Though this post comes in a week after I intended to publish, I’ve finally come to the end of editing and captioning my series of photographs from my week-long vacation in Kansai! Even looking back over a month ago, the places visited and experiences I had are still very vivid in my memory. Every time I look back at my photos, I want to go back, or even explore new places here in Japan. It’s great that long distance buses are cheap here for weekend trips!
In my last few days in Kansai, I got to check out the port town of Kobe, enjoyed a mostly-indoor rainy day in Osaka, and wandered around a couple of the massive temples in Kyoto. I wasn’t as trigger happy with my camera these last days, though combined, this post has 70 photos in all. So with that said, let’s do a little exploring around Japan, shall we?
First up, I visited Kobe, a sprawling port city that has pockets of fun things to do and see. For photographs, I had a few good places planned out, but my real reason for going was to try an authentic Kobe Beef steak, just to see if it lives up to the hype (it completely does, by the way).
Right outside the Shin-Kobe station, I got a bit distracted on my way to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens at a small park.
Just a short walk away I found the ropeway to make the long ascent to Mount Rokko. Camera in hand, I snapped a few of the views on the way up.
At the top, visitors can walk around a plaza-like area with gift shops and a little cafe before making their way down through the gardens. The view of Kobe from this location is also pleasant, and compresses nicely on a telephoto lens!
After a small walk around I began my descent and made a stop at the Glass House, a large structure filled with many greenhouses, a couple cafes, and a small herb museum.
With it being summertime, not many flowers were in bloom, so most of the gardens were either past their prime or not ready yet for late summer/early fall colors. This made it nice as far as a non-crowded walk down the mountain, though it didn’t afford too many photo opportunities. Midway down the mountain the hiking path was closed so I hopped right back on the ropeway and headed downtown.
A short 2 kilometer walk put me into downtown and right inside Sorakuen, a well-maintained traditional garden open to the public since 1941! Housed entirely in a compact city block, the garden sits right among modern buildings to provide a stark contrast with its traditional style. It makes for a nice challenge to try to get a photograph that contains the least amount of extraneous buildings.
As the evening set in, it was Kobe Beef time, and I found my restaurant near Kobe’s own little Chinatown. After this? It was all food, and no camera!
The next day forecast rain for the entire Kansai area. Not wanting to waste any of my vacation time due to bad weather, I took to Osaka Aquarium to begin the day. Though most of the exhibits are low-light and behind glass, I still made some photographs along the way down the 7-floor aquarium.
For the afternoon, I stowed the camera away and enjoyed some time in the local Taito Station, a relatively mainstream arcade hub that can be found in most Japanese cities. As night fell, I made my way to Dontonbori, a well-known tourist hub filled with shops, restaurants, and neon advertisements galore! As a self-proclaimed foodie, I had a smorgasbord of choices available and sampled many of the local eateries (and yes, of course I got green-tea ice cream before the night was over!).
Rounding up the tail-end of my trip, I headed to Kyoto the next day. I set my sights on climbing Mount Inari, but made a stop at Tofoku-ji first to experience some old-fashioned Zen. As I walked along Kamo River, I came across dozens of stacked stone towers in the riverbed. Some reached as high as 4 feet and were so precariously balanced I did not dare go near. However, there were a couple that seemed a bit more stable for me to catch some photos. Afterwards, I added my own stone to a tower (and almost knocked the whole thing down in the process…).
Rock towers aside, Tofuku-ji’s dual temples held some amazing views and peaceful rest areas.
As the skies darkened I had a feeling my time on Mount Inari would be rained out. But, being the stubborn sandal-wearing photographer I am, I flip-flopped my way to Fushimi Inari Taisha to experience one of the most-visited temples in Japan. Impending inclement weather or not, visitors flocked that day by the hundreds, if not more.
I knew there were going to be torii gates along the way up to the temple, but I didn’t realize I would literally walk through thousands of the bright red gates on my 2-hour climb to see the top. These torii are paid for by donations from local companies and individuals and cost anywhere from 400,000 yen to 1,000,000 yen depending on the size. The names of the companies and individuals are inscribed on each gate and can be read as visitors descend from the mountain.
With a stroke of luck, the skies barely let any rain fall, and most of the trees and torii caught what little came down. Thankfully the ominous weather made many visitors turn back from their climb so most of the way down the mountain was a peaceful, solo walk. Even as I made it back out to the entrance, many visitors and tourists had completely cleared out. It made for a nice end to a short day in Kyoto!
And with that, I am now done with my Kansai trip! This kind of vacation will always be in my memory, and having a camera along for the ride made it that much easier to create even better memories in photographic form. That’s all for this multi-faceted post, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! I am still playing catch up with some of my photographs in late June, so until then, just sit tight. 🙂 As always, have a great day!