Wanderlust: Japan

Kobe Beef at Royal Mouriya Restaurant in Kobe

21:35


I still salivate when I think about this.

For my final meal in Japan before flying back to humdrum and drudgery (SIGH), I decided to pull out the big guns and my final ¥10,000 for THIS.


It's a super huge deal to me to fork out RM315.00 for a meal (because I earn a third of that on a working day - you can calculate how much I earn per month), so I had to make the most of it by taking a lot of pictures.

I think the chefs in the Mouriya chain are super used to us tourists coming in for Kobe beef. I asked the chef if I could take his picture and he said "Sure, go ahead".

Oh word of advice for people who want to try Kobe beef at the Royal Mouriya - there is a 10% extra charge on top of your meal after 3PM, so try to go in before 3PM. I went in at 3.15PM and got slapped with the extra charge.

Sigh.

On the bright side I think they took pity on us and did not charge us for the extras we asked for like Oolong tea, coca-cola, and extra rice.

m(T_T)m thank you Royal Mouriya.

There are actually THREE Mouriya restaurants on the same stretch of road. The Mouriya Honten Restaurant is on the corner of the road. Two of the Mouriya restaurants are in the same building along the road, with the Mouriya Sannomiya Restaurant on the third floor and the Royal Mouriya Restaurant on the second floor.

They are all super near the Hankyu Sannomiya station, but as always get a GPS and you'll be able to walk to the restaurants, no problem.


I didn't know which Mouriya to go to at first, but I somehow ended up at the Royal Mouriya Restaurant on the 2nd floor. Okay, so maybe the name had a minor exerting influence... *shifty eyes*

As expected of a place that serves Kobe beef, the interior was fancy-schmancy. There were several gleaming grilling stations in front of a rectangular long table, flowers like the above on the rectangular table, and places were set with napkins and wine glasses.


There are three private rooms, but since it was only the two of us, we got shown to the seats in front of the grilling station. I was secretly excited about the fact that we would be able to see the chef make our food and flip it onto our plates.

As it was slightly after three (extra charge (T_T)), there were only four other people in the place, with two of them almost finishing.

Let me be the first to admit that I am unsophisticated in the arts of fine dining.

My normal meal a day consists of soup noodles for breakfast, nothing for lunch unless there is free food from an event, and home-cooked meals / something cheap-ish from outside that costs less than RM10. There are maybe six to eight times a month I'd splurge on myself and buy a meal that costs somewhere between RM20 to RM40 for dinner.

My tentative budget alone for bought meals per month is RM300 in Malaysia. 

I am such a cheapskate. Also I've spent only RM150 on food so far this month and it's already the 18th! I'm so proud of myself.

Right. Back to the Kobe beef and the fancy dining.

The first rule of fancy dining seems to be that the staff will be respectfully attentive and withdraw when they sense they are not needed.

At first, the waitress offers to take my coat away, and even gives me a basket to put under my seat for my belongings. She brings out the menus and explains the menu to us, telling us that apart from ala carte, they also serve meals in sets.


You can also see the menu on this webpage. We got the dinner menu because lunch hours were over. Apart from the Kobe beef, she said, they also sell Tajima beef.

A little lesson: Kobe beef is essentially from Tajima cattle too, but at a higher grade of A4 - A5. A5 is the best grade Kobe beef can attain. (I think I had the A4 grade beef, but I'm a food philistine anyway, as I mentioned. I still loved the A4 grade beef and I can't imagine how A5 grade beef can top it more.)

The waitress then leaves us alone to make our selection, and seeing that I only had ¥10,000+ left, I chose the Kobe Beef Set A at ¥9,600+¥960 for the 10% charge, asking for the rib steak. K chose the sirloin steak at Set A too.

After she's taken our order, she pours water into our wine glasses, and then disappears again, only to silently appear with our oolong tea and Coca-cola.

The Royal Mouriya Restaurant exudes a sense of class and quietness - indeed children below six years of age are not allowed into the Royal Mouriya Restaurant. The website suggests kindly that those with children adjourn to the other Mouriya restaurants instead.

Sorry, parents.

The first course was the amuse-bouche. It consisted of raw ham, a raw slice of salami, an olive, and a biscuit stick.


I usually detest raw food, but the amuse-bouche certainly led to an array of interesting (good interesting, not bad interesting) tastes on the mouth that prepared me for the next two courses.

I usually hate olives too, but this one was pretty yum.

WHAT DID THEY BASTE IT IN I MUST KNOW.

Then there was the second course of hors d'oeuvre.


More raw food, fish this time. I was expecting to hate it, but I actually liked it. Again, not that I would want huge globs of it, but the fish was chewy and tender. Even the onion tastes better than other onion I've eaten WHAT DO YOU PUT IN THE WATER JAPAN.

The first and second course is fine and dandy and all, but the main star is, of course, the Kobe beef. Which I do want globs and globs of, if I could.



Look at that marbled beef of rib and sirloin goodness. Look at how the fat flows like a river through the meat, almost crystallizing the meat to the eye.

I just sort of stared at it mesmerized, when the chef asked us how we wanted our meat, and if we wanted to share the sirloin and rib (medium and yes). Then, he got to cooking.

Watching him cook the beef was like watching an artistic performance. The way he carefully sliced off the fat to be used later on to cook with the beansprouts, chopping the meat up delicately into pieces, flipping them just so they achieved the right amount of grilling on each side...

I almost felt like applauding.


He also grilled food items like pumpkin and garlic, and carefully each different food item aside on the plate while doling the meat into the center of the plate.


I don't understand how he made the vegetables taste so good! I don't mind veggies usually but it's not like I LOVE THEM AND I MUST EAT THEM. I could have eaten the pumpkin all day long.

For the beef itself, there are condiments like salt, black pepper, sweet sauce, wasabi, and garlic to go with each bite. So I took a deep breath, picked up a piece of beef, dipped it into the salt, put it into my mouth, and....

I could hear angels singing in my ear.

Okay, maybe not THAT, but oh, the meat was fabulous. Keep in mind I'm a fine-dining philistine, but I do know a great bite when I have one... and another... and another... and another after that.

That adage 'melt-in-your-mouth' is true for Kobe beef. One chew and I could feel the tender juices oozing out, the fat rolling around my tongue before melting away completely, filling my mouth with the sweet succulent taste of beef and whatever condiment I had the beef with.

Everything was just grilled to... the best state the vegetable/ beef can be in, I swear.

My personal favourite add-on for the beef is the pepper and sweet sauce. To me the different tastes blended well for both.


Can you see the beef glistening~ 

As I ate the chef just kept doling out the meat, and once he was done he got started on grilling the side fat he had cut out earlier with beansprouts. He cut the lard into tiny cubes, then mixed them together with the beansprouts, before transferring them over to the plate.

That was pretty good too. Both the lard and the beansprouts were crunchy in different ways (one in a fried way, one in a fresh vegetable way), just my kind of combination. At least even though I'm eating unhealthy food, I'm combining them with something super healthy.

Does that even work?

Anyway, it may not look much, but I was adequately full at the end of the meal. I thought it was only a few chunks of meat, but I guess I looked at it as 'small-sized bites' instead of the big steak it really was (see picture of raw slab of beef). I have a really small appetite, though, so I guess other people will find this adequate only with add-ons like rice or bread.

In the end, speaking as a Malaysian on a Malaysian salary, I felt it was RM315 well spent for a first trial / final meal before leaving meal. I finally tasted and had the legendary Kobe beef in Kobe, and I'd say that the hype surrounding it is pretty justified if you save the beef for special occasions.

Heck, if I was rich (oh, that familiar refrain), I probably won't object to eating it once every month, but yeah.

If you ever find yourself in Kobe, do try out the beef even if just for once. It is after all one of the quintessential things associated with Kobe. Even if a bit pricey, at the very least you can say you have tried authentic Kobe beef... and will hopefully love it, like I did.

I hope that I can bring my parents to eat at the Royal Mouriya someday, too. :) Thanks for a great meal before I left Japan, Royal Mouriya Restaurant.

I guess this is the last of my blog post about my 2013 Japan trip (sigh). I've had so much fun, and I cried so much when I left.

