Monday, April 26, 2010

The Way To Seigantoji

Looking down towards the parking lots.

The walks leading up to popular temples are often dotted with souvenir shops and little stalls selling snacks. The stalls leading up to Seigantoji used the cool water flowing off the mountain to cool there drinks. Making them look much more appealing.

Cool drinks.

The water returning to the drainage canal.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ikomasan 生駒山

The Jet Roller wasn't closed, but no one was operating it either.

On the top of Mt. Ikoma forming the border between Nara and Osaka prefectures is a theme park. Accessible by car or the cable car line from the Kintetesu station far below. The theme park is spotted with the many bright white and red towers of Osaka's many radio and TV stations making a stark juxtaposition or just a testimonial to the multiple use ethic of Japanese developers. I went there on a crisp Monday morning last week. I found the park to be devoid of any guests and staff. Perhaps the most active things in the entire park were in the dog play area. A very rambunctious little black dog was attempting to mate with a larger, older golden one who gracefully ignored the offers.

Tin roofs showing through the foliage on the path down the mountain.

Deciding to walk down the hill proved fun, yet brutal on my legs which still hurt a bit. That slope was steep. Still, it's under an hours walk down and it goes through some *interesting* streets, a beautiful temple and shrine and a great forest.

The cable car station on the top of the mountain.

An ancient vending machine left to die slowly along the way.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kintetsu Loop

Last Monday I took a train trip using the super-useful Suttro Kansai 3 Day Pass. Well, it's useful if you plan to cross the entire Kansai region 3 times in a 2 month window. For example, if you're goal in life is to ride every train line in the Kansai region, then you'll find it, as I said before super-useful. I knocked a few entire lines off my list Monday using the ¥5,000 pass. I took a lot of video on my trip and cut it down to 10 minutes of trains, stations, and cable cars. Enjoy.

The trip went:
Hankyu Umeda -> Kintetsu Nanba -> Kintetsu Ikoma -> Kintetsu Gakken Nara Tomigaoka -> Ikoma cable car -> Kintetsu Oji -> Kintetsu Tawaramoto -> Kyoto -> Keihan Tanbabasi -> Yodoyabashi -> Hankyu Umeda

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Cellphone Message

My wife and I moved to AU from Docomo... finally. I had AU when I first moved to Japan and really liked their phones and service. Since then I have used Docomo and found their phones and services uninspired. Anyhow, if you know me personally and want my new phone number and keitai email address send me an email.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saikoku 33 - Seigantoji and Kimiidera


Yuko and I began our own Western Japan 33 Temple Pilgrimage [西国33寺巡り] same as Yuko's mother had just finished. The pilgrimage goes to 33 temples plus 3 bangai, or extra, ones around the Kansai region. Each temple is devoted to Kannon [観音], worshiped in Japan and China as one of the few female Bodhisattva. Kannon is a compassionate figure who devotes herself to listening to the sorrows and prayers of us in the earthly realm.  It is said that Kannon can manifest herself in 33 different forms when she comes to the living world to help save people.


Pilgrims mark their trips to each temple using a book, a scroll or both to collect the special stamps and names of each of the temples. We purchased our scroll, the cheapest and smallest available, for ¥9,000 at the first temple Seigantoji [青岸渡寺]. Although the more expensive scrolls are bigger and more elaborate, Yuko's mother recommended getting the smaller one because it's easier to take with you and hang in your house. Our scroll is already hanging with it's 2 filled in squares. Looking at it is a promise for all the fun we will have getting the rest of those stamps. Hopefully, our child will be old enough to remember going to some of these temples by the time we finish it.



This is the first temple in the pilgrimage located on Nachi-san at the end of the Kii Pensiulla in Wakayama Pref.. The near by Nachi Waterfall is a popular tourist attraction for Japanese and foreigners alike. It was the beauty of this place that lead a traveling monk paused to work on his faith. While meditating, he had a vision of Kannon and built the temple here in her honor.


The temple is high above omiyage store lined streets with their tourist buses. Going uphill it's a decent climb but one my pregnant wife could do. I guess it took us 10 minutes or so.


I enjoyed the massive paper lanterns inside the temple and how they were so delicately faded.

This "alligator mouth" type bell is the largest in Japan. The tone is quite wonderful.



The second temple on the pilgrimage is also up a steep, but not as long, flight of stairs. Named for the 3 wells found on the temple grounds, Kimiidera [紀三井寺] is popular for its cherry blossoms in the spring. I wish we had more time to explore the grounds of this beautiful temple and all of the blooming sakura, but we had come to late to do that.


More photos can be found on flickr

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Nankai 22.2.22 Ticket


According to the Japanese way of numbering the year by the current emperor its the year Heisei 22--or the 22nd year of emperor Heisei. It's important to know the year if you live here because many forms require you to put your birthdate in that format. Many receipts print the date in this format YY.MM.DD with YY being the two year Japanese year. Train tickets also follow this format. So combine silly numbers with the mass of train fanatics in this country--such as myself--and you get the 22.2.22 ticket. In the Kansai area JR and Nankai both did promotions surrounding February 2nd and February 22. I will talk about the JR tickets in a later post.


Nankai really went overboard for their 22.2.22 promotion. They added another 2 to the mix by incorporating the two stations that have the Japanese word for 2, ni or 二, in their names. Those stations being Nishikinohama [二色浜] in Kaizuka city near Kansai airport and Nirigahama [二里ケ浜] in Wakayama on the local Kada line. Nankai sold a two platform ticket set at their major stations, but offered till the end of March special stamps at each of the stations. I was able to go on the March 29th to get these stamps.

I have two of these 22.2.22 ticket sets for sale up on Flutterscape if your interested. Only 3,000 of these sets were printed. Both have the special stamps also.

About the stations


I got to Nishikinohama late in the evening and walked to a near by supersento for a bath. The station is about a 10 minute walk to a beach-side park that looked like it would be quite fun in the summer. Both stations have that beach-side chipped paint and wear from the sea air that characterizes smaller stations on the Nankai line and really endear them to me.


Nirigahama station is about half way to the Kada terminus. Kada is a beautiful little harbor village with a few onsen ryokan. The area around Nirigahama is very suburban with schools, many single family houses, and small streets. There is a sea wall about 5 minutes from the station, but the sea itself is quite farther out. The kind station staff let me enter the booth there to stamp the sets myself.




Friday, April 02, 2010

Nirigahama Station Area

The residential area around the tiny Nirigahama station [二里ケ浜駅] in Wakayama on the Nakai Kata line.