Friday, March 29, 2013

day 7, nara half-day and shopping half-day in osaka

the last day in kansai area....and the last city to visit- nara.
this city is said to be older than kyoto but i think kyoto has more things to offer.

we only spent half a day in nara, at nara park area only. there are not that many places to visit in nara if you google. i was curious about yoshino mountain in nara prefecture. but when i went to ask at nara station how long it would take to reach the mountain, the answer i got was 90 mins. gosh.....too far. i had to think about the return trip as well. so it was just nara park for us.

took a bus all the way to the last stop in nara park and made our way down hill.
i was on a limited budget since i had almost used up all my yen. so entry into paid area of shrines and temples was a no-no. most of the temples and shrines in japan have paid and open area.
so we only took photos at areas where we are allowed to roam.

entrance to kasuga-taisha, kasuga grand shrine.

the shrine area.....but go in, there is the paid area.

a lot of deer roam this park and they are considered national treasures. they are said to be wild, but again, i beg to differ. close interaction with human have made them all so tame. they would follow visitors around and if you have food, you would be like the pipe piper. you can buy snacks for them at 150. i saw a blind sad. are those snacks healthy for them? shouldn't they be eating something organic and green???

see, the deer won't go anywhere even if you get near them. they will just sit there and do their own business and when they are hungry, they will just get close to human. and you call this wild?
oh, deer are considered messengers of gods in shinto.
so you better feed them to make sure gods hear your wishes?

entrance to todaiji temple.

this is the closest i could get to todaiji temple. how sad. it was 500 yen to enter todaiji.

this buidling here is todaiji. it is such an imposing building and inside is seated a big buddha. of all the temple buildings that i had seen in this trip, this is my favourite. gosh, now i have regret not paying that 500 yen. huhuhuhu.

kofukuji consisting of the eastern golden hall and a wooden five-storey pagoda.

after checking out these places in nara park, we decided to head back to osaka for lunch and to do last minute shopping. yes, i had an item on my shopping list which was added when i realised how much cheaper it was here than to get it in australia.

lunch was on the top floor of isetan department store....belgium/german food with japanese beer.

sausages, fries and fried chicken pieces.

10 vege salad. i din count.

stew pork in beer. the pork was really tender. slurp.

stir fried noodle....too salty.

so we went to three department stores around osaka station- isetan, daimaru and hankyu......well because i couldn't find the item i wanted!!! i only managed to find it in hankyu, the last hope.

but before that...i also got these:
a stapler....ya....of all things. it has a slot for you to put all your staples on standby so you can always have them when you run out. very convenient. and a hello kitty mechanical pencil ;)

japanese really put a lot of effort in their presentation and packaging. just tell them you are buying something for a gift, and they will do all the wrapping for you. how cute. gosh, i feel so guilty now, i am not planning to bring that paper bag home. haha....okok...i will see if i can fit it in the bag tomorrow so i won't fill bad.

yup, i only got myself a bow hair clip. nice leh......very kawaii and a gracious clip. lol

and finally, the big item in the list:
a nespresso u machine!!! woohoooo.......!! how am i going to carry this? my friend will do it for me....hand carry. the one that i selected is in grey.

and it comes with a milk frother....i chose red. and they gave me 30 free capsules on top of the 19 already in the box. so i have enough coffee for one month!!!

this machine is not available in malaysia yet. had a try when i went to my sis place in aussie. singapore already has it but i doubt if their price will be cheaper than what i paid. even australia is more expensive. hahah....really happy with this purchase. got it at hankyu where they give 5% discount on the item on top of the 4% tax exemption i got back. really worth it.

will order the capsules from the website when i got home.

and dinner:
how poor already only instant noodle here since i came to japan. i am not really a fan, but i had no choice tonight. i still owe ppl few hundred yen i think.....hmmmhh.....luckily my transport to the airport is settled.

so tomorrow, again leaving at 7.30a.m to the airport.....and then.....can shop again. haha....i haven't found the chocolate my cousin asked me to get.

night night

Thursday, March 28, 2013

day 6- hiroshima

i couldn't ask for better weather for my visit to hiroshima.
it was very mild and to a certain extent, warm too. the sun was out when i was in hiroshima and it was a perfect spring day.