Like, the last time I left Japan in 2011  I cried in the airport. This time, I cried as I got onto the train at Osaka Station.

(=_=)"

Tears rolled down my eyes like raindrops - I just could not bear seeing the end of my two-week holiday. After all, there were so many things that I still had yet to do, that I still want to do (such as trying Level 10 spiciness at CoCo Ichi...), but had neither the time nor money to do so.

Hopefully, once I've saved up enough money again, I'll go zooming back to Japan, and spend more time in Osaka next time round. Ooh, plus Hokkaido.. and Okinawa... and Hiroshima...

Wait for me, Japan. I'll come back soon. :)

P.S. BONUS  MEMORY - 


Right before I went to the Royal Mouriya Restaurant I was hanging out in Loft Sannomiya, just looking at stationery when this... THIS... ABSOLUTE CUTEST RILAKKUMA just came walking by, before stopping to take pictures with the crowd.

ASDFGHJKL

I don't think the person inside could see outside, because they bumped into a pole for a bit.

Rilakkuma just waved at everyone, "looked" around slowly and curiously as they stood in the spot, and patiently waited there as people lined up to take pictures with him.

After I took the above picture, I said thank you... AND HE PATTED ME GENTLY ON THE ARM.

(T___________________________________________T)

Can't stop crying from the cuteness of it all.  That is one seriously well-made costume, that I guess Loft keeps around in storage or something. I wanted to kidnap it home and just have it pat me on the arm daily when I feel crappy about stuff.

Oh Japan. Just one more reason to love you (all the cute things they come out with). Thank you.

Wanderlust: Japan

My Host Family and Himeji's Taiyo Park

03:30


Back in 2011, just a few months after the earthquake/ tsunami/ nuclear reactor meltdown combo, I went to do a three week all-women's university summer program in Japan.

The all-women's university was Mukogawa Women's University in Nishinomiya, and I got placed with a host family that lived in Akashi.

Every morning it would take me an hour and 40 minutes to get to university at nine in the morning, which meant being on the train at 7.20AM sharp.

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After classes ended at one-ish, we were free to do what we liked or had the university take us to 'cultural' places around the area.

Even though I had worried about the effects of the earthquake/ tsunami/ nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan in the months prior to going (some people pulled out of the program, and the British girls that were supposed to join in on the program also pulled out), I decided to take the plunge and go anyway.

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In return, I got some of the best memories of my university life. I also got a lovely host family who put up with me for three weeks, and strangely enough still wanted to see me after having to live with me for so long *laughs*.



Two years on, I told my host sister that I was coming back to Japan, and that I'd love to see my family if they'd have me. Things certainly changed a lot since 2011 for her. In the time period I was in Japan this year, she had married, was eight months pregnant, and had her own house.

What had not change, however, was her telling me that I was always welcome at her home *beams*.

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So on the 5th of November, I took the train down from Kyoto, and went hurtling towards Sannomiya, before switching to the Hanshin line and going towards Akashi.

With my smartphone and Google Maps, I was a regular pro at trains in Japan for sure. Thank you, inventor of GPS and the like.

MY SAVIOR FOR SURE.

Once I reached my host sister's house in the evening, we spent an hour or two just chatting before we got started... on the okonomiyaki party! :D

On nom nom nom.

My host sister knew I love (LUUUURVEEEEEEEEE) okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and the like, so for my sake my host family (father, mother, another sister, a brother, and a couple of tiny dogs), my host sister's best friend and husband, and a couple of people I hadn't met got together in the house .... and my host parents set to making the batter and stuff for the okonomiyaki and takoyaki.

They even asked me what I liked to drink, and when I said I liked umeshu, they went out to the grocery store to get it, even though I protested that if they didn't have it I'm fine with water.

I remember thinking ages back about 'Why are they so nice!' and it still holds true, until today, even though I suck at communicating with them because my Japanese skills have now gone from bad to worse.

Sigh.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the 'batter party' as my host sister terms it.


Batter mixed with ingredients to make okonomiyaki once grilled. :D


Tadah! Japanese home-cooked love. :')


My piece of okonomiyaki from the grill.


Hello, I'm your okonomiyaki, and I'm happy to see ya! <-- get the reference?! Disney fans should.

