Monday, October 20, 2008

Playing Catch-up Part I

Okay, I took a long hiatus, and I don't really have an excuse. I've been busy, but hey aren't we all. So, I thought I'd finally sit my butt down and post some pictures for you all.

I'll start with pics from my and Kristin's trip to Kyoto in June. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to be back there, it really felt like I never left at all. The people of Kyoto are so friendly (in stark contrast to people of Niigata, who are all very shy), and of course the temples, shrines, gardens and homes are like the photos found in fine Japan-themed coffee table books. I definitely have to go back at least once before I leave Japan for good.

We stayed in an excellent hostel right in Gion, which is exactly where we wanted to be. The study abroad program we both participated in three years ago took place in nearly the same location, so that's where all the natsukashii (nostalgic) places are. The hostel owner was a cool, young Japanese guy with a proper Austrailian accent who really liked to have a good time. One night he went out with us to an izakaya (like a restaurant) and a bar that we often frequented back in our college days. Another night, he invited three of his friends over and we all had a takoyaki (octopus balls) party. When I go back I will definitely plan to stay with him again.

And now for the best part:

Yasaka Jinja!!!! 超〜懐かしい

Omikuji (fortunes) at Yasaka Jinja

Beautiful Maruyama Koen. I have SO many good memories of this place.

The famous cherry tree in Maruyama.


The path to the Yoshimizu! Again, tons of memories (this is where we stayed on our study abroad trip).

Again, the Yoshimizu.

The entrance gate to Kiyomizu dera (temple).

I will always be in love with Japanese design.

The three-tiered pagoda at Kiyomizu.

Hand/mouth washing station #1. Interestingly, there were multiple places to wash throughout the temple. Perhaps the farther you go in, the more you have to wash?

A much cooler washing station. The proper way to wash is as follows: You take the ladle in your left hand and pour water on your right hand. Then switch hands, and with your right, pour water onto your left. Then you put a bit of water in your right hand and wash your mouth, being sure to spit OUTSIDE of the water trough. Finally, the remaining water in the ladle is poured down the handle to clean it, before it's returned to its place.

Definitely the coolest washing station of all. Here, each waterfall represents a different wish. One brings good luck in finances, one good luck in love relationships, and the other intelligence.

Another part of Kiyomizu.

A lovely garden in the temple.

The sun sets on Kiyomizu-dera.

Some adorable puppies that Kristin and I spied from the street. Just because they're cute.