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Kiyomizu-dera Autumn Maple Trees - Kyoto Temple

8 Things to do at Kiyomizu-dera // Kyoto’s Nailless Hillside Temple

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) is Kyoto’s most famous temple. Almost every traveler who passes through Kyoto would have made a trip to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site, built on the hillside of Higashiyama. And if an airline or a travel agency would have to pick a representative picture of Kyoto, we bet a photo of Kiyomizu-dera in its autumn splendor would have been one of the top 3 choices, if not the first.

Chawan-zaka Teapot Lane - Kiyomizu KyotoFor friends travelling to Kyoto with us for the first time, we’ll definitely put Kiyomizu-dera on the itinerary. This meant that we have visited Kiyomizu-dera 3 times!

Don’t we tire of it? Not at all. The charm of Kiyomizu-dera extends beyond the temple itself to the Higashiyama district 東山区, a meandering historical area that seeks to be explored again and again. It’s also about an hour’s walk to the Gion district.

An uphill trek through the steep Kiyomizu-michi 清水道, or Chawan-zaka 茶碗坂 (Teapot Lane) preludes a visit to Kiyomizu-dera. Shops selling souvenirs, Kyoto snacks, street food, and handicrafts line Chawan-zaka, marking it as a popular spot for getting gifts or omiyage お土産 back home.

With many accolades packed under its belt, we picked out 8 things to do at Kiyomizu-dera.

1. Behold the Kyoto skyline

Kiyomizu-dera Temple Romon Entrance Gate - KyotoThree Storied Pagoda Kiyomizu - Kyoto

 

At the bright 2-story entrance gate Rōmon 楼門 of Kiyomizu-dera, where the 3-story pagoda Sanjūnotō 三重塔 is, there’s a perfect spot to take in the expanse of Kyoto city with the Kyoto Tower in plain sight. Founded in 778 A.D., the present structures were rebuilt in the 17th-century.

Kyoto Tower city skyline from Kiyomizudera - early Nov autumn

Kyoto Tower Skyline at Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kyoto skyline from Kiyomizu-dera - Kyoto Japan

If you are blessed with clear skies, and the light is in your favor, you can even get a shot of the temple and the surrounding treetops against the city skyline.

Kiyomizu Kyoto Tower City Skyline

2. Take in the beauty of seasonal changes and nighttime illuminations

Having been to Kiyomizu-dera 3 times – end of spring, beginning of autumn and peak autumn, we were blessed to take in the beauty of the temple grounds set against backdrops of lush green (spring), variegated yellows (early autumn) and brilliant reds (peak autumn).

Kiyomizu-dera late Spring May - Kyoto Japan

Kiyomizu-dera peak autumn colors - Kyoto Japan

The next time? We’ll get to Kiyomizu-dera during the peak spring season when cherry blossoms reign on this particular hillside. There are also nighttime illuminations in mid-March (cherry blossom season) and late November (peak autumn colors), which you can check out.

  • Spring March 12 – 21, March 26 – April 10: 6pm – 9pm
  • Summer August 14 – 16: 7pm – 9pm
  • Autumn November 12 – December 4: 5.00pm – 9pm
Nighttime Illumination Spring Cherry Blossom - Kiyomizu Kyoto

Photo Credit: Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Nighttime Illumination Autumn Maple - Kiyomizu Kyoto

Photo Credit: Kiyomizu-dera Temple

3. Marvel at the nailless wooden stage of the main hall

Japanese craftsmen are amazingly precise! Building a stage without nails, stacking wood upon wood, and doing this on the steep incline of a hill, go beyond what our puny minds can fathom. This Hondō 本堂 or main hall perches atop the hillside, and you can marvel at the ingenuity of their craftsmanship from the side, or at the base of the temple.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple Main Hall Hondo

Nailless No Nail Main Hall of Kiyomizu Temple - Kyoto Japan

And while you’re standing in the main hall, cast your eyes across the treetops to the far southern end of the temple grounds to see the three-story Koyasu Pagoda 子安塔.

Koyasu Pagoda - Kiyomizu Kyoto

4. Take a sip at Otowa Waterfall

Visitors can take a sip of mountain spring water from Otowa Waterfall 音羽の滝 using the long scoops provided at the site. Hold out the long scoops, which has been pre-sterilized in UV blue light, to catch one of the 3 streams of spring water. Each stream is said to bestow longevity, success, and love. Go early, as the queues for Otowa Waterfall can get windingly long.

