Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gold and Geisha at Kyoto

January 2007

It was my first and only time to experience staying in a backpacker hostel/ryokan. I lived in a dorm style room with shared bathrooms for a few nights. It was safe and clean but I just had to be careful with my valuables.

My bed

Kyoto is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million and was formerly the imperial capital of Japan.

Gion is the Geisha district in Kyoto. I was lucky enough to see real geisha's walking around and performing at the Gion theatre. Dont be fooled though, there are a lot of tourists in geisha costume due to the numerous "Geisha for a Day" tours.

At 2nd row of Gion theatre

One of the most outstanding Zen buddhist temple in the world is in Kyoto. The world renown Golden Pavilion is covered with pure gold leaves.

Its neighboring city, Nara, also boasts of its own temples specifically, Todajii, which houses Japan's largest buddha. By the time the Buddha was completed in 751, it had consumed most of Japan's bronze production for several years and left the country almost bankrupt.

Plan a trip to Kyoto/Nara if you are visiting Japan for this first time!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kamakura with Mom and Alpi

December 2006

When my mom visited me in Tokyo, Alpi took us to Kamakura (鎌倉市) which is a city located 50 km southwest of Tokyo.

Kamakura is famous for its Kōtoku-in, with its monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha. A 15th century tsunami destroyed the temple that once housed the Great Buddha, but the statue survived and has remained outdoors ever since.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (鶴岡八幡宮) is the most important shrine in the city of Kamakura. Both the shrine and the city were built with Feng Shui in mind. The present location was carefully chosen as the most propitious after consultation with a diviner because it had the
Hokuzan 北山 mountain to the north, the Namerikawa river to the east, a great road to the west (the Kotō Kaidō 古東街道) and was open to the south (on Sagami Bay). Each direction was protected by a god.

(Old picture of the shrine)

(Wishes written at wooden plates and hung everywhere)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How can I not love Japan?

November 2006

(The day I met Alpi...)

Besides the unique culture of Japan, how can I not love the country where I met my husband? I met Alpi Bacani on November 2006 on a cold Saturday in Shinagawa, Tokyo... and a year & 4mos later, he became my husband and 親友 (best friend).

I was assigned to work on a 3 month project in Tokyo, Japan and met lots of cool people.

When Alpi and I met for the first time, he took me on a short tour of Tokyo. We went to the Asakusa (浅草) district famous for the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple.

We also went to the Yasukuni Shinto shrine, built in honor of of kamikaze (suicide) soldiers, where they would say before death "See you in Yasakuni".

Ofcourse, Akihabara Electronic Town is a MUST when in Tokyo. It is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items.

(Promo girls/boys in anime costumes at Akihabara)

It was the first time for me and Alpi to go to an ABSOLUT ICEBAR and it was too cool! We were only allowed to stay for 45 minutes because you can get sick but it was worth it. Everything was made of ice - sofa, tables, bar, glasses, paintings, everything! Awesome.

I want to go back to TOKYOOOO!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Italy Overdose

October 2006

3 weeks around Italy!

1st stop: MILAN to meet Marga and Vito. It is the second largest city of Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy and one of the world capitals of design and fashion.

(Vito and Marga)

(On top of the Milan Cathedral)

Michaelangelos Rondanini Pieta, and Virgin of the Rocks)

2nd stop: Lake Como is a popular tourist destination. It is a venue for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. In 1818 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Thomas Love Peacock: “This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests”.

3rd stop: Venice is world-famous for its canals. It is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by about 150 canals in a shallow lagoon. The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies.

(At Piazza San Marco)

4th stop: TUSCANY. I loved this place so much that I made it the theme of our wedding when we held it at Tagaytay.

(At the capital of Tuscany, Florence where the famous DAVID can be found)

(Castellina, Tuscany)

(At Bolgari, Tuscany)

5th stop: Pisa is a city in Tuscany and is known worldwide for its famous bell tower.

6th stop: The historical Pompeii. Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed, and completely buried, during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in AD 79.

(Mt. Vesuvius)

The volcano buried Pompeii under many meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Today, it is both one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last Stop and my favorite: The Amalfi Coast, or Costiera Amalfitana in Italian, is a stretch of coastline on the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula of Italy.

Renowned for its rugged terrain, scenic beauty, picturesque towns and diversity, the Amalfi Coast is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

I recommend Italy to all travelers and stay for at least 2 weeks :) 5 stars from National Carine-ographic.