Jennifer

JenniferInternational

Jennifer



I'm a progressive vegetarian feminist currently residing in San Francisco and I live to travel. So far I've been around the United States and Canada; traveled briefly in Mexico and the Caribbean; done the tour of Western Europe; visited parts of South, East and Southeast Asia; and seen a bit of the Middle East and North Africa. The short list of places I'd like to go next is long. I hope those reading this blog will find themselves inspired towards their own explorations of this fascinating world.

Voyager c'est vivre!



Asia » Japan » Osaka » Osaka November 17th 2019

Osaka likely has a lot to recommend it but we went for the food. This post is a combination of two trips, one for dinner in Dōtombori and another for lunch and a visit to the seafood market before we flew out of Japan. Osaka’s obsession with food is often summed up with its unofficial slogan “kuidaore” which is usually interpreted to mean “eat till you drop” but actually means to spend so much on food that you go broke. Although quite entertaining, what we saw of Osaka reminded us both a bit of Shinjuku. Interesting but not really our scene. Our evening in Osaka we visited the vibrant and entertaining Dōtombori area. Its name comes from the 400-year-old canal, Dōtombori-gawa, now lined with pedestrian walkways and a riot of illuminated billboards. South of the canal ... read more
Kani Douraku Crab in Osaka
Crab Fat (Tomalley) in Osaka
Osaka

Asia » Japan » Gifu November 16th 2019

Our visit to Magome and Tsumago, and the hike between them along the Nakasendo Trail in Kiso Valley, was probably the highlight of Japan for Clement. It did make for an excellent, if long, day trip, but the long travel times from Kyoto means that it would really be better to explore as a long weekend. There are various cultural events during the year, including some Kabuki performances, that would be worthwhile to plan your trip around. And staying in one of the beautiful inns in Magome would undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip to Japan. Magome and Tsumago are two post towns along the old Nakasendō, a foot highway that connected Tokyo and Kyoto during the feudal period. The two towns are amazingly (and lovingly) well-preserved and atmospheric, with narrow lanes and low-slung dark ... read more
Classic Train
Ekiben
Magome

Asia » Japan » Hyogo » Himeji November 16th 2019

Himeji Castle is recognized as Japan's most magnificent castle, particularly after its recent five-year renovation, and certainly deserves its moniker White Heron Castle. Built in 1580 by general Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles. There's a five-story main keep and three smaller keeps, all surrounded by moats and defensive walls. Himeji Castle may be familiar to visitors because of its being featured in films such as Kurosawa Akira's Seven Samurai (1954) , James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967) and Ran (1985). You should begin your tour of Himeji Castle exploring the surviving royal residential building with an enclosed corridor and multiple unfurnished rooms, which provides a completely different experience than the main building. Visiting the main ... read more
Chicken Eikben
Himeji with the Castle in the Distance
Himeji Castle

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 15th 2019

You can’t arrive at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove too early. Set your alarm and get there at sunrise and not a moment later; it’s totally worth it. The light is magical and you’ll have the grove almost to yourself for a few moments, before tourists join you to visit what is one of Kyoto’s top sights. You’ll take lots of pictures but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to capture on film the surreal atmosphere on standing beneath the swaying stalks of bamboo. Try not to be too disappointed. There’s one path through the grove, which leads slowly uphill from outside the north gate of Tenryū-ji to just below Ōkōchi Sansō. After this you’ll definitely want to make a visit to Tenry-ji Temple, right next to the grove, and ideally have lunch at Shigetsu. Note that you ... read more
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 14th 2019

Probably the most rewarding day trip from Kyoto is the hike from Kibune to Kurama to visit the temple followed by a trip to the onsen. The train ride is a highlight in itself, especially with the changing autumn leaves, but likely all year round. This adventure would only be improved as an overnight trip or even a long weekend; Kibune itself is an incredibly cute little village with several beautiful inns that would be well worth a stay, and there are some great restaurants here too. The hike between the two towns is not overly long or strenuous, with a chance to visit some lovely shrines along the way, and it’s nice to get out into the mountains and away from the crowds. If you’re not interested in the hike you can take the train ... read more
Kifune Shrine
Kifune Shrine
Kifune Shrine

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 13th 2019

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto's famed 'Golden Pavilion', is one of Japan's best-known sights. The main hall, covered in brilliant gold leaf, shining above its reflecting pond is spectacular. Arrive on a weekday as soon as it opens and still expect to be rubbing shoulders with tour groups. The original building dates from 1397 and was a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. His son converted it into a Zen Buddhist temple. In 1950 a young monk consummated his obsession with the temple by burning it to the ground. In 1955 a full reconstruction was completed that followed the original design, but the gold-foil covering was extended to the lower floors. The gold employed was intended to mitigate and purify any pollution or negative thoughts and feelings towards death. Each floor represents a different style of architecture. Although it ... read more
Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 12th 2019

You can't arrive at Fushimi-Inari Temple too early; head out before sunrise so you can watch the sun break though the vermilion torii gates either near the temple entrance or through the trees higher up the mountain of Inari-san. The higher you go the thinner the crowds, and you'll still encounter seemingly endless arcades of gates, mostly large but also small ones, and tiny ones, all bright red against the dark green foliage and gray stone foxes, scattered by the hundreds throughout the shrine and sub-shrines. It's a beautifully surreal experience. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794. Fushimi Inari was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake by the Hata family in the 8th century. The fox is considered the messenger of Inari, the god of cereals, ... read more
Fushimi-Inari
Fushimi-Inari
Fushimi-Inari

Asia » Japan » Kyoto November 11th 2019

Our day started early at Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains. The temple began in 1482 as a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, and after his death it was converted into a temple. The interior of the building is not open to the public but it is supposed to contain a statue of Kannon. The shogun's ambition to cover the elegant building with silver (if this was his intention – it’s also possible that the name arose because the moon light reflecting on the building's dark exterior gave it a silvery appearance) was never realized but it is still lovely to behold. In front of Ginkaku-ji is a dry sand garden with a large cone of white sand and ranked undulating sand which is supposed to be symbolic of a ... read more
Dry Sand Garden at Ginkaku-ji
Dry Sand Garden at Ginkaku-ji
Ginkaku-ji

Asia » Japan » Nara » Nara November 10th 2019

If you’re visiting Kyoto you’re probably going to make a side trip to Nara, where you can view the one of the world’s largest bronze Buddha statues and interact with the adorable and sometimes pushy deer. The deer of Nara Park roam the area surrounding the Todai-ji and the National Museum and are hoping to be fed special deer crackers (made of wheat flour and rice bran), for which they are supposed to bow three times. Clement had much better luck at this than I did, and made many deer friends. We both tried to only feed well-behaved deer, and the young little deer that were at risk of having their crackers stolen. Occasionally deer would get aggressive and either nip at you or try to rush you in an attempt to get you to drop ... read more
Deer of Nara Park
Deer of Nara Park
Deer of Nara Park

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto November 9th 2019

One of the first train tickets we reserved when we arrived in Tokyo was our ticket to Kyoto; at nearly a week out we got some of the last seats on the right side of the train (it’s essential to get a window seat on the correct side of the train in order to view Mount Fuiji). Fortunately, we had already seen Mount Fuji earlier in our trip as this time it was shrouded in fog. After an early and still-amazing (if Fuji-san less) bullet train ride we arrived in Kyoto, the pinnacle city of Japanese culture and tradition. Full of thousands of temples and gardens and hundreds of teahouses it was a highlight of our trip and even after a week there is much I want to return to see. Our first sight was Nijo ... read more
Ekiben
Kamo River
Birds on Kamo River




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