All posts tagged: Japan Travel

Nijo Castle // 二条城

Nijo Castle (二条城) is the first castle I visited in Japan. Situated in Kyoto, this Castle is famed for its “nightingale floors” (鴬張りuguisubari) found in the corridors of Ninomaru Palace (二の丸御殿 Ninomaru goten) – a National Treasure that one has got to see, and in this instance, hear in order to experience how it must have been like to live in the 16th century where shoguns ruled the day. The Castle was built upon the order of the 1st Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) in 1603. It was completed during the reign of the 3rd shogun, Iemitsu, in 1626. The Castle served as the Tokugawa shogunate’s center of power in Kyoto. Teamed with the dramatic, stormy skies that day, Nijo Castle appeared like it came right out of a samurai movie. I could almost envision ninjas darting across roofs in a silent attempt to assassinate some officials. This white building, found at the corners of the Nijo Castle, is probably where guards would station themselves to look out for possible attacks. A wide moat surrounds …

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Shinsen-en // Garden of Divine Springs

Shinsen-en (神泉苑) or Garden of Divine Springs is a surprise discovery, en-route to Nijo Castle. I was a little lost, walking a long way from Nijo Station and not seeing the castle, I wandered into Shinsen-en hoping to get some directions from the kind-looking locals sitting in the shade. I was really glad that I did. This is one of those moments I will always love during travels – not really planning, and stumbling upon a beautiful place or a hidden corner that was not as widely-written as those on my itinerary. In all sense of the experience, a discovery of a hidden treasure. It is after seeing this beauty that I did some research after I returned from Kyoto. The crimson bridge will catch your eyes when you first enter Shinsen-en. Hosei Bridge 法成橋 has an elegant curved line, which reflects perfectly in the pond surface, where its strong vermilion seems to quiver with every ripple and every wave. The azaleas shrubs along the length of the pond made mirror images on the pond …

Katsura River // Arashiyama

Before I left the bamboo forest, I met a local elderly man who was sharing that beautiful view with me. He kindly advised me to hike to the halfway mark at Arashiyama Park (嵐山公園) for a good vantage point of the rolling hills and the Katsura River (桂川). After a slippery hike up a pathway of big, smooth rocks, I had a misty view of the Katsura River, meandering through the mountains with a few huts lining the shore. A few lungful of fresh air made me understand what the Japanese meant by 空気美味しい (translated as the air is very delicious). I made my way down Arashiyama Park and passed little spots of tranquility. If only I could read all those difficult Kanji. Japanese maples provided the perfect canopy for my walk down, letting slivers of the gentle sunlight through. Last night’s rain and the morning dew made their leaves a fresh green – a contrast from the toasty reds of the fallen leaves. Upon reaching the end of the measured steps down, I saw …