Gaijin on Getas Blog

Archive for April, 2012

10 Ways to Save Money While Dining Out in Japan

Posted on April 21st, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 One of the biggest misconceptions about Japan we run into commonly is the idea that food in Japan is very expensive. While some things such as fruit are much more expensive (but usually much better), there are many things that are not. And there are many things you can do to save money dining out while you are in Japan. After all, you’ve got to ask yourself: the per capita income in Japan is a little lower than in America. If food was so expensive, how could the Japanese live on that income. (Then again, maybe that’s why there are so many thin Japanese.) But seriously, there are things you can do to cut costs, and still enjoy the wonderful Japanese food. The secret is simple: do as the Japanese do. Read the full post »

Day 14 – Free Day in Kyoto

Posted on April 14th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Today was our free day in Kyoto.  I have to be honest, I just came down with a nasty cold, so I spent most of the day relaxing in our room.  However, in our itineraries, we provide lots of information of fun things you can do with your free time.  Tonight, we had our sayonara dinner at a very nice restaurant, which had a beautiful garden.  The type of cuisine was Shabu-Shabu, which is were you put some very thinly sliced meat (pork for us) in a pot of boiling water, and it only takes seconds to cook.  Then we put it in a delicious thin sauce.  It was very tasty. 

 

Garden at the restaurant

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Day 13 – Tour Fushimi, Nara, and Uji

Posted on April 14th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Today was also a busy, packed schedule of wonderful sites to see.  First thing in the morning after breakfast, we all headed toward Fushimi to see the Inari Shrine.  It was a very large place, with lots of color (mostly orange).  There seemed to be noticeably more attendants at this particular shrine, as well as a drumming song and dance performed (no pictures were allowed here, but it was very different and beautiful).  We walked up a little further and saw the huge row of torii gates, all donated by different people and organizations.  It is like you are walking through a tunnel of torii gates almost.  Also, a famous scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed here with the torii gates.  Also at the entrance of this shine, they have two foxes for protection there, which was different from what we have seen at other shrines (normally we see lions).

 

Inari Shrine

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Day 12 – Tour Kyoto

Posted on April 12th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Today was a very fun-filled and packed day!  We started the day at the Ryoan-ji, which is known for their rock garden.  In this particular garden, there are 15 rocks  in raked sand. When sitting on the deck, only 14 rocks can be seen at one time. You can try to move and see the one that is hidden, but once it is in view, the other one disappears.  There are many meanings and interpretations to this, and we are encouraged to use our creativity.  Also in Buddhism, the number 15 means completeness.   There was also very peaceful and beautiful scenery here. 

 

Ryoan-ji rock garden

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Day 11 – Tour Hiroshima, travel to Kyoto

Posted on April 11th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

This morning it was POURING rain!  We got onto the ferry and crossed back over to the main land, and traveled to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park.  It was a very humbling experience.  We went at our own pace, with our audio guides, and learned about how Japan was before the USA dropped the atomic bomb, how America came to the decision to drop the bomb on Japan, the effects of the bomb, the effects of the radiation, etc.  It was very sad, but educational. 

 

A diagram of Hiroshima after the bombing

 

Day 10 – Free Day on Miyajima Island

Posted on April 11th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

I love this island.  A fun fact: there are tons of small, wild deer that are completely tame.  I actually saw some of them posing for pictures with big groups (I am sure the photographer had food or something to make them cooperate). Be weary of paper or clothing though, they tend to eat them if you aren’t careful.

 

Tame deer on Miyajima Island

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Day 9 – Tour Osaka Castle, Travel to Miyajima Island

Posted on April 9th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

The word `castle` makes me light up inside.  I am filled with thoughts of kings and queens, romance and war, fantasy and imagination, so I was really looking forward to seeing Osaka Castle today (you are hearing this from a 27 year old female who was raised on Disney).  Let me tell you, though it wasn’t Disney, I was not disappointed!  When we first arrived there, you can see the HUGE walls surrounding and protecting the castle area, being a fortress.  The view was breathtaking, and the cherry blossom trees all around just added to the magic.  Some of the stones that they used to build up the walls were HUGE (around 113 tons!).  We were able to go inside the castle, which is a museum now, with an observation deck at the top.  It all was a great sight to see.

 

Osaka Castle Walls

Day 8 – Tour Koyasan, Travel to Osaka

Posted on April 9th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Bright and early at 6am, the temple has a prayer service.  Guests are welcome to join and participate or observe this prayer time with the monks which involves chanting certain traditional phrases in a monotone pitch.  I personally did not attend, but I could hear the prayers down the hall. 

At 7am, we had breakfast, and then headed out to the huge Koyosan cemetery, which has such history and beautiful memorials.  We got to see many different shrines, gravestones and memorials, and some of significant people and events that have happened in history.  I also noticed some gravestones that had brightly colored baby bibs and caps on them.  One of the beliefs is that if your child dies before you, they are not allowed to enter paradise.  Parents of course don’t want their children to suffer in hell because they can`t pass on, so they put personal belongings of their child with the gravestone, as a plea to Boddhisattva Jizo for their children to pass onto paradise.  Also, as the bright colors of their items fade, they symbolize it with their sorrow that fades over time. Read the full post »

Day 7 – Travel to Koyasan

Posted on April 8th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Today was a long day of traveling on subways, trains, busses, and cable cars.  We arrived around 4pm at our ryokan, which was the Jokiin Buddhist Temple.  Jokiin means always joyous.  Koyasan is such a beautiful mountain town, though right now it was VERY cold.  They had received some snow right before we arrived, and it was much colder than Takayama.  I heard that Koyasan can be a great retreat during the summer, for relaxation in the mountains, and to get away from the heat. 

 

Entrance to Jokiin Buddhist Temple.

 

Day 6 – Tour Takayama

Posted on April 7th, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Takayama is a sweet, smaller town with a population around 100,000.  It is a very different pace than Tokyo, and reminds me more of home.  I actually learned that Takayama is a sister city to Denver, and we did have some snow here, so that must be why I felt more at home here.  This morning, we started with a traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.  The Japanese breakfasts are very different, and usually full of different kinds of tofu and fish. It is neat seeing different kinds of breakfast.  After everyone ate, we went over to a morning Miya-gawa market.  It was a few blocks of different street vendors and stores that had lots of fun odds and ends.  They specialized in turnips in this area, so I saw lots of pickled turnips being sold everywhere.  Read the full post »