Demon Shrine?

“A what?” was my reaction when Ms. A mentioned it to me.

Well, it’s time to investigate it.

Sorry to disappoint, but no it’s not a Shrine for demons. It’s a lion-shaped stage of Yasaka Shrine.
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Tada !!!.

This is called Shishi-Den or a Lion-Shaped Stage which is found in Namba Yasaka Shrine.

This stage was completed in 1974. It is believed that the lion eats everyone’s suffering with it’s big mouth and brings happiness to people. These days, it is also believe that the lion attracts success with its big mouth and therefore it is popular among students studying for entrance exam, athletes and business people.

The mouth serves as the stage, while the nose is the speaker and eyes are the lights.

The local deity protecting the area: Susanoo-no-Mikoto is believed to enshrined inside the mouth.

So if ever you get to visit Namba in Osaka, take a small detour to Yasaka Shrine and checkout Shishi-Den.

 

Handweaving in Kyoto

Ever since I saw this post in Uncovering Japan, I have been planning to go and try it. Finally the day arrived.

Nishijin Textile is located in Kyoto, looks like any other office building but as soon as you step inside, you will be taken to the world of wonderfully designed Kimono.

The Free Kimono Show is schedule every 45-50 minutes starting from ten in the morning till four in the afternoon.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto

We got there just as the show was starting.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto

We did not finish the show since we got called by the staff. Time to do some weaving :).

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto
My working station.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto
Mr. P and Miss R , working really hard on their weaving.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto
Miss J and her blue table center piece.

Yes, we are making a simple, small table center.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto
I’m done.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto
The Nishijin Staff, putting some glue and finishing my table center piece.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto
Lots of mini-looms. I think there are about 80 looms in the room. These looms are used only for weaving introduction.

We went back to the main building were the shop is located and where you can see some of the weavers while working.

Hand Weaving Experience @ Nishijin Textile Kyoto

Just to show that in one master piece, it will take more than just one thread.

There was a girl there working in this huge canvass , unfortunately no pictures allowed while she is working. When she saw us, she came and show us her nails, they were very uneven.

There are also hand made products, beautiful and expensive in the shop. A great gift or souvenir from a place called Kyoto.

Hand weaving requires some advance reservation and cost 1800 yen for each person.

Osaka Book Group

After all these years of living in Osaka, I finally found them.

The first time I joined the group, they were going to discuss the book “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry“, I left early to be there a few minutes before everybody starts showing up but unfortunately I was at the wrong place.

I tried to contact the organizer through their Facebook page but it seems he does not have a smartphone. Fortunately, somebody finally answered and to make the story short, I got there 30 minutes later.

I felt so embarrassed being late but the host was very gracious and even apologize which of course was not necessary since it was not his fault.

A little introduction, I only remember few of the names, then we continued with our lunch. It was my lucky day, since the original founder of the group , a nice lady from Scotland, was visiting Japan  and I had the chance to meet with her.

Everybody was very nice and accommodating, welcoming me warmly into the group. So after a little while I was busily chatting with them already, and it felt like I’ve known them for so long.

We had a very nice discussion of the book , exploring the different angles and discussing each of our impression. Everybody was given a chance to talk. Nobody was dominating the whole conversation which was really nice.

Being the newest member, they asked me what books I liked and the first thing that came out of my mouth was Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. Suffice it to say, we started talking about Game of Thrones and was decided that we will do this book for the next meeting.

The reading time was set for 2 months. A long time in my opinion but we all have different work schedules and several have travel plans so I guess it was the shortest possible time we could meet again.

Earlier this month we finally met again and I invited some members from my meetup group and we had a blast. We had a very lively conversation, debating and discussing the different characters and plots of the story. Some of the new members are big fan of the book so we had lots of reviews and opinions to share.

Our discussion even continued in the Facebook page and was still very interesting.

The next book group will be this coming July 6th, and we are going to discuss Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” . You can see the details in the Unusual Work Schedule Meetup Group or you can find the group’s Facebook “Osaka Book Group”.

 

Mt. Tomi(鳥見山) to Lake Murou(室生湖)

Long time no hear/read. Been busy with my so called Life 🙂

Anyways, I join this hike on my last day of Golden Week Vacation here in Osaka. A lot of first and I saw another side of Nara that I really like. A bit far from where I am currently located but definitely worth the trip.

Our group met in Hasedara Station, which is about 1.5 hours train ride for me.

Sign post for Hasedera in Nara
The tall stone saying Hasedera Temple , just outside Hasedera Station.

I have never heard of Hasedera Temple before so I was really happy to find this place.
The group arrived on time and so our hike began. We are supposed to follow one of the Tokai Nature Trail in Nara Prefecture.

We had a short stop at the Yoki Tenma Jinja, since our organizer have this fascination with it.

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A small shrine near stairs with small cute foxes(Inari) inside.


Let’s start the walk up to the Shrine.

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The moss covered stairs going up. On our way up, we met some university students busily sketching the scenery. I envy them since I can’t draw a thing.