Itadakimasu! This was my first okonomiyaki after touching down in Japan, made all the more special because it was made especially for my arrival. *happy face*

Since I was bad at Japanese AND ESPECIALLY JAPANESE IN THE KANSAI DIALECT, I just basically listened to everyone talking and chimed in from time to time with the most basic of sentences. They asked me about Malaysia, about what I do for a living, how many languages I know, why I learned Japanese, etc. I tried my best to answer, even though I faltered a lot. >_>/ <_<

I need to go back to Japan and study Japanese so I do not put my teachers' efforts to waste (and, also, the HIGH university fees needed to learn Japanese in Australia).

Anyone want to sponsor me?

Anyone at all?

Anyone?

No?

Okay.

:(

Moving on.

The next day my host family continued to prove that they were definitely the best host family ever and I was not just seeing them through rose-tinted glasses.

I thought I'd take the train and bus to this attraction in Himeji named Taiyo Park with just my host sister. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I named Taiyo Park and Himeji Castle, thinking that Akashi was located near Himeji and that Himeji was small enough. My host sister even agreed ,saying that she went to Taiyo Park before for the day - so I thought it was an hour away by train and bus or so.

Turns out, it took us 50 minutes just by car to get to Taiyo Park. How did I know it takes 50 minutes to get to Taiyo Park by car? My host mother and host sisters drove me there - that's right, the girls in the family came out to hang with me for the day.

All together now - nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

 As soon as we got there, I was not allowed to pay for the entrance ticket, or for my lunch, either. Actually, for the whole day I did not have to fork out a single yen, because as soon as I waved my wallet around someone would stop me. I just quit trying to get my wallet out at dinnertime and for karaoke afterwards, settling for just thanking my host sister's in-laws profusely instead.

That's right, this time, it was my host sister's in-laws who treated me to dinner and karaoke, despite never meeting me before - I repeat, NEVER MEETING ME BEFORE.

Why are all of you so nice to me I don't deserve such niceness but THANK YOU ~ :')

Taiyo Park's attraction were 3D artwork inside the castle, as you'll see later, and a rock area we did not explore much due to it being a lot of walking to check out replica stonework from all over the world. I mean, we did have an eight month-old pregnant woman among our group, and I certainly don't know how to deliver kids should the baby be like "Okay I'm coming now catch me okay".

I know it's highly unlikely and all, but JUST IN CASE, YOU KNOW?



View of the castle from the bottom, as well as a brochure of Taiyo Park. We had to take a monorail to get to the top. If you're planning to visit Taiyo Park, it's really best to come with someone else or a group, because of all the pictures you will want to take with the fabulous 3D artworks on all 7 (I think) floors of the castle!

Taiyo Park is pretty isolated and not well-known, so there'll be very few people. It is a nice place to spend a couple of quiet hours just thinking of funky poses to do with the artwork, though, which was perfect for our group of four.



Oh this was sort of creepy. The face in this Mona Lisa replica picture would look at you no matter which angle you looked at her, which sometimes gave rise to creepy facial expressions. Like in the picture.

Mona Lisa be like "Hello child. I'm watching you. Alwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaays watching." <-- Pixar reference this time.

*shudders*

Luckily the rest of the 3D art was way better - and less scary. >_<



Yes,yes, I admit it... I'm actually a fairy. With good taste in fashion. I also over-water my plants and kill them. Hi!

What, you don't believe that I am a fairy? Here's proof.


I'm tiny! Also I mosaic-ed my host sister's (family's) face because I think members of my host family are fairly private, like most Japanese people.


Even though I'm tiny, I can be human-sized when I want to/ need to be heroic. Heroic and fashionable and cool hair and kicking it in boots (that honestly, killed me after too much walking SIGH FOR THE SAKE OF FASHION AND NOT LOOKING LIKE A MIDGET), what more can you ask for?


And artistic. Don't forget artistic.


I guess I do have some flaws though - like being afraid of heights. Get me down! T_T


While heights may daunt me, tigers and fire do not. A woman has to make a living in whatever way she can, you know? Watering plants and saving damsels in distresses are nice and all but they don't pay. Painting pay?

