Kiyomizu-dera.

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period (…) in 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

Kiyomizu-dera is not only a buddhist temple, it’s a wonderful communion between men and nature, built on respect and admiration by the first to the latter. It’s a place for peace of mind and where one can simply awe, taking in the surroundings.

the entrance to kiyomizu-dera.
the entrance to kiyomizu-dera.

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love rock.
love rock.

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Ghibli store — just awesome.
Ghibli store — just awesome.

This was our last day in Kyoto. We took our bikes back and had time for a nice dinner before we headed to Tokyo. Kyoto is definitely deeply rooted in us, and we will not forget all those bike strolls around such a unique city.

Kyoto from the top of the train station.
Kyoto from the top of the train station.
delicious dinner.
delicious dinner.
map with tiny floaters.
map with tiny floaters.

Hope you enjoyed!

higashiyama.

Everything about Kyoto was incredibly special this time around. I don’t know what it was — maybe last time our expectations were just way too high? But the bikes played a very important role. It allowed us to see more, more of what Kyoto really is, and that felt so very exceptional, echoing deep within our hearts.

Here are a few more shots around higashiyama.
Enjoy!

scooters are a must to navigate fast through narrow streets.
scooters are a must to navigate fast through narrow streets.

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These ladies were amazing!
These ladies were amazing!
pagoda from below.
pagoda from below.

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keoshi strollin'.
keoshi strollin’.
school girls.
school girls.
tiny temple.
tiny temple.
obviously, I had to buy this. It's an incense burner — can you see the smoke coming out of its ears? how adorable is that?!
obviously, I had to buy this. It’s an incense burner — can you see the smoke coming out of its ears? how adorable is that?!

Nishiki Market.

Ah finally back to Japan’s photos!

Weeks have been flying by me lately. One minute I’m getting up from my slumber on a dreaded Monday and the next, it’s already Friday and I’ve got so much to do already for the next Monday! It’s crazy… but it’s crazy good.

But here I am again, back on track (well, sort of) and sharing some more photos from Japan.

delicious flakes.
delicious flakes.

Nishiki Market is a wonderful array of everything beautiful and delicious, that can be found in Kyoto. We strolled around for quite a bit, trying to get out of the rain outside, and that’s when you start paying attention to certain details.

so much to choose from...
so much to choose from…

How nice people are to each other and to you; how everything is just so simple and easy — like building tables out of empty fish boxes; how everyone goes about their daily life, happy and content.

Enjoy the photos and have a nice Sunday!

an array of possibilities.
an array of possibilities.
pickled plums — so delicious!
pickled plums — so delicious!
ready to savour.
ready to savour.
your visual menu.
your visual menu.
greenery.
greenery.
boxes as tables. yes.
boxes as tables. yes.
always adorable.
always adorable.

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An Izakaya.

After an absolutely unique experience at Camellia we were led by Atsuko to another wonderful experience, that we had tried to do before, on our own, but couldn’t. Simply, we don’t understand Japanese, and you need to at least understand somewhat what you have on the menu. An Izakaya is a tavern-like establishment, a place to enjoy some drinks with family and friends, and some really tasty food.

grilled fish in a scrumptious sweet sauce. Couldn't stop eating.
grilled fish in a scrumptious sweet sauce. Couldn’t stop eating.

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This was a beyond awesome experience. It was most definitely one of the most incredible moment we had in Japan.

Continue reading “An Izakaya.”

kyoto’s streets.

And here we are once again with Japan pics, finally!

These are just a few pics of the streets in Kyoto. This day we went to the aquarium in the morning. Salamanders there were not your normal salamander. These are giant Japanese salamanders that can grow up to two meters in length. They’re huge. And a just a teeny bit on the fugly side

They are the mascot of the aquarium and you’ve got an amazing choice of figurines and stuffed salamanders.

Hope you like the pics!

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Zen in Kyoto.

Back from the beach! The weekend was amazing! Could have been better if it wasn’t for the funny fact that I forgot to put sunscreen on my belly, and now it’s a shade darker than the rest of my body — lovely isn’t it? I tan fast, you see, heck, I get tanned from crossing the street! No, no, no, that is not a good thing… I get crazy tan lines.

