Category Archives: Kansai

Hoko Garden – Himeji City

The Koko-en or Koko Garden is located just west of Himeji Castle in Himeji City.  If you’re walking from the main train station, it is to the left of the castle grounds on the other side of the moat.  According to the visitor’s pamphlet, the garden was completed in 1992 and is situated where the samurai beholden to the local domain once lived. The day I visited, the weather was overcast, but I found the expansive garden a great place

Weekend Trip to Kansai- Kyoto

Since moving to Japan, I’ve lived on small islands in Okinawa Prefecture.  Unlike those on the mainland, it can be hard to travel when you factor in the time and cost of having to take a boat or plane before you get to a major airport, and at least two planes to get to a major rail station.  Still, after a motivating visit from ZoomingJapan and a time sale on Peach Airlines (less than 7,000 yen round trip from Naha to Kansai),

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is hailed as the most fabulous of Japan’s many castles. It is definitely the largest. I had the opportunity to visit Himeji for a half-day at the start of March in 2013. Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Hertiage site. Restoration Over the past several years, the main keep of Himeji Castle has been covered by a giant scaffolding that is essentially a building that encircles the high roof. The internal structure has been reinforced

Osaka Castle Part 2

Back in June, I covered some of the grounds and parks surrounding Osaka Castle.  Today, I have pictures from inside the grounds and keep.  Osaka Castle is full of history, but can become quite crowded as well.  When I went it was in the midst of Golden Week, and the crowds meant a long line to enter the keep and almost no chance of seeing any of the displays.  Although the peak of the building offers great views of Osaka,

Silver Pavilion Buildings – Kyoto

Last week, I shared some of the amazing sights surrounding the grounds of Kyoto’s famed Silver Pavilion.  Of course, the historic building is the reason most people travel up the winding, shop laden street to the gates of the building.  The Silver Pavilion started as the retreat of failed Shogun Yoshimasa in the midst of the Onin War (15th century)* and remains today as a cultural landmark. The Pavilion is a two-story wooden structure with wood tiled roof.  Unlike the

Silver Pavilion Grounds

The Silver Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan is one of that city’s greatest attractions, but like many scenic spots in Japan, there’s more to see than just a single building.  The grounds around the ancient and interesting structure provide a beautifully scenic setting on the edge of one of Japan’s largest cities.  From tall trees to ancient stone carvings, its well worth your time strolling through the grounds. Here’s a few pictures from my trip to the famed tourist spot during

Iwatayama Monkey Park

When you think of Kyoto, the first images you conjure are likely of temples, geisha, or tea houses, yet there is far more to see around the City.  One of Kyoto’s interesting features is the beautiful green mountains that surround the city, many of which have permanent kanji designs that are lit aflame during festivals.  One of the mountains without a symbol is Arashi Mountain, just east of the city.  There, high above the urban sprawl of ancient and modern

Osaka’s Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple Part 2

If you happened to read the first part of my Shitenno-ji tour you may have felt a vague sense of disappointment, incompleteness, or even confusion.  Don’t worry, all is answered here as our little tour moves past the gates and into the ground of the oldest state sponsored Buddhist Temple in Japan (the buildings aren’t the oldest, since they’ve been rebuilt, but the ground is the same-ish).  According to the English Language pamphlet provided with my entry fee, “Shitennoji was founded in 593 by

Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka

Shitenno-ji is located in Osaka, Japan. It is the first Buddhist temple to be built by the state, specifically under the direction of Prince Shotoku. The Prince had a significant hand in promoting Buddhism in Japan during the 6th Century. The architecture is similar to Nara’s Horyuji Temple with a main gate, lecture hall, five-story pagoda, golden hall, and other structures. Unlike Horyuji, which holds the world’s oldest wooden building, Shitenno-ji has been rebuilt several times. Still, the grounds are

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