HAHAHA NOT ACCORDING TO THE WORLD, OKAY.

Unless you're Damien Hirst and you chop off the Pegasus's head and let it fester and call it art.

I don't so...


Magical creatures hanging out together. Sup.


Some magical creatures aren't as nice as others, though. Here's me being heroic again. All in a day's work, people.


Genie was fairly impressed with my work, and said "Do you want to fight evil djinns in my land?" I'm like okay so off I go now, bye!

My fictional life is so much cooler than my real life.

After Taiyo Park I went to dinner and karaoke. I was really impressed by how much my host family could put away. First we had yakiniku (barbeque), then steamboat, then desserts, then snacks at the karaoke lounge.

I totally gave up after the first bowl of steamboat.

Then again, they have superior Japanese genes that don't let them put on any fat, so stopping after feeling totally and utterly full was justified on my behalf.

I only spent two days one night in Akashi/ Himeji, but I'm glad I went to see my host family despite the time constraints. My host sister and her husband even told me that I was welcomed back anytime, with my host sister saying "My house is also your house!"

OMG too much kindness I cannot fathom it since I am mean as... as... something mean, but thank you all so much for the kind memories.

Need to cry tears of happiness from the memories, be back in a few days with my final post on my 2013 Japan trip. Toodle-pip!

Wanderlust: Japan

Osaka, Foodie Heaven

12:00


Short, but mouthwatering blog post! 

Unfortunately I only spent a day in Osaka due to time and geographical constraints from moving all over the place, but it was a day well-spent in Shinsaibashi, the heart of Osaka. 

There was shopping of clothes and beauty products, all of which I loved, but most importantly...

I finally got my omusoba (and 2nd) okonomiyaki fix! 

Omusoba is short for omelette soba, and okonomiyaki, which is basically 'anything that goes well in a pile of batter'. 


That's me almost drooling as I watched the okonomiyaki cook on top of the grill.


M and I were at a restaurant named Ajinoya, located at 1-7-16, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, 542-0076. You're welcome.


Look at the yolk, and the cabbage, and the prawns, and the bacon, and how everything comes together on this beauty. <3


The aftermath, before adding the fish flakes and mayonnaise. <3

And the omusoba makes an appearance on the grill, having been fried beforehand.


:Q_______

Two pieces of heaven, I'm telling you. Mouth-watering, grilled-to-perfection heaven.


THIS.


THIS.

This perfectly wrapped soba noodles, wrapped underneath a layer of fried egg, with mayonnaise and ketchup.

:Q________

I just miss Osaka's food so much right now.

If you read this and you do not have omusoba and okonomiyaki in Osaka, you're heartless. Or visual tastebud-less. Something.

Wanderlust: Japan

Highlights from Kyoto

00:20


Ugh I can't believe it's NEARLY been a month since I left Japan.

I MISS YOU JAPAN.

My friends there are posting up autumnal pictures like no tomorrow, and I'm beating myself up internally for missing all those red maple leaves.

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 I mean, generally Japan is pretty all year round but this time I REALLY wanted to see a bunch of dying, colourful leaves, being from a tropical country and all.

I got some, but nothing as colourful as the pictures I'm seeing now HUMPH.

Soon my friends will start posting pictures of snow and I'd be like 'I hate all of you right now go away'.

When it comes to traditional Japan scenery, Kyoto immediately comes to mind. I got to stay there for my 5th to 9th day of my Japan trip.

Well, technically I spent my 5th day in Akihabara (which is... TOTALLY maid cafe central and I must have saw 5 - 7 maids just trying to get customers @_@), eating lunch, playing arcade games and the scoop machines (got a My Melody plushie keychain!).

Around mid-afternoon I took the bullet train back to Kyoto. I finally knew how to navigate Kyoto Station!


Rehashing a good old photo.

I was so tired when I got back I just ate McDonalds, showered, and slept.

All throughout my Kyoto trip I basically just played catch-up with my friends from university. On the 1st of November I got up late-ish, and went to meet my friends at their university, before adjourning to the Kyoto National Museum to meet yet another university friend.