I am also confined to the sofa or bed, because I have been having this funny (ah ah) pain near my left shoulder blade, that really comes and goes, but evolved yesterday, while I was laughing like crazy, to a not funny stab-with-a-knife kind of pain… So yes. Fun, fun, fun!

Let’s talk about something else. Kyoto. Oh yes.

After Nagoya, we arrived in Kyoto completely devoid of any will to do anything but stay in bed sleeping, but alas, we did not do that. We did however get ourselves a really delicious breakfast served in our room, at Hyatt Regency. The hotel was pretty amazing: spacious and pretty room, with a huge bed and an awesome walk-in shower. Also you could open the blinds without the fear of people seeing you half-naked — that’s always a plus.  The breakfast was incredible. We had a combined breakfast for two, with a traditional Japanese breakfast, featuring miso soup, grilled fish, vegetables, rice, etc, etc; and a western breakfast, with the mandatory eggs and bacon, pastries, jams, bread, etc, etc.

click for mooooooooooore

Pretty Nagoya.

After a well spent day in between little towns, we headed to Nagoya.

Nagoya is big and very business-y like. One of the first things we saw when we go there was a lady laying on the floor and a few of her friends surrounding her. I got immediately worried, but figured the situation was completely under control — as in, calling an ambulance an such — turns out she was out drunk, and everyone was laughing and behaving as if that was completely normal! Turns out, it is…

We would only be in Nagoya for a day, to visit the castle. We were incredibly tired, and we just wanted to get a good night sleep — the hotel we stayed in for the night before was decent, just on the verge of bad and we couldn’t really rest properly.

The castle is amazing! It reminded us a lot of Osaka’s castle, but of course this one was completely different in every detail inside and out. Golden carps were everywhere and there was a reenacting of ancient times, with samurais strolling around and old shops all over.

Nagoya castle up ahead!

Continue reading “Pretty Nagoya.”

Tea ceremony and an Izakaya.

I need to upload more photos and more posts, right? Well, here we go!

In Kyoto, we went up to the tv tower to see the city from above, and it’s quite impressive, to see such a massive city with all the mountains around.
Next we went to the aquarium where we got to see the huge salamanders! The aquarium was small but very cute and with very interesting animals.

By the end of the day we went to Camellia, which I’m going to do a whole post about when I get back. Camellia is run by Atsuko, who was going to be our host last year in Kyoto. We met her briefly in Lisbon, roughly a year ago, over a nice dinner at Petiscaria Ideal. Unfortunately, Atsuko had to cut her trip short so we weren’t able to stay in her place, but we continued to be friends.

The tea ceremony, led by Atsuko, was incredible. The movements, the ambiance, the smells and the flavors were amazing. But I don’t want to ruin the upcoming post about Camellia, so I’m saving the best for another day.

After the very relaxing and tasty ceremony, Atsuko took us to an Izakaya. An Izakaya is a traditional Japanese restaurant, that derived from sake shops. Customers leave their shoes by the door, sit on the floor and indulge in delicious food and drinks.
This moment was most definitely one of the very best in the entire trip.

Enjoy the iPhone photos for now!

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Kyoto from a bike.

I’m sorry for the radio silence! Honestly I am trying, as much as possible, to stay away from the web, and enjoy this beautiful country the best that I can. I will of course post a couple of photos on Instagram. I’m trying to check in every place we go on Foursquare, but for personal purposes… If only Foursquare hadn’t migrated to swarm? Or has it? I don’t get it…

Being in Kyoto last time was somewhat of a reality check. I went in thinking the city would top off the busy Tokyo, but that wasn’t the case. I felt like there were too many people, specially tourists, in one place. Kyoto is smaller than Tokyo and all tourists go to the same places, and, inevitably, you will bump into much more people. I didn’t feel the calmness I longed and dreamed of…

This time, however, things were different. We didn’t go to the same places as everyone, because we had been there already and, instead, we strolled around the entire city, just taking everything in.
And it was wonderful.

From my bike I saw the everyday lives of many Japanese, saw their homes and how they behave, and that’s precisely what I love most. From my bike, looking at the real Kyoto, I felt reinvigorated, inspired and peaceful.

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We started off with an excellent breakfast, western and traditional Japanese. more photos after the jump