Oh Osaka!

It’s the final stop of our epic trip now. The colourful, hectic city of Osaka.

 

Chockablock full of insane colour and oversized sushi, dragons and puffer fish.

 

Even death is in on the selling action – in this case flogging some form of sweet treat.

But forget all that, I spot the MOST EPIC, MOST JAPANESE THING EVER!! Hello kitty roadworks . .. it just doesn’t get any cuter than this!

 

Everything is Kawaii in Japan. Whether it’s kitten vending machines or food packaging.

 

For a change I stick my head through this advertising board. The man refused . . .

 

Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the “nation’s kitchen”and served as a centre for the rice trade during the Edo period.

Food still plays a huge part in the commercial, and social, fabric of the city.

 

Still lots more to come from this quirky city including a department store with its own ferris wheel!!!

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Robot revolution

Arriving at our Osaka hotel we’re instantly accosted, and smitten by, our little robot concierge.

Dancing, bowing, singing Pepper is a cute little plastic poppet!

According to his manufacturers Pepper is a human-shaped robot. He is kindly, endearing and surprising.

They designed Pepper to be a genuine day-to-day companion, whose number one quality is his ability to perceive emotions.

Apparently Pepper gradually memorises your personality traits, your preferences, and adapts himself to your tastes and habits. All we know is he’s an adorable little fella!

Odds and ends

It’s the last few memories of Kyoto now before we head onto our final destination.

We check out the atmospheric bamboo forests in Arashiyama. The light is fading so it adds a slightly gloomy feel to the eerie, empty forest.

20161012_170515The bamboo forest paths which are over 500 meters long are set between Tenryuji temple and Nonomiya Shrine.

Then we enjoy the kimono forest again as the colourful pillars light up as darkness approaches.

Plus we enjoy a foot spa, slap bang in the middle of the train station platform!

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Before heading back for our final night in Kyoto. We still enjoy Japanese public transport.

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On our final evening we have another drift around Kyoto enjoying some of the quirky signs and adverts.

Particularly enjoy this colourful spectacle outside a traditional (ish) restaurant!

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Now our epic trip rumbles onto its final stop – Osaka! . .. so nearly the end 😦

Just monkeys

If you don’t like monkeys then move along as this post is utterly devoted to the furry little fleabags.

It’s just lots more snaps of the snow monkeys to be found at the monkey park in Arashiyama….

Whether huddled in family groups picking fleas off babies to sitting aloofly in the trees shooting vaguely contemptuous glares at the tourists below, they have a lot of personality!

This lil baby gets the crowd cooing with its teeny tiny hands and quizzical face.

While this little fella enjoys some peaceful time out by the water.

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The Japanese macaque, also known as the snow monkey, is a monkey species that is native to Japan.

They get their name “snow monkey” because they live in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year – no other nonhuman primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate.

The Japanese macaque is a very intelligent, sociable species that have unusual behaviours, including bathing together in hot springs and rolling snowballs for fun.

Also, in recent studies, the Japanese macaque has been found to develop different accents, like humans 🙂

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Cheeky monkeys

We’re heading to check out some more of Japan’s wildlife now, but instead of deer, this time it’s a more furry type we’re after. We’re heading to the Iwatayama Monkey Park  in Kyoto.

On route we enjoy the pretty scenery of Arashiyama including this impressive river complete with little pleasure boats.

In order to get to the park we need to take a hike (or gentle walk according to his lordship) up a mountain.

On route there are lot’s of “helpful” notices about what to do and not to do with the critters.

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The further I go, the more freaked out by the amount of warning signs I see. . don’t look at the monkeys, don’t crouch down . . . and I thought this would be cute and fun!

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The park is home to about 120 snow monkeys, which are also called Japanese macaque.

You can buy bags of apples and nuts for the monkeys and it is the tourists that are caged not the animals.

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In order to feed the greedy little beasts you have to go into a hut and offer the food through the wire!

The monkey’s are endearingly human, each with their own personalities.

Some are forward, grabby and greedy while others are far more shy.

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We even get to spot a teeny tiny fur baby! So adorable and cheeky!

You can also spot family groups, squabble and playful teasing – just like human families!

 

Tiny trams and kimono forests

We’re headed to see some cheeky monkeys and a kimono forest next but in order to get there we’re heading on an adorable little tram line known as Randen.

