Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art – Japan Edition

Taking a break from my travel entries to do another weekly photo challenge entry. Time for some cover worthy pictures!

Was browsing through Japan Guide website yesterday and came across this Kyoto feature. Realised that I had a similar shot of Tenryuji Temple taken during my trip last year – taken from outside the temple where the room acts as a sort of ‘frame’ for the Koyo/Autumn Leaves. After some post-editing using Snapseed to submit this picture for a photo contest a couple month back, the colours looked pretty similar post-editing to the one highlighted in Japan Guide. Also mine was taken on 20th November 2013 …… just a few days apart. Nice co-incidence πŸ™‚

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Another one of my favourite shots, also taken in Kyoto …… when I was leaving Kiyomizudera. Unlike the 1st picture, no filter for this.


And also my favourite ‘egg-yolk’ sunset shot taken on top of the Tempozan Ferris Wheel in Osaka. Similarly, no filter. Used this as the cover photo for my personal facebook as well πŸ™‚


And one more …… this time from my 2012 Winter trip. One of my favourites as well of the Tokyo Metropolitian Government Building. Took this as we took the short walk from our hotel (Shinjuku Washington) to the observatory located in this building. The juxtaposition of the winter trees shorn of its leaves contrasted against the building was just perfect ……


The original photo challenge entry here


Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

It feels like AGES since the last photo challenge entry …… and so decided that its time for one whilst taking a break from writing my next travel blog πŸ˜›

Decided to shortlist a few photos from my past travels (mainly my 2012 and 2013 Japan trips + my recent Hong Kong trip) that fits into the theme of Humanity.

Humanity, in dictionary terms means the following:

1. all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind

2. the quality or condition of being human; human nature

3. the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence


December 2012: Japan Winter Trip

The quene outside mega popular Sushi Dai that has barely moved (even after we finished our meal at the next door Sushi Daiwa within an hour).

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November 2013: Japan Autumn Trip

One of my favourite shots taken at Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto. A large group of school children (probably from Tokyo) on excursion.


August 2014: Hong Kong & Macau Summer Trip

We spotted a old lady selling egg-based pancakes at a corner shop in Senado Square (whilst on route to the St. Paul Ruins). To be able to do such a manual work, and facing the heat of the pans day in day out is a legend by itself. She gets my thumbs up!


The original photo challenge entry here

Japan 2013: Day 8 Last Moments In Kyoto & Back To Tokyo Part 2


Stepping into the main hall and the autumn foliage that overlooks from the verandas at the main hall.


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A view of the famed veranda. You may be able to spot a tiny speck right amongst the clear blue sky – that is Kyoto Tower in the distance!


Close up of the buildings right below the temple / main hall itself ……


Worshippers at the main hall ……


Looking down the veranda on the Otowa Waterfall right at the bottom of the main hall with its 3 streams which represent success at school, longevity and a forunate love life. However one should drink from one and not be greedy to drink from all three ……


Zoomed in onto the veranda and did not ‘see’ any nail in its construction. Indeed Kiyomizudera is the temple ‘without nails’ ……


As versus the earlier autumn foliage I saw over the past 2 days in Kyoto, the leaves here look dried and peaked ……


Finally some nicer autumn foliage as I walked to the end of the main hall/veranda ……


Huge crowds indeed. In addition to being peak season (for tourists), there were many school children on excursion too (centre picture – one of my favourite shots). Also accidentally got 1 shot of 3 ladies in a kimono when I was picking up something on the floor ……

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Would have loved to write a wish on the wooden ema (like what I did back at Meiji Jingu during my last trip) but the crowd detered me from doing so …… A bit regretful now ……


There is a small shrine right beside the main hall …… at the corner as I walked towards the veranda right across the main hall (while on the way down to the basement – Kiyomizudera is perched righ on top of a mountainous range) ……


Jisu Shrine is also known as a ‘love’ shrine, as it is a shrine specially dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking.

