Monthly Archives: February 2012

Daytrip to Hiroshima

As Rob and I had JR passes and could take the speed train wherever we wanted in Japan, we decided to do a daytrip to Hiroshima. It is about 2-3 hours with the Shinkansen from Kyoto station, so it is quite doable – especially if you do like us and watch shows on your laptop. Our fist stop when we made it to Hiroshima was the Genbakudomu, or the A-bomb dome in english. This building has been perserved so that it looks just like it did directly after Hiroshima was hit by the Atomic bomb in WW2. Going to see this building always make me rather emotional, as it obviously brings out feelings about war and weapons of mass destruction. This time the dome ws being checked for soundness though, so a lot of it was hidden.

Another nice but also sad place to visit is the peace memorial, right across the river from the actual A-dome. Here you can see messages telling the victims we wont repeat the  evil and so on as well as a torch with a fire they will keep burning until all of the atomic weapons in the world are destroyed. (This picture is from my visit to Hiroshima in 2009, with no construction work on the dome)

After going to the A-dome, we wanted to do something  a little less sad so we took the ferry out to the isle of Mijajima. This isle is located right outside of Hiroshima and it is the home of many great temples as well as quite a few semi-wild deer.  As we had to get back to Kyoto the same day we only visited the main temple and the enormous water gate a few meters away from shore. The water was low, so we could actually walk out to take a closer look. The deer were after me because I had food in my purse and a few of them actually followed me around for a bit, biting my purse and jacket. I have decided that deer are sweet, but a little scary when their hungry after my encounters with the deer of Nara and Mijajima. I still love Mijajima though and the view you have of Hiroshima from there 🙂

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Osaka Castle

I am pretty sure Osaka was never a capital or anything like that, but they still have their own castle somehow.  On the inside the castle is mostly galleries and museums, but the outside is pretty impressive and it is located in the middle of a large park. Definitely worth a visit if  you’re ever in Osaka.  It is really easy to find as well as it has its own stop on the Osaka loop line 🙂

The Umeda Sky Building

One of the coolest modern buildings in Japan is the Umeda Sky Building, also known as the “floating garden”. The name “floating garden” comes from the top floor connecting the two towers.  The view from the observatory located here is pretty awesome, and it is also possible to go outside. It was pretty cold up there when Rob and I went though, due to the strong wind and it still being winter.

I really liked the observatory, and the building looks really cool from the outside and the inside as well. This was also the only observatory we went to during the day, sometimes it is nice to see cities in daylight too 🙂 I think Rob’s favorite part was the escalator ^^

Monkeys in the Mountain

One of the absolute highlights of my trip to Japan was our visit to the Arashiyama monkey park. The day we decided to go see this park it was actually snowing quite heavily and as it turned out you have to walk for about 20 minutes uphill to get to the viewing platform, where you can also meet some of the 133 Japanese monkeys that live in the area.  As we walked up the pretty steep path I started to wonder if the park would be worth the long walk, but we had already paid to enter the park and I wanted to see the monkeys so I kept on going of course. I think what really got to me was that Rob didn’t seem tired at all – just look at him waiting on me completly relaxed!

When we got to the top I forgot all about the long way up there though, the view would have been worth the hike on its own even, as it was pretty amazing. We could see all of Kyoto and the mountains surrounding the city.

While the view was an awesome bonus, the reason we came was of course the monkeys. We could see quite a few of them as we climbed the last few hills up to the top, and even more up on the viewing platform. Visitors to the park get to go into a shelter where they can rest up a bit after the climb. It is also possible to buy monkeyfood, but the only place your allowed to feed the monkeys is from inside the shelter. This way the monkeys can come get food approved by the zoo when they want to, but people won’t harass them – I think it is a great way to let people interact with the animals without  bothering them too much. Rob and I absolutely loved feeding the monkeys and we got two packages of monkeyfood – one with nuts and one with fruit.

I got a few nice pictures of the monkeys outside of the shelter as well, here are some of my personal favorites:

Nara

Nara is a city known for its temples, nature areas and deer walking around everywhere. As the city is only about an hour from Kyoto by train, Rob and I decided to make it a daytrip.  First we went to the largest wooden building in the world – Todaiji. This is in my opinion one of the most impressive buildings in the world, and on the inside there is a huge budha statue. Walking towards the temple we saw tons of deer already, and I decided it would be nice to feed them, so I got a package of deerfood. All of a sudden all of the deer on the street (which turned out to be a lot of deer!) came running towards me wanting food. Somehow I thought only a few of them would notice, but Im guessing feeding them is less scary on more crowded days.  I felt as if I was under attack, as the deer kept biting my jacket, my legs and so on.

Our next stop was Nara park, a huge area of wood with several smaller temples inside. As we entered the park, we saw this sign featuring all of the deer’s special attacks:

The biting at least, I can definitely confirm. The park was beautiful, and we saw some more peaceful deer as well as a smaller temple. The forest was nice too, and as this was a grey day it was rather empty so quiet and peaceful. When staying in Kyoto, Nara is definitely worth a visit  🙂

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan, located in Osaka, is a pretty awesome amusement park. Rob and I went there on the first grey day we had in Japan, hoping to dodge too long lines. The grey weather did indeed make the lines shorter and the longest we waited anywhere was around 30 minutes. Universal Japan has some pretty awesome rides, like Spiderman the ride, Back to the Future the ride and Space adventure. Most of the rides combine rollercoasters with visual effects to ensure a great experience. We were also lucky enough to run into several characters from the Universal movies, and as the crowd was so small we got to take pictures with most of them as well. To me the coolest picture was the one we took with the Cookie Monster:

The Golden Pavillion

One of the most beautiful buildings in Kyoto is the Golden Pavillion. As all of the other sights, it is easy to acsess by the tourism buses and it is definitely worth the trip. Located in a beautiful Japanese garden directly next to the lake, the pavillion shines like gold in the sun. It says no photos allowed on a sign close to the entrance, but as the first thing we saw when we entered was a wall of tourists taking pictures anyhow, Rob and I followed their examples and took a few. As you can see, the pavillion was built using at least two different styles (the white and the gold). The area around the pavillion is beautiful as well, with statues, small lakes and really nice trees actually, hehe. While the golden pavillion is definitely worth the trip, it doesnt take you all day to visit, we spent about an hour inside of the park : )