Yoshino Cherry (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 17)

One of the most famous cultivated cherry blossoms in temperate countries is the Yoshino Cherry. The petals are white or light pink and the flowers grow in clusters of 5 or 6 together.


On the last day of our hanami trip, we went to Yoshino-yama to view the white cherry blossoms at Simo-senbon, Naka-senbon, Kami-senbon and Oku-senbon. Senbon is an expression that you can view a thousand cherry trees at a glance. These cherry blossoms are viewed in chronological order starting from early April through late April. In this way, you can enjoy a beautiful cherry blossoms for a long period.


Spectacular Full Blossoms @ Osaka (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 16)

No visit to Osaka is complete without a visit to Osaka Castle. We visited the Osaka Park and Castle on our 2nd last day. Do as the Romans do in Rome, we ended our visit in Osaka with a Hanami picnic in the park. It was a simply awesome experience eating and watching the falling petals when there is a breeze.

We also went to the commercial areas around the Park after the castle visit. The area is also planted with Sakura trees and is beautiful.

Arima Onsen – When Nene Meets Hideyoshi (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 15)

Arima Onsen, needless to say, is a place full of hot springs. Arima hot springs are rare worldwide ones containing lots of minerals and natural ingredients.  There are 7 ingredients out of 9 main ingredients (simple hot spring water, carbon dioxide spring water, hydrogen carbonate spring water, chloride water, sulfate water, ferruginous water, sulfur water, acid water, and radioactive water) designated as ones to be included for medical treatment.

There are many accommodations available in Arima, one can go the high-end way, spending the nights at onsen ryokans or go the economical way, staying at the Arima No Kobo (Arima Craft Center). The accommodation is called Koyado Touji, about 9000 yen per night per twin room. With the room keys, one can go for a free dip in the 金の湯 (Kin-No-Yu) and 銀の湯 (Gin-No-Yu)。

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In Arima, you can also find 2 interesting statues looking at each other from a far. They are none other than Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wife, Nene.

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Sight-seeing at Himeji En Route to Arima Onsen (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 14)

On this day, we did a bit of sight-seeing at Himeji while going to Arima Onsen. We managed to did a bit of shopping at Kobe too. 🙂

At Himeji, we visited the Himeji Castle (姫路城), a true survivor that was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes and fires. It has been kept in its original state for 600 over years. The cherry blossom trees around the castle was in full bloom and we took a few pictures. In the castle, one can learn about the life story of Princess Senhime (千姫).

After the castle tour, we went to Kobe Motomachi to have lunch and did a bit of shopping. We then proceeded to Arima Onsen. Arima Onsen is a famous small hot spring town whereby one can explore on foot. There are several hot spring sources, nice temples and shrines and a small hot spring museum to be discovered.

As we arrived at Arima Onsen during evening, we decided to leave sight-seeing to the next day but managed to squeezed in one last bit of shopping and sight-seeing. We bought some souvenirs, Arima senbei (highly recommended!) that were made using the carbonated hot spring water and also hopped onto a special sight-seeing bus/van to catch the “million dollar night view” of Kobe city from Mount Rokko.



Not One, Not Two but a Thousand Torii Gates! (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 13)

Torii gates (鳥居), traditional Japanese gates usually found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, mark the transition from the earthly world into the holy spiritual world. At Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社), you don’t see just one or two of them, you see thousands of torii gates! One can imagine what a spectacular sight it is and how great they’ll look in photos. These are donations by individuals and companies who would like to thank the Kami (神), gods, for their successes.

Fushimi Inari is a shrine dedicated to Inari, Shinto’s God of Rice. One can spot many statues of foxes in the grounds of the shrine as they are believed to be messengers of Inari.

We spent our time leisurely exploring the shrine and of course happily taking photos. Here are some to share with you.


A Night of Singing and Dancing (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 12)

This is a day of travelling…

First, we travelled from Kyoto (京都) to Mount Hiei (比叡山). Here, we visited the Enryaku-ji (延暦寺). The temple is part of the world heritage site in Japan. It is one of the most important monasteries in Japanese history and the headquarters of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism.

After that, we took the ropeway down to Sakamoto and switched to a train to Otsu. That was where the fun started! After checking into our hotel, we decided to go to a nearby temple to take a look. Guess what? We chanced upon a dance festival cum temple fair! There were traditional Japanese singing and dancing performances. Visitors like us could join in the fun too and of course we did! 😀

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Strolling Along the Philosopher’s Walk (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 11)

On the 11th day of our trip, we decided to take a stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk (哲学之道). The pathway is dotted with cherry blossoms and we were lucky that most of the trees are in full blossom. We took many photos and visited Ginkaku-ji (银阁寺) along the way. The walk ended at Nanzen-ji (南禅寺) where we had the famous beancurd soup (汤豆腐) meal in one of the restaurants.

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After the walk, we went back to our Ikoi-no-ie (憩の家) to have our kimono wearing session. We had fun wearing the kimono and taking photos near our hotel. It was fun and not too expensive. Do give it a try! 😉