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The famous ‘love stone’ – where it is said that you will be successful in finding love if you can walk across/find your way from one stone to the other (with your eyes closed). Nope, didn’t try that πŸ˜›


There are also a few other deities that you can pray to for general good luck as well ……

Jisu Shrine 2

You can read more in depth about Jisu Shrine here as well ……

Left Jisu Shrine and walked back onto the veranda overlooking the main hall of Kiyomizudera. This is also the spot where you can get the postcard looking images of Kiyomizudera (similar to those you’ll see in magazines/blogs/articles) πŸ˜€ ……

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More autumn foliage …..


It was almost 1pm when I finally reached the base of the main hall (this means I have spent a really long time taking pictures earlier at the main hall and Jisu Shrine :P) ……


And finally to the waterfall, where I took a few sips from one stream (and prayed for blessings) ……


The main hall looks really high up, as I wait in line for my turn at the waterfall ……


One last look at the pond right below the main hall and Kiyomizudera itself ….


One of my favorite set of photos. Looked out to the clear bright blue sky with the nice fluffy clouds decorating the sky as I leave Kiyomizudera. No selfie at the entrance as it was full of tourists taking their group photos ……


Japan 2013: Day 8 Last Moments In Kyoto & Back To Tokyo Part 1


Have exactly 1 whole morning and 1/2 of an afternoon left in Kyoto before I head back to Tokyo on the 1556 Hrs Shinkansen Hikari 465 train (reserved beforehand at Haneda Airport).

As my luggage was dropped off at the luggage cloak of First Cabin’s reception area, had to bring the luggage back to my cabin to pack. This took some time before everything was done, and I finally checked out at 9-plus.

Went to get my day bus pass at the subway station, followed by Krisy Kreme breakfast at Shijo Subway. Finally had my 1st taste of Krispy Kreme original glazed in Japan, together with a black coffee πŸ˜›

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While I usually don’t have the habit of taking heavy breakfast, and just a donut + coffee seemed sufficient for a relatively late breakfast at 10am, it is still not that filling of a breakfast (as compared to bread/sandwich) as the donut is more sugar than substance …… and most likely will have to take an earlier lunch around 12-plus to 1 around Higashiyama area.

The main agenda for my remaining time left in Kyoto – a half-day visit to Higashiyama area covering the Kiyomizudera Temple, Higashiyama District and Kodaiji Temple …… and go back to Nishiki Market for some food shopping before picking up my luggage at First Cabin. Target to reach First Cabin by 1430 Hrs latest so that I have enough time to get to Kyoto Station.

After my breakfast, got up to the streets of Shijo to board a bus to Kiyomizudera Temple. Once again, a bright and sunny day!


While waiting for Bus 207 (that will bring me to Kiyomizudera Temple), saw at the bus stop this interactive signboard that indicates the waiting time for the bus …… and where the bus is at right now before it reaches the bus stop proper. Interesting!


The bus ride took around 20 min. However, there is still a further 10 to 15 min walk uphill before reaching Kiyomizudera proper. Let the walk begin ……

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Halfway mark ….. but with the massive crowd (as with peak season), the remaining uphill walk (its really steep) is going to take longer than 7 to 10 min. There were some snack shops and sounvenir shops along the uphill walk though (didn’t take much pictures of them other than 1 food shop as I was navigating through the crowds and wanted to get to the entrance as soon as possible).

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Finally reached the entrance …. Where more steps/stairs greet me πŸ˜›


No chance for a selfie in front of the entrance as there were too many people around.

The walk upslope. Unlike the autumn foliage I saw earlier at Ginkakuji and in Arashiyama, the trees that I spotted along the route looked dried and are already starting to shed leaves. Noted that it is usually hot as well …. temperatures may well have played a factor.




One of my favourite shots – autumn tree contrasted with the bright blue sky.


Paid the 300 JPY entrance fee and was greeted by a sea of construction at the entrance. Read prior to the trip that a number of the temple buildings are under major renovations.


Some information about Kiyomizudera Temple, as extracted from Japan Guide. The most striking thing I had read about this legendary temple is that the buildings are built without nails! :

Kiyomizudera (ζΈ…ζ°΄ε―Ί, literally “Pure Water Temple”) is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails, houses the temple’s primary object of worship, a small statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon.

Despite many of the buildings being under extensive renovation, the main hall still remains intact.