we boarded the bullet train, shinkansen to hiroshima and it was a warm ride in the train. managed to get some rest but no sleep because the announcements always came when you were almost going to fall asleep. 
inside our coach. we reserved our seats already so we had no problem. there are also unreserved seats but those will be in different coaches. booking had to be made earlier.

i made the booking when i bought jr sanyo area pass for 4 days which will give me unlimited travel in sanyo area including rides on bullet trains too. it is really worth it since bullet train ticket to hiroshima one way would cost me more than 9000yen already. i paid 20,000yen for this pass which i will use till saturday for my transport to the airport.
the train ride to hiroshima was about 105 minutes.

we decided to head straight to miyajima island and we could use our jr pass to go too. it was another 30 minutes to the ferry port on the normal train from hiroshima station.

the ferry to the island...just a short ride.

the highlight on miyajima island is itsukushima shrine....but i think the most photographed picture of the island is not the shrine, but the main gate to the shrine.

this is a picture of otorii, the main gate of the shrine. behind the gate is the shrine. when the tide is low, one can walk from the shrine to the gate.

living on the island are many deer which do not run away from human anymore. they just idle along and chasing visitors if they have food in their hands.

take the boat if you want to pass under the main gate which is believed to bring you luck....but 800 yen first for the ride.

you have to pay to enter the shrine, 300 yen and as usual, there is a designated route you have to follow.

the view from the front stage.

if the tide is high, the whole shrine compound should be covered with water.

once you have finished visiting the shrine, you can take a walk along the narrow streets with restaurants and souvenir shops.  it is time to enjoy more cherry blossoms again. gosh.....all these viewings won't turn me into a flower lover. i just don't see the point of taking pictures of every tree that you see. don't shoot me.

okok, i was taking these because of the different locations they were at hahaha.

i can't wait to see a whole mountain of cherry blossom blooms!!!! tomorrow at nara??? that will be the best highlight of hanami (flower viewing).

another shrine behind the main shrine.

some food which are popular on the island:

oyster! i din take any. not my favourite.

red bean filled cake. not bad.

my lunch set. it came with three oysters. quite fresh but not as big as those in the above pictures.

we left after lunch and by that time, one could walk all the way to the itorii already. how fast time flew.

it was all the way back to hiroshima and the mode of transport in the city is via the street car where you have to pay 150yen for one journey.

one of the street cars.

we went to a-dome and peace memorial park.

a small boat for tourists running on the canal. how cute.

the A-dome. the remain of the bombing which is preserved and not rebuilt after the first atomic bomb fell on 6 august 1945. the concrete layer of the structure looks too well-preserved though. it wasn't charred so it did not feel that historical.

on my way to hiroshima this morning, i was feeling kind of surreal. it was hard to believe that i was going to set foot in hiroshima and claim that i had been to the city where the A-bomb fell. it was simply too overwhelming for me. i did not know what words to use to describe my feelings. i was totally lost for words. and i still am. ;(

heard the story of sadaka sasaki? well, you can just click on the image above to read a little about this little girl. i have read about her before so when i saw the memorial, again, i couldn't believe that i was actually there seeing with with my own eyes and all those paper cranes!

glass booths with paper cranes in different sorts of papers from different schools around the world.

the pictures are formed using the folded paper cranes as well.


there are many cherry blossom trees here as well.

a view from the main road. on the left is the a-dome, on the right is the peace memorial park. this is definitely not a place to skip in hiroshima.

we had no more time to do anymore exploration since we had already booked our tickets back to osaka, so we decided to look for dinner.

again, i had done my homework and had found the food to eat in hiroshima. it is okonomiyaki.

according to reviews, this place is the best place to have your otonomiyaki.......and i have to agree.
we arrived sharp at 5.30p.m. when it just opened for dinner. fact, we were the 3rd group in the line. i have become a foodie eh?

the preparation counter.

the special okonomiyaki we ordered. the portion was definitely too big for me. i could only finish half. the top layer is an egg, then soba noodles with squid and prawn pieces. the sauce was really good and you add your own mayonaise. it is also known as japanese pizza and you eat it with chopsticks. it was good.

and that ended our day trip to hiroshima.

ok..time for bed now. it is another early day tomorrow. it is almost midnight here and i have to wake up at 6.30a.m. more day.....i can do it!!!!