Otowa Waterfall at Kiyomizu-dera - Kyoto3 Streams of Spring Water at Otowa Waterfall - Kiyomizu Kyoto

5. Watch the love search at Jishu-jinja

Just a short walk from the main hall of Kiyomizu-dera is a smaller shrine, Jishu-jinja 地主神社, where students and young persons flock to. Dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking, it’s one place frequented by those looking for love – some shyly, some boldly. You might chance upon people walking, with their eyes closed, between the 2 stones placed 18m apart at the shrine’s entrance. Some believe that this will bring their luck in finding their true love.

Jishu-jinja Kiyomizu-dera - Kyoto Japan

6. Walk through the mysterious paths full of Jizos

Jizo Stone Statues - Kiyomizu-dera KyotoIn the back gardens of Kiyomizu-dera, where few wander through, are little stone statues called Jizos 地蔵, placed in no obvious patterns throughout the paths leading out of the temple. When we visited, they donned little aprons or hand-knitted hats, giving off an eerily mysterious atmosphere. Little did we know the sad stories behind these seemingly peculiar statues. Upon research, it seems that these little aprons are not aprons at all, but bibs. These bibs mimic the ones worn long ago by children, and parents dress the Jizos to ask for protection over the souls of unborn or lost children.

7. Rest your feet & eat matcha dango at temple rest huts before taking a parting shot of the Pagoda

There are a few temple rest huts situated at intervals in the temple. We always took a rest at these huts, drinking tea, and eating matcha dangos or zenzai, as we admired the surrounding magnificence.

Rest huts at Kiyomizu-dera - Kyoto Japan

Autumn Colors Maple Trees - Kiyomizu Kyoto

Matcha dangos are one of my favorite Japanese snacks to buy home. We love their chewiness and the slight bittersweet matcha flavor. They can be purchased at some of the shops along Chawan-zaka and in Kyoto Station. Having them here, coupled with a cup of smoky tea, and midst such tranquil beauty is a different experience and definitely one enjoyment we revel in.

Matcha dangos and tea - Kiyomizu Kyoto Snack

Walking towards the exit, there’s a beautiful place to take a parting shot of the three-story Pagoda framed by lush leaves and against clear blue skies. If you attempt a low-angle bottom-up shot, you can get a group shot of these with your traveling party.

Three Story Pagoda - Kiyomizu-dera Temple KyotoPagoda Maple Leaves - Kiyomizu Kyoto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Participate in a Tea Ceremony

If you’re interested in what the culture is like in Kyoto and yet short on time, this 3-hour Kyoto Tea Ceremony and Kiyomizu-dera Temple Walking Tour by Magical Trip will be a good fit for you. You’ll experience an elegant Japanese tea ceremony, whisking your own matcha and drinking it paired with Japanese sweets. The walking tour of Kiyomizu-dera with your friendly English-speaking Japanese guide also means you’ll learn more about the interesting history and cultural facts of this iconic temple while seeing the other beautiful sides of this part of Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera Tea Ceremony - Kyoto Japan

Photo Credit: Magical Trip

Kiyomizu-dera Walking Tour - Kyoto Japan Must Visit

Photo Credit: Magical Trip


pling thinks
…you may like to get to Kiyomizu-dera in the early hours to avoid the huge crowds, which make photo-taking difficult and the queue to the Otowa Waterfall long. After a visit to the temple, one can then leisurely explore Chawan-zaka, the Higashiyama, and Gion districts, or head to Hisago for a flavorful bowl of oyako-don.

How to get to Kiyomizu-Kiyomizu-dera ticket - Kyoto Japandera

294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan

A very comprehensive guide is available in English, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese.
Visitor Guide & Map

Entry fees: ¥400
Open 6am – 6pm (9pm on night illumination days)
Kiyomizu-dera website in Japanese
Kiyomizu-dera website in English

By Bus:

  1. From Kyoto Station, take bus 100 or 206.
  2. Alight at Gojozaka stop 五条坂.
  3. Cross the road and start the trek uphill along Gojozaka 五条坂 and onto Chawan-zaka 茶碗坂 towards Kiyomizu-dera.
Nishiki Traditional Market - Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Market // 5 Must-Eats in Kyoto’s Kitchen

Nishiki Market (錦市場), fondly known as Kyoto’s Kitchen, has been around for more than 400 years. Traditional food vendors, small cooked food shops, and eateries line this 400-metre street.

The potential of this street extends beyond these 400 metres. Running perpendicular to Nishiki Market is Teramachi-dori (寺町通), an organized labyrinth of shops and restaurants worth exploring. Weaved into the smaller lanes, you will find vintage shops, small eateries, and the famous Sou•Sou shops. Parallel to Nishiki Market is the shopping belt of Kyoto, Shijō-dori (四条通), where you’ll find bigger shopping malls and boutique shops. We’ll dedicate a separate post to these later on. Stay tuned!

Must Visit Nishiki Market - Kyoto JapanNishiki Food Market - Kyoto Kitchen Japan

 

 

The array of fresh vegetables, local fruits, seafood, meat, pickled foodstuff, condiments, and ingredients will have you weaving in and out of the traditional food shops if you love to cook. Such was the allure of seeing in person, those heirloom Kyoto vegetables (京野菜 kyōyasai) cultivated since the Meiji Era, that you’ve only heard of, or seen on television – the sweet spring onions called Kujo negi (九条ねぎ), round eggplants called Kamo eggplants (賀茂茄子), and large chestnuts called Tanba chestnuts (丹波栗). And of course, all those fresh vegs and Japanese pickles!

Nishiki Traditional Market - Kyoto Japan

While these traditional food shops lure the local housewives and chefs with their fresh produce, seafood, and meat, we travelers can indulge in the other kind of stores found here – cooked or ready-to-eat food.

In Asia, and as in Japan, we are blessed with street food – little bites that we can eat and share before we continue walking. It’s one of the many charms of traveling in this part of the world.

Here are our top 5 must-eats in Nishiki Market.

1. Soy Mini Donuts – Konnamonjya

No one zooms past without making a stop at Konnamonjya (こんなもんじゃ) for a freshly fried bag of mini donuts. These bite-size donuts are made from soy milk and attribute to its light taste. I usually steer away from most donuts and their saccharine oiliness. Non-sugary, these mini donuts are light and crisp. We easily devour a bag of 12 mini donuts in original flavor (¥300) and contemplated whether to go for more.

Soy Milk Donuts Konnamonjya - Nishiki Kyoto

We refrained but made a mental note to come back for more, which we did on our walk back. Craving something different, we tried the soy milk donuts with roasted soybean flour or kinako (きなこ) and brown sugar drizzle. We prefer the original, unadulterated version.

Soy Milk Kinako Donuts - Nishiki Market Kyoto

Tofu Soy Donuts - Nishiki Market Kyoto

2. Dashimaki Tamago – Miki Keiran

Egg lovers mustn’t miss this! This dashimaki tamago (だし巻き) or Japanese rolled omelet at Miki Keiran (三木鶏卵) got us real bad! Different from the usual tamagoyaki (玉子焼き) which tends to be sweeter with added sugar and mirin (味醂), dashimaki tamago tends to more savory.

At the stall, you will see them pan-frying the eggs in the background, while the stall front sells eggs neatly categorized into various grades.

Miki Kenran Tamagoyaki Dashimaki Tamago - Kyoto Nishiki MarketDashimaki Tamago - Nishiki Kyoto

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t wait so we tore open the carefully wrapped packaging while standing beside the stall. Most locals buy it home, adding this simple delicacy to their meals.

Egg Rolls Tamagoyaki Dashimaki Tamago - Nishiki Market Kyoto

Gone in a few minutes, the dashimaki tamago was moist, thick, and bursting with a deep, lingering flavor derived from dried kelp or kombu (昆布) and fermented skipjack tuna or katsuobushi (鰹節). Umami 旨み!

3. Fresh Kusa Mochi – Nishiki Mochitsuki-Ya

There’s never a chance to eat fresh mochi in our home country. Every time we visit Nishiki Market, we never fail to make a stop at Nishiki Mochitsuki-Ya (錦もちつき屋) for their charcoal-grilled mochi.

Nishiki Market Kyoto Eats - Kusa Mochi

Charcoal Grilled Fresh Mochi - Nishiki Market Kyoto

The mochi was soft & chewy, and in itself not sweet. The slight fragrance of mugwort, which was pounded into the mochi to give its green hue, wafted into our noses as we savor its sweet red bean filling. The charcoal grill gave the mochi a nice smoky taste. Imagine eating warm, smoky mochi filled with sweet red beans on a cold day in autumn or winter! The perfect snack for any mochi-lover!

4. Tanba Chestnuts – Kyotanba

They are huge! Their sizes stopped us in our tracks. That, and the toasty smell of roasting chestnuts lingering in the autumn air. Handpicked from the Funai District in northern Kyoto, these enormous Tanba chestnuts 丹波栗 go through careful selection by hand. Only those with high sugar content, and of considerable sizes are sold in the store. They are then roasted and inspected again before sold in packs of ¥1,000 (small bag), ¥2,000 (medium bag) t0 ¥3,000 (big bag).

Tanba Chestnuts - Nishiki Market Kyoto

Kyotanba Tamba Chestnuts - Nishiki Market Kyoto

5. Japanese Pickles – Uchida

Ok, we cheated on this one. It’s not exactly street food. But then again, we bought some back home on a plane. we love the crunchy, tangy yuzu radish, which I don’t see in Japanese grocers and supermarkets back home. The pickles (tsukemono 漬け物) in Kyoto are less salty than those we buy from supermarkets and eat in some Japanese restaurants back home. We think it’s due to the delicate palate of the Kyoto people. It’s no wonder they are must-buy souvenirs for foodies.

Japanese Pickles Pickled Vegetables - Nishiki Market Kyoto

Uchida has a wide assortment of pickled vegetables, having been in Nishiki Market since 1937. You can pick to your hearts’ content at Uchida. Remember to have the pickles vacuum-sealed if you’re packing them for the plane.

pling thinks…if you want to explore a traditional food market in Kyoto, this is the one to go to for its heritage food stores and its wide assortment. A good idea to start the day, satisfy that breakfast hunger pang, and truly see this market would be to join this Nishiki Market Breakfast Walking Food Tour by Magical Trip. The friendly English-speaking guide will bring you to sample some of the tasty foods unique to Kyoto while at the same time, share knowledge about the culture and history of Kyoto. If you can’t speak Japanese, the difficulty and the fear of ordering food are resolved too!

Nishiki Market Breakfast Walking Tour - Kyoto Japan

Photo Credit: Magical Trip

And if you are a big fan of yuzu like we are, we would recommend stopping by Eitaro for their yuzu ramen. It’s right along Nishikikoji-dori (錦小路通), just outside Nishiki Market.

How to get to Nishiki Market

錦市場 Japan, 〒604-8054 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609

Open 9.30am – 5pm
Some shops, we noticed, close earlier.

By Train:

  1. From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Line and alight at Shijō Station (四条駅). Exit station by Exit 1. Cross the road towards Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporate (SMBC, 三井住友銀行). Walk along Karasuma Dori (烏丸通). Turn right to Nishikikoji Dori (錦小路通). It’s about a 5-minute walk.
  2. You can also take the Hankyu Kyoto Line and alight at Karasuma Station. After that, walk along Shijō Dori (四条通), towards Karasuma Dori (烏丸通), and find the same landmark of SMBC.

By Bus:

Many buses go to Shijō Dori 四条通, which is the main shopping district – 5, 101, 205 & 206.

Moss Bridge in Moss Garden - Kokedera Kyoto

Saihoji Kokedera // Kyoto’s Magical Moss Garden

It’s like walking in a giant terrarium.

The place. A temple garden with thousands of moss varieties.

Moss Garden - Saihoji Kyoto Japan
The little figurines. You.

Moss Garden UNESCO Heritage Site - Kyoto

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saihōji (西芳寺) or Kokedera (苔寺) is magical, out-of-this-world, surreal, and an ancient treasure. With such superlatives for this Kyoto site, you don’t see as much content or information out there as compared to say, Kiyomizudera or Gion.

Why? Some might wonder.

  1. It’s not easy to get there. Not the usual tourist routes, there are buses to Kokedera but no trains.
  2. You have to make a reservation with a return postcard at least 2 months (depending on how fast your postal service is) prior to your intended visit. Advance planning is required, of which many didn’t get a chance to do for their travels.
  3. There are only 1 stipulated visiting time each day. The time of visit varies and is decided by the temple. It has been said that latecomers do not get to enter and are shut outside the door. You know how traveling tends to get when you’re in a foreign land and unfamiliar with public transport.
  4. Before you get to visit the moss garden itself, one has to sit at a low desk and copy out sutras in complex kanji with a calligraphy ink pen for about an hour. For those literate in Mandarin, it’s like our preschool books where we trace out the strokes as indicated by the dotted lines. For those illiterate in Mandarin, do not worry. Just think of it as tracing and coloring in those dotted lines.
  5. The relatively high entry fees as compared to other temples or shrines.

Despite all these, it’s well worth the hassle & time to visit Kokedera. In fact, it’s hard to describe the experience outside of the actual experience within the grounds.

No. There will be no space warps or out-of-body experience.
But, there is magic. And there is a garden of great antiquity. For those undeterred. Read on.

Moss Island Golden Pond - Moss Garden Kyoto

RESERVE YOUR SLOTS – SEND LETTER + POSTCARD

[UPDATE: Saihoji now has an official English website where you can find out more about how to make a reservation and download a letter template.]

With 1 visiting time per day (sometimes 2, depending on the temple), there’s a limit to the number of visitors. To visit the temple and its famed moss garden, you have to apply in writing with 1 letter and a prepaid return postcard.

In Your Letter, state:
1. Your Name
2. Your Address
3. Preferred Date of Visit
4. Number of Pax in the Group

Within the envelope containing your application letter, enclose either:
1. A prepaid return postcard (within Japan) or
2. A self-addressed envelope + an international reply coupon (sold in most postal offices in respective countries of residence)

The Temple says the application has to reach them 3 weeks before your visit. But, to err on the side of caution, I recommend sending them out way earlier to buffer for the varying postal processing time on both ends. I sent mine out 1 – 1.5 months before my departure date.

The Address to send to:
Saihōji Temple
56 Jingatani-cho, Matsuo
Nishikyo-ku
Kyoto 615-8286
JAPAN

How to Get to Moss Garden Kyoto - Postcard

After 2 weeks, the postcard arrived, stating the date & time of your visit. There’s a reminder of the entry fees per person and the address. Both visiting times – one for my visit, and the other for my other friend – happened at 1pm.

DAY OF VISIT

Arrive on time or earlier if you must. We can’t stress this enough. The Japanese are super punctual, Japanese monks as well. You’ll be shut outside the gates if you’re late. Click for directions on how to get there.

Wait outside the closed gate. When the clock strikes, the gates will open to allow entry.

Upon entry, present your postcard from Saihōji, pay ¥3,000 per person and you’ll be led into a tatami room (yes, shoes off) with rows of low desks and cushions.

BEFORE THE GARDEN – SUTRA

Sutra Praying Copying - Saihoji KyotoBefore you’re given entry into their famed moss garden, you’ll be asked to observe the temple’s rituals – the chanting and copying of sutras. A monk leads the sutra chanting as you sit on your knees. Well, that was a challenge for us – non-Japanese, bad knees and all. After a while, we were sitting cross-legged instead.

After the chanting, you receive the paper to start copying the sutra, writing down your name and address on the side. We understood that the monks will pray over these. On the paper, outlined with dotted lines, follow the strokes of the complex kanji with the calligraphy ink pen provided.

After 30-60 minutes, when you’ve completed the copying, take your paper and place it at the altar before you exit for the garden.

ROAMING THE MOSS GARDEN

You can freely roam the mesmeric garden, replete with moss of the softest, greenest, and most varied kinds.

The path is lined with rope to designate the out-of-bounds areas. A good traveler is always respectful of nature and boundaries, so please keep within the stone path to admire the moss garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By now, you’d have wondered how this temple garden came to be so wondrous. Long story short, it fell into disrepair after 2 floods for more than 100 years due to lack of funds to maintain it. The moss naturally grew and blossomed, and is now being cared for.

The centerpiece of the moss garden, a pond sited within this grove called the Golden Pond or ōgonchi (黄金池), captivated us. It’s linked via little wooden bridges, overgrown with moss (see the 1st 3 pictures at the top). This centerpiece is surrounded by 3 smaller islands, and with the encircling pond, gives the shape of the character 心, which means heart. I wished we had a drone to capture a bird’s eye view.

Bridge in Moss Garden - Saihoji Kyoto

Bridge in Moss - Kokedera Kyoto

The beauty of undulating moss underneath trees.

Moss under Tree in Autumn - Saihoji Kokedera Kyoto

It was hard not to be captivated by the soft carpet of green moss underneath all these trees, freshly drenched in a light rain before. We can just imagine hours spent here in contemplation and meditation.

Carpet of Moss - Garden in Saihoji Kyoto

As we visited during the gorgeous autumn season, we enjoyed some photographic perks – the reds, oranges & yellows against rich, luscious greens, and this chōzuya or temizuya (手水舎) bedecked with fallen Japanese maple leaves.

Temizuya at Moss Garden - Saihoji Temple Kyoto

Japanese Maple Leaf - Moss Garden Kyoto

Autumn Moss Garden - Kyoto Saihoji Kokedera

Moss Rocks Maple Leaves - Saihoji Kokedera Kyoto

Moss, babbling brook & Japanese maple leaves. Music to the ears and eyes!

Babbling Brook in Moss Garden - Autumn Kyoto

Stone Maple Leaves Moss Autumn - Saihoji Kyoto

Just when you thought you’ve reached the end of the walk, you might see this little door near the stone pebble path (pictured above). A lot of the visitors left. But there’s more beyond this door. Head upwards for a different vantage point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty, as well, on higher ground.

Japanese Maple on Moss - Saihoji Kyoto Japan

Be careful when you’re going down the stone stairs. They can get real slippery after rain. We had to hold onto the handrails made from bamboo.

Bamboo Handrails Stairs Moss Garden - Kyoto

As it neared the close of the day, the sun was beginning to set, casting long shadows between tree trunks and sending sparkles of light through. Another moment.

Sunset Moss Garden Saihoji - Kyoto Kokedera

Light Shadow Play in Moss Garden - Kokedera Kyoto

Light Shadow Trees in Moss Garden - Kokedera Kyoto

For terrarium- and moss-lovers like us, we left Saihōji hypnotized and enraptured. At some point, we thought Totoro might just pop out to stare at us intruders into the magical world. It leaves us inspired. I even made a terrarium, and designed & handcrafted a whole collection of necklaces, STORY DOMES.

pling thinks…if you have a love for moss, botany, terrariums & Totoro, you mustn’t leave out Saihōji in your itinerary.

Cafe outside Saihoji - Kokedera Kyoto

緑翠庵 喫茶店 Ryokusuian Café

Our hands were cold & stiff from clicking away at our cameras. We took respite in this small café called 緑翠庵 喫茶店 right in front of Saihōji to warm up our bodies with bowls of zenzai (ぜんざい or sweet red bean soup with toasted mochi), hot tea and coffee. A nice elderly lady was manning this café with a beautiful backyard garden when we were there and she was such a blessing!

How to get to Saihōji

西芳寺 (苔寺) 〒615-8286 京都市西京区松尾神ヶ谷町56

Entry Fees ¥3,000

By Bus:

  1. From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto Bus 73 or 83 for about an hour. If you’re in Arashiyama, you can also catch Kyoto Bus 63 or 73 from the Arashiyama Station (Hankyu). This bus ride is not covered under the ¥500 day pass.
  2. Alight at Kokedera Suzumushidera (苔寺 鈴虫寺) Bus Stop.
  3. Walk for 2 minutes.
Tofukuji Temple Must-See - Autumn Colors Kyoto

Tofuku-ji Kyoto // A Must-Visit for Spectacular Autumn Colors

Autumn is a fantastic time to be in Kyoto, Japan. During this season, leaves change their green coats to varying shades of vibrant yellows, flaming oranges, and deep reds. Famed gardens and ancient trees are prevalent in the many shrines spotted all over Kyoto. I knew I had to be in Kyoto during autumn at least once in my life to witness these autumn colors or kōyō (紅葉) with my own eyes.

Autumn Colors - Kyoto Japan

With that many gardens and shrines in Kyoto, we had to be selective in the places we were going to visit. Time is limited during travels, but isn’t that always the case?

Considered as Kyoto’s five greatest zen temples or Kyoto Gozan (京都御座), Tōfuku-ji (東福寺) was found in 1236 and its huge garden, which left an unforgettable mark in my experience and memory, was designed in the 1930s by landscape architect Mirei Shigemori – landscape architect of Tofuku-ji in Kyoto.

Tofuku-ji Entrance - Autumn in Kyoto Japan

Even before reaching the main gate where we had to pay our entry fees, towering trees in their glorious reds greeted us. Across the canopy of these trees, we saw temple’s bridge, Tsūten-kyō (通天橋), already packed with visitors.

Maple Leaves Trees - Tofuku-ji Kyoto Japan

Young maple trees line the path leading to the temple garden. Expectant of older, redder and more Japanese maple trees ahead, some rushed on by. Others took their time strolling to the entrance and enjoying the cool breeze.

Path Tofuku-ji - Kyoto Japan

Tofuku-ji Ticket - Kyoto Japan

After paying ¥400 for entry to the garden and bridge, we stepped across the wooden bridge and attempted to get a good spot to photograph the scenery below us.

It is difficult not to get elbowed and bumped during the peak autumn season when the leaves are at their reddest. For photography enthusiasts, no tripod is allowed on the bridge. Temple wardens patrol the bridge (Tsūten-kyō 通天橋), making sure visitors keep to their respective lanes and do not lean dangerously over the edge.

Tofuku-ji Bridge - Tsuten-Kyo - Kyoto Japan

Tofuku-ji Maple Trees - Kyoto Japan

When we stepped off the bridge, that was when the magic began. It was almost too surreal for this girl from a one-season country to fathom. Such intensity in colors. Such a miraculous symphony of hues. Such a spectacle of God’s ingenuity and nature’s wondrous glory.

Tofukuji Temple Must-See - Autumn Colors Kyoto

Tofuku-ji Autumn Colours - Maple Trees Kyoto

Low-lying branches arch over carpets of reds, oranges, and yellows. As you look across beneath the branches, you get a sense that you’re bathed in orange-red light.

Tofukuji - Under the Maple Trees - Kyoto

Light beams streamed in between the branches & leaves, casting a magical glow on the lush carpet of fallen maple leaves in a myriad of warm tones. If it had been really quiet, it would have been a scene right out of a dream – surreal, almost unreal.

Hand on Maple Leaves - Tofukuji Kyoto

Some of these Japanese maple trees are petite enough for you to touch their soft leaves or take really good selfies.

Stream Maple Trees - Tofukuji Kyoto

A little stream runs through the garden, crinkling their watery music to calm the soul.

Kimono Autumn Colours - Tofukuji Kyoto

Every step or two, you’ll see ladies dressed in kimonos, seeking out scenic spots to commemorate their visit to this awe-inspiring place. This, plus the scenery, made it seem that we might have stepped into a period Japanese movie.

pling thinks…it is just spectacular! Not to missed.

How to get to Tofuku-ji

Yuba Udon - Kyoto JapanWe walked from Fushimi Inari Shrine to Tofuku-ji, and stopped by a makeshift food stall where we had a simple meal of one of Kyoto’s signature food, yuba (湯葉, tofu skin or 豆腐皮)  and udon, enjoying the view of maple leaves fluttering above our heads.

東福寺 612-0839 京都府京都市, 伏見区深草本寺山町1−4

Entry Fees ¥400
9am – 4pm (April – October)
8.30am – 4.30pm (November – early December)
9am – 4pm (early December – March)
Last admission: 30 mins before closing time

By Train:

  1. From Kyoto Station, take the JR Nara line (Platform 32, 33) to the JR Tofukuji Station (東福寺). Cross the road and turn right.
  2. From Gion-Shijo Station, take the Keihan Main Line and alight at Tofukuji Station.

By Bus:

  1. From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus 208 and alight at Tofukuji Bus Stop.

Beauty-Pati.com // 5 Superfoods for Stunning Hair

I’ve been obsessing about my hair and nails, noticing that they are getting brittle easily with age. On days when the weather doesn’t let up with its humidity and temperature, and when I’m shuttling between appointments and meetings, my fine hair gets limp and my scalp gets oily by midday. Not good at all.

While we care for the outer beauty of our hair, I thought it is as important, if not more important, to look at our diet and what’s good for nurturing healthier, more beautiful hair.

The first thing to do is to take a closer look at what I eat. As we advance in age, we take more care of what we put into our mouths. Gone are the days when you can just pop whatever your heart, no, stomach desires.

spinach walnut salad - superfood for hair

While there are lots of food that are good for hair, I’ve written a list of 5 Superfoods known to fortify hairs with their natural nutrients – zinc, selenium, iron, magnesium, proteins, Omega-3 and vitamins, and the recommended daily intake. I’ve included some yummy food in this article, so it’s not just all greens!

Walnuts - Superfood for Beautiful Hair
So, hop over to Beauty-Pati.com to start stocking up and feed your hair!

beauty-pati 5 superfoods for stunning hair

Beauty-Pati.com // Top 8 Cleansing Oils

Gone are the days when we have to use cold cream to vigorously rub off our makeup. I remember pulling at my skin using many cotton pads during my teenage years, and before discovering the wonder of cleansing oils. Since then, I’ve not looked back.

Top 8 Cleansing OilsWhy? Because they are fast, simple and effective in removing all traces of makeup, including stubborn eyeliner and coats of mascara. Even though I have sensitive skin, veering from oily to combination depending on the weather and environment, I swear by cleansing oils to cleanly remove makeup without fuss and without breakouts.

Like many, I thought that I should never use oil on oily skin. It would make it worse and even oilier, right? Wrong! It’s worse to go to bed with your skin still hinting of makeup in corners, clogged up, and unable to breathe. The technology has advanced so much that many cleansing oils are light and emulsify well to be totally removed by a single wash with no trace of oil remaining on our skin.

With that many years of using cleansing oils behind me, I’ve compiled this list of the Top 8 Cleansing Oils on Beauty-Pati.com.

Beauty-Pati - Top 8 Cleansing Oils

For those with oily skin, I would recommend a “double cleanse” with some of the cleansing oils. This means to follow up with your usual facial cleanser after removing your makeup. I am a bit of a stickler for clean skin before bed, so I like to ensure that my skin is ready to absorb all the goodness of my lotion, toner and serum.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite Cleansing Oil?

Beauty-Pati.com // Starstruck with Orange Lipsticks

Orange lipsticks have taken the world by storm. It is the new red for the lips! Be it the New York Fashion Week 2014 where Rag and Bone sent models strutting down in bright orange lips, or Hollywood stars donning matte oranges on their pouts, we suddenly see them everywhere. Asia is not spared from this onslaught of boldness either.

Many could not fathom how they could ever wear this electrifying shade until they saw Jun Ji Hyun swiped one across her pouty lips on “My Love from the Star” (or “You Who Came From The Star”). Of course, our eyes are on the male lead Kim Soo Hyun too.

Jun Ji Hyun playing Cheon Song Yi in "My Love from the Star". Photo Credit: Seoul Broadcasting System

Jun Ji Hyun playing Cheon Song Yi in “My Love from the Star”. Photo Credit: Seoul Broadcasting System

 

Laneige Serum Intense Lipstick YR25 Neon OrangeWe found out from the good people at Laneige, that the actual lipstick, Laneige Serum Intense Lipstick YR25 Neon Orange (S$34), has been sold out worldwide for months. This is proof of the mammoth attraction of the shades (and the K-drama) that has created waves in the lipstick scene. You can leave your name with the Beauty Advisors at Laneige boutiques and counters, and have them put you on a wait list.

After scouring the beauty counters across the island, swiping tons of orange lipsticks on my arms and lips, I’ve selected the Top 8 Orange Lipsticks perfect for Asian Skin.

Read on and find the perfect shade for your skin tone. I’ve also included some tips on applying this adventurous shade.

Beauty-Pati.com // Top 3 Telltale Signs of Aging

As some Asian cultures have it, it’s rude to ask a woman for her age directly. Some of my guy friends have shared that they sometimes guessed the age of women – not from their faces with all that makeup on and tons of SK-II – but from other parts of our body that women simply can’t hide.

A quick survey revealed the top 3 telltale signs of aging. We are not talking about our faces and eyes, but other parts of our body that actually divulge our age. Some try desperately to hide aging signs of our faces with makeup and anti-aging skincare. Most forget to take care of the other parts of our body.

Revealed - Top 3 Signs of Aging
Though we are unable to control the natural process of aging, we should not neglect to take care of our body. Aging gracefully – both body and soul, is an art, and one that we women should care about.

Beauty-Pati - Top 3 Signs of Aging - Neck Hands Breast

Beauty-Pati.com // Review of Lunamer and Giveaway

As a woman juggling commitments at work, family, social life and new adventures, I’m sure that I speak for many when we say that our “clock” just go haywire. Late nights, erratic meal times and lack of sleep make us look dull like old silver. Worse, our skin starts to exhibit this tired, yellow tinge, instead of bright, rosy undertones.

I was given a Lunamer Trial Kit to address some of the signs my tired skin is starting to show. What with late-night crafting and writing, I need a quick fix before I head out to meet some people. And one star product worked wonders for me! Friends complimented that I looked more radiant. They thought that I have had more sleep. But how wrong they were! I was actually handcrafting products till wee hours in the morning.

Curious what that star product is? Hop over to Beauty-Pati.com for the review. There’s also a giveaway happening now till April 13, 2014, where 3 lucky winners can get to try the products for themselves.

Lunamer Review and Giveaway - Singapore

Beauty-Pati.com // Jill Stuart Beauty Review and Giveaway

I was first introduced to Jill Stuart by a friend when I spotted her, fishing out of her makeup pouch, a neat blush compact. What’s neat? A retractable brush is attached to the blush compact. Immediately, she was extolling the cuteness and usefulness of this Jill Stuart blush compact. Yes, cute can be useful too. Add this to the princessy packaging and sweet hues, and you have a winner!

I was curious instantly and made a promise to seek out Jill Stuart Beauty counters in my next trips to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Another yes. It’s not sold in the beauty halls of Singapore, though you can find it online at BestBuy-World.

Review - Jill Stuart Beauty Products - Blusher Eyeliner Eyeshadow Lip Gloss
Without giving away too much (please read the Jill Stuart Beauty review here), I’m also a fan of their perfume and bodycare. ‘Jill’ is an endearing sweet floral fragrance. It makes you feel prettier with just a spritz of its scent. A most recent discovery is Jill Stuart Body Milk, which I purchased in my last trip to Taipei. It moisturizes my skin with a tuberose and rose scent, and leaves the room smelling like the chamber of a princess. Well, we might as well feel like a princess in our skincare regime, and in the privacy of our boudoir. Why not, right?

Photo Credit: Jill Stuart Beauty

Photo Credit: Jill Stuart Beauty

Beauty-Pati is now holding a giveaway for their Facebook fans (mobile users: http://a.pgtb.me/jLBQFJ). You can stand to win some of those products reviewed in the article. I’m envious! Contest ends 2 April 2014.

WIN Jill Stuart Makeup Cosmetics - Beauty-Pati Facebook