we needed to head with Google Maps.

Funny thing about Japan’s check-in time I find is you can only check-in from 2pm onwards. Because we were early, we were allowed to place our baggage at the hotel while we headed out to start exploring.

Hello Kyoto #kiyomizudera #temple #kyoto #visitjapan #vscocam #japan

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Destination, Kiyomizu-dera. It’s a world famous temple with an extended patio supported by wooden stilts and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage now.

We kind of struggled a little getting there because we wanted to use the bus. But we managed somehow with some apps, Kyoto website and a little luck. Riding the bus in Japan was different because you only pay the required fare once you get off, so that’s a first for me.

Once we walked up a narrow road just enough for 1 van to pass through, we finally were in view of a large orange gate. After you pass through the gate and walk up again a few more steps, you’ll have to purchase an entrance ticket (300 yen) to gain access to the extended patio.

Not only were there a lot of locals and foreigners like us, it seems this was also a popular place for students to make their prayers.

Most students would make their way up these steps and there are some other shrines, plus places to purchase charms for wealth, victory, studies, child bearing and more.

By the time we made our way back to the hotel for check-in, it was already around 4pm. The lobby was pretty busy with guests checking in and thank goodness our reservation wasn’t affected.

When we entered the room, it was different from the other one we stayed in Tokyo. This had a premium feel, such as your 4-star hotel. Though the room may be a little smaller compared to some 4-star hotels, it’s still very comfortable.

That means, it’s time to make the best of it and tuck into bed. Oyasuminasai.

Let’s go to the mall

It was a healthy helping of “yasai” (vegetable) for this morning’s breakfast with a variety of Japanese spinach, Japanese chili and cucumbers prepared in Korean style. Then a new found dish (to me), mini bun with a slice of butter and drips of maple syrup. Mmm…

Once we had our fill and cleansing of our innards, it was time to depart out to an unexplored place known as Toki Premium Outlet Mall. Think of a colonial designed mini town space filled with brand outlets. Back in Melbourne, they’re known as factory outlets.

Toki Premium Outlets surprise finding: Brooks Brothers shirts are made in Malaysia #visitjapan #vscocam

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There were numerous brands from familiar ones like LEGO to New Balance and other ones I’ve not heard before. Then I came to learn that some products are exceptionally cheaper (up to 50%) because they were last season’s collection.

One surprising observation I noticed when walking around Brooks Brothers was the shirts were, made in Malaysia. (0.0) But if you plan to purchase anything from this place, best to know your product prices to compare before hand whether you’d be getting a good deal – maybe MYR 100-200+ off.

On a separate note, I might have found a new fascination for an item in Japan – ceramics.

きれいですね。#ceramics #visitjapan #vscocam

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Their patterns can be really pretty, like the one above. And it’s made in Japan. Sorry for my fanboy-ness, I love Japan. 😀

Oh Malaysia, how-lah. I love you too, but Japan is winning me over.

Tokyo oh Tokyo

This morning we departed from Gifu via the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. When we bought the tickets with our aunt’s help, it didn’t seem that confusing, but it was a different story than we did on our own later.

Shinkansen ikou~ \(^o^)/ #shinkansen #visitjapan

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It was my first experience riding the train and when it arrived, it was quite interesting to see its true shape. The tickets we bought had allocated seats like an airline and during the trip, there was even a stewardess (not sure if that’s what you call the role) pushing a cart with food for passengers to purchase.

The train was really fast although when you look out the window, it may not be as obvious. At some point we were wondering whether we could view Mt. Fuji but we weren’t sure whether it was the actual thing.

Moments later when we reached Tokyo, we decided to buy our tickets back to Gifu in advance. This was when we weren’t sure what the officer selling the tickets was explaining to us, although we did still manage to buy the tickets.

Once that was done and we got out of the station to walkover to our hotel, we had to pause a few minutes because Tokyo’s “sky tree” tower was in clear view.

Hello Tokyo. #nofilter #visitjapan

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After checking in and taking a short break, we left to see the giant lantern at Shinsoji. Then made our way to the land of otaku; Akihabara.

Paying homage to Akihabara. #akihabara #tokyo #visitjapan

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It so happened when we walked out from the station, we were already walking into Yodabashi Camera. We spent at least 2 hours in there combing through the figures and continued walking around Akihabara to see what else it had to offer us.

Needless to say, we didn’t return empty handed and will probably make another trip there before we leave.

Hello Tokyo. #nofilter #visitjapan

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I hope I’ll be able to fit all of the goodies from this trip into my bag when I leave later. In the meantime, I’ll not worry about it and look forward to the happiest place on Earth soon.

The quiet land of Wakayama

Filled with the cool breezes as if being in Genting Highlands, I’m really enjoying the peaceful atmosphere with the seaside not too far away. It’s just like living in your anime where you wake up, have breakfast, leave the house and start making your way to school.

おはようございます。#wakayama #visitjapan

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We took a short trip passing the sea and headed towards a temple where it’s surrounded with dolls. Then there was 1 shrine with 2 shapes resembling a vagina and penis. This is where single people or couples come to pray for either kids or a lifelong partner.

After that, we headed to the train station where there’s an infamous feline who’s known as its station master.

Meet Ni-Tama, the four-legged feline employed at a Wakayama train station. #wakayama #nitama #visitjapan

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Meet Ni-Tama, a four legged feline who’s employed with a salary. What exactly is his responsibility, I’m not sure. But he’s one big cute fellow you’d want to really hug! Lol.

Once we were done, our next destination was another place near the ocean. It was a great beach which looked like it would be packed with people during summer. That’s another season which I’m thinking of experiencing, though second thoughts jump into mind right away about the heat later. Our aunt said it can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. O.O

Park playground (Level 100) #wakayama #visitjapan

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Nearby the beach was a park with a kids playground. When I saw this, I truly thought to myself about how different playthings were available to kids here. They even had a mini flying fox for those under 12 years of age!

As we made our way to taste a popular ramen in Wakayama, we took a short detour elsewhere because the ramen shop only opens from 5.00pm to 1.00am. Unknowingly, our aunt took us to walk through an apparent haunted tunnel. One which I’ve not looked up and probably wouldn’t later. Better not knowing about it, right. Lol.

Park playground (Level 100) #wakayama #visitjapan

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Once I took a few sips of the soup, it had a familiar after taste which I couldn’t put my finger on until my bro-in-law mentioned it was like bak-kut -teh. And the light bulb came on! It was like bak-kut-teh.

Compared to the other ramen, this was much lighter in taste except when it hits you after you’ve swallowed the food. Between them, I think I prefer the latter.

Well, it’s been a tiring day, not having gotten used to the futon style pillow yet. But the experience so far has been great and I pray the incoming typhoon won’t wreck the remainder of our trip. Begone Vongfong!