August 22, 2011

[Keihanshin] Kameoka, Tenryuji, Kinkakuji, and Osaka

August 21, 2011

Weather: Cloudy/Rainy

<Section 1>
Location: Kameoka, Kyoto

Woke up at 5:30 a.m., I prepared myself for a nice buffet breakfast (hmm I think I typed this in the last post as well). During breakfast, a really huge thunderstorm came and worried all of us; however, it stopped 10 minutes after it started.

We got on touring bus and headed directly to Kameoka, a very beautiful place that resembles what you called "wonderland." An Asian style wonderland that is. There were mountains, with fogs covering the summits, and really nice nature surroundings.

Kameoka station

The surroundings were really amazing. It reminded me about those old Japanese drama or anime took place in post-war peasants' villages: large farming fields and narrow roads among houses, with a very ancient looking train station. People travelled with bicycles and, although rarely, trucks and, even rarer, personal vehicles. Kids playing around with each other, adults walking dogs while chatting; the lifestyle looks inconvenient yet people look satisfied and happy.

Background: beautiful mountains =D

LARGE farming fields

After a few minutes wait in the Kameoka station, we saw our "forest little train" coming. The looks of the train made me think of the forest train in Alishan.

The seat of the train was not really comfortable, but the train wasn't designed for comfort travelling at first. It was designed for commute that passes through the mountains and now also used for touring in the mountain.

The scene along the path was really awesome. We also saw some people kayaking down the river; the schedule didn't include it because there is a very good chance for us to get wet (and we still got whole day to go around Kyoto and Osaka).

Back to the topic; our train passed through the mountains and went around the river. This trip brought me back to the hug of mother nature; green surrounded us and the river below suited perfectly into the scene.
The weather wasn't sunny but the cloudiness did the job of cooling down the temperature, making the ride a very pleasant experience.

Our ride on the train ended at Arashiyama (嵐山) station, and we were about to go for our destination in the morning: Tenryuji (天龍寺).

Before we got to the temple, we were to walk through a really gorgeous bamboo grove. The grove had a small walk way, and around the walk way were ALL bamboo. It was really enjoyable walking inside the grove while looking at the bamboo; things were just beautiful.

Really beautiful bamboo grove

Dense bamboo =D

It took us around 20 minutes to walk through the 10-minute walkway because it was too beautiful that we had to keep stopping to take pictures.

At the end of the grove is the temple. And Japanese temple are always ancient looking and beautiful because they tend to keep temples "simple" by not applying too much paintings on the buildings (whereas Chinese temples were painted to be colorful and usually have large stone sculptures).

A very beautiful pool in front of the main temple

After the touring in the temple, we went around the area where there were lots of nice restaurants.

<Section 2>
Location: Kinkakuji (金閣寺)

When we arrived at Kinkakuji, it was already raining. The rain wasn't large, yet it surely added some difficulties when taking pictures.

The ticket to the Kinkakuji was really special. It was a "Taoist Charm (符咒)." I really don't know how to translate it into English so please, bear with me :P

Ticket to Kinkakuji

In Kinkakuji's Chinese characters, Kin (金) means "golden." The reason is that, the temple was covered with golden sheets. The golden sheets have to be replaced every 20 years (approximately) because, as time passes, gold sheet will cease to shine and thus making it not Kin-looking anymore.

It was really crazy, though, to see such a temple. There aren't many buildings painted with or covered by golden material, and normally a building with golden coating gives people a what-the-f**k-is-that-doesn't-suit-at-all feeling. Yet Kinkakuji doesn't. The surroundings and the shape of the temple made it naturally suitable for gold coating. In other words, if it were not golden, there wouldn't be any value in building this temple. It must be golden. Must be golden. Must. (LOL I found this amusing for no reason)

See what I meant? It MUST be golden!

MUST be golden!!

By the way, you cannot go into the temple. I think it might be due to "some" people would just peel off the golden sheets and walk away. I found this amusing again, for no reason. Anyhow.

Also, notice that little golden sculpture on the top of the building? It was said to be a PHOENIX, not a CHICKEN (but I just can't stop relating it to a chicken!!!!!)


The yard was really small; it wouldn't take us more than 10 minutes to walk through it if we didn't stop for taking photos.

<Section 3>

We left Kinkakuji and went directly to Osakajo. Osakajo was a very gorgeous castle built during Sengoku period (戦国時代), and it is one of the most famous castle in the entire Japan.

Looking at Osakajo's Tenshu (天守) from the bottom, I felt that the intelligence of human has always been amazing. How would people from 16th century able to build this type of complicated yet high building? Sure, the technology might have be advanced but, to build such a building mostly by wood in a area that earthquake frequently strikes, and it LASTED for hundreds of years.

Crazily beautiful building

Aside: the Osakajo also had a Time Capsule that was prepared for people after 5000 years. The stored items were from the Expo '70 in Osaka. This is kind of cool because they even built a really massive underground storage room under the time capsule!

Entrance to the time capsule

Read it if you understand =P

<Section 4>
Location: Osaka City downtown

The downtown Osaka area was really lively. Comparing to Tokyo, it was not as high-class, but it had more energy and younger than Tokyo because there were a lot of teenagers around. The buildings were more colorful, and had much more variety. As a student, I might enjoy more in Osaka because there were a lot of place to go around during spare time; however, as an adult who works everyday, I would enjoy Tokyo more as the public transportation system was much better designed, and the life style was of better quality.

The was just being objective. Although I am a student, I prefer Tokyo more, mainly because I like higher-class life styles. Also, I dislike shopping (just like normal males); therefore, the variety of places to go around in Osaka wouldn't be a plus to me when choosing a city of residence.

Crowded shopping street

Another shot at streets in Osaka

It was raining heavily when we arrived Osaka downtown. The umbrellas weren't able to fully protect us from rain drop attacks, and by the time we arrived at the restaurant, most of us were all wet in lower part (um...sounded wrong...anyhow).

I normally don't talk about food in my travel blogs unless it is something special. Tonight's dinner was one of those special events. The dinner was puffer fish!


Notice that there was a small hotpot. Inside it there were two chunks of puffer fish meat. Also the dish on the bottom right was puffer fish sashimi. Here's the story: we realized that there were cooked puffer fish meat in the hotpot after we almost finished our meal.

What does this mean? Since we thought the sashimi was the only part being puffer fish, we ate the sashimi after cooking it in the hotpot. Totally wasted.

Anyhow, after the tragic supper, we went around again in the city. It was dark when we came out, but the night view of Osaka was beautiful too.

We bought some takoyaki and finished them (was delicious by the way), and we went back to our hotel.

The hotel was Universal Port Hotel. It was a beautiful hotel and there was a dinosaur egg outside of it that, if you push the button beside it, the egg would start moving which looks like a small dino was about to pop up!

Beautifully lighted entrance

Beautifully lighted elevator

A much smaller but elegant room!

This concludes today. Will see you around =D!

Bonus content: Day 3 Slideshow


    The temples looks amazing, must have been even more gorgeous in real life!
    I like how the train in the mountains is called Romantic Train since 1991 XD

    they are really amazing if you see them in real life; next time go and see it with ur own eyes! beautiful things =P
    why Romantic Train lol?