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post #67126 of 67946
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coxsackie View Post
 

JM, you're a treasure trove of information. Let me press you for more.

 

I'm arriving in Osaka on the afternoon of 31st. Staying overnight then on 1st I'm catching a train to Kyoto, staying until 3rd; then on to Nozawa Onsen (ski resort).

 

I've already contacted Coccinella, a bespoke tailor in Osaka, to see if I can get a fitting there on 31st or 1st. Hope they will be open - now I'm worried they may be just going on their break exactly at the moment I arrive...

 

Any good stores I should visit in Osaka and/or Kyoto? Any other brill and fab things I should do?

 

Cox, I can't really help with Osaka as I haven't been there for years. I had a quick look at Coccinella's website and, unfortunately, I can't see anywhere where they mention whether they are open or closed over the New Year (Oshogatsu) period, so hopefully you'll be lucky but I wouldn't be too optimistic as Oshogatsu is the most important family period in Japan (akin to Christmas here) and so a lot of places, especially small businesses, close for at least 01 January and often for 2-3 days. 

 

With regard to Nozawa Onsen, are you going via Nagano City? If so, try to stop briefly at Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, as it's definitely worth a look. The temple's about 1300 years old and Nagano City was originally a village that grew up around the temple. You can pay extra to wander around a pitch black passage under the temple whilst fumbling along the wall to try to feel a metal key that is, supposedly, the key to enlightenment. You can judge for yourself from the content of my posts as to whether I succeeded in finding the key or not! 

 

Matsumoto Castle is not too far from Nagano City and it's also worth a look if you are able to stop there on the way to or from Osaka. It has a very nicely preserved, original castle that has a "tsukimi yagura", or moon-viewing turret, where the daimyo (feudal lord) and his retainers used to relax and write poetry while admiring the moon. 

 

In Kyoto, you're really overwhelmed with options. As you've only got a couple of days, you will have to choose whether you want to concentrate on doing one part of the city well, or trying to see a few temples/shrines scattered around the city. The latter, of course, means that you'll spend more time in taxis or buses. Also, bear in mind that Kyoto will probably be chaotically crowded as this is peak holiday season in Japan so it will take longer to get to places as traffic will be bad. 

 

 

There are a huge number of temples and shrines in Kyoto. A few notable places are:

 

- Kiyomizudera - a temple in the hills just above Kyoto, with an enormous wooden deck with views over the city and a stream flowing over the rockface under/next to the temple. The street leading up the temple is crowded with old houses and shops, some of which sell tourist tat, others of which sell really nice stuff. There's a small pagoda off to the right-hand side of the main deck of Kiyomizudera. If you walk over there, you can get really good views of both Kyoto and Kiyomizudera at the same time. 

 

- Kinkakuji - The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Covered in gold leaf and next to a small lake wherein you can see the reflection of the pavilion.

 

- Ginkakuji - Although called the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, it is not silver, but rather wood-coloured. Surrounded by a lovely garden.

 

- Ryoanji, a Zen Buddhist temple. I can't remember how conveniently located it is, particularly compared to the others mentioned above. Ryoanji is surrounded by quite a nice Japanese garden (where I once saw a little old lady picking up pine cones in the garden with a pair of wooden tongs, which shows you how seriously they take gardening in Japan!) and the building itself is built in a very traditional style. Part of it is surrounded by a wall of packed earth that has been (apparently) boiled in oil and then packed or tamped together, which gives it an interesting colour and variations. Ryoanji is popular because it houses a particularly fine example of a "karesansui" or dry water garden - a Zen garden style that uses stones to imitate the presence of water, without actually having any water. The garden, which is housed in a walled courtyard, contains 13 or 14 rocks which are arranged so that you can never see all the rocks at one time - one is always hidden. The rocks sit amongst gravel, which is raked into patterns by the monks every morning. There's a viewing deck to one side of the garden, where you can sit and ponder the mysteries of the life whilst looking at the stones - at least until you are interrupted by a tour group of geriatric Japanese, accompanied by a tour guide with a megaphone! Well worth a look, if you have the time.

 

- Katsura Rikyu, or Katsura Imperial Villa, is a collection of large, low-set buildings set amongst beautiful, extensive gardens. The buildings are quite spectacular examples of traditional Japanese architecture in terms of the roofs, eaves, verandahs, painted screens and so on. The gardens include ponds, sculptured trees and bushes and at least one teahouse.

 

- Kyoto Imperial Palace – the former home of the Imperial family before the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, the Imperial palace complex covers a large area in the heart of Kyoto. You cannot go inside the buildings (unlike at Katsura Rikyu) but there are guided tours in English that give you a good look around the complex and you can look into some of the buildings from the outside. You must pre-book through the Imperial Household Agency and arrive a bit early to present your passports. A police officer accompanies the tour to make sure that no-one gets up to any shenanigans.

 

Yet another nice thing to do in Kyoto is to have a walk along the tetsugaku-no-michi, or Philosopher's Path. It runs from Ginkaku-ji to Nanzen-ji and Eikando, on the eastern side of Kyoto (the Higashiyama district). The path runs alongside a stream or canal, and often has plantings of cherry trees or other trees alongside the path. There are a few places to stop and eat along the way, too, as well as some nice older houses and various other temples along the path.

post #67127 of 67946

^ brilliant, thanks.

 

Coccinella just got back to me. They close up the day before I arrive, and re-open the day after I leave.

 

Hmmm.....

 

I could sacrifice a day's skiing - on 4th Jan - and instead, spend an extra day (3rd Jan) in Kyoto, then get up at sparrow's on the 4th, train it back to Osaka for a 9am visit to Coccinella, then immediately shoot through to Nozawa Onsen.

 

Seriously considering this, although it means only 3 days' skiing instead of 4. But that's ok I think, especially if it gives me an extra day in Kyoto.

post #67128 of 67946

I'd say that Fushimi Inari and the Arashiyama bamboo path are both worth a visit as well. They're both easily accessible by train and about 15-20 minutes from Kyoto Station:

 

Fushimi Inari:

 

 

The bamboo path at Arashiyama:

post #67129 of 67946
^ really wish either of those places were that empty when I was there. Packed when I was there a couple of weeks ago, can't imagine it during new years
post #67130 of 67946
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Nelson View Post
 

I'd say that Fushimi Inari and the Arashiyama bamboo path are both worth a visit as well. They're both easily accessible by train and about 15-20 minutes from Kyoto Station:

 

 

Yes, both Fushimi Inari Taisha and Sagano/Arashiyama are nice. 

 

Fushimi Inari Taisha is a bit isolated - there's not that much around it and most people (well, me at least) stop off there on the way to or from Nara so as to not make a separate trip to get there. 

 

The bamboo groves at Sagano/Arashiyama, over on the western side of Kyoto, are lovely but, as Banana King says, they're likely to be horrendously packed at this time of year. Of course, pretty much everywhere in Kyoto will be horrendously packed, so I guess it won't make that much difference. 

 

 

post #67131 of 67946

A few more thoughts on Kyoto:

 

In central Kyoto, up from the station, both Higashi Honganji and Nishi Honganji are worth strolling around. Higashi Honganji is a very large temple on the main road heading north from Kyoto station and is impossible to miss. Nishi Honganji is a short walk to the west of Higashi Honganji (Nishi means west and Higashi means east) and is smaller, but has a gorgeous gate that is classified as a national treasure, inset with lapis lazuli and other such things. Historically, there's an interesting backstory between the two temples - the Shin sect of Buddhism was split apart by the Shogun (military ruler) of Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu, in the very early 17th century so as to diminish its power. Higashi Honganji is the main temple of one sub-sect that was formed by the split, Nishi Honganji is the main temple of the other sub-sect.

 

The streets between the two temples can be worth strolling around - somewhere near the back of Nishi Honganji is an old "Toruko" (Turkish bath) in a distinctive style that has now been turned into an art gallery. Turkish baths were popular in Japan as a somewhat more exotic version of the traditional Japanese sentou (public bathhouse) but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they developed a reputation for licentiousness and were regarded as dens of vice, so a lot of them changed their names or closed down. 

