Archive for November, 2009

Only in Japan…

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Tomorrow I fly home. Which means today, I took the train from Kyoto to Tokyo, dumped my bag in a locker at Tokyo Station, then headed over to Akihabara to buy stuff and visit the cat cafe.

Yes, the cat cafe – A place where you can have a coffee and play with cats.



Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

After 3 days of trying, I finally found Eikan-do!

Fall colours at Eikan-do, Kyoto, Japan.

Fall colours at Eikan-do, Kyoto, Japan.

In Kyoto

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I’m in Kyoto and my feet are sore. I’ve been looking for a certain temple for two days now and haven’t been able to find it. Fortunately, I’m finding lots of other nice stuff.

Fall Maple Tree Leaves in Kyoto, Japan

Fall Maple Tree Leaves in Kyoto, Japan


Friday, November 20th, 2009

I’m in Nara right now, despite the amazing fact that I somehow missed my train stop when it was the last stop on the line. Yes, when the train starts going the other way, you know you’re doing something wrong.

I woke up this morning at the photographer-friendly time of 5:30 a.m. and walked over to Nara Park. It’s huge. And full of really tame deer.

Deer and Japanese Schoolgirl in Nara Park.

Deer and Japanese Schoolgirl in Nara Park.

Being there so early in the morning gave me a chance to catch the good morning light, and catch the monks in the act of… well, whatever the heck he was doing.

Sunrise at a temple in Nara, where a monk is throwing water around.

Sunrise at a temple in Nara, where a monk is throwing water around.

Around 4:00 p.m. I was getting pretty sore and tired – I’m not used to spending 8+ hours on my feet, so I spent the rest of the day studying Japanese.

The view from on high

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

There’s nothing like climbing a mountain to teach you how out of shape you are.

Yesterday, I went to Mount Takao, which involved taking the subway 14 stops to Shibuya station, realizing that I meant to go to Shinjuku station instead, three stops on the JR line to Shinjuku, then taking the commuter railway for 50 minutes to Takaosanguchi. Then, a simple 4 km walk up 600 metres of vertical to the temple at the top of the mountain.

Oddly, there were a few maple trees at the station that were in glorious fall colours, but higher up on the mountain, most of the trees had yet to start turning.

About 3/4 of the way up, there was a reasonably good view of part of Tokyo, which stretches as far as the eye can see, yet it’s still beyond comprehension that 35 million people live here.

Tokyo from Mt. Takao

Tokyo from Mt. Takao

Since the days are short, I took a ski-lift chair down from about 2/3 of the way up the mountain. It was very Japanese; you stand on a conveyor belt and the chair sneaks up on you; at the end, you step off onto another conveyor belt. The whole way down, it was either 3 metres off the ground, or three metres above a raised platform with net so you wouldn’t hurt yourself (much) if you fell, yet there was no bar to keep you in the chair.

It’s just started drizzling here in Tokyo; today I head off for Nara, where it’s cloudy and expected to be sunny tomorrow.