Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – It’s UNESCO World Heritage – Ginkakuji ^^

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From Shijo Takakura Bus Stop (the same bus stop that we alight for Nishiki Market), take Bus No. 203 to Ginkakuji-michi Bus Stop. We encounter changing of Bus Driver half way through the journey. Hur. It takes about 30 minutes from Nishiki Market to Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion). 🙂

Once alight at the Bus Stop, turn left and walk till a junction, and we see the signage pointing the direction to Ginkakuji. Just cross the road and walk towards it.

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This is the Philosopher’s Path leading to Ginkakuji. The walk to Ginkakuji is quite long and probably takes about 10-15 minutes. But we manage to skip the walking by taking a rickshaw to Ginkakuji and it is so so fun! Oh and look at the blue plastic bag, it actually contains my loots from the super huge drugs store at Nishiki Market. 😛

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That’s the rickshaw man for us! He’s quite cute, very funny and super friendly. He can speak a little English and somehow, we manage to communicate with him throughout our 10 minutes ride. Oh and he’s really strong cos he can pull the rickshaw with us on it, run like super fast and talking at the same time. Haha.

It’s my first time on a rickshaw and I really love it. Especially when he runs fast, and the cool wind blows against our face, with great passing scenery. I thought it’s a good cultural experience though an expensive one. We chose the 10 minutes ride which will go one short round and then ending at the entrance to Ginkakuji, and cost around 3000 yen for 2 pax.

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The entrance to Ginkakuji.

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We need to purchase entrance tickets which cost 500 yen per pax. Again, I thought the tickets look nice. Heh.

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Ginkakuji is a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains (Higashiyama). In 1482, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa on the grounds of today’s temple, modeling it after Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), his grandfather’s retirement villa at the base of Kyoto’s norther mountains (Kitayama). The villa is converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimasa’s death in 1490.

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Despite its name, Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) is never covered in silver. Instead, it is believed that the name arose as a nickname more than a century after the building’s construction to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion. Alternatively, it is explained that moon light reflecting on the building’s dark exterior (which used to be covered in black lacquer in the past) gave it a silvery appearance.

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There are many tourists when we are here and everyone are fighting for a chance to capture a photo with Ginkakuji and so am I! 😀

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From Ginkakuji, there’s a walking path that takes us through its moss garden, which features ponds with islands and bridges, little streams and various plants.

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The path then climbs a hill behind the buildings from where there are nice views of the entire temple grounds and the city beyond.

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And I like this photo that I take of the sun, the red and green leaves and a glimpse of Ginkakuji. 🙂

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Outside of the entrance to Ginkakuji, there’s this ice cream store which sells great Vanilla Milk Ice Cream! The milk taste is so strong and fragrant.

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On the walk out to Ginkakuji-mae Bus Stop to take a bus to Gion, our next stop! Though Ginkakuji is not as grand as Kinkakuji because it’s not silvery, but I still like it. 🙂

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Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – It is all about food and shop in Kyoto Day 1 :)

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It’s unbelievable how I managed to survive carrying a 26 inch luggage and a big hand carry bag up several flights of stairs in the subway station in order to arrive at the hotel. Amazing me. Still glad that I still have the energy to go out immediately after checking-in to hotel room. 😀

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First, we explore the streets just outside our hotel and I really love staying here! There’s a 24 hour supermarket along the street (on same side as our hotel, turn left upon exiting hotel entrance) and I love supermarket in Japan! So much snacks, and what’s not to buy!

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As we have not taken any food since we shared the waffle on NEX, we decide to buy sushi and dessert from the supermarket to eat. We settle at a small bench next to the supermarket and start on our first sushi in Kyoto. It’s yummy even though it’s from the supermarket. Awww….. how I love Japan!

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Our dessert! Glutinous rice top with sweet and big fat red bean!!! I really do not understand why red beans are always so damn delicious in Japan. Cos grass is greener on the other side? Hur.

We continue exploring the street and are delighted to find a drugs store and a 100 Yen shop around! There’s a super huge 7-11 on the opposite street. There’s a Yayoiken Restaurant and MacDonald on the right side of the hotel.  Now you know why I love staying at Citadines Kyoto!

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There’s an Aeon Mall nearby to Kyoto Station. It’s actually next to New Miyako Hotel. If you go from Kyoto Station, either look for New Miyako Hotel direction or Hachiko Exit of Kyoto Station. Kyoto Station is big and quite complicated but it really has everything! Shopping malls (a lot!), underground shopping mall (there’s 2!), restaurants (a lot!), Drugs Store and supermarkets (a lot!).

Once you get use to the station layout, it’s actually easy to navigate but be prepared to walk a lot! Back to Aeon Mall, there are 2 sides of Aeon mall separated by a bridge. The one on the right side has more restaurants and shopping. Uniqlo, Muji, Gap, Daiso and some individual shops. Oh, and a huge supermarket too!

