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Old 06-03-2013, 07:46 AM   #106
battymum
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Monday 22nd April

Our accommodation was very close to a couple of the major attractions in Kyoto, so this morning we headed to Ginkakuji temple or the silver pavillion as it's often known to tourists as. This was literally three minute walk from our little house.

Again there was lots of tourists shops leading to the main temple gates. DS especially enjoyed the shopping and I think he bought something at every stop.

The silver pavillion had the most beautiful gardens of any of the temples or castles we visited. It makes you want to come home and dig up your yard.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr





The silver pavillion is also the start (or the end, depending which way you walk) of the philosophers path,. This is a vary beautiful walkway along side a canal, and some of kyotos prime real estate. We were a little late for the peak of cherry blossoms but there were still a few around. It was really beautiful and very peaceful.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr



When we got to the end we were a bit undecided so we jumped on a bus and headed to the downtown area again, DD was keen for some shopping. We split up here and explored the main shopping area. We grabbed lunch, (nothing memorable, probably burgers..) and spent a while exploring.

We regrouped with the boys and hopped on another bus and headed to Kinkajuji temple, or the Golden pavillion. Unlike the silver pavillion that is not actually silver, the golden pavillion has been completely covered in gold leaf and is just stunning, we were there late in the afternoon and the colour was just beautiful. Again beautiful gardens and some shopping.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr



We took the bus back home and discussed what to do for the evening. I had wanted to head to Gion, this is the most likely place to spot a real maiko, but you have to be there around sunset. By the time we got organised and on a bus, we were a little too late. It was a very beautiful old style Japanese streets. We did see a real maiko, but gee she was moving quickly so could only get a picture of her walking away. We wandered around the streets and couldn't agree on where to eat, we ended up in a dodgy smoke filled place, for another forgettable meal.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr

Last edited by battymum; 06-05-2013 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 06-04-2013, 02:32 AM   #107
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I've really enjoyed reading your trip report and think the choices you made for your Kyoto trip were really great. I had heard about the tours by locals before and wondered what the experience would be like and it looks like the guide you chose for Kyoto really did a nice job. Looking forward to your photo's of Kiyomizudera, one of my favorite places in Kyoto and the time you chose to visit is really lovely. I'm glad your guide Miki recommended going inside the Buddha's womb as I've always thought it was something interesting to do there that I think is easy to miss. Looking forward to the rest of your trip report!
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:57 AM   #108
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I'll certainly be remembering this TR when I'm ready to go to Japan.
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:32 AM   #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamSweetsLove View Post
I've really enjoyed reading your trip report and think the choices you made for your Kyoto trip were really great. I had heard about the tours by locals before and wondered what the experience would be like and it looks like the guide you chose for Kyoto really did a nice job. Looking forward to your photo's of Kiyomizudera, one of my favorite places in Kyoto and the time you chose to visit is really lovely. I'm glad your guide Miki recommended going inside the Buddha's womb as I've always thought it was something interesting to do there that I think is easy to miss. Looking forward to the rest of your trip report!
We were really grateful to have Miki help us - we would have been lost without her!
It was a little awkward at times, but she certainly did her best to keep the conversation going. It certainly did put my kids on their best behaviour, there was no whinging or fighting that day!!

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I'll certainly be remembering this TR when I'm ready to go to Japan.
Thanks for reading along and your patience- I have two days to go and will get around to putting some pictures up soon!!
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:20 AM   #110
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Tuesday 23rd April

This morning we headed off to Fushimi Inari - we took the bus to Kyoto station and then a local train to Inari .
The main attraction of Fushimi Inari shrine is hundreds of red Tori gates leading up the hillside.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr



Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr





We followed the path, there are some great photo opportunities, but our fitness level dictated that we only go part of the way and then head back down. We could have persisted, but it would have pushed the family too far and ruined the rest of the day.

Hats off to BecBennett (if she happens to read this) for completing the full path in 40degree heat!!! .

We headed back to the train - and as Inari is on the JR line to Nara - we thought the logical plan was to head there for the afternoon.

We waited for the train - and when it came it was one of the most ancient trains I have ever ridden on, seriously this thing made Sydneys "red rattlers" look state of the art!!!!

Now I had planned that we take this train, but all I had read was that Inari is on the Nara line, I didn't think to look how far away Nara actually was!!!!
We would have been better off heading back to Kyoto and then taking a rapid service to Nara instead of the local one we were on. It was a very, very, slow trip.
At one point we pulled into a station and there was a rapid train pulled up on the platform opposite - DH said quick lets get on that!
So we all jumped up and ran across the platform and got on that train which was marginally better.

We eventually made it to Nara, we were headed to Nara park - we took a bus as we weren't sure of the distance, but it is an easy walk.

Nara Park is in the centre of the city, and plenty of deer roam freely. The deer are "messengers of the gods" and are protected. You can buy food for them, and they become quite assertive when you have the food - the boys thought it was great - DD and I thought they were a little manky!
This kept us amused for quite some time!


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Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr
There were a few school groups here and lots of squealing from the girls when the deer got a little too close!!!
We saw a man pull a map out to look and a deer came and took a bite out of it!! Hope he didn't need that bit!!!

We headed back to the station, via the shopping area. Against my better judgement I relented and we ate in a McDonalds -what set this apart from other McD's was a full size grand piano - unfortunately we were not there at the right time for someone to be playing it!!!

Then we headed back to the station and made sure we were on a rapid train to Kyoto!!

Between the train and bus it was quite a long trip home - we decided to just grab some frozen stuff from the local supermarket for our dinner - it was a bit of a lottery, but it was OK.
DS grabbed an iceblock, that he thought was a nice lemon flavour that he had had the previous day- (I wish I had a photo of the wrapper, but it was in the bin too quick).

Turns out the iceblock was corn!! This was not what he was expecting at all - in Australia we have creamed corn in a can, and it was exactly like that, frozen on a stick!!!
No one in the family would take it, so it ended up in the nearest bin!!

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Old 06-05-2013, 01:33 AM   #111
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Wednesday 24th April

This was our last full day in Japan - and we made it a big one!

We headed off early and caught a shinkansen to Hiroshima.
We had made really good use of our JR passes this week, I will go through the actual fares at some point but we certainly got our moneys worth.

It was raining quite consistently in Kyoto and was forecast to be like this for the rest of the day. We were really blessed with good weather as this was the only rain on our trip, besides a little on our other travelling day between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Hiroshima was forecast to have rain in the morning, clearing around lunchtime. This suited our plans.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr

It took about 2hours to get to Hiroshima - we love those bullet trains!!! From there we had to take a tram or cablecar to get to the memorial.

As it was raining, we didn't explore the park, but took tonnes of photos at the dome building - then we headed into the museum.

This was a incredibly moving experience, and we are so glad we made the trip to see it.


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Old 06-05-2013, 05:40 AM   #112
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After the memorial we were headed to Myajima island, famous for the huge Tori gate that appears to be floating in the water.

We had noticed that the cable car we had gotten from the station to the memorial continued on to Myajima so we thought we would hop on that instead of going back to the station. Again that was a bad decision, another incredibly slow trip throughout the suburbs of Hiroshima. If we had headed back to the station we could have gotten a JR train that would take us to the same destination in quarter the time.

We eventually got to the end of the line, and headed to the ferry wharf. We had to pay for the cable car, but the ferry is all part of the JR network and included in our passes.

True to forecast the weather started to clear and it was beautiful to see the island half shrouded in cloud.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr

There is plenty to do on this island and it would have been nice to stay overnight, but we had to get back, so we wandered through the shopping area to the itsukushima shrine. Unfortunately the tide was out so the tori gate was not floating, but it was very impressive anyway.


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr


Untitled by batty2750, on Flickr

We then headed back to the ferry and took the train this time back to Hiroshima station. We had booked seats on the Hikari Shinkansen back to kyoto, but found ourselves at the station an hour earlier than anticipated - we decided to jump in an unreserved car of an earlier train.

I should point out, there a three classes of Shinkansen on this route, the fastest and most frequent service is the Nozomi, it goes point to point without stops but is not included on a JR pass - it can be a very costly mistake if you get on this inadvertently. The next is Hikari which makes a few stops along the way and is the one we were booked on, and then the kodama, which is the one we jumped on.

The Kodama is the "all stations" and while it built up speed between stations, each station it stopped at it would wait at least 5 to 10 minutes before it could leave on it's schedule. We found this very frustrating, and wished we had just waited the hour for the faster train!

Once we were back in Kyoto it was about eight o'clock DH thought we would have more luck finding somewhere to eat around the station rather than near our house. I could sense that this would turn into more aimless wandering and no one agreeing where to eat, so I said that I would go back to the house. DS came with me, while DH, DD and DS went off in search of food.

DS and I made our way back to the house without issue and fixed ourselves something to eat in our kitchen.

The others found themselves a nice meal by all accounts, but when it came time to getting home none of them had a map nor had been paying any attention over the last three days about which buses they could use!,

This became quite an issue, they could not find anyone to ask or find a map. The bus stops all have names, much like railway station, so it is pretty easy to navigate. Ours was also the end of the loop at Ginkakuji, so the buses would have this as their destination, there were at least three buses you could catch from Kyoto station that all come in regular intervals.

So they gave up on the buses and headed to the taxi rank, DH said he got in three taxis and asked them if they spoke English or could they go to the silver pavillion - he didn't know the Japanese name of Ginkakuji - each time he got a negative - he said the last guy responded when he asked if he spoke English with "no I don't"

I don't like to jump to conclusions and say this was discrimination, but it did seem very odd. It was getting late, but DH had two children with him. Just typing this I am thinking, were they worried, scared etc, but apparently it was all a barrel of laughs. They are all much more carefree than I am! DS was getting a little concerned, he had a smart phone and was trying to find a wifi connection as we had left the SIM cards at home, DD had a phone with flat battery and DH had nothing !

Meanwhile, I was blissfully unaware - but was thinking they are taking their time.

Eventually they were able to find a bus map and found their way home!

Last edited by battymum; 06-06-2013 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:40 AM   #113
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You can creamed corn icecream and no one wanted it? I would have eaten it!


That last update where DH and your 2 kids were looking to find a way home is worrying! Glad that they all got back safely!
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Old 06-05-2013, 05:33 PM   #114
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Just wanted to say thanks for the great report so far. I'm booked for a Japan trip in November, and you've been to most of the places on my list lol love the detail! I'll be sure to be careful picking up 'lemon' ice blocks haha and I need to find the maccas with the grand piano...wow!
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Old 06-05-2013, 08:17 PM   #115
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Loving the pics! Yes, hats off to BecBennett for heading up the Inari shrine.
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:00 AM   #116
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Thursday 25th April


Our last morning was spent packing our bags and preparing for our journey home. It was quite a struggle to fit two weeks worth of souvenirs and 6 extra pairs of sneakers in our two suitcases. We weren't using the takkyubbin service this time as we were headed straight to the airport, and weren't taking any commuter trains.

The taxis that saki had arranged for us on our arrival day turned up promptly at 12 and we made our way to kyoto station. the taxi fare was reasonable at 2000 ¥ for a twenty minute ride. Unfortunately taxis for five people don't seem to exist in this city so we had to get two.

We grabbed some lunch at kyoto station and then headed to our platform. The Shinkansen arrived and we boarded, there was plenty of room behind the last row of seats for our luggage, but I don't know what we would have done had the carriage been crowded. We were loving our new 4wheel spinning suitcases though, it made it so much easier to negotiate trains and escalators.

