Travel Recollection: Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto

I had a slight mishap on the second day of our honeymoon/adventure in Kyoto. We were thinking of going around Tokyo by bicycle. The problem is, I only learned how to ride one recently. I was a nervous wreck, and after 10 minutes of trying to recall how to maintain my balance (and failing miserably), we cancelled our bike rentals and went on by bus instead. I guess it was not wise of me to insist on trying even though knowing that I was not comfortable enough.

Anyways, the morning’s mishap fortunately didn’t hamper our excitement one bit. Our trip to Fushimi Inari shrine on our first day in Kyoto has emboldened us to find more interesting places in Kyoto and maintained our excitement level very high for the entire duration of our stay (read: we were acting like chipmunks on caffeine most of the time). After a very short bus ride we arrived near an alleyway that led us to the entrance of one of Kyoto’s famous temple: Kiyomizudera.

The alleyway leading up to Kiyomizudera entrance

Common among many tourist attractions anywhere in the world, we saw a lot of souvenir shops along the sides of the alleyway leading up to the front gate of the temple complex. This area was actually quite lively and we actually spent quite some time window-shopping as there were a lot of interesting things like snacks, little trinkets, etc. Before wasting too much of the morning hours we reminded ourselves that our main destination for the morning was the temple and moved along. But of course we’d be revisiting the area again after we finished our temple sight-seeing. After all, shopping IS part of traveling, right? 🙂

The wooden stage

As soon as we entered the complex we arrived at a large wooden stage that jutted right out of its main hall. This particular place was quite the tourist flocking area. A lot of the visitors could be found here. Some were busy taking photos, and a lot of them were found sitting down on the steps between the main hall and the wooden stage. The massive stage seemed to be one of the temple’s main attraction. According to Wikipedia, it was a common practice during the Edo period to jump off from the stage 13 meters down to the ground under it. Apparently there was a saying that if a person survives the jump, he/she would have his/her wish granted. Well, I say that if their wishes were cracked skulls and broken bones I’m sure they got what they wanted. Such practice is, of course, prohibited nowadays.

Can you imagine how beautiful this place will look like during cherry blossom or in autumn?

Looking around at the foliage surrounding the temple the cook and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be during autumn, where the leaves would turn brown-red. If only we planned our honeymoon at least two weeks later… The place would probably look very beautiful as well during the spring cherry blossom season. A good excuse to visit the city again next time. Preferably with better timing.

Water from Otowa falls channeled by three bamboos with tourists taking a sip from any one of them. They say doing so will grant whatever wishes they have.

There was another main attraction of the temple complex right under where the wooden stage was located. It was a small waterfall which runs off from a nearby hill. This waterfall is from which the name of the temple was derived from (Kiyomizu = pure water). The waterfall itself is named ‘Otowa’. A lot of people lined up to drink the fall’s water (chanelled through 3 bamboo pipes). Legend said that drinking the water would grant the drinker his or her wishes. This is definitely safer than jumping off 13 meters down from a wooden stage. I sure am seeing a pattern here. Also, a lot of the people lining up for a drink were teenagers. Go figure.

Jishu Shrine

There were also smaller temple/shrine buildings surrounding the Kiyomizudera. One of them is called Jishu Shrine. A pair of so-called ‘love stones’ can be found within this shrine. The stones were placed about 6 meters apart. A lone visitor may try to walk from one stone to another with his or her eyes closed. If he or she could reach the other stone with eyes closed, it is said that they will find love, or true love. Try guessing from which age demographic most of the shrine’s visitors were that day.

Someone behind me?

In case you’re wondering, the temple also sells a lot of trinkets, souvenirs, and other wish-granting objects.

