Showing posts with label portrait. Show all posts

Koko-en Garden


Koko-en garden is located just beside the Himeji castle, and while the castle is always crowded with visitors and tourists, it seems most people did not pay a visit to this beautiful garden.

True to the Japanese garden philosophy, Koko-en is not a colourful flower garden, but more akin to serene landscaping mastery. The garden consists of 9 smaller gardens with their own theme, from bamboo groove, to the ponds. 

When we were there, winter just started, and the garden lost most of its vibrancy, especially the spring and autumn colour. Having said that, it was still such a beautiful place that you need to visit when you have the chance.

The White Heron Castle


Japan has a wealth of great carpentry work, with craftsmanship level that maybe has no to little rival elsewhere. The Himeji castle is one of them.

Perching on top of a small hill in the city, the castle is visible from the train station, and a short walk of no more than 15 minutes will bring you to the front gate of the castle. You can imagine that in the past, all the people of the town will be able to see the structure from afar, and maybe feel a bit safe with such grand fortification looming about. 

The castle itself undergone several miraculous brush with total destruction, spared from the plan to dismantle it in 1871, the  bombing in World War 2, as well as the great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

If you are interested in a more supernatural phenomenon, the castle also a breeding ground of the famous ghost story, the Okiku's well. Okiku was falsely accused of stealing a valuable dish from the family, and thrown to the well, people often claim that they can still hear her voice from the well, counting the dishes to make sure that nothing is missing.

Just beside the castle, there is the Kokoen Garden, that we will visit in the next post. 

Photo Credit: Edwina

Eat Till You Drop in Osaka


Osaka is a 15 minutes train ride from Kyoto (riding on a Shinkansen, that is), and we decided to only spend one day in the city, focusing our time in Dotonburi, the food street. In this area, you will find hundreds of restaurants, stalls, and souvenir shops that sell all the Osaka specialty, such as the crabs, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki.

Since I am allergic to crustacean, I leave it to E to taste the 8-legged creature. She instantly fell in ecstatic mood, and threw praises to how good it is, enough to make my mouth watery just from her description. We then sampled various food along the street, and the only limit was our stomach's capacity, which, due to age, filled quickly.

It is better to enjoy Dotonburi with a big group of friends, so that you can order, share, and taste more!

Arashiyama, Kyoto

DSCF0802 We spent a whole day in Arashiyama, and it was really cold. The December wind really rattled the bone, and at this moment, I thought the importance of having a good pair of winter gloves. Mine was purchased in Australia, and it's good enough for Australia's mild winter, I constantly looked for a hot beverage vending machine, so I could hold a warm can of coffee in my hand (and spend quite a lot of money for hot tea, coffee, and lemon drink).

Fushimi Inari Taisha


Fushimi Inari Taisha is a must-visit temple in Kyoto. The rows of thousand red torii is a sight and a beauty to behold, however that means this temple is crowded all year long, and taking a picture without people marching at the background is almost impossible. There are few ways to have a crowd-free picture. 

The first one involved some steely determination, as the temple open round the clock, you can try to visit it very early in the morning, or even late at night, so, just like I said, steely determination to wake up very early, or go home without any public transport. 

The second is something we found out first hand. Just climb to the top of the mountain, the further you go, the emptier it is. It took about one and a half hour (with our slowpoke pace) to reach the top of the mountain, and once you reached the top, you are rewarded with... almost nothing. No majestic view of Kyoto, nor a grand building/temple/palace. If you feel that spending about 3 hours of your life looking at torii is a wasteful endeavour. I suggest that you stop at the resting point, which gives you a sweeping view of Kyoto, and make a bee line to the bottom of the mountain afterwards. 

Photos by me and Edwina

The Little Prince Museum - Hakone


photos by Edwina & Me

Around Hakone

IMG_7261 We arrived in Hakone under a not so friendly weather, with the rain accompanying us for the whole day. Given its altitude, this is translated to cold days that really could make you miserable when your socks get wet and the wind start to blow in your face. 

However, we braved the element, as we only planned a day to explore Hakone. Much to our disappointment, due to some volcanic activities, Owakudani was off-limit, and with it, gone was the Kuro-Tamago! (Kuro-Tamago are eggs that are cooked by the heat of the volcano, due to the sulphur reaction, the eggs' shell become black, hence the name Kuro for black, and Tamago for Egg).