Honestly, if you're going to Japan, please get a pocket wifi/ tourist phone SIM card. It will make life SO MUCH easier. I just went where Google Maps told me to go, and voila! I found myself in front of the Kyoto National Museum.

It cost me ¥1,300 a pop to go inside and look at... Qing dynasty ceramics, which I couldn't appreciate very much. I swear I must have been the youngest person inside that place.

The most interesting thing I was attracted to was the English translation/ description of a bowl, which said 'concave angels'. I was trying to figure out what 'concave angels' were by staring at the bowl, before I realised it meant 'concave angles'.

That made so much more sense.

I couldn't take pictures inside the museum, but since I paid freaking ¥1,300 (RM42) to go inside, I'd be damned if I didn't take a few pictures.


The entrance into the museum. The weather was so good that day! Luckily for me most of my days in Japan had good weather, with just two or three rainy days.


I think I need to go back to Japan soon. 

I got excited seeing this sculpture of the Thinker - I got reminded of my first Phoenix Wright game, and how sucked into it I was playing a lawyer on the DS. I don't even have time to pick up a game now, now that I have 'real life' and all.

After greeting my friend in hushed excitement inside the museum, and taking pictures outside, we then left to meet our other friends at Fushimi Inari shrine! *excited* I love my university reunions.

I'm not a shrine person at all - the most I can take in a day is two, maximum. Shrines are mostly for trekking and ooh-ing and aah-ing at the pretty structures, anyway.


Ooooh.

This is the side-view of the entrance into the shrine.

Oh, and shrines are for buying o-mamori charms, praying, plus doing your omikuji (fortune-telling) if you're into that thing.

Which I am. I got a 大吉 result, which basically means I am having the best luck for the next foreseeable year THANKS FUSHIMI INARI!

We went inside and walked up past the torii gates, before reaching the lake then giving up and going back. There was no way we were going to trek all the way to the very top, but you are welcomed to if you want to try!


This was taken on our way back down to the train station. There are stalls here selling taiyaki and assorted snacks, but since it was so near dinner time anyway I didn't have any.

Also look at that measly shade of red at the top of the tree. I wanted more! *grumbles*

The next day we all set out to meet yet another university friend (who studies in Tokyo now) at Kyoto Station, before setting out for Arashiyama.


Our motley crew of Malaysian (me!), Chinese-Australian, Indian-Australian, African-Australian, and Caucasian-Australian people got on the bus from Kyoto Station, and proceeded to take a half-hour trip out to Arashiyama.

Arashiyama, in my humble opinion, is one of the prettiest places on earth.

We first made our way up to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. I'm not that big a fan of monkeys, but the view from the top was incredible.


Well. I'm glad there wasn't only ONE monkey at the park.


Hiking up several meters to get to the top. If you're planning on coming here, please wear sensible shoes. My feet was killing me by the end of the day, even though I was wearing Doc Martens.

Also, trees, why so green in autumn!?!?!

*foams at mouth*


We went into the little wooden house at the top, where most of the monkeys were pretty much like "So are you going to give me food, or what?", or just plain giving us the "GIVE ME FOOD NOW" look. Like the one above.


Outside the house the monkeys mostly left us alone - they knew that food could only be gotten from humans inside the house, not the ones outside. Here's one grooming another, one picking carefully through fur while the other was all "Yeah check out my personal slave, human."


Here's a view from the top of the city...



Whereas here is a view of more mountains beyond. You know how in pictures, people tend to paint far-off mountains as blue mountain-shaped bits? I always thought that it was just a quick simple way to signify mountainous terrains. Apparently they look like that in real life too, if they are far enough from the human eye.

Guess you learn something new every day. Or relearn, in this case.


After the trek up to the monkey park, we just wandered around Arashiyama looking for the bamboo forest.

The bamboo forest was pretty far away from the monkey park on foot, so that quickly took up most of the afternoon.

It was quite dark by the time we left the bamboo forest. We then got on the tram and navigated our way to dinner in the city, a tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat) place, before going for karaoke then going back to collapse in our  beds.

On the 3rd of November we went to Universal Studios Japan. Ugh. Theme parks and weekends. Not if I can help it again. No pictures from me plus USJ is strictly in Osaka, so onwards to the 4th of November in Kyoto.

