Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kyoto - Arashiyama and Tenryu-ji

On the last morning of our Kyoto trip, Nana and I hoofed it out to Arashiyama, a woodsy district in the foothills of the mountains to the west of town. Our first stop was Tenryu-ji, a bustling temple with a huge forest garden.

Tenryu-ji, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. It's a spectacular site in the autumn, most famous for its use of the hills behind as "borrowed scenery" and for a massive and well-tended bamboo grove.

If you don't mind, I'll let the photos speak for themselves!

Yet another of those odd, fachwerk-haus gates.

A brilliant dash of momiji (Japanese maple) at a little shrine near the main gate.
A hint of borrowed scenery.

Did I mention that it was a spectacularly clear day?

Looking out over the temple grounds from the top of the hill.
Many of Kyoto's temple gardens have a little hilltop path at the back.

A little ornamental pond . . .

. . . with a very serene-looking frog.
As you can tell from this next batch of photos,
I was completely captivated by this huge bamboo grove.

The picture can't quite capture the eerie depth of the place,
or the wind whispering through.

We left the temple by the back door, taking a nice little walk through the bamboo on our way to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. Yes, you read that correctly - the Arashiyama Monkey Park! (Stay tuned for more.)

Spring Break Plans: Siem Reap, Cambodia!

From Wikimedia Commons.
Ever since I read about the place way back in elementary school, I've wanted to see the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. After toying with the idea of a return to Hokkaido for some March skiing - a plan that amid the uncertainty around last spring's earthquake we ditched in favor of our Taiwan trip - Nana and I literally did a 180 and turned our sights south.

As a bonus, the trip includes a very strange flight itinerary that includes a seven-hour layover in Busan, South Korea. We never managed to see Busan during our Korea days - we're actually closer to Busan now than we were in Seoul - but it looks like we finally will on our way to Siem Reap.