Sunday, May 23, 2010

Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara in Japan...(May 2010)

[Top to bottom and left to right: The place that produced a premium sake called "Jung-jong." .... Kristin at Merican Park in front of Kobe Port Tower ... An interesting shape of Oriental Hotel at Merican Park ... An old ship used to cross the Pacific Ocean ... Kristin showing the poster for Osaka Castle ... The Osaka Castle ... The Chungsoo (meaning clear water) Temple ... The gate to enter the temple worshiping the "god of success" or Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was born to a poor farmer couple but rose to the ruler of the nation ... The street called "Dotombori" full of restaurants and snack bars ... Kristin with the Dotombori River at the background ... The Buddah Statue made of bronze housed at the Daedong Temple. (Reportedly 16 people can stand on his left palm.) ... The Daedong Temple's main building.]

Kristin and I also traveld to Osaka, Japan from May 21st through 25th, 2010. We joined a packaged tour program led by Ms. Hyunjoo Koh. She is a Korean, but her Japanese was impecable and her knowledge about Japan was impressive. She explained well and clearly about Japan's history, culture, places and people.

During this short trip, we visited Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. These cities are full of Japan's old historic heritages and cultural treasures.

Kobe is famous for many things: i.e. its premier beef, premier sa-ke, and premier rice. They go with hands in hands. Without premier rice, they cannot make premier sa-ke and produce premier beef. We visited a traditional sa-ke producing place that is now preserved as Japan's museum. We also visited Merican Park that housed Kobe's Maritume Museum, Mosaic Walk, Kobe Port Tower etc.

Nara was the place where Japan's royal family was established, arguably by the descendents of the last King of Baek-Jae, one of three countries in Korea. Japan denies it, but one of the emperors admitted it. Again, truth prevails. The royal family lived and rulled in Nara for 500 years. In this city, we visited a Buddist temple, called "Dong-Dae-Sa." This temple was built by one of the emperors because of much contribution made by one of the Korean monks who introduced the Buddism to Japan. This temple houses one of the largest bronze Buddah scultures in the world. Reportedly, 16 men can go up on the Buddah's left palm open flat. That is pretty big...

Kyoto, literally meaning Capital City, was the city where the royal family reigned the country for 1,000 years. Kyoto has at least 20% of Japan's cultural heritages. There are many buddist temples and "Shin-sa" places. (Japan's traditional worship place for gods according to its "pan-theism.") We visited one of the famous temples, called Chung-Soo-Sa (Temple of Clear Water) that also houses a Shin-sa.

Osaka is the second largest city in Japan, next to Tokyo. It has a castle, called Osaka Castle, which is the pride of the Osaka citizens and even of many Japaneses. Kyoto is nearby and this castle was initially built by one of the greatest heroes of Japan, namely Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He was a Samurai who unified the entire country and established the central control. The most notable of him was that he was born to a poor farmer but rose all the way to the top without any parental inheritance. No wonder he is treated as a "god of success" among the Japanese. We clibled all the way up to the Chun-Soo-Gak that is located at the center of the castle and is now the castle's museum.

Now the Japan's capital city is Tokyo, literally meaning Eastern Capital.
This short trip included a rigorous travel plans, but we were grateful for just following the instructions and for all transportation, lodging and foods pre-arranged. It was a convenient travel! We had to follow the canned schedule, thus disallowing us from staying longer at places that were of more interest to us, but overall we enjoyed the packaged tour, particularly led by such a well experienced guide. Probably we will give a try again. - Jeffrey

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