 

There's a strong concentration of temples and other attractions (Kiyomizu-dera, Nanzen-ji, Eikan-do, the Philosopher's Walk, the Gion district) over on Kyoto's eastern side (the Higashiyama, or east mountain, district) so quite a few people centre their activities there. It can be really rewarding to just wander around the streets so as to see what you stumble upon - I've found little second-hand shops filled with antique masks, tiny stores selling ties made from locally-woven Japanese silk and, of course, fantastic little cafes and other places to eat. Somewhere near Heian-jingu, I found an old, Western-style house that was open to the public, that had a lovely garden with a teahouse. It was nice, but I didn't think too much of it until I read the little brochure that had been given to me with my entrance ticket and discovered that the house had been the site of a secret meeting between Japanese politicians and generals in the latter half of 1941 and that they had, effectively, decided to attack Pearl Harbour at that meeting. 

 

If you want to see if you can fit in some fine dining (particularly in the Japanese traditional kaiseki style) while you are there, you could have a look at Andy Hayler's blog - you can search by country and city to get results for his restaurant visits and details:

 

http://www.andyhayler.com/restaurant-guide?country=124&city=Kyoto

post #67132 of 67946
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
 

 

Yes, both Fushimi Inari Taisha and Sagano/Arashiyama are nice. 

 

Fushimi Inari Taisha is a bit isolated - there's not that much around it and most people (well, me at least) stop off there on the way to or from Nara so as to not make a separate trip to get there. 

 

The bamboo groves at Sagano/Arashiyama, over on the western side of Kyoto, are lovely but, as Banana King says, they're likely to be horrendously packed at this time of year. Of course, pretty much everywhere in Kyoto will be horrendously packed, so I guess it won't make that much difference. 


 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

 

 

I was there and took those shots during a long weekend so it was packed then as well. The idea is to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds, i.e around 8 - 8:30am. The bamboo path was full of couples taking their wedding photos.

 

It's pretty horrendous after that and Fushimi Inari Taisha takes a good couple of hours if you want to walk along all the trails.To be honest, I didn't even get around to looking at the surrounding areas. Not sure why you couldn't easily make a separate trip there since it's only 10-15 minutes from Kyoto Station.

post #67133 of 67946
Happy new year and all that.
I did a run through in Gazman the other day. Sale. 30%off. Some nice button downs with decent collars. Longish. One uni stripes and a tasty seersucker with BD. Longish peaks and a bit of roll. Around $60 I think. Other shirts had stingy collars. There's some OK looking linen jackets, lined, for less than $200 from.memory.
post #67134 of 67946
Looks like I am in the market for new sneakers. What I'm after are low tops, plain colours, suede or leather upper, sound construction. My charcoal CP tournament lows are a good guide, but I've seen shoes with navy or dark brown leather uppers that I also like. I'm not sold on the white toe-cap look.

I've had a sniff around online and haven't seen much. Has anybody seen a sale going, online or in Melbourne?
post #67135 of 67946
CD no sale, but check out Gustin. I got my pair of white low tops that are very similar to CP. I also got a pair in colour 8. 3-4 months wait however. they are comfy and do the job. I was also in COS the other day, they also had a very very similar pair to the plain white low top but for around $135
post #67136 of 67946
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Looks like I am in the market for new sneakers. What I'm after are low tops, plain colours, suede or leather upper, sound construction. My charcoal CP tournament lows are a good guide, but I've seen shoes with navy or dark brown leather uppers that I also like. I'm not sold on the white toe-cap look.

I've had a sniff around online and haven't seen much. Has anybody seen a sale going, online or in Melbourne?

The Epaulet tennis lows are great. They've seen about 6 months use, maybe average twice a week:

 

post #67137 of 67946
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbles View Post

The Epaulet tennis lows are great. They've seen about 6 months use, maybe average twice a week:

Perfect suggestion, thanks. I just picked up this pair on the sale site for half price.

post #67138 of 67946

Gerry and JM, I just wanted to thank you for your posts about Japan.  They're as good as travel guides and you both write so well and so easily - quite a skill.

 

And that's a lot of typing!!

 

Amyway, thanks for sharing your knowledge so generously.

 

Happy New Year to everybody

post #67139 of 67946
Aussie SF Japan road trip?
post #67140 of 67946

Well, I just arrived in Osaka. I will only have two days in Kyoto so I will pore over the information posted above and try to make a bit of a plan.

 

Sounds like I'll need to be up and about very early to avoid the worst crowds.

 

JM, based on your description I might hit one of those temples very early, then mosey around the Higashiyama district. I take it that walking the streets won't be quite as crowded as the official tourist traps.

 

But now - I'm off to the Osaka branch of Kamakura Shirts!

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