Kiyomizudera with Kyoto in the background

Exploring the whole temple complex did not take us long. Soon enough we found ourselves traversing the alley from where we came earlier (the alley’s called Matsubara-Dori). We discovered that the area leading to Kiyomizudera has a lot of other interconnected alleyways and lanes and it was famously known as the Higashiyama district. The district lies on the lower slope of Kyoto’s eastern mountains. We could see that it has some historic significance as almost all of the shops and buildings lining the alleyways were of traditional Japanese designs and were also decorated in a traditional manners. We also found many smaller shrines and temples in the district. This place sure invoked a certain nostalgic feel to it, and it’s highly recommended to visit this area if you happen to be traveling to Kyoto. Anyways, if you’re traveling to Kyoto then you know you’re looking for these things as Kyoto is a city well-known for its combination of the old and new Japan.

For more information on Kiyomizudera (and various interesting places all over Japan), go to Japan Guide’s website. They have tons of very useful information there. This is one of my go-to site when the wife and I were researching our trip to Kyoto.

Enjoy the photo gallery. Hope it will inspire you to visit Kyoto 🙂

Singapore Quarry

It was a blistering hot Sunday morning when we visited the quarry around last year’s April. My wife and I, along with some friends, were hiking Bukit Timah Nature Reserve that day before we got to the quarry. It was my first visit ever to the place and as it turned out there would be many more to come, as we often visited the place for a bit of a workout.

Somewhere along the hiking trail in the nature reserve there is a split in the path that allows you to go to Dairy Farm. From there, if you continue on towards the southwest you will get to the quarry, which was what we did that Sunday. It was late morning, and the sun was already high in the sky.

The former quarry is now a wetland, with a viewing platform for visitors to observe the local flora and fauna. They are not allowed to feed the fish though. Below the platform is a small lake, and in front of it stands a cliff where people probably used to mine minerals from. Various plants now grow on top and in the face of the cliff.

The Singapore Quarry. Click the photo above for a bigger version

While we were there to rest our legs and enjoy the view, I went out to the platform’s railing and decided to take a panorama photo. I took it using ‘Pano’, an iPhone panorama app that I often used before I found out about AutoStitch. The original photo looked a bit washed-out and the sky was over-exposed (it was a very sunny day). I used Camera+ to try and make the photo look better. I added ‘Clarity’ and applied the ‘Emo’ filter. The ‘Clarity’ scene option added sharpness and brought out the, err, clarity of the photo; while the ‘Emo’ filter added saturation to the green color in the photo. The sky was overblown, but the blooming effect is actually quite pleasant, at least for me.

After a year or so of living here in Singapore I’ve only visited the Quarry twice. The walk there can be tiring, not only because it is quite far from Dairy Farm, but also because the trail was out in the open with little protection from the scorching heat. There’s nothing much to see there, but at least I’ve managed to take this photo as a token of my visit there.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

I captured this image using my iPhone 4 when I was waiting for my flight from Bangkok back to Singapore. We were there quite early and I was getting bored waiting at the gate. So I decided to walk around and see if there was anything interesting to occupy my time with. And I found this.

This is a photo of the large hallway where our boarding gate was located. It’s basically a panorama I took using an app called ‘AutoStitch’. The app is easy to use. What I like most about it is that I don’t have to manually align the photos I took, and the photos it stitches don’t have to be taken using the app. That means the app can actually stitch photos from your photo library (provided that they can be aligned, of course). I used a filter from Path to give the photo a sepia tone.

Suvarnabhumi Gate F2

Initially I was thinking of going for a symmetrical look. As I took the left-most photo a gentleman walked by in front of the camera and down the escalator. Him being in the picture would definitely break the symmetry. I thought of redoing it, but decided to continue taking subsequent photos and see the stitching result. Turned out that the gentleman’s silhouette created asymmetry that actually made the panorama photo looks a lot better.

Anyways, I hope that you all have been having a great week so far!

The Islands of Batanes, Day 1 (Updated with Maps)

Gallery

This gallery contains 29 photos.

The propeller-driven plane descended slowly. I looked out from the window and was greeted by the sight of a small group of islands surrounded by a vast sea. As the ground slowly came up, I prayed for a smooth landing. … Continue reading