The Cow. If you ever been to Tenmangu Shrine, you will notice that there is always a Cow sculpture/statue inside which is a familiar god in Tenmangu Shrines.

After our short visit, we proceed with our hike. There was not much around Hasedera Station but as we were approaching the main Temple, there peony beautiful blooming at the side of the street, vendors giving us free taste of their products. I have never heard of Hasedera so I have never visited this place. A few weeks after this hike, I was reading the book called “The Pillow Book” that I realized the historical importance of this place. Of course entering the Temple is not free and unfortunately, we still have a long way to go so I will have to go back there soon.

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The Front Gate of Hasedera.

After we left Hasedera, we were following the highway and a few minutes later we found our marker.
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Our next stop is Hase Dam.

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Front View of Hase Dam.

As we were heading back to the main road. We noticed this very interesting sign.
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Looks like Guns are not allowed.

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It was beautiful. The peacefulness of it all.

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View from the top of the Dam.

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Forward march. Yup we are crossing this bridge.

More walking along the highway and we found another marker leading to the mountains.

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Watch out for your head.

It was a steep climb and we are supposed to find Takatsuka Castle on top but unfortunately this is what was left of the castle.
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Suffice it to say, we did not get to see a castle or any of its ruins.

We also found some interesting plants along the way.
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The red mushroom. Any idea the name of this mushroom?


It looks like a pitcher plant.

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Wee!! another sign that we are almost to the top of the mountain.

We took a short, 1 hour break , for lunch and chatted a good while. Then we checked out the view. It was amazing.


I’m not sure if this is Nara Prefecture or Mie Prefecture already. But it looks really nice.


A Panoramic Shot.

The Azaleas were also blooming so it was really beautiful up there.

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I like this shot of the Photographer seriously taking some pictures surrounded by this beautiful foliage.


And another one.

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A close up with the Azaleas.

A few minutes walk we found another place where we can see more of the view.
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one more 🙂


And one more.

We wanted to stay there and just enjoy the view, but we still have a very long way to go till we reach our final destination.

We found several interesting areas including this very small waterfall.


Rice fields that looks like a small version of the Banaue Rice Terraces

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It looks like that the farmers just started planting rice in this area.


Farmers busy planting. I hope you have a great harvest soon.

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I love this view.

Our next goal was to look for the Grave site of Yamabe Akihito a poet during Nara Period and a few hours later we found it.

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The lone grave of Yamabe Akahito(山辺赤人)

Our next goal was to reach Murou Dam which according to the map was not that far, but next marker we found said that Lake Murou is 8KM away and the Dam is still a few km away from that.

We thought that there was a mistake with the marker but we thought wrong.

When we got out of the mountain and was going to the lake it was already after 4pm, the sun was already starting to set.

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Part of the Lake closer to the highway. We are just entering the Lake.


It was really beautiful.


So peaceful.


Akahito’s Bridge.

We decided to check gps how far is the Dam, and it looks like it was still a good 5-6 KM away and unfortunately nobody was carrying flashlight or what not. All of us still have classes and work to do the next day. So we all decided to take the shortest route to the next station following the side of the Lake.

We found some wild deer which scampered away as soon as they caught our smell. All we could see where the white spots near the butt :).

It was a nice walk beside the lake, dirt road, smell of summer breeze , earth and forest all together. When we finally got out and back to the main road , this is what greeted us.

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We still have a 2 Km to walk till we get to the train station but we got there safely and catch our train. We were all tired, but I was very satisfied to join see this amazing places.

till the next adventure:)

Sakura no toorinuke @ Osaka Mint Bureau

Let us take a short break from all the manhole covers and enjoy some cherry blossoms (Sakura) for this year 2014.

During this season, I call it Sakura Season,  I love walking early in the morning and just enjoy the beauty of what Spring could offer. Every year the Osaka Mint Bureau opens their gates to the public for 1 week to share the beauty of the Sakura inside the complex. They currently have 350 trees and 130 varieties inside. Unfortunately it’s very famous , thus the crowd.

The very first time I visited the place many moons ago, I could barely moved much less take a decent picture. The second time, I was there even before the gates were open and I was able to enjoy the beauty of the Sakura and was able to get a decent picture so I was satisfied.

After returning to Osaka , three years ago, T and I tried to see the blooms once more but turned back after we saw the crowd. For this year I decided to create a meetup event to force myself to go 🙂

Here are some of the pictures I took.

The Lamp and the Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
I love the lamp among these fluffy Sakura.

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
This place would have been perfect for a picnic , unfortunately it is not allowed.

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
It looks like fluffy pink marshmallows 🙂

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
I was underneath it. I wished I could have stayed longer underneath it.

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
A close up shot.

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
Another one.

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau
Fluffy little white clouds 🙂

Sakura @ Osaka Mint Bureau

The whole place is less than 600 meters long but you could easily stay there for hours just taking pictures of these lovely Sakura.

If you are in Osaka at this time of the year make sure to include a short visit to the Osaka Mint Bureau, I’m sure you will enjoy it, minus the crowd 🙂

Till next year.