Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trip to alps, Nagano

There was no real snow on the ground yet, but you could tell as you pass through the beautiful countryside in the valley, it was snow country. The roofs all had snow breakers and lots of snow shovels and equipment.

It was also hydroelectric country.

Towards the end of this train trip we started to come down from the higher altitudes to arrive at Nagano for a smaller train to our final destination.

Beginning of trip to the alps

Sorry for the delays, been VERY busy travelling in some interesting countryside. Making 3 minute connections! Dom is getting sick of my regimentation. We left Kyoto by train heading towards Nagano. Nagano was the site of a previous Winter Olympics.

The trip was in a 'Limited wideview express', never been on one of those.
It turns out to a train has wrap around glass at the front with no apparent pillars and the passenger cabin is separated by a full height and width glass wall. Wonderful viewing in the first carriage!

Also saw an interesting thing, the 'Fat controller' was full sized and lurking on the platform, constantly looking at his watch, on his radio and looking at his large paper flow chart of train movements at this station in Kyoto.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kyoto musings

Kyoto is an interesting city. Up until 150 years ago it was the capital of Japan for 1500 years. Before that the capital was in a nearby town called Nara. Kyoto is an anagram of Tokyo, at least in English. The streets are unhurried and very wide footpaths that are at least double the size of ours with dedicated bike lanes.

I do like this place.

Ate a lot and looked at shops a lot. They have at least one dangerous place here called Yodobashi Cameras. I think it it a national chain. Think of the biggest Myer ground floor in a capital city and the at least quadruple it. Then add 6 floors. When you come into to the ground floors instead of names like Revlon, Shisedo etc coming into view you see Nikon, Canon, Sony. Every model you can think including film. Every accessory any human can think of for photography meets you. There are staff running actually serving and providing advice and help. Nothing is too difficult. Next few floors up have toys, games etc. The higher floors are for more mundane pursuits like air cons, washing machines etc.

A very dangerous place indeed. We had to perform recon here at least 10+ times including having to buy something urgently at 930pm on Sunday night :-)

It was day 3 and 4 now in Japan. We got a bit asianed out on food so we had KFC for lunch. The chicken and variety was great, the chips were a little mundane compared to back home, not so much MSG, if any. We continued that theme in the evening. We went to Maccas. Dom had an Ebi burger, (prawns) in a meal. I overloaded and had a double quarter pounder meal which cost $7.

Blogs have slowed, lots of travel. More coming soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Strange but true, in Kyoto

Not in any particular order, haven't worked out how to arrange the photographs.

Beauty pelvis, I've always been a firm supporter of this, myself.

Have any part of the cow you want, just point it out.

5 wheeled bicycle....

Boogaloo cafe.

A Cessna Skylane cut perfectly in half above a shop.

The womb shop, not sure how well this chain will go.

Civilised, a smoking room outside a department store.

Felt important for the day.

Temple to business, Inari Shrine

Interesting concept. A temple to the gods, with a business major. Apparently lots of business people come here and pray for business to be good. About 1.3 million around new years.. If business is good they come back and sponsor these Tori Gates. Business must be good, takes two hour to walk to the top of the hill and back, apparently. On the way up you look in awe. On the way down you see the sponsors names on the back. That's business.

Interesting Kyoto temple

Went to Kiyomizu Temple. There are historic Buddha relics there. Perched on the side of a hill, amongst magnificent scenery. Apart from navigating up the hill and moving through lots of mid week tourists, another adventure awaits. As best I can work it out, it's a visit to the 'belly of the Buddha'. You take your shoes off and head down a steep set of stairs with just a railing of sorts on the left. It becomes totally dark as you go down and the stairs turn left and right and go up and down. The hand rail becomes large beads that swing, still no light, you can here other people but not touch them. You dare not drop anything. After a few minutes walking, you reach a large, smooth round rock with just a hint of what might be starlight above it. You are supposed to make a wish and touch it before moving on. Probably another another minute of navigating stairs in the dark following the beaded hand rail and you come out. I won't say it was a spiritual experience but strangely calming. I enjoyed the visit here. You can see the modern skyline of Kyoto, but you could be a thousand miles and several hundred years away if you don't look at it.

Colours of Kyoto

What a city of contrasts. Starting the day with a drive to Kinkaju, the golden temple. Real gold leaf about 20kg. Built by an emperor who liked boats. Set amongst beautiful fall colours.