Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kyoto outskirts Ohara

Sanzen-in Temple grounds©2007

Wow I haven't posted in a while, been kinda swamped. I have more info on Tokyo, but figure I'd mix it up a bit with Kyoto and Ohara.

Ohara is a small farming town in the mountains outside of Kyoto proper. It's really lovely you don't have to stay there at all you can take a city bus from Kyoto Station
and you will be there in 40 minutes. The bus will make stops along a regular bus route with many stops, so if for some reason you have a car or moped, it'll probably take you 20 minutes. If you have the cash I would highly recommend staying in a Ryokan in Ohara for one night, it's lovely. We stayed in Seryo, pricey, but worth every penny. In the price is included dinner, which you can choose from Kaiseki or Sukiyaki, all very delicious (oy-shi). Each of these dishes takes a better part of a day to prepare them and then about 2 hours to eat them, really amazing. Also the use of outdoor onsen baths which are just relaxing and beautiful. If you stay ask for the western/japanese combo room, it's the loveliest. You also have your own mini deck, that leads out to the garden.

Seryo Ryokan pics:

What's in Ohara? Well there are gorgeous temples all walking distance from Seryo and you are surrounded by the woods. Sanzen-in Temple is the main attraction in Ohara it covers a lot of ground and it's in the middle of the woods, the temple grounds are simply a marvel to behold. Another really worth visiting and the YP500, is Hosen-in temple it's all of a 3 minute walk from Sanzen-in. It's not a large temple but it's lovely especially when you are allowed to go sit on the elevated garden deck and they bring you matcha and cinnamon mochi, it's so serene.

Sanzen-in Temple grounds©2007
Hosen-in Temple

Hosen-in Temple

Getting there: it's actually pretty easy. From Kyoto Station take bus number 17 or 18, they will leave you right at the Ohara bus stop. It's about 40 mins, only because it's a city bus and makes every local stop, but it's a really nice bus trip. Costs about Y580 each way. If you stay in a ryokan they may offer pick-up service from the Ohara bus station, Seryo does.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Elusive Golden Gai

The Golden Gai are these tiny alley ways filled with miniature bars, were 5 people at most fit in most of them. It looks like a movie set. This is where the artists, actors, directors and those obsessed by film go to hang out. If you are gaijin good luck, cause either you will be met with icey stares, or get over charged. Also you have people that are just the regulars and since there are approximately 4 to 5 spaces at the bar and no standing room you kinda have to get there early to actually be able to get in. Now I'm not saying everyone's unfriendly, I did not myself partake at the bars just perused. BUT I'm going back in October and I plan to avail myself of these fine mini establishments,becuase the rumor is that big companies and the government are bullying these guys to shut them down much like Yakitori Alley, also known as Omoide Yokocho, or as the locals delightfully call it "Shonben Yokocho" (piss alley). So if you are in Tokyo try to not miss the Golden Gai or Yakitori Alley, they are what you are really looking for in Tokyo.
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