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Old 04-21-2012, 11:50 PM   #16
zanzibar138
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I loved reading the Disney part of your TR - looking forward to the rest of it! And good to know about Jetstar too!
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:38 AM   #17
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Vettegirl-thanks. Sorry you had to miss Disneysea-it is well worth a future trip. I don't think they had any damage to both parks but were being cautious. It must have been a crazy time to be there. It is all back to normal now on the surface in Tokyo but like any disaster our hearts went out to all those who suffered and I know some families are still concerned of radiation effects though everything scientific we read was reassuring.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:44 AM   #18
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Princess in Oz I still have to duck over and read your HK trip report-its on my list! and we decided last year that we definately would have to now do them all! I agree-you have succeeded in one of the most important parental duties!! Not Disney but my daughter met her list which was go to every Australian state before she turned 18 (after we had several road trips in her primary years)-now she has every Disney castle and every continent in her lifetime on her list (not quite as Disnutty as me-I failed but she's coming round!)
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Old 04-22-2012, 11:39 PM   #19
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Enjoying reading this while sitting at LAX waiting for my connecting flight home from Tokyo. *sniff*. This was my 4th trip to Japan and TDR and I had a fabulous time. Now I need to find a way to get back, lol. Anyway, your TR is helping me relive my own memories.

Took a ton of photos and will be writing a travel blog for my website as soon as I can get organized and stuff.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:03 AM   #20
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Day 2 Thursday 29 March Kyoto

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day and decided to head out and explore and find breakfast along the way but first here are some pics of our little home for 6 nights.

Outside


Dining area


Little garden outside the dining area


Hubby being good doing the dishes in the little kitchen (he is goodlike that!)


The upstairs tatami room (and me stuffing my face with desert goodies as usual)


Our western bedroom


Those steep stairs


The 'wet' room with a proper deep Japanese bath


We wandered up towards Kiyomizu-dera and down Sannenzakka and Ninenzakka stairs-the tour buses were just starting to arrive! But few shops were open yet and the windy lanes were quiet. We were captivated by the old wooden shopfronts and the network of lanes and tourist shops reminded us somewhat of the Plaka area in Athens.







We chose not to enter the temple as we were hungry and figured it would take a couple of hours but here's a pic from the terrace outside looking towards the Kyoto Tower (we were going to get very sick of the sight of that on Tuesday- the day we were meant to travel to Kanazawa!)



and a plum tree (we are pretty sure not cherry)


Instead we continued wandering north arriving at Maruyama park. A hop across the road to a convenient Lawson and we took a brunch of sandwiches, cakes (I tried my first Lawson’s chocolate tart-became a favourite) and lemon tea back to the park and found a bench to sit and eat our definitely not traditional but we liked it, first breakfast in Japan. The park was full of tarps set out by locals ready for hanami-the cherry blossom festival but all the trees were still only in bud and looked a few days off. (Our bus friend had told us you set your tarp out to mark your spot days in advance and no-one touches it-its respected its “your” spot).



Some food stalls were already setting up in anticipation. We then doubled back to Kodaji Temple. I had picked this from descriptions on the web as sounding like a nice small temple with elements common to many like a moss garden and a raked zen garden. We loved it. It was all I hoped for and more. It was established in 1605 by a noblewomen in memory of her late husband Toyotomi Hideyoshi and financed by his shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. We experienced our first time of removing shoes to walk into the main hall or Hojo. This had pretty shoji screens with dragon motifs (no pics allowed). We sat for a while enjoying the raked garden which has a pattern of stones like a dragon encircling it before putting our shoes back on and walking past the pond and the Kaisan-do dedicated to the memory of the founding priest and up the “dragon corridor” to Otama-ya the memorial hall enshrining the noblewomen and her husband which contained beautiful lacquer work. The walk back down was through a small bamboo forest. I was amused to see workmen and women sweeping the moss clean of leaves with little straw brooms.

Here are some pics




















I liked these- not sure what they are-need my Dad's input (or some clever gardener on here)



oops put of pic allowance-to be continued.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:14 AM   #21
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Cont day 2

This was the Ryogen Kannon next door, 24m high built to honour the Japanese dead in WW2.


Outside were several interesting shrines. In this one the Temmangu Ox-will bear your sufferings for you and take your ailments away-hubby giving it a go rubbing it all over he has so many ailments!



Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kita-no-Mandokoro-wishing for a happy marriage and peace



We continued wandering north along the roads-lots of rickshaws were about now pulled by enthusiastic youths in the same outfits with unusual two- toed shoes-we noticed they managed to most often persuade young girls or couples to have a go! Up and down the hills-a hard way to earn a living especially when two plump westerners jump on board! Since my hubby is one of those unadventurous types “you don’t want to waste money on that” we did not share the fun



Form a shop that sells them on the web as didn't get a close up there


We passed Chion-in and its huge San-mon (temple gate)-largest wooden gate in Japan.


Also a large camphor tree outside Shoren-in (where we would be back later for light-up)



We ended up at Nanzenji complex of temples and I was on a mission to find Nanzenji Oko-no-in-reported by Lonely Planet as up a valley behind the aquaduct so off I set. I found it easy but quite a steep hike upwards and very pretty and peaceful with a small waterfall in a gorge and a small open shrine and several alters in caves. Wooded steps led off up through the forest and I believe you can hike 5km or so to the top of Mt Daimonji that way.

The aquaduct crosses the grounds and still has water in it.








Hunger was calling so we started walking back along Nioman-dori beside Lake Biwa canal (the zoo was on the other side and sounded busy with children as it was still spring break for many).



I am embarrassed to say we stumbled first across a MacDonalds-we were very hungry, we were tired and it was there! We had very good special “American burger” with egg “sets” with fries and coke and I was impressed by a washbasin and soap in the corner to wash hands rather than have to muck about in the toilets. Thus fortified but failing totally in eating Japanese, we embarked onwards seeking a bus stop. Passed the huge torii marking the entrance to Heian Shrine



and found our bus stop. Very tired and sore feet later and via a trip to a supermarket Fresco to buy supplies for the week (fun in itself though this was where I made my butter and cheese muddle but we did buy milk! and ready made chicken and rice dishes to heat up plus lots of other yummy stuff we couldn’t resist) we collapsed in our tatami room with tea and biccies and did some interneting (free wifi) back home.

Since it was such nice weather we went out for a wander again this evening after dinner at home -ended up all the way near Maruyama Park and Yasaka shrine looking very pretty with all the lanterns lit at night. Discovered several temples are doing evening light-up-linked to hanami including Kiyomizu and Shoren-in another small pretty temple. From Yasaka the glitz of downtown Gion and Karawamachi pulled so we wandered along the busy shopping streets, over the river and past department stores and lots of souvenir stores and found a quiet canal off the main drag before finding our way home to our quiet little hideaway.

Some evening pics

Yasaka shrine






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Old 04-23-2012, 12:57 AM   #22
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Kyoto looks gorgeous. Love where you were staying.
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Old 04-23-2012, 03:56 AM   #23
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Love it!!! It looks like so beautiful.

Where did you find the place your accommodation - would it fit 3 teens in the tatami room? - they dont need too much room, or are there others slightly bigger.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:56 AM   #24
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I rented the place through the private accommodation website VRBO which I haven't seen much mention of here in Aus but seems popular in the US. Acco Nomura owned it and was wonderful and so helpful before and during the rental. Yes it would sleep 5-there were 3 futon available for use in the tatami room and the double in the western bedroom. It would be a bit of a squeeze as apart from around the dining table there's not a lot of places to sit if the tatami room is full of futons (though nice to laze on and watch TV with DVDs which is in there-and of course Japanese style you are meant to roll your futon up during the day-we were too lazy).

It was very handy with a bus stop and 7-11s and a full supermarket quite close by and is in a lovely touristy shopping area near all the best temples if you ask me! Also the Keihan railway statin was in walkable distance. Other stuff I might not have mentioned- we had free wifi access, a washing machine with built-in dryer (and a small drying line outside) and 2 pushbikes you could use. Cost us 16,000Y per night for 2 and 2000Y extra for each night that our daughter was there which was about on par with what prices we were getting for hotels-a little deareer than some but being able to cook for ourselves saved $. We loved it and would highly recommend.

VRBO had a number of self contained places in Kyoto to check out though - some of which might be more roomier thoughthis is Japan! and I presume probably ones in Tokyo too if you were interested.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:59 AM   #25
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and yes 3 teens would comfortably fit in the tatami room and probably take it over as their own! leaving you and your partner to sit quietly round the table downstairs with a cuppa/or a glass of sake or wine (wine and beer were dear) before departing to your own quiet bedroom.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:56 AM   #26
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Thanks - off to check VRBO now!

I am still early stages of research - but your TR is giving me so much inspiration!!

Its so annoying that all of the hotel searches wont let you book further than three months out - I cant even compare this years prices as April has now passed (well almost) so I have no idea whether I will be able to get reasonably priced accommodation for our family - which is what the whole trip depends upon.

I love reviews on the Dis - I feel they are a little more honest and reliable than Trip Advisor.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:45 AM   #27
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Yes I found it hard only being able to find out and book 3 months out-at first I wondered what on earth was the issue and was it cherry blossom season? (which it was and that didn't help but it was mostly the 3 month thing). I still like TA too-eg often helpful to find out what is and isn't in a room, and get a sense-certainly can tell if somewhere is considered awful by a lot of people. It hasn't ever sent us wrong-but for places where the Disboarders go then yes Dissers are very reliable!

Good luck with your plotting and costings-it is certainly a different experience and we found it very enjoyable as the Trip report shows. I had pages covered with scribblings of places and prices for April but sorry they were ditched once I locked places down through Feb. so can't refer to them to give you any clues. We did find business hotels cheaper and though didn't have large rooms still worked out cheapish to book a twin bed room for us (bigger beds-watch that if you stay at other than the big international chains-doubles are often semi-doubles-not much bigger than a single so we always booked a twin bed-also often bit bigger room) and a single room for our daughter. In Kanazawa paid around $100/night for us and $56/night for daughter though if your teens are happy on futons a triple Japanese tatami room that sleeps 3 for them and twin bed for you would be cheaper option poss. I just worked figures based on prices they had published when I was looking and for trial costing presumed they wouldn't change much by season-and they didn't seem to-up a bit for eg Golden Week and prices from last year to this I seem to recall did not increase so it was a pretty good guide.
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:23 PM   #28
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What a terrific TR. And fantastic photos to go along with it. Thank you very much. I still want to get to TDR, just keeps getting harder with each passing year. Threads like this one can at least keep me abreast on how beautiful this park is. Glad you and your family had a great time.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:04 AM   #29
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Day 3 Friday 30 March

It wasn’t as warm as yesterday today but the cloud cover burnt off for a while in the middle of the day. We set off around 8.30 after breakfast and caught the bus all the way around to Shijo Omiya station (bought a one day pass on board-good value at ¥500). Nice way to see some more of the city and hubby was plotting the route as we went on the map on board matching the Japanese characters but they announced and scrolled in English each stop ahead. Found the Kei***u electric railway line and hopped on the very cute ‘Randen’ to Arashiyama. The white gloved conductors in their smart grey uniforms were so formal-you can see the guy in the pic looking at me taking a pic thinking “Not again”.



This railway was like a tram and a nice ride to the small town on the western outskirts of Kyoto. We found Arashiyama had a lot of character but tired ourselves out wandering around without seeing the infamous world heritage Todoji temple and gardens. This was because we walked from the station down to the river to look at the Togetsukyo Bridge (Moon Crossing Bridge) and then along the riverbank deciding the steep hill opposite leading up to the monkey park was too much effort. (Think we might have overdone it a tad yesterday!!)





Instead we entered Kameyama-koen and went up to the lookout where we saw the Saga romantic train travelling through to Kameoka.



Noticed especially here how different the woods smell in Japan-strong Asian spice smell. Met a group of gorgeous young kids (looked like a child care centre group) on a picnic who chorused "ohaiyo gozaimasu" to us as we almost got lost amongst the paths but found our way down to the bamboo groves.



Here there were lots of tourists but most disappeared as we wandered northwards along narrow back roads, past fields and houses, towards the cluster of temples. I bought an ornament of my Chinese zodiac sign (with a bell-plan to hang on the Xmas tree) in a little shop along the way and further along in the Saga-Toriimoto preserved street area also bought very pretty notelets for gifts (turned out cheaper than we saw elsewhere).









A roadside shrine



We chose to enter Gioji out of the several temples on offer. This is a tiny temple with a thatched roof nestled in the woods with a beautiful moss garden. It was named for a dancer in the Heain period, Gio, who committed herself here as a nun when she was 21 when her love for a chieftain was spurned. It was quiet and tranquil and very pretty.







We wandered back along towards the main town and made the decision we were too tired and templed out to visit Todojai. Guidebooks recommend hiring a bike to explore Arashiyama and having explored the town now that makes a lot of sense. We saw plenty of people doing just that (and getting temporarily lost!) Back by the train station we bought steaming bowls of udon noodles in broth that we ate with chopsticks plus much slurping-of course - on a tray on our knees (and we didn’t take a picture!!! Too hungry I guess).

We then caught the train back into Kyoto but changed trains to the other branch line up to Kitanohaku-baicho station where we hopped on a bus to Kinkakuji. Followed other tourists milling around (“which way do we go”-they really need some signs from key bus stops!) to the infamous “gold” temple. We liked this temple the least-the gold was stunning but otherwise it was very crowded, very regimented and seemed very commercialised. We stopped to look at one or two key spots in the garden and made our way out. Here are some obligatory shots!





I nearly forgot the close up of the phoenix on top





Pretty screens on one of the sub-temples or halls.


Another bus took us to the start of the Philosopher’s Path (after abandoning us in the underground of a major station interchange for like 30 mins. We had thought yaay we scored seats but after beeing off-loaded and waiting and waiting our replacement bus was already quite full so it was back to standing and hanging on-sigh!) I thought a stroll would decide if it would be a good place to bring our daughter to on Monday as it was on her “possible” list. It would be stunning when cherry blossoms were out but they were still in bud. Being by now late afternoon, it was a nice quiet stroll (our legs had had a bit of a rest on the bus…not) with some very attractive houses and cafes and woods along the way. 2km or so later and a bus near the end took us home again (yes seats) for another nice dinner in (spaghetti).
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Last edited by Aussie Wendy; 04-26-2012 at 06:49 AM. Reason: added pic
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:43 AM   #30
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Thanks Simzac-makes it easier living a bit closer than you. In fact I worked out if we keep getting airfares as we have its cheaper than a trip to LA. I really needed longer to check out all of Disneyland-we skipped so much, as well as Disneysea. A week just at TDR might not be out of the question in the future again for us! but trips always compete with new destinations and places. I love that there is so much variety between all the Disney resorts to enjoy and explore -so many things the same and different!
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