Hakone is beautiful. The lake Ashi could provide you a great view of mt. Fuji on clear day, but given the situation, it was out of the question. To cross the lake, there are several ships, decorated as pirate ship. (E adamantly said that it's a bit to gimmicky, out-of-place against the natural backdrop)

All in all, we spend a great time in Hakone, and when it was time to leave this hilly region, the sun comes out... (expletives & curses here)

Photos by Edwina & Me 

Our Last Day in Tokyo

IMG_7207 Time does fly when you have fun. On our last day in Tokyo, after the Tsukiji Market, we went to visit the garden of the Imperial palace. However, given the awesome sight we experienced at Meiji Shrine and Senso-Ji temple, the garden is a bit pale in comparison. We were thinking to ourselves that maybe this garden would be much more beautiful in Spring. 

The Imperial Palace complex is surrounded by moat, still filled with water, which gives it some out-of-placeness amidst Tokyo very modern setting. 

After spending a short time here, our leg brought us to Akihabara. Unfortunately, Akihabara is not for everyone, and we spent less time here, but we still took some photo for you!

Photography by Edwina & me. 

Tsukiji Fish Market


Tsukiji Fish Market is very popular due to its fish auction, which only happen early in the morning (and by early, you will need to be there by 3am). Given that there will be no public transport at the time, and because we were to lazy to wake up THAT early (in the midst of winter, mind you!) we opt to visit it a little bit later, when the sun has warmed the atmosphere.

It was CROWDED! All sushi places were filled with patrons, and people were queueing outside. If you like sashimi or raw fish, eating sushi here is a must, because you will get the freshest fish. For us, who have perpetual fear that eating raw food would led us to food poisoning (and that the texture of raw food is just gross), the market has great alternative to fulfil our appetite, from the onigiri, mochi, barbequed seafood, teas and many more! 

Photographs by Edwina and Me

Senso-Ji & Nakamise Dori


Senso-Ji is an ancient Buddhist temple in Asakusa, one of Tokyo's oldest that was built to venerate Boddhisatva Kannon. The path to the temple, known as Nakamise Dori, is a delightful street, with many vendors, selling gifts and food for tourists and pilgrims alike. 

The temple itself is a beauty, with its pagoda, imposing gates, and halls. it was crowded with tourist in winter, so prepare yourself to face a throng of people if you visit it in Summer. The temple itself only opened for viewing until 6pm, and many shops in Nakamise Dori will close shortly after. We were lucky to be there in winter time, as it allow us to shot the temple, with the dusk light.

Photographs were taken by Edwina & Me.

Around Asakusa

To get to Senso-Ji temple, you have to walk through Asakusa, (unless you have unlimited budget and choose the more comfortable option of using Taxi). We were pleasantly surprised of the charming little things we found along the way, the stores that sell Japanese traditional utensils, and various buildings that were preserved, in contrast with all the high rise modern concrete one, including Kano Jigoro's dojo (Kano Jigoro is the father of Judo) and Honzan Higashi Hongan-Ji temple.

Meiji Shrine


Just a few steps away from the famous, bustling Harajuku, the Meiji Shrine garden stands in its serenity, gives you the feeling of being transported in time and space. The Shinto shrine is not only beautiful and majestic, but also surrounded by beautiful forest-like vegetation. 

We were lucky to witness a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony in the shrine. I didn't take too many pictures as I feared that I might disturb the holy ceremony (even though in hindsight, every visitor point out their recording devices to get this beautiful event)

Punggol Excursion, a Throwback


There is (or was, I'm not sure) a tree in Punggol that achieve legendary status due to its popularity as instagram object, and we went there to see the tree itself through our own eyes. Sadly, the tree was hit by lightning and in a bad condition, but we made the short time to take other pictures. The weather was so hot, so we don't really want to stay longer out there under the sun. 

Nieces at Eddy & March Wedding


A throwback at Eddy & Marchel's wedding. Eddy is my brother in law, and I was just one of the guest, so I didn't take too much photos of the couple. However I made amend by taking more pictures of my nieces (they will be featured once in a while in this blog!)

Again, many hearty congratulations for Eddy & March. All the best for both of you as a new family :)

First Look: Trying Fuji XT-1


After much deliberation, E (she changed her blog to by the way) purchased Fuji XT-1 mirrorless camera, as she is looking for a lighter camera that could be carried easily everyday.

I got the chance to play around with it, and I'm quite impressed with the result. Most of this photos were taken using its 35mm lens (which equivalent to 50 mm for a full frame camera). the pictures are sharp, and when it is opened wide, the shallow depth of field is just perfect for a portrait.

Expect more pictures from the XT-1 in the future, as we might choose to bring this rather than its bigger brother!

Random Photos of My Family


Morning at Botanic Garden


Singapore Botanic Garden is one of the newest addition to the UNESCO Heritage Sites. Having said that, I have not been to the place for more than 1 occasion, so one day, I just asked E to accompany me and take a picture in the garden.

Cute Brunch Places


When it comes to Saturdays, we usually stay a bit longer in bed, and have a late breakfast, or brