Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Google Map (Page 1 of 4)

Buddha & Brews

The weather on Tuesday was beautiful. I decided to mix up my day trips and use the lovely day to explore Fukuoka. The Midori-Huis Ten Bosch Limited Express train makes the trip to Fukuoka from Sasebo in about two hours.

I arrived at the Sasebo train station with plenty of time to spare before catching the 8:06 train. I’m glad I did. I’ve learned in Japan that trains with special names require a special ticket at a special price. Such was the case with the Limited Express. I needed two tickets. One ticket for the train and one for Express Train! Yikes! And that is only one way! I needed to make the most of my day!

Once arriving at Hakata Station, I switched to the JR lines and took a local train to Nanzō-in Temple. I first learned about this Temple from my friend, Paula. She and her husband were stationed in Sasebo and went to visit the Temple. Her pictures were so cool, I knew I had to add this to my list. The Nanzō-in Temple is known for its large bronze Reclining Buddha statue said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.

The statue is about 134 feet long, 36 feet tall, and weighs 300 tons. It was spectacular. Better in fact than I anticipated. I thought I would stop by really quickly, snap some pictures and leave. Instead, I lingered and enjoyed the serenity and harmony I felt during my visit. The long cord from his hand is connected to the prayer area so visitors can “touch” Buddha as they pray. His feet are decorated with symbols to represent healing powers.

The statue is reclining because it represents Buddha at the moment of death or as he enters nirvana.

Besides my feeling of serenity, I also wasn’t expecting fall foliage to decorate the beautiful temple.

These two might be my favorite.

But, then there’s the one with the waterfall and bridge.

Like I said, I spent way more time here enjoying a sort of fall foliage meditation. I’m so glad I decided to visit today while the skies were clear.

I returned to the train station and caught he 12:02 train back to Hakata Station. I wanted to take the 15:32 Limited Express back to Sasebo so I could meet Dave for dinner. The 15:32 put me back at 17:24. So, I had about 3 hours to kill before my train. On my way to Fukuoka, I researched different options. Parks, foliage, “Fukuoka” ramen, and/or shopping were all viable options. As I was on the train after my visit to the Temple, I was ready for a beer. One divine search for zen leads to another. I searched “breweries” in Google Maps and the Asahi Brewery popped up. It was only one stop from Hakata – 4 minutes. Perfect. I arrived at the Brewery around 12:40.

The receptionist was so welcoming and asked if I had a reservation. No. Ok, then how about 1:00 tour? Hai! Arigatōgozaimas! She gave me a set of headphones so I could enjoy the tour in English.

The tour took an hour. It was really fun despite the language barrier. Oh, and did I mention – FREE! The hops were not edible but the barley in the canister was available for sampling.

A couple more pictures of the packaging process. Did you know the only place in North America that brews and packages Asahi is the Molson Coors Plant in Canada!

A couple pictures to help you understand the volume of beer brewed and packaged at this plant. This is where cans are filled with Asahi. It fills 1500 cans per minute.

This is a picture of the bottle filler. It only fills 600 bottles per minute.

After our tour, we were given the opportunity to sample Asahi beer. Asahi encourages consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation. Therefore, you only have three FREE samples to consume in 20 minutes with your bag of beer snacks. Moderation is the Wabi-Sabi of life. I think so.

Just in case you were wondering what it was like to be a blonde American traveling alone today, I felt like a rockstar. I railway staff helping me buys tickets, use my PASMO, and find my correct track. At the Brewery, the tour guide checked on me throughout the tour and sat me at my own table. It went above and beyond excellent customer service. My third sample and my fellow tour members.

I purchased some of the beer snacks for Dave as a little present. I would bring him beer, but there is an alcohol restriction on American service members stationed in Japan after a Marine killed a Japanese man in a drinking and driving accident Sunday morning in Okinawa. The incident is very sad, preventable, and unfortunate.

As the sun sets on my day trip and I reflect on how I spent my time, it was pretty perfect – for me. I didn’t see the amazing shopping mall or sample Fukuoka ramen. But, I was able to enjoy Buddha, fall foliage, and a beer (or three). My take away from this outing was – you can’t do everything, you can’t please everyone. So, do what you love and make sure you have fun doing it!

Japanese Kiwi

My English student, Manami, brought me Japanese Kiwi last weekend. The packaging is so cute! Kawaii! It just makes me want to be happy and eat kiwi.

These particular kiwi are from Fukuoka. Here is a screen shot of where Fukuoka Prefecture is located.

They needed a couple days to ripen. I ate one yesterday and it was delicious. This morning I cut up some for Dave for lunch. “Nothing says love like fresh cut fruit.” Especially, in Japan, because fruit can be very expensive!

Look how pretty the “star” is inside the kiwi! It’s red!

The other difference I noticed was the smooth skin. This species of kiwi doesn’t have the prickly hairs.

It was a very nice of Manami to bring us such a delicious present. I would describe these as tasting very similar to American Kiwi. Perhaps, a little bit sweeter.

Enoshima Sea Candles

Last week, I went out to Enoshima Island and during my visit, I saw an advertisement for a candle illumination display. Wednesday evening was the perfect opportunity for me to revisit the Enoshima Garden, Sea Candle, and candle illumination. I arrived a little before sunset and was very happy I did! I was able to capture a few pictures of the sunset and Mt. Fuji. 


I purchased my ticket and quickly went up into the Sea Candle before the sunset was complete. I wanted a few more pictures! 


I returned to ground level and I tilted my phone to capture Mt. Fuji and the Sea Candle. A very gorgeous evening! 


After watching sunset, I returned to the candle illumination. The path leading to the Sea Candle was illuminated with white votives. 


The candles were placed with great care throughout the garden. 

The Shrine seemed majestic with the red votives lining the path. 


The candles were beautiful and it was so quiet. It wasn’t very crowded, but still a good number of people snapping pictures from every angle. As couples spoke, they whispered. The silence truly set a peaceful tone for the evening. 

This is my fourth visit to Enoshima Island. It is moving up on my list of favorite places near where we live. Even though it takes a little while to get there, the train ride is nice along the coast. Also, there are a lot of shops leading up to the Shrine that can be fun to explore. The Shrine is beautiful and there are a lot of stairs! On a clear day, the island provides a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji. It is worth a visit during cool (remember- lots of stairs!) and clear weather.  One last picture of Mt. Fuji as I walked back to the train station. 


One more funny story about the Enoshima Sea Candle. In America, we would refer to this structure as a lighthouse. I call it the  Enoshima Sea Candle because those are the English words written on the signs on the island. Even Google Maps refers to it as the Enoshima Sea Candle. 

The funny thing is, I have told both of my English classes about my visits to Enoshima Island and the Enoshima Sea Candle and they respond with confusion. They will say to me, “you call it Sea Candle?” Clearly, confused by the silly American who isn’t familiar with lighthouses. I try to explain I call it that because that’s what the sign says- in English. Normally, I would call it a lighthouse. “Oh, yes, lighthouse. Yes, very beautiful.” Yes, very beautiful. For now on, I will always giggle when I see a lighthouse aka Sea Candle. 

Nara

We took a quick trip on Friday from Kyoto to Nara. We expedited the trip by traveling on a Limited Express Train. The typical hour trip only took 35 minutes! 

Not only is the route orange in Google Maps, so was the actual train!

Once in Nara, we made our way towards Nara Park. Within Nara Park are several famous Shrines, Temples, and deer!! The deer are a sacred part of Nara Park and considered “messengers of the gods”.

For ¥150, you could buy deer crackers from street vendors. The deer started early begging for crackers from this vendor. Look at the first picture- the deer in front is sticking his tongue out at me! 


We didn’t buy any crackers. Instead, we enjoyed watching other visitors feed them. 


The deer weren’t shy. They walked right up looking for a snack. 


Our first Temple we visited was Kofuku-ji Temple. Pictured here are the Temple’s Golden Hall and five-story pagoda are a National Treasure and date to 1425. The Eastern Golden Hall was built by Emperor Shōmu and the pagoda by his wife, Empress Kōmyō. The pair of buildings represent the ideal of marital harmony. 


Other beautiful buildings were also on the Temple’s grounds. 


As we continued through Nara Park, we saw even more deer. My favorite was watching people take selfies or pose with the deer and the deer would poop or pee and the tourists didn’t notice! Ha! 

The first Shrine we visited was Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The walkway to the Shrine has over 3,000 stone lanterns. No worries, I didn’t take a picture of them all. Although I tried! They were really impressive and unique. 

In keeping with my tree theme of the summer, look at the tree growing inside the remains of an old tree! 


After visiting the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, we were ready for lunch. It was approaching 11am and starting to really heat up. We doubled back to the area around the train station where there was a conveyor sushi restaurant. It was well air conditioned, served cold beer and delicious sushi. For those reasons, I could have stayed all afternoon. 


But, we had the Todai-ji Temple to visit. The Todai-ji Temple is also a World Heritage Site. The current structure was completed in 1709. The Great Buddha Hall is the largest wooden building in the world and houses the largest bronze image of Buddha dating back to 752 (the head however has been replaced and only dates to 1692).  

Now that’s a Big Buddha! 


My favorite spot in the Great Buddha Hall was behind the Great Buddha. There was a lattice door allowing a delightful breeze to come through. Plus, as Bill would say, we got a chance to see Buddha’s pooper. Can you tell how hot it is!?! The breeze felt amazing! 

Buddha’s Gold Pooper. 


We continued around enjoying the great hall. 

The fierce warriors are guardians to protect Buddha from evil. 


And how about this guy? If you rub the corresponding body part on him as the part that ails you, you will be healed. I rubbed his knees and gave him a high-five! 


We started to make our way back to the station to head back to Kyoto. We chased the shade the entire 20 minute walk. We purchased our train tickets for the 1400 train to Nara. While waiting to depart, I checked the weather. No wonder we were so hot! Heat index of 119!!!! Wow! 


Returning back to our hotel, we enjoyed a siesta that we earned from enduring the days heat and humidity! Plus, as Dave continues to remind me, we are on vacation and naps are always ok! 

Hama-rikyu Gardens

Recently, I read an article discussing five different gardens in Tokyo to discover wabi-sabi. I bookmarked the article and added all five of the gardens to my saved places in Google Maps. I found the definition of wabi-sabi used in the article interesting. “To Japanese people, there is a peculiar sense of aesthetics called “Wabi-sabi” where it is key to find the beauty in silence and the passing of time.” Other definitions I have found describe wabi-sabi as finding the beauty in the imperfections and also accepting transience. Accepting the passing of time and change is similar in both these descriptions. I also appreciate the ability to beauty in silence. Each of the gardens listed are located in a Tokyo and surrounded by the city. Visiting Hama-rikyu today, the sights and sounds of the city were all around. Finding a quiet spot in the garden was easy. Many people were enjoying their lunch as I arrived.


A couple things about the Hama-rikyu Gardens makes it very unique. It has a large pond that is fed by seawater from the Tokyo Bay. The pond has several lock gates that are opened and closed with the rise and fall of the tides of the Tokyo Bay. This creates a tidal affect within the pond.


The other unique thing about the garden were the two Kamoba or Duck hunting sites. They were both built in the late 1700s. The sites consisted of a large pond used to attract the ducks.


The hunters would lure the ducks into the pond with grasses and domesticated ducks while they hid in deep trenches.


Another hunter would stand watch in a wooden shack and watch the pond.

I took this picture looking out the peep holes in the hunting shack out over the pond.


On cue, someone would make a loud noise or distraction causing the ducks to take flight. The hunters would catch the ducks with long nets! Here was the sign that accompanied the explanation.


In true Japanese kindness, there is now a shrine dedicated to the ducks who were hunted.


The main pond of the garden was beautiful. The view of the Tokyo skyline provided a dynamic contrast with the natural setting of the garden.


There were a couple iris gardens blooming and one hydrangea bush in full bloom. The rest of the hydrangeas were not quite blooming yet.


Another notable mention within the garden was the 300 year old pine tree. It was gigantic and well supported with numerous wood braces and stantions.


The O-tsutai-bashi is the 118m long bridge over the center of the lake was renovated in 2012. The wisteria trellis are beautiful and make me want to visit again next spring to see them in bloom!

The garden did help me find my own definition of wabi-sabi. The way the garden was nestled in with so many city skyscrapers helped me to see and appreciate the beauty of nature and industry. Simultaneously, the city sounds of construction work, trains, and traffic helped me to experience and be settled with time passing. It was an enjoyable adventure to discover a beautiful garden in an urban environment with the intentions of experiencing wabi-sabi.

IKEA

Dave and I have been looking for a cute cafe table and chairs to replace the set we inherited a few months ago. The weathering had caused the inherited set to become a little dilapidated. And well, I broke one of the chairs the first time I sat in it! Ha!

We attempted to have a set shipped from Amazon but, it was too large. We checked the NEX on main base and didn’t have any luck. We also looked at the Homes store in Yokosuka this weekend and the set they had wasn’t what we were looking for either. Finally, it occurred to me to check IKEA! I went to the IKEA website and was able to find a set I liked. I sent Dave this picture. He gave me a thumbs up.


Simultaneously, I asked the friend I made last week to be my co-pilot and help me navigate to Yokohama to purchase the set. Here was the driving route to Yokohama. It wasn’t too bad if you ignore the crazy circle overpasses and numerous tunnels.


I picked up Katie in the Hooptie and off we went. I should also mention, I did my research prior to heading out. On our run this morning, Dina suggested I find the measurements of the boxes and measure the Hooptie before going. Excellent advice. Everything showed evidence of fitting without a problem.

We arrived at IKEA around 12:30. We could see the iconic blue and yello sign from the road the expressway. We were thrilled to have made it! 


The outdoor furniture I was looking for was on display at the entrance!


This was the first time I have been to IKEA since I was in high school. I wasn’t really familiar with the procedure for purchasing items. However, using my amazing Japanese detective skills and Katie’s help, I was able to decode the process! I didn’t use the App, I went “old school” and wrote my items down!


I also picked up a map in case we got lost… haha.


I never found the set of chairs I originally looked at online. But, I was ok with going I for an upgrade. My American size preferred the sturdier chairs pictured on the right and I loved that the table could completely collapse down.

Although these chairs were a much better price, they were uncomfortable and not nearly as sturdy.


After following the Store route, we picked up my items and went to the checkout. The store map hanging from the ceiling made me laugh!


Easy enough! Hey, cute cat pillow! Kawaii! Yes, that was my impulse purchase. I bought two for ¥550 ($5.50) each. I mean cat pillows in Japan!


Everything fit beautifully into the Hooptie!


I spent about an hour assembling everything. I absolutely LOVE our new entertaining area on our front patio. It’s adorable and I don’t feel as though I’m going to break the chairs!


Depending on where you sit, you can have a beautiful view of the front porch garden. I’m looking forward to entertaining you soon!

Take A Break

Dina and I rented a car and drove to see the Fuji Flower Carpet on Thursday. Although I had already been a few days earlier, I was happy to visit again and hopefully sneak another peak at Mt. Fuji. We left at 5:30 am. It was about a 2.5-hour drive and we arrived right when the park opened at 8:00 am. Here was our route.


I must also briefly tell you about the drive. As we drove towards Mt. Fuji we started with a great view and then clouds slowly started to settle. Dina put it nicely, “I’m observing a changing weather pattern.” However, we drove through a REALLY long tunnel and on the other side, we drove out into the sunshine and cloudless skies! It was a Fuji miracle! We were SO happy!!

Our luck continued at the flower carpet because we definitely beat the crowds and traffic! It was worth going early. I won’t overload you with pictures- I’ll just share a few of the beauty. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see Fuji twice!


Without the crowds, we were able to have a break time. Ahhhh, beautiful view, good coffee, and cream cheese filling. (I was expecting red bean paste!)


After we snapped a plethora of pictures, we decided to head out to Mount Minobu. Dina picked up a brochure showing Mt. Fuji, a Ropeway, and a pagoda. She quickly did a Google Map search and realized we were an hour away. So, off we went! Maybe my favorite part of the drive was seeing Lake Motosu. It was breathtaking. We pulled over to take a few pictures.


Later during the trip, Dina used Google Translate to attempt to find the name of the lake. Google Translate told her it was the lake on the back of the ¥1000 bill! Sure enough!


Dina’s excellent navigation skills, she will laugh at that statement, enabled us to easily find Minobusan with ease.


We enjoyed the Minobusan Ropeway ride and the view of Mt. Fuji from the top even though the clouds were starting to set in on it.

At the top were lots of trails and a temple. I look forward to returning in the fall with Dave and possibly catching a sunrise over Mt. Fuji!

By the time we came down the Ropeway, we were ready for lunch. We were fortunate to find a noodle restaurant around the corner.


As we were eating, I noticed a sign – fitting right into today’s theme!


The hearty lunch proved to be essential for the rest of the afternoon. According to the brochure, the pagoda was part of a Monastery.


Next to the pagoda were a lot of stairs. Going down. So down we went.


Once we reached the bottom, we read this sign.


As I mentioned, a lot of stairs. 287 in fact. We just walked down them. We would obviously need to go back up. “The Stairs provide you attaining joy of enlightenment.” Hmmm… I’m enlightened about the soreness in my quads today!


The monastery was very unique. It was hard to capture the magnitude and beauty of the buildings and grounds. I took a few pictures and hope they provide you with good highlights. I will definitely suggest we take a drive to Mt. Fuji and see Lake Motosu. If the fall foliage is peaking, we should also make a trip to Mt. Minobusan.


Here was our trip home.


We arrived shortly after 6:00 pm. A glass of wine and rehashing the journey with Dave over pizza was a nice way to wrap up an adventurous day!

Fuji Flower Carpet

I took an ITT tour on Monday. The tour had four points of interest. Because we were heading to Mt. Fuji, we left at 5:00am. Given the beautiful weather, it was totally worth it! Honestly, the weather today could not have been more perfect. Mt. Fuji was visible all day. Here was the route to get to the first stop.


1. Open Air Museum

Our first stop was to the Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba. It was actually the same replicated village we visited when the Cummings were in town. The sky was even more clear today and the later blooming Sakura were lovely.


The carp flags were still flying from Children’s Day this past Friday. They made for a beautiful photo.


Both of my normal liberty buddies were busy today. I went on this trip solo. However, I was able to make friends with a mutual friend who was also traveling solo. She and I took off for a little bit of a hike. Besides a beautiful trail, we saw this guy! Japanese rat snake. Gross!


My new friend, Katie, took this picture of me – what a view!


2. Shiba-Sakura Festival

The main attraction of the tour was the Shiba-Sakura Festival also known as the Fuji Flower Carpet. The Flower Carpet is a carpet of moss phlox planted in beds all around the garden. It was stunning. And of course, crowded!


The phlox is pretty. With Mt. Fuji in the background it was amazing.


Maybe a few more pictures. It was just so beautiful. Today, I opted for grape ice cream.


I took a quick video of th Flower Park from the overlook. To help you embrace the beauty.


3. Fuji Kachōen

Our third stop was at Fuji Kachōen – “A different world of flowers and birds.” Here we were able to walk through a beautiful greenhouse and view different species of birds. The greenhouse was my favorite part.


Look at these giant begonias!


The best part of the birds was having the opportunity to “hold” an owl. “Hoo you looking at?”


4. Otodome Waterfall and Shiraito Waterfall

Our fourth and final stop was to visit the Otodome Waterfall and the Shirato Waterfall. The water from the falls is snow melt from Mt. Fuji. It takes 20 years for the melted snow to make its way to the waterfall! Here is Otodome Waterfall.


To reach Shiraito Waterfall, we walked down a short path of 100 steps.


After viewing the falls from the bottom, I walked up to the overlook. The views were worth the stairs.


It was an amazing trip. I honestly can’t believe how lucky I was with the weather today. When you visit, I hope we have luck with the weather when we visit Mt. Fuji. It was such a glorious day!

