Traditional Kyoto

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Kyoto, well-known in Japan to have many traditional and historic sites. It is not uncommon to see women walking the streets dressed entirely in kimonos, and there are an abundant number of temples and shrines in the midst of the bustling city life. This clash of traditional Japan and gate1.jpgmodern Western lifestyle is something very unique to Japan in my opinion. Among the many temples we visited some of the more famous ones were Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), the bamboo forests and moss gardens of Arashiyama, and Fushimi Inari Taisha (tunnel-like red gates).

The interesting thing about Kinkaku-ji is that it is literally a golden temple, the outer surface is real gold. Resting alongside a large pond filled with carp and surrounded by Japanese-style gardens, this area felt very tranquil and peaceful. (more…)

America-mura and more

Monday, October 15th, 2007

I visited Osaka which is the second largest city in Japan, Tokyo being the first. And after walking around downtown and various other shopping areas, I stumbled upon a very fascinating place. Just near the popular shopping district called Shinsaibashi, there is section called “America-mura” or America town. I found it quite interesting that much like the common “China towns” that can be seen all over the U.S., Osaka has an America town. The entrance to America-mura, or Uncle SameAme-mura as the locals call it for short, is over hanged by a large plastic clown head wearing an Uncle Sam type hat. America-mura consists of many shops selling American brands that are hard to come by in Japan such as Abercrombie or Hollister. Since they are quite rare the prices can get pretty ridiculous, I found a Red Sox hooded sweatshirt selling for ¥9,800 equivalent to about $83 U.S. dollars. But aside from the merchandise there’s nothing really American about the place.


Ricky Arrives in Kobe, Japan

Friday, October 12th, 2007

First of all I don’t have internet in my room so I have to use the computer lab [link] at the school, which I am only able to utilize because my tutor was so kind as to provide me with his login and password, but I should have my internet up and running sometime this week. It’s a little inconvenient to make a 50 minute trip from my room to the school just to check emails and stuff, but on the other hand I enjoy riding the train as a Seattlite who has little train riding experience, and I get my fair share of “people-watching” which is always fun.

So for the first couple of weeks in Kobe I have been doing some sightseeing with some new friends from France and Germany. So far we checked out Sannomiya (sort of like “Downtown” if you will), the Rokko mountains, and a nice zoo. (more…)