Luckily for me, the Kyoto palace grounds was opened to the public over the weekend while I was at Kyoto. The 4th of November was a public holiday as well, so the grounds opening extended until then.


According to that description (it was another sunny day, yay!), these three rooms were waiting rooms for guests of  the Palace. Which room you were received in indicated your rank and status as seen by the royal house. It's a pretty subtle way of telling people whether they were important or not, I suppose.


Palace grounds were seriously huge! I don't actually see the appeal in staying in a big place, though. So many other people to have to live with, plus cleaning must be a pain. Sure, life would be cushy if I was royalty, but more than likely if I were born in those times I'd be a chambermaid or something.

Okay, maybe a lady-in-waiting.


It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is where the Imperial Throne is.



I do, however, see the point in having a beautiful garden like this! If I had a garden like this (and hopefully an army of five gardeners to help me look after it), I'd just sit around in it all day reading books and looking at the lake. Bliss.

I can only imagine how it'll look like in autumn, since the above picture may as well have been taken in summer.

Hmmph.

After walking around the building structures of the imperial palace, we went outside to take a walk around the palace parks instead (Kyoto Gyoen Park).

Behold, a photo that I adamantly took in Kyoto Gyoen to prove that I was in Japan during autumn.


You see that?!?! YELLOW LEAVES. Thank you for obliging my wish to see some dying leaves, dear tree!

I also took a picture along Kamo River (Kamogawa), with some red leaves peeking out from beyond.


I feel that if I live in Kyoto, I'd be imbued with this sense of tranquility and peace quite often, just looking at the beautiful scenery and gorgeous shrine architectures.

Last touristy place worthy of note that I visited before moving on would be Kiyomizudera.

I too, got my fortune told at Kiyomizudera.

...

I got bad luck.

So now I'm opting to believe the Fushimi Inari one instead. I will have GREAT luck for 2014, thank you very much.


Here's the view from Kiyomizudera after you've gone up the steps. :) Despite the lack of autumnal trees, the sun set pretty quickly in Japan. 5PM would roll around and then POOF! Wait, where did the sun go?


A view from the top. The place where people are congregated around is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of waterways lead to a pond. Drinking from the water is said to have wish-granting powers.

I wish that my books will have the selling power of Harry Potter.

Actually I should probably wish that I can finish writing my novels first, instead of writing them all enthusiastically for the first 10,000 words, and then letting them trail off in the dusty recesses of my laptop.

Yep. Let's take baby steps first.


Here's how the waterways look like up close. I totally got in line and drank the water, of course. It was really fresh, cold, and tasty!

Oh, and for all you lovelorn people, Kiyomizudera is also popular for romantic luck at the Jishu Shrine. You can pray here and hope that your true love will come around.


Here it is! I didn't go there, because I have long assigned myself to the fact that I will most likely end up an eccentric hermit cat lady.

Plus it's kind of sad to head over there when no one else that is there with you is interested in praying for romantic luck.

Oh well.

Meow.

I did catch one of the best views from Kiyomizudera, however, the sunset! I went too early to Kyoto - around the 15th of November Kiyomizudera opened up for nighttime autumnal viewing, and it was apparently really pretty.

That's it. Next time I'm going to camp myself in Japan from October to February (next time being when I have that kind of money, which may be a long time from now) and catch all the kinds of things that people from tropical countries can't experience.

HUMPH.

But I digress.

I really loved watching the sunset at Kiyomizudera. Here's why.


Kyoto is definitely one of the best places to be reminded how beautiful Mother Nature can be. (^_^)v

The next day after a long sleep I went off to visit my host family in Akashi. Definitely felt like I had not seen enough of Kyoto - I still wanted to go to Gion and Ginkakuji, but didn't have the time or the energy to make it.

:(

In any case, I'm glad I got to stay longer at Kyoto this time around. Scenery-wise, these were the best of Mother Nature I've seen throughout my trip. The other cities have their own charms, but Mother Nature does not come up tops there.

Thank you for the memories, Kyoto (and of course my university friends who made it all the more fun with our stupid in-jokes and reminiscing of days gone by)! Keep yourself beautiful.