Nezu Shrine

The Nezu Shrine is in the north central part of Tokyo. It was founded in 1705 and is famous for the Azalea Festival. The Azalea Festival is held from mid-April through the end of Golden Week (first week of May). I almost let this Festival slip past me.

Dina and I went up on Wednesday to see the Shrine, azaleas, and the Festival. Google Maps gave us our route to the Shrine (1.5 hours). However, we were assuming because of Golden Week, the 30-minute delay was caused by “extra passenger load” – our trip actually took 2 hours. Dina had the patience of a saint with me today!

The Shrine was very large and had a large garden full of azaleas. Unfortunately, most had already bloomed. Only a few blossoms remained. I will need to visit earlier next year to truly experience the azalea splendor. Here are a few pictures of the azaleas and the surrounding gardens.


Remember how I mentioned this is Golden Week? Looking at those pictures, you might be wondering, “where are all the crowds?” Oh, trust me. They were there. Here are several of the same pictures at different angles to include the crowds.


There were so many people!! Dina was very patient with me as I waited for the perfect shot. There was a long row of Torii gates I wanted to photograph without people. We waited… and waited. Eventually, I was able to take a people free shot. Or mostly, anyways.


Sometimes, the right person or people in a photo make it much better! Notice how short the Torii gate were! We are hitting our heads! We had to duck the entire way!!

Just in case you’re not convinced how short the gates were – Dina snapped this picture of me ducking through the gates! Ha! 


I took a few close up pictures of the remaining azalea blooms.


We were able to get a stamp in our Temple Books. After waiting in line for 30 minutes… like I already mentioned, Dina was super patient!


The other interesting thing to note, was how despite not having blooms, the azaleas looked lovely. My friend, Sara and I joke about how ugly azaleas are after they finish blooming. This is what we are accustomed to seeing. Dead brown and past their prime blooms.


Apparently, not the case in Japan. Dina and I are convinced they cleaned off the dead blossoms daily because the shrubs without blooms were green.

I must also mention the Festival. It was mostly food vendors. So many interesting and unique foods on a stick! Bananas, meats, corn, and more bananas.

Or maybe you want salty nuts and dried fruits?


Maybe squid!


Or perhaps octopus balls. Three different octopus ball vendors. They are actually very delicious and tasted great washed down with a chu-hai.


Or mystery meat? Or mochi? Or noodle tacos with an egg on top?

Whatever Japanese street vendor you were searching for, you would be able to find and eat until your heart was content!

Yokosuka Shobuen

I had one more garden on my list to view wisteria, Yokosuka Shobuen. Yokosuka Shobuen is actually known for being one of the largest iris gardens in Japan. The wisteria is an added bonus. The garden has over 140,000 iris. They were beginning to sprout but, not yet in bloom. Guess, I will be returning next month!

The garden opened at 9:00am. I decided to drive because my research told me there was plenty of parking. I arrived 9:30 and was ahead of the crowds. Here was my route.


The funniest part was the Japanese parking attendant coming over to my car after I parked. Following the protocol, I backed into the spot. However, I parked the Hooptie a little crooked. The attendant came over and asked me to re-park with her assistant, of course. Haha! If she only knew crooked parking is pretty much how I roll. Or stop rolling for that matter.

Moving on to the garden. The entry ticket was self-service. Fortunately, there was English.


Also, remember yesterday I mentioned the carp streamers being hung for Children’s Day. There were some at the garden entrance.


The wisteria was delightful. The garden wasn’t very large, I was able to walk around the entire garden in about an hour. I took a lot of pictures. I’ll share my favorites. Hopefully, not too many.

Here is the view when entering the garden. The beds in the foreground are the iris.


The first stop was the wisteria arbor.


The path then led to the wisteria garden. There were so many different colors. The scent was intoxicating!


The path then took me through a wisteria tunnel. So much pink and purple! It was magical.


The next area was the trellis of Japanese wisteria. There were actually several trellises. One was set up for hanami.


The others were a little lower and beautiful as well. More pink and purple!


I couldn’t resist a wisteria selfie.


My other favorite thing to do was to literally stand under / inside the wisteria.


In closing, a few close-up shots of the blooms. Do you have a favorite? Pink or purple?

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén