Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Miyojima Island

Brian had been to Japan several times before I accompanied him on this trip, so he insisted that I see Hiroshima. Early the next morning we left our "base of operations" in Osaka and headed south via the Shinkansen. After a quick check-in at our hotel we took a local train to the ferry terminal where we boarded a ferry that took us to Miyojima Island--a beautiful and peaceful haven of green.
Miyojima's iconic O-torii gate sits at the entrance to a cove which houses an ancient Shinto shrine.
Groups of school children were a common sight as we toured Japan, and we were pleasantly surprised to find tame deer on Miyojima just like we saw in Nara.
One of Brian's colleagues who had served as a missionary for our Church in Japan years ago suggested we visit Miyojima Island, and we're so glad we did. It was a fun place to explore.
Can you see the torii gate?
Brian and I on Miyojima Island
the five-storied pagoda
a bride and groom?
We decided to take a cable car to the top of Mount Misen where the views are spectacular. However, it was a cloudy and rainy day for us so we never got the full effect.
The next day (our last day in Japan) would be spent at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kyoto, Japan

Five months ago Brian and I were in Japan. Our adventures in Osaka and Nara have already been recorded for posterity, and now it is Kyoto's turn.

Our day in Kyoto began with a bus tour to three different locations. The first of these was Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 this castle was the Shogun's official Kyoto residence. Photographs were not allowed in the Palace, but we took some of the grounds.

The main gate to Ninomaru Palace
The exterior of Ninomaru Palace
As we entered the Palace I was most fascinated by the "nightingale floors" which sing or chirp as they are walked upon. It was an ingenious feat of engineering used to detect intruders.
close-up of a carved wood panel
Ninomaru Garden
Brian and I in the garden
The second stop on our tour was The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku)--a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. The top two stories are gold-leafed with a Phoenix at its apex.
I must be the daughter of two master gardeners because what I found most interesting here was a 600 year old Bonsai tree. It was amazing.
The last stop of our tour was Kyoto Imperial Palace. Originally built in 794 AD it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The present buildings are 160 years old.
The Shishinden (through these red gates) is the most important ceremonial building within the Palace grounds and was used for coronation ceremonies.

Our tour guide insisted that we visit Gion (Kyoto's geisha district) before we left the city, so Brian and I headed that direction on foot. We passed this small Shinto Shrine on our way.
Sadly, it was too early in the afternoon for us to run into any geisha, but we enjoyed wandering through the narrow streets passing tea houses and such.
I gasped with delight when we passed this shop.
It is always a treat to cross paths with beautiful Japanese women in traditional Kimonos.
We ended our day of adventure with bento box dinners in our hotel room.