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The Randen tramline was founded in 1910. It’s been running for over 100 years and runs from Shijo Omiya to Arashiyama and Kitano Hakubaicho.

The Randen Line operated by Keifuku Electric Railroad and is considered the last tram line in Kyoto.

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I get over excited by the little display of everyone’s favourite depressed egg yolk Gudetama at the tram station!

Dismebarking at Arashiyama we make a brief visit to the kimono forest at the station.

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It is a wonderful display made up of pieces of colourful textiles dyed in the traditional Kyo-yuzen style.

There are approximately 600 examples of Kyo Yuzen in perspex pillars with around 32 different patterns.

It’s a fantastical, colourful slice of tradition but also whimsy. I loved it!

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Also you can take a look at the Atagoike Dragon Pond. This is where people come to pray and make wishes.

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Here’s a close up of just a few of the sumptuous Yuzen patterns.

The forest is lit up at night which makes it even more ethereal and beautiful. It’s also completely free to visit – tourist bonus!

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Glittering glorious temple

Next on our tourist hit list is the shimmering, glittering glory of The Temple of the Golden Pavillion.

This beautiful slice of golden glory is known as Kinkaku-ji meaning the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion” but it is officially named Rokuon-ji “Deer Garden Temple”

It is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto and is a glorious sight when the sunlight reflects off its gilded surfaces.

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The present building dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt after the original was burnt to the ground.

It’s three stories high, approximately 12.5 meters in height and functions as a shariden, a building that houses important relics of the Buddha.

The use of lots of gold is important because of its underlying meaning.

The gold is used to mitigate and purify any pollution or negative thoughts and feelings towards death

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The Pavilion is set in a beautiful garden which uses the idea of borrowing of scenery (“shakkei”)

Shakkei is a traditional East Asian garden design principle which incorporates background landscape into the composition of a garden.

The pavilion extends over Kyōko-chi, the Mirror Pond, that reflects the building giving you a double hit of its shiny wonderfulness.

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The temple is a must see on the sightseeing itinerary, which means that it does get very busy with other temple baggers.

But if you like bling and if you like temples, then it’s definitely worth braving the hordes!

Quaint Kyoto

Here’s a few more snaps from the beautiful back streets of Kyoto. The deep red wooden panels are so pretty and calming.

It’s like stepping back in time to a more cultured, gentle era where everyone is poised and delicate like little dolls.

We happen to stumble upon this gorgeous newly wedded couple in traditional Japanese garb.

I love the lovely floral wedding kimono that the bride is wearing.

These young rickshaw runners really earn their money as they pull their customers along purely using their own strength!

Here’s a few more candid snaps of some local ladies in their lovely colourful outfits.

And, in case it’s not feeling Japanese enough for you, here’s a graceful heron too.

Memoirs of a Geisha bridge

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The small Shirakawa canal crosses the geisha district of Gion in Kyoto.

Several bridges are built over the canal, the largest of them being Tatsumi Bashi.

This tiny bridge has been made a tourist hot spot after featuring in the film Memoirs of a Geisha.

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It’s an adorable little spot with its orange picket fence and old fashioned lanterns.

Lots of newly married couples get their photos taken here and it is also popular with young girls in traditional costumes too.

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The whole area around the canal feels like a picture postcard of traditional Japan. Almost a Disneyesque take on the country.

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Temples and angry hornets

Following on from the frantic traditional shopping streets of Gion we’re heading to another evocative part of Kyoto, the tearooms on the canal sides.

On route we visit another pretty traditional temple that warns of “bees” DO NOT BE FOOLED – these are not our cute little bumble variety, hell no. These are deadly asian hornets – a very different, and evil, beast!

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Sadly I have no idea which of the many Kyoto temples this one happens to be (bad travel blogger I know!) But its style typifies the tranquail, peaceful oasis of calm that these spiritual places offer.

As usual the man serves as my photo prop – stand there, hop on that!

Here’s an adorable little sign, who knows what it is advertising?!

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You spot lots of intriguing sights along the winding little back streets. I enjoyed this odd bric a brac shop that seems to sell everything from war helmets to cart wheels.

Finally we make it to the pretty back water canals where traditional teashops hangover the calming waters.

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