Side Trips

Entrance of East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

Inside The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace – What to See

Posted on July 27, 2017

I didn’t have a reservation with the Imperial Household Agency to visit the Palace Grounds, so the next best thing was to check out the East Garden. At least it’s still part of the Palace, and entry is free. From my 30-minute batto class at HiSUi Tokyo, I did a leisurely walk toward the Garden. I first caught a glimpse of it on the bus when I arrived from my Mt. Fuji hike, and I thought it would make forRead More

Nagoya Castle

A Pictorial Tour of Nagoya Castle and Hommaru Palace

Posted on July 23, 2017

I spent one afternoon exploring Nagoya before I took the bus the next morning to Mt. Fuji. From Atsuta Shrine, I headed to Nagoya Castle, another important attraction in Japan’s third-largest incorporated city. I spent a few hours walking around the castle grounds, climbing up all 7 floors of the Main Donjon, and checking out the insides of the Hommaru Palace. After visiting a few of Kyoto’s temples and shrines (such as Kennin-ji and Kiyomizu-dera), seeing Nagoya Castle for theRead More

Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya: What to Expect to See

Posted on July 23, 2017

From my reading online, Atsuta Jingu is one of the most revered shrines in Japan, next to the Great Shrine of Ise, drawing in a total of 9 million visitors every year. Enshrined in Atsuta is a sword called “Kusanagi no Tsurugi,” one of the three sacred treasures that symbolize Japan’s Imperial Throne. Also enshrined is the chief god Atsuta-no-Ookami, and five other “great gods” who are believed to be connected with the sacred sword. Here are some images showingRead More

Miso Pickles

When in Kyoto: Images of Nishiki Market (Kyoto’s Kitchen)

Posted on July 23, 2017

Food bloggers will love Nishiki Market, for sure. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” it’s the place to be for people wanting to explore Kyoto’s culinary landscape – or at least a taste of it. Nishiki Market is 5 blocks long, but if you’re there to just take a look around, the whole session will probably take you less than 15 minutes. Spend an hour if you’re serious in trying out the food. These images, though few, should get you excited forRead More

Kiyomizu-dera from afar

Let the Love Gods Grant Your Wish at Jishu Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera

Posted on July 23, 2017

The man at the ticket counter laughed when he saw the coins on my hand. In return, I gave him a wide smile. “It’s 400 yen, right?” “Hai.” I found out later that what I paid for was access to the Hondo or the Main Hall of Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple founded in 780 BCE. You can actually roam around the complex for free – including the Jishu-jinja – if you know where to go. I wouldn’t have minded payingRead More

Inside Kennin ji

Kyoto Temples: Inside the Kennin-ji Complex

Posted on July 21, 2017

It’s not difficult to find a Japanese temple with a superlative attached to its name. Kennin-ji, for instance, is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see, but if you’re not a “temple person” yet you feel you have to visit one in Kyoto, know that Kennin-ji is the closest to Gion’s Hanami-koji. Before showing some images of the complex, here’s an introduction on Kennin-ji and about its priest founder, Yousai, taken from the brochure IRead More

Wall Paintings Temple of the Tooth

Kandy’s Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – What to Expect

Posted on May 28, 2017

To us foreign tourists, the Temple of the Tooth (or officially Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is just another attraction, something that needs to be ticked off our travel checklist. To Sri Lankan worhipers, however, Sri Dalada Maligawa has another purpose. It is believed that the Buddha’s left canine tooth is enshrined in the temple, making it hallowed ground. Just like Adam’s Peak, the temple (and the whole complex) is a pilgrimage site. DroppingRead More

Water Gardens Sigiriya Path

Sigiriya Rock Fortress – World Heritage Site That You Must NOT Miss

Posted on May 28, 2017

From the thrill of ascending the spiral staircases up to that eerie feeling of actually seeing those centuries-old frescoes of nude women, not to mention the stunning views at the summit (Palace Complex), everything about Sigiriya is nothing short of spectacular. If you’re visiting Sri Lanka anytime soon, this World Heritage Site is not one to miss — but brace yourself for some dizzying ascents! Getting There: From Kandy to Sigiriya On May 8th, following these bloggers’ advice, I didRead More

Buddha Statues Dambulla Cave Temples

Inside Dambulla’s Cave Temples (Golden Temple)

Posted on May 22, 2017

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dambulla’s Rock Temple is well worth a visit should you be in the area. This post is a pictorial presentation that shows you what to expect once you’re inside the complex. Don’t forget sunscreen and water, especially if you’re dropping by on a hot day. Getting to Dambulla from Kandy If you’re interested only in the cave temples, you don’t have to spend the night in Dambulla. From Kandy’s Good Shed Bus Station, there areRead More

Taj Mahal from the Guest House

Heading to the Taj Mahal in Agra? Top Tips and What to Expect

Posted on April 6, 2017

After my Brahmatal Trek with Indiahikes, I had two days left before my flight back home. Of course, I didn’t want to leave India without dropping by the Taj Mahal. Heading to Agra soon? Here are some notes that I’d like to share. Entry ticket for foreigners is steep! I paid 1,000 rupees, which was two times that of Qutub Minar. Here’s the ticket booth at the West Gate. The entry ticket comes with a bottle of water and aRead More

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