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Asia » Japan » Okayama » Okayama May 23rd 2019

SC writes: We had a relaxed and comfortable trip up from Kagoshima to Okayama: 3 hours plus on the Shinkansen yesterday, and having checked in we immediately set off on a pre-planned trip out to the Kurashiki Bikan historical quarter, where we were able to stroll through streets boasting traditional architecture from the Edo period. Simply delightful with a waterside setting and lots of very attractive retail opportunities. The weather was again really good, so I‘m going to let the the photos speak for themselves. A really good side trip out via local trains......What had been a very good day ended on a downbeat. We went to an Ozzie Bar, recommended in Lonely Planet, but it was dreadful. A real wasted opportunity! (Cj writes) Another day, another fabulous garden - the second of the three best ... read more
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

Asia » Japan » Kagoshima » Kagoshima May 20th 2019

SC writes: Yesterday we blasted south via Shinkansen to “sunny” Kagoshima only to find it raining. Apparently it has been very wet down here with floods and all sorts...but we just got a bit damp. Having checked into our latest hotel (more room but no Onsen, shuttle bus or free coffee), we set off with borrowed unbrellas to explore, mainly in the sheltered arcades of the Tenmonkan downtown area. They clearly get a lot of wet weather here - there are even “free to borrow” umbrellas on the Trams. We researched options and made plans for the next two days. Tomorrow we’re off on another side trip by train but today we got a one day bus and tram pass and used that to get around. Mercifully the rain held off and we able to get ... read more
Sengan-en bridge
Sengan-en - the ‘jumping  lion’ rock
Sengan-en - cloud-pruned pine

Asia » Japan May 19th 2019

Time to say goodbye to Koyasan. We were scheduled to leave at 10:24 am but after being woken up too early for a 7:30 am breakfast there was no point in hanging around. To be honest we were up at 5:30 am and at 6 am there was no way of getting back to sleep as the drums were banging and this went on for half an hour. Then at 7:30 am the smiling, gregarious monks came charging in with another seven course breakfast. So we just packed up and walked across the courtyard to the main office. Don was ages checking out. He said that the head monk was writing out invoices by way of the most amazing calligraphy. Fortunately as we had paid ahead of time via the travel agent, when it came to ... read more

Asia » Japan » Nagasaki » Nagasaki May 18th 2019

My father wasn’t very keen on walking slopes and steps; so my mother suggested joining the bus tour on 19 April. She paid fees for this bus tour for us. This bus tour would start at 10 o’clock. As lunch wasn’t included in this bus tour, we bought snacks at the convenience store before getting on the bus. Like Hiroshima, Nagasaki is known as the place where an atomic bomb dropped on 9th August 1945. Our first stop was Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. This museum was built for the anniversary of 50th year of the disasters of the atomic bomb and was opened in 1996. My mother and I went to the old one in 1989, admittedly, I didn’t remember much of the exhibitions at that time but thought exhibition rooms had been enlarged since the ... read more
One of the statues in the Peace Park
Fountain in the Peace Park
one of the statues in the Peace Park

Asia » Japan » Nagasaki » Nagasaki May 18th 2019

It was another bright and sunny day on 20 April. As we had planned travelling with trams, we bought one-day tickets. Momument of the Twenty-Six Martyrs and Museum My mother suggested that we should visit the site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints on the Nishizaka Park, which was just behind the bus terminal. Nagasaki is known as the city of Slope: we would have to walk uphill a bit to go to the destination. We remembered seeing the monument of Twenty-Six Martyrs shown on the NHK World’s programme. It was also interesting to see very ornate church spires of St John the Baptist Church behind the monument. There spires looked like spires of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. We found the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum behind the monument and visited there. We found a number of ... read more
Dejima Museum
Dutch House in Nagasaki
Trading scene in Nagasaki

Asia » Japan » Fukuoka » Fukuoka May 18th 2019

SC writes: We are using Fukuoka as a base to explore Kyushu in the west of Japan. Yesterday we headed off eastwards to Beppu, billed as a resort sort of town on the coast and famous for a string of hot springs, too hot to be Onsen. We’re talking boiling mud, great clouds of steam and water at 99 degrees C. Collectively there are 7 sites, known as “Hells”, each with its own unique attraction. These range from boiling mud that creates gloopy circles of toned grey - see photos - to steamping pools of various colours, to crocodiles. Yes that’s not a typo! All very interesting and we had to make our way to them by bus. From there things took a turn for the worse. Beppu the town was disappointing despite more good weather. ... read more
Coloured hot springs at Beppu
Natural art in mud - Beppu
Geyser at Beppu

Asia » Japan » Wakayama » Koyasan May 18th 2019

I omitted to mention that there are no keys to the doors of the room but there is an inside lock. At 7:30 am there was a commotion in the hall as breakfast was served. This was a six or seven course meal including tea and soup. If you don’t lock the doors the boys come charging back in later, calling out their greeting as they cleared up the breakfast things. A few minutes later I had gone back to bed, they came in with clean pyjamas, and clean towels and to make the bed. They saw that I was not interested in getting up so they crept out. Wherever we stayed there were pyjamas and/or a yakuta which you can sleep in. These are changed every day. In the monastery there is a very strict ... read more

Asia » Japan May 17th 2019

We started the day in Kyoto with me complaining about two very red legs. I must have been bitten by a mosquito. We were about to embark on a very long bout of travelling to Koya-san or Mount Koya. We walked to the train station just outside the hotel and got on the JR line to Osaka. From Osaka we got onto the Osaka loop line to shin-Imamiya then we got the semi rapid train on Nankai-Koya line to Gokurabashi up in the mountains. As we had inadvertently boarded the train which was reserved seating only, the ticket inspector asked us to pay the fee for the seat. There was no penalty, no fine, no rebuke just a very pleasant exchange. We paid the fee of an additional 740 yen each which is less than $7 ... read more
train climbing to Gokurabashi
a long way down as Cable Car rises
Cable Car heading down from Koyasan passed ours

Asia » Japan » Fukuoka » Fukuoka May 16th 2019

SC writes: Yesterday explored Fukuoka or rather Fukuoka, Hakata and Tenjin. They are all parts of one large city now but these areas have different identities. It can get challenging when trying to look up Fukuoka on the Japan Rail website... because the station is called Hakata...! Anyway, we explored this busy and vibrant city by bus and subway. All very interesting and more than a few shops, in long arcades and often underground. As the sixth largest city in Japan and the Capital of Fukuoka province there are lots of people..it is busy! We have settled into our hotel here, again somewhat tight but comfortable enough. It does have a very good onsen, which we are enjoying nightly...no pictures obviously... Today we headed out on a planned side trip to Arita which is famous for ... read more
Cathy does a deal
Cathy spots a bargain.
Treasures in the rubbish

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion May 16th 2019

We were up early and after breakfast went down to meet our guide for the day, Hiroko Inaba. 'Hiro' had spent two years in Finchley, north London and Lesley and she swapped stories. Hiro said that she misses London. However, the friendship could have become rivalry when she said that her sons support Arsenal Football Club - great rivals to Lesley’s team Tottenham Hotspur. However, that was not the reason Hiro immediately told us that she changed our guided tour schedule. Rather it was that the Imperial Palace was closed because of the Aoi festival (see yesterday’s blog). But as we had at least seen part of the palace grounds already, we were happy to adopt Hiro's amended tour plan. We caught the local train to our first stop Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This is the ... read more
New Car space for Safe Driving blessing
Tofukuji temple of Zen Buddhism
Zen garden of Constellation stars




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