Monkeys!!

14 Feb

Today started out as a washing day.  I spent most of the morning washing my clothes and drying them.
At 14.00 the day took a huge turn when I met up with Lock, Rach and Haniko and it was decided that we would go to the monkey park!
We took a very long bus ride to the other side of Kyoto (I shouldn’t complain,  it was nothing compared to the trip to Sapporo). We arrived at arashiyama monkey park and trekked up the mountain path for 15 minutes to reach the top where you were able to feed the monkeys! It is 155m above sea level. There is also an amazing view of Kyoto City and the surrounding mountains.
There are about 130 Japanese monkeys at the park. One of the staff was telling us that they all have names and they can tell the difference between their faces. They also know the date of birth of every monkey!

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We had decided last night that we were going to cook dinner in the kitchen of the guest house instead of eating out as it was Rach’s last night in Kyoto.  we went to the suppa near our accommodation and brought all the things we needed for spaghetti bolanaise. It was quite difficult setting as everything was in Japanese. Once we managed to find all the ingredients we went back to the guesthouse to cook.  The meal actually turned out really well and we were all a bit surprised that we hadn’t accidently brought the wrong ingredient.

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After dinner we went out to kareoke for a few hours then came back to the accommodation and after an ice cream we all went to bed.

Hannah x

Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

I spent my morning taking to my boyfriend and wishing him a Happy Valentine’s Day and watching him open the present is left at his house for him before I came to Japan.
After this I decided to explore the streets suerounding Khaosan Kyoto Guesthouse where we had been staying.
I found a second hand kimono shop tucked away down a side street and got a kimono and obi for very cheap.
I also found a little shop that sold bizarre instruments. 

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There is not much else to tell. It was a good relaxing day and I very much enjoyed shopping.

Hannah x

Giggle-Worthy Goods

13 Feb

Signs and products that have made me laugh in my travels. I’ll add more as I come across them.

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Doritos: Nacho Cheesier. Because Nacho Cheese wasn’t enough!

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No smoking, No matches or lighters and definately No lighters and eyelash curlers?!

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A shop called Pe Pe.

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mmmm Pocari Sweat! Just the type of water I wanted!

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Choose Life!

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The over dramtics of this add make me giggle everytime I see it.

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Deep Moist lip gloss…

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Shower toilet anyone?! I think I’ll pass.

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“Drink! You’ll never walk alone” – Well that doesn’t sound creepy at all…

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“Lame Mirror” you know you want one!  

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In case you were unsure.

Kyoto Historical Adventures

13 Feb

Today was surprisingly productive.  We got up at 11.00 and met Rachel from Australia and Hanika from the UK who is staying in Kyoto to go out on an adventure.  After kareoke last night we had agreed to meet up for Moss Burger so off we went! After brunch we decided to be dedicated tourists. We jumped on the bus and headed to the Golden Pavilion.
The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku) is a Buddhist Hall containing relics of Buddha. The area which it resides was originally a site called Kitayama-dai and was owned by the 3rd shogun of the Muromachi period. The villa was converted into a Temple by the priest Muso-kukushi after the shogun died.  In 1994, this Temple was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Gold foil on lacquer covers the upper two levels of the pavilion and a shining pheonix stands on top of the roof.

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This was a lot of fun.  I tried many times but after the 4th turn I got my coin into the bowl.

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I decided to have my fortune told. I got one that said “quite good” do I folded it up and hung it on a wire like I was told to do.

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Nijo Palace was amazing even though there was quite a bit of scaffolding around as they are resorting the castle. My favourite part was the nightingale floor which made bird sounds as you walked on it. This was so that when they were sleeping they would be able to hear if and intruders entered the castle.
The castle was built originally in 1603 as the official Kyoto residence of the first Shogun,  Ieyasu, with the addition of some structures transferred from Fushimi Castle. Nijo Castle is full of amazing paintings and carvings that were generously commissioned by the shogun. The castle was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

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We weren’t allowed to take photos inside but trust me when I say it is amazing!

We went to the Gion District next with the hope of seeing a Giesha. We didn’t see one but we did see a lot of people in traditional dress which was wonderful in itself. It stated getting very cold in Gion so we heading into a Starbucks to warm up.  We managed to entertain ourselves by playing checkers with coins on the table.

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We then headed off to a tea ceremony and leant about “the way of tea” at a Japanese-style tea house called En. We were able to watch a traditional tea ceremony.  I was surprised at how long it took and how many different movements were involved! We were then able to make our own tea! It was hard to wisk the tea so it had enough froth. I also found it interesting that the tea scoop is named at each ceremony with a name from nature.
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We had dinner at Sukiya after this. I had a vegetarian curry. After that I went to bed and had an early night.

Hannah x

Kyoto, Calligraphy and Kareoke!

12 Feb

Day Two of my time in Kyoto was great.  After a bit of a sleep in we left The New Miyami Hotel and headed towards the Guesthouse we would be staying in for the 5 days we have left here.  We checked in and dropped off or bags and then went exploring down one of the main streets near where we are staying.  Once we got back to the guesthouse and had a shower we were told that there was a free Calligraphy class on.  Lock didn’t want to do it so he went out for dinner with some guys he was taking to.  I stayed and met an Aussie girl named Rachel and a Canadian comedian named Joey. We learnt how to write dream in kanji and then the Sensai was nice enough to teach me how to write my name in kanji, which also means flower in Japanese.

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After this we sat around taking and Rachel mentioned she really wanted to do kareoke before she left.  Do we decided to go to kareoke. A few other people decided to come along and as we left we ended up with 10 people.  We spent a few hours at kareoke and then came back and went to sleep with plans to meet up again tomorrow.

Hannah x

Welcome to Kyoto

11 Feb

After another very long train trip we finally arrived in Kyoto at 13.00. I’m very glad that there won’t be anymore train trips that long any time soon!
The first thing I noticed about Kyoto while traveling in on the train was the amazing mountains surrounding it. Although you don’t notice that as much once you get into the city as there are so many skyscrapers to block the view.

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We spent the next hour or so trying to find accommodation.  Thankfully a very nice elderly gentleman pointed us in the right direction or it would have taken us a lot longer. After we organised out accommodation for the night at the new miyako hotel we only had to have some lunch before it was time to check in.

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We spent the next few hours enjoying the luxury of having a bath and then decided to have a look in Aeon Mall that was just across the road from us.
We grabbed some snacks from the local suppa (supermarket) for dinner and then made out way back to the hoteru (hotel). We are some dinner while watching tv that we did not understand and then called it a night at about 20.00. We were utterly exhauted!

Hannah x

Sapporo Snow Festival

10 Feb

The reason I wanted to come to Sapporo was to see the Sapporo Snow festival. Today I was able to see it!
It has been absolutely freezing in Sapporo.  2 pairs of pants,  2 pairs of socks and 5 layers of tops and jackets still wasn’t enough.  The view from our room at Hotel Clubby just made me want to stay inside in the warm.  But we had to check out.

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Before heading to the festival we went to the train station and booked our tickets to get to Kyoto.  The man at the counter thought that he must have been mishearing us and kept asking if it was really Kyoto that we wanted to go to.  After reassuring him many times he realised that we did want to go the very long way to Kyoto on train and gave us out tickets.
Our adventure to find the Snow Festival then began.  After leaving the station I stopped off to ask a few Japanese road workers which way it was to the snow festival, “Sumimisem. Snow Festival wa doku deska”. The poor elderly gentlemen must have got a bit of a shock because he had to call out to his fellow worker for some help, “Gigen! Gigen!” which means foreigner is what he was saying.  The younger guy was very helpful and spoke English really well and told us it was 4 blocks away. We thanked them and headed on our merry way.
The Sapporo Snow Festival is an event that happens every year and from what I’ve seen it seems to draw crowds from all over Japan.  It was almost impossible to find accommodation! A whole section of Sapporo is closed off and transformed into a winter wonderland.  As you walk down the stretch of road you will find many ice sculptures.  The ice stages are the most impressive and are about the size of a large 2 story house!

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We spent most of the morning and afternoon looking around the festival but then headed to the station to look around the shipping complex there. We managed to find a music shop.  I was obsessing over the hand pianos while Lock was able to test out a very ornate looking guitar.

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We grabbed some dinner at Moss Burger before we had to catch the train at 22.00.

Hannah x