Chishaku-In and Sanjusangendo:
Kyoto’s Most Famous Garden and Temple
It’s funny, but when they told me I would be visiting Kyoto’s most famous gardens; somehow my brain was picturing a type of botanical garden such as you would see in the U.S. You know, open rows upon rows of flowers, all arranged carefully around small stone water fountains. Suffice to say, I had it more or less completely wrong (kind of like when they said I was going to a monkey zoo and instead took me hiking to the top of a mountain to see them in their natural habitat mid-forest).
The Chishaku-In garden is actually rather small and compact, but what there is of it is stunning. Carefully interwoven around some lovely temple buildings and tucked up against one of the many mountains in the area, the gardens consist of small Continue reading
6. Vending Machines
Holy cow, there is just no way to describe all of the things you can get in vending machines here in Japan. Continue reading
Is it possible to fall in love with a country in just two weeks? In some ways, Japan is very similar to the US. Every other block has the old, familiar sight of a Starbucks, McDonald’s, Seven-Eleven Convenience Store, and bus stops. Go to a store and you’ll find Pringles and Doritos chips, Tide laundry soap, Dove shampoo, and Apple computers. Afternoon tv shows tend to be some serious drama that is reminiscent of US soap operas. Despite the language barrier, you can always still recognize that look from a Japanese mother towards her child that means innately “sit still.”
But at the same time, there is something so unique, so different about life in Japan. So here are 10 things Continue reading
Okay, I admit it. I’m from a VERY small town in a VERY small country, so my local county museum consisted of the old mansion home of a local famous/wealthy horse breeder, an old schoolhouse, and about a dozen ancient oil lamps and doilies. So in my mind, county museums mean small, not a whole lot to see, and an interesting hour or two.
Well, over the summer I was visiting Yokohama and ended up with a couple hours to spare. Since I was in the area, I decided to visit the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum, which is basically the city’s county museum. Now, I’m thinking I’ll see an old building, maybe catch a few old photographs, and see some old pottery, while still making it out in time to grab some souvenirs for family. But what I didn’t take into account was the fact that Midwestern US museums’ greatest events are the soldiers leaving for WWI, WWII and the wars thereafter.
Kanagawa, on the other hand, has thousands of years of history spanning dozens of empires and centuries of religious, cultural, and social upheaval and development. It’s survived hundreds of rulers, the bombings of WWII, the rise of Buddhism and the introduction of Christianity, the 1964 Olympics, and was the landing sight of Commodore Perry, the man who forcibly opened Japan to the west. So what I found was practically another national Museum.
Now, everything was in Japanese (and I do mean everything, even the brochures were untranslated). But it was also empty, so all the people were standing around waiting for people to come. They saw me wandering around and before I knew what was going on I have 4 different employees following me around with a translator machine explaining all the exhibits and what they meant. I got my own personal tour of this awesome place! Everyone was incredibly kind, and my visit (which actually took 3+ hours) was an unexpectedly amazing event.
I apologize for the quality of these photos, I ran out of film earlier in the day and was stuck with my Ipod. 😦 Still, they show what an amazing history this place has!
They also had Buddha statues, more sculptures than I could count, dozens of ancient maps, stunning paintings, and some amazing photography, as well as many other artifacts and cultural resources. It was a wonderful place to visit!
If you’re in the area and want to stop by, you can find out more information about the Museum here. I think it cost me about $6-7 total, but I don’t quite remember. Museums in Japan are more expensive than those in Korea, but I remember that this one wasn’t too bad. Great place to visit and it’s right down from Kannai street (a famous shopping street in Yokohama). Look it up!