The train departed promptly at 13:29 - as they always do!.

The trip was very comfortable, you really don't realise you are going so fast - it's very smooth. Even looking out the window, unless you are looking at stuff close to the train you wouldn't realise you are going 300kms per hour.

We changed at shinagawa as it is less complex than Tokyo station and we could get on the Narita express from there.

We arrived at the airport and made our way to the Qantas check in area.

Check in was very crowded - there were lots and lots of Australian teenagers - must have been some sort of school trip or something - they were loud and brash, and dressed like Aussies? (not unlike my own three teenagers I guess) but en masse it was confronting and a stark contrast to the well dressed and polite Japanese youth! A jolting reminder of home!

Every second one of these kids had a massive samurai sword that had to be wrapped and checked separately, which made for a very slow check in process. DS was very disappointed as he had wanted to buy one of these swords and I told him it would be too hard to get it home.

We made it through and headed to the qantas lounge - like we had done in sydney on our departure we walked up and said we are admirals club. The dragon on duty was having none of it - she consulted some folder and said no, not unless we have a card. It was perfectly legitimate to use a 30 day membership for access with your spouse and children but I could tell from her demeanour she was not going to budge on this. It wasn't worth the argument!

So we headed back to the gate with the rest of the horde. We grabbed some dinner at a small cafe, I made everyone tip out all their cash so as not to break my last big notes.

It was soon time to board, we had chosen seats at the very back of the plane that were in pairs by the window and the row of three in front. Great seats, but our family were the only passengers in this part of the plane that wasn't part of the "Hastings river orchestra" there was at least 50 people, a lot of kids and they all knew each other and were up and down and talking to each other across three rows of seats all night!


We went through some quite rough turbulence which was a little disconcerting and had dd in quite a state.

The plane had been recently refurbished and was fitted with touch screen entertainment units. However mine only worked intermittently and DD's did not work at all. After several requests and restarts we were offered $150 in duty free vouchers. DD bought a nice watch so she was happy.

I eventually got a little bit of sleep only to be woken by the breakfast service at 4:30am!!!!

Eventually we touched down in Sydney at 6:30am.

Sydney airport has a curfew between 11:00pm and 6:00 am - which means a lot of flights come in just after 6, making immigration and customs a nightmare. There is not enough room between the luggage carousels and customs and you couldn't even tell where the lines were starting. It was chaos and as everyone was at the end of a long flight it wasn't a warm welcome home.

Eventually we made it out and found our pick up and made the hour long journey home. From the time we left our house in Kyoto until we arrived in our front door was 21hours so we were all very exhausted.

All in all we had a great trip and would definitely recommend Japan as a family holiday destination!
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:54 PM   #117
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Battymum, thanks so much again for sharing your wonderful trip report with us. It has been great to read along and it's given me a full appreciation of how much research and planning must have gone into this trip! Very impressive!
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:15 PM   #118
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Battymum, thanks so much again for sharing your wonderful trip report with us. It has been great to read along and it's given me a full appreciation of how much research and planning must have gone into this trip! Very impressive!
Oh we love planning - I wish I could have planned meal times a bit better though.

We have been back 6 weeks now- still working on my photo book - but once that is done, I am sure post trip blues will set in.
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Old 06-07-2013, 06:13 AM   #119
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Thanks for sharing your trip. Looking forward to the rest of your pics.

I don't remember hearing about Sydney airport being in curfew. I hope it was nothing serious. But I'm sorry you got held up there!
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Old 06-07-2013, 05:03 PM   #120
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Thanks for sharing your trip. Looking forward to the rest of your pics.

I don't remember hearing about Sydney airport being in curfew. I hope it was nothing serious. But I'm sorry you got held up there!
The curfew is everyday, as the nearby residents complain about noise. So if ever you fly into sydney try and avoid an early morning arrival.

I don't know why some of my pics disappeared -
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