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Christmas decorations are already all around on 1 November 2013 (that’s really early!) and how I love them! The stairs are decorated with many Santa Clauses but I thought they look more like the 7 dwarfs. Opps!

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First thing into the mall is to look for food for dinner! I know we just had sushi and dessert but those are like snacks. Haha. Google this Shabu Shabu Buffet Restaurant before my trip and seems like the reviews are not bad. So we decide to come and try. It’s call Shabu Shabu Ku Raku.

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Happy me. I thought the price is cheap (I think around $20+ per pax) so do not expect great variety of food or what’s not. But it’s enough to satisfy me. Notice the pot of soup, it’s actually plain water. Most people has the misconception that Shabu Shabu soup is like chicken soup or pork bone soup cos it’s like that in Singapore.

But in fact, if you have Shabu Shabu in Japan, the soup is just plain water. You are not supposed to drink it. It’s just for the purpose of cooking your food. The main highlight is the dipping sauce!

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We had pork and beef. Well it’s not the best-est meat that I have (with nice marble and all) but it’s really not bad. The slices are thick and the meat are fresh! I mean those I have in Singapore are really thin that I have to cook 3 slices together in order to taste the meat. Lol.

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Sauce! This is soup (not sure what kind of soup), add a little Yuzu Sauce (I think it has pepper in the sauce as well) and green onion. Dip the meat in it and yums! I really love the sauce much!

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There’re also mushrooms, vegetables, udon and ramen at the counter for grab. Hui Ping took this photo of me looking disgruntled. But I am not. 😛

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Free flow of Vanilla Ice Cream which is so rich in milk! Slurps.

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After dinner, we see Daiso and we go crazy in it cos it’s so so so big! It’s 100 yen for everything and almost everything you need.

Then, we shop at Uniqlo and I bought like 2 winter jackets (the fat and fluffy kind, one for mum and one for myself) and also a knitted above knee top to match with leggings. OMG. Uniqlo is damn cheap in Japan (Of cos la, duh! It’s Japanese brand) and I nearly killed myself when the 2 jackets that I bought here are later on put on sale in Tokyo. It’s like a further discount of another $20! Smacks self on the forehead.

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Hui Ping needs to go to the ladies and so I settle down on the bench outside to wait for her after buying this apple tea from the vending machine. But I do not really like it. It’s not the drink, I think it’s just me. I don’t like the combination of apple and tea, it just…. taste… weird.

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We walk back to Kyoto Station and the temperature has dropped a little since night is here. Walk pass this restaurant selling fruit tarts and is attracted by the rows of display! We order 1 slice to share and we chose the cheapest one. Haha. This slice cost like $9! But it’s so yummy with the fresh fruits on top and the smooth cream below coupled with a crispy buttery crust at the bottom.

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No these are not from the fruit tart restaurant, we bought them from a bakery store next door. Love the Halloween Themed Bread which has curry filling inside. But I didn’t get to eat it cos I left it in the fridge and totally forgotten about it. Hu!

The pudding is yummy! I have it for breakfast on a certain morning. It has this vanilla custard taste and, is so soft and smooth! 😀

Time to call it a day and we return to our hotel for rest. Looking forward to the next day as it’s a day of sightseeing and history digging!

Days in Tokyo – Some great food at Tokyo Tower

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Lunch was at the base of Tokyo Tower. There are a few restaurants and all their plastic food displays look duper attractive. Since we are craving for Unagi, we decide to settle down at this Unagi Restaurant for lunch. One set of this is about 1500 yen. Quite reasonably priced. 😀

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Kira kira Unagi and I love it. The sauce is sweet and the Unagi is fresh! There’s no fishy taste and no bones. I know Unagi should have no bones but you know, sometimes they taste fishy and bony when it’s not done up properly. Heh. 😛

And there’s free flow of crispy crumbs (something like the crumbs from frying tempura?!) at the side of the table for us to add into our rice and soba soup. Yummy!

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After lunch, we have dessert at one of the waffles store and it’s really damn good! This is waffle with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and corn flakes. The waffle is oh so fluffy and taste so buttery good!

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Initially, we bought one chocolate sauce waffle to share. After finishing the first one, we cannot resist but to buy a second one. Lol.

This is waffle with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and almonds. I usually do not like caramel-flavored stuff cos they are most of the time, very sweet. For this waffle, the caramel fragrance is strong and nice but not very sweet! I love it!

If I ever come back to Tokyo Tower, I will sure eat this again. 🙂

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On the way walking back to Akabanebashi Station, we pop in to the supermarket and we bought a lot of snacks, coffee / hot chocolate packets etc! It’s difficult to resist Japanese supermarkets! Too much varieties to choose from! ^^

GOOD Momiji Japanese Buffet Dinner @ City Square ^^

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OOTD – The lace transparent top is from Forever 21, shorts is from Dorothy Perkins, necklace from H&M and shoes are from Charles and Keith (the shoes bite! :()

Tried on the new NXY pink lipstick and oh how I love this colour!!

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Momiji Japanese Restaurant is located at City Square Level 5. Because Kushin Bo @ Suntec is closed, so we have to find somewhere that we can have snow crabs! I have read great reviews about Momiji and hence, decided to try it last Saturday.

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Look at how fresh the Sashimi are! There are Salmon Belly, Small Amaebi, Big Amaebi, Squid and Octopus! The sight of Amaebi is such a happiness for me! Most Japanese Buffet does not cater Amaebi and I LOVE Amaebi. 😀

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Snow Crabs! Though I find it smaller in size as compared to Kushin Bo, the crabs are less salty and more fresh, it has the crab-by taste. GOOD!

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There are various kind of sushi and because I could not stomach everything, I chose the ones with Salmon. OMG, it was good! So fresh! But the prawns are normal, not juicy nor sweet. The nicest prawns are still from Carousel. Heh.

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Wagyu Beef with Enoki! If the beef could be thicker, it will be better. But it’s really not bad. We rarely see this appearing in a Japanese Buffet too!

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Beef which is non wagyu but still quite beefy and nice.

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Next comes the Tempura and fried food which is ‘I find it better than Kushin Bo’! The tempura prawns are so fat and with so much crumbs, not to mention that the prawns are fresh too. The nicest and yummy-est is the fried salmon skin, head or meat! It is so fragrant that I could die for this. Every mouthful is full of collagen under the skin!

There’s also shishamo (fried small fish with eggs inside) which is so delicious and totally no fishy taste of the fish eggs. Pork Belly Nabe is miso-soup base, and drinking soup after indulgence of all the above is comforting.

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What’s more?! There’s free flow of Imported Sapporo Beer! You need to bring receipt to exchange for a bottle of Sapporo Beer per pax and you can then exchange an empty bottle for the 2nd bottle, 3rd bottle and so on.  Oh how I love Japanese beer, the only beer that I like. 😛

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Last but not least, how can we miss out the desserts in a Buffet? There are not too much varieties but the cakes and cream puffs are really not too bad. Just that it is being refilled at a slow pace. If you want me to compare, I still think no one can fight the desserts section at Kushin Bo. Lol.

But there’s Haagen Dazs Ice Cream (Belgian Chocolate, Rum Rasin, Macademia Nuts and Green Tea Flavor) with waffle and I really love this!!!! If I am not so full, I will definitely go back for 2nd helping. My poor stomach cannot contain any more food at this point! 😀

The dinner cost $43 per pax (GST and Service Charge Inclusive). How worth it! Ya?

Days in Tokyo – Asakusa Kannon Temple

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I remembered it was a Sunday when we were here. I suppose it was so crowded because it was a Sunday but I read that it could be crowded almost every other day since this is a famous tourist attraction.  There’s a shopping street, Nakamise-dori, of over 200 meters leading to Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) which sells Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from Asakusa area.

However, it was so crowded that I did not have a chance to stop by the stores to look at souvenirs or the snacks cos the people behind me were never-ending pushing to move forward. But I did manage to buy Black Sesame Flavored Ice Cream to eat and it was yummy!!! I love and cannot resist Ice Cream in Japan!!! 🙂

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Finally, we saw Senso-ji after squeezing through Nakamise-dori. I am catholic but I love to visit the shrines and temples in Japan because I thought they are really beautiful and for someone like me who love to take photos, they are definitely good places to capture candid shots.

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Some history of Senso-ji which is also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. It is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa and is one of Tokyo’s most colourful and popular temples. The legend says that in the year 628, 2 brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River. Even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them.

Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. When approaching the temple, visitors will enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji Temple and the symbol of Asakusa.

From the outer gate to the temple’s second gate is the Hozomon. Beyond the Hozomon Gate are the temple’s main hall and a five storied pagoda. The Asakusa Shrine, built in the year 1649, stands only a few dozen meters to the left of the temple’s main building.

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When at Asakusa Kannon Temple, a must-do is to draw lots to predict your luck for the year. First, inserts a 100 Yen Coin, shakes the silver container until a ‘Chopstick’ like stick comes out and take note of the number at the end of the stick. Put the stick back into the container. Then, look for the drawer indicating the number that you have drawn and take out the paper which dictates your luck or fortune. Lol.

I got myself a ‘Da Ji’ which means very good luck. If you get a good one, you can bring back the paper with you for greater luck. If you get a bad one, you have to tie it at the temple so that the bad luck stays there or rather left behind. ^^

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There’s a supermarket near to Asakusa Kannon Temple and there’re really lots of interesting snacks, breads and drinks here. There’s my favorite Maxim Orea Chocolate powder here too! I will definitely walk over to this supermarket if I happen to visit Asakusa Kannon Temple again. 🙂