Strolling through a tunnel of gates in Kyoto

Image: © blackfrangipani and I design and create 2011

There’s a scene I particularly liked in the movie, Memoirs of a Geisha. It showed young Sayuri running through an endless gateway of vermillion torii (shrine gates). What I liked was the location of the scene and the cinematography. It was spectacular.

Filmed at Fushimi Inari Taisha (Fushimi Inari Shrine), the gates resembled a series of mathematical pie symbols. This is one of Kyoto’s oldest and most revered Shinto shrines.

On our last morning in Kyoto, John and I decided to check it out. The location would be wonderful for photography. I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. An iPhone camera just wouldn’t do; not for this. On the brighter side of things, I’m travelling with a photographer and I can be assured of getting good images.

© John Lim 2011Entrance to Fushimi Inari Taisha

Students on an excursion pose for photos © John Lim 2011

© John Lim 2011

Water for purification before worship

© John Lim 2011

Prayers written on wooden tablets resembling foxes, guardians of the temple.

© John Lim

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Autumn, where are you?

Arashiyama art illustration: bamboo forest, Sagano Romantic Train ride, Okuchi SansoI live in the tropics and don’t experience the changing of the seasons. The weather here is either sunny or rainy. And so, I enjoy the different seasons when I travel.

When I visited Japan in October, I was looking forward to experiencing autumn although I know I was a bit early for it. Spring came early in Japan this year, maybe it would be the same for autumn. It would be wonderful to see beautiful scenery with trees covered with leaves of red and gold.

Autumn was nowhere in sight when I arrived in Tokyo although the Japanese were dressed in autumn fashion. But I remained hopeful as I would be travelling to Kyoto later.

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Kyoto is take the Sagano Romantic Train Ride. Sagano is in the Arashiyama district, 15 minutes away from Kyoto city by train.

This 25-minute train ride follows the course of the Hozu River on a narrow track through the idyllic canyon from Arashiyama to Kameoka.

This is my second trip here. The scenery was beautiful in spring. But this time round, I was hoping for a glimpse of autumn.

The landscape were as wonderful as I remembered but autumn was nowhere in sight.

Holiday in Japan

On our way back, my travelling companions and I went for a walk through the bamboo forest. It was amazing to see how tall bamboos can grow. They looked like dark green poles reaching for the sky.

The forest was particularly attractive when there was a light wind and the tall bamboo stalks swayed gently back and forth. Local workshops use the bamboo to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats. And they have been doing so for centuries.

Along the way, we visited Okochi Sanso, a mountain villa which belonged to Okochi Denjiro (1896-1962), a popular silent movie actor. Continue reading

Kyoto Kitchen: a sensory delight

Art impression of Nishiki Market, Kyoto by blackfrangipani
It was 9.30am on a Sunday and I was excitedly observing the scene before me. Rows of shops flanking a 5-metre walkway selling seafood, vegetables, fruit, sweets and just about anything needed to cook a wonderful Japanese meal were presented before me. They were fresh and irresistible. Even the dried ingredients looked good. On top of that, they were attractively packaged and displayed.

Autumn trip to Nishiki Market by blackfrangipani

As a person who’s trying to master Japanese cooking, I felt like a kid in a candy store.

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