Monday, October 19, 2015

Kyoto, Japan: Kiyomizu, Fushimi-Inari, Bamboo Grove and Kinkaju-ji

Kyoto, Japan

I have heard so many great things about Kyoto that I knew I had to go there before we left this island.
One thing I didn't realize was how urban Kyoto was. After looking at pictures you feel like everything will be older and more 'countrylike'. However, don't let that fool you. This is a huge city with millions of people and tons to do. Shopping districts just as packed as Dotonbori in Osaka. Restaurants, temples, museums and tadake theatres galore!

We didn't have a chance to see everything I had planned/wanted but we made the best of it and had a blast with our friends along the way.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

The Buddist temple Kiyomizu-dera was just flooded with people. We did go on a Japanese holiday so, that was our first mistake. But we were told this was a great place for the kids and of coarse an iconic temple in Kyoto. They were doing construction/refurbishing on most of the temple so the pictures were lacking but, the excitement was not.

With tons of different little buildings to see and places to light incense and perform prayers Stella was definitely into looking at everything. Ian was sleeping through the beginning but came through in the end.

The worst part though was that we LOST Henry's pacifier here... right here after this picture and never found it again. So we spend a good hour tracking down a store that sells pacifiers after this.
 Look there are some people we know stretched out on there!!

My big Princess on her perch

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

This bamboo forest is to die for. You just walk through bamboo that looks as if it reaches the sky. The light coming through just couldn't be any more beautiful. The kids loved running through the bamboo and although everywhere had been packed that day, the bamboo forest brought a more calm serene feeling to the trip.

There is a monkey forest in the middle of the bamboo. This was a MUST-DO on my list, however by the time we got here the monkey forest was closed. So, surprisingly we didn't hear any complaints from the kids and we just continued on our little journey through the beautiful jungle.

^^^ Geisha spotting!!! This is the only time we saw a real Geisha, we were SO excited because after a night on Gion street with no spotting we were happy we got to see one before we left mainland. Ps. They are beyond GORGEOUS!
After the long day seeing Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi-Inari and the Bamboo the kids were totally spent. Luckily we all had enough hands/shoulders to carry each child! Except poor Zach, but right here where everyone is being carried he was running back and forth to the station... so I think his feet were fine.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine: 10,000 Tori gates

I truly think this is the most important place to go to in Kyoto, Japan. These gates date back to 711 A.D., and as a foreigner with only a 250 year old country, 1300 years old is hard to imagine. See more Here.  It's pretty humbling to see how large this shrine is and how well preserved it is. There are so many portions as you walk through the gates to see others really focusing on the religious portions here. Ringing the bells, in hopes to pray for happiness, health etc. Our kids of coarse rang the bell and said they were praying, but I think they just liked the bells.

This was an awesome place for the kids because really they could just run on through here and jump up and look at the next spots along the way. We never made it to the top, but after 10,000 steps our feet were ready for lunch. I heard that to actually go through the whole thing it would take about 3.5-4 hours. The tourists were intense, there were just so so many people. I think it being a long weekend for the Americans, as well as it being a Japanese holiday we were just doomed to have tons of people around us. It didn't make for great pictures, however it was nice to see how many people really loved seeing such a wonderful place full of history.
Ian rang the bell and said a prayer. :)


I wish I knew the symbolism here for pouring the water into the little canister, but I have a feeling it is very symbolic and I actually was trying to tell the kids NOT to do this so that we weren't offending anyone. However, as you see... the kids listened really well.

Kinkaju-ji temple: The Golden Pavilion

If you don't get a picture of yourself with the Golden Pavilion, then you didn't go to Kyoto. Or, at least that's how I sold it to my husband. (p.s. I am pretty proud that I took that pic above^! )

Tuesday morning we braved the buses with a ton of sweaty hot stinky people to get this LAST site in before we had to rush back to the hotel pack up and train it back to Osaka.

Kinkaju-ji is a Zen temple in the really northern part of Kyoto. The original temple was burnt down multiple times during civil wars, but the one we can visit now was rebuilt in 1955. The top two floors are laid in gold leaf, as well as the inside.. Pretty fancy shmancy. You can't go inside, or really close to it at all so this is mainly for the pictures, but boy is it beautiful. The sun was shining and I felt like a photographer with my iphone because the pictures just came out so good.

After seeing the beautiful Golden Pavillion we rushed back to Kyoto Station and jumped on a bullet train to Osaka. The kids had such a blast over the long weekend but we were happy to be heading home. I love this picture of my three babes and I think it really displays how much fun they all have together, and I'm sure as they get older it will only get better.
I love exploring with my family and am looking forward to our next adventure.....


Friday, October 16, 2015

Osaka, Japan

Hey guys!
So, we took a little getaway this past weekend to celebrate making it through having another baby and of coarse one month back at work that I was already completely sick of!
When you have a baby in Japan it takes TIME, lots of TIME to get them citizenship and a passport. So, at almost 3 months old we still have no passport therefore the only places you could go have to stay within Japan. Therefore Osaka and Kyoto was my choice for Henry's very first Vacation. Also, our first attempt with 3!

Osaka Japan
We left right after work on Friday and made it to Osaka by dinnertime. However, we didn't realize we would need to take an hour long train ride " Choo Choo Bo Bo" ( as Ian would later remind us) to get there. So after a long day we cozied up in our suite ( thank you HHonors points) at the gorgeous Hilton Osaka.

We spend most of Saturday just adventuring around swimming at the pool and then checking out Osaka Castle. This castle was pretty sweet with an awesome mote around that we imagined a bunch of crocodiles used to inhabit.


We weren't sure what we were walking towards, but it turned out to be a wedding! A traditional Japanese wedding. It was extremely fancy and intense and I was so excited to see such a beautiful part of Japanese culture. 

The one AWESOME thing I heard about Osaka was the Dotonbori. This is a street in the heart of Osaka that is just FULL of nightlife, lights, shops and food. There were so many people it was just a sea of dark heads. We thought about enjoying the boats that went through the dotonbori canal but our tired babies had been walking all day ( us carrying them) so we opted out and just spent the evening at a yummy Italian restaurant ( we don't really love Japanese food lol) and then walked around eating some delicious sweets.

Ian has a waffle OBSESSION so of coarse we checked out this place that had tons of flavored waffles. Turned out they weren't as great as they smelled, but not bad.

The Glico man is the iconic man originally installed in 1935, the giant neon athlete on a blue track is a symbol of Glico Candy. I guess they have also dressed him up in different ways to represent current events happening in Osaka. Thanks wiki.

Saturday night our awesome friends the Moroney's met up with us in Osaka so Sunday was a fun filled day for the girls which included more swimming subways and a train to Kyoto to check out some of Gion street.

The second half of our trip we visited Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi-Inari, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Kikaju-ji.

The next post gives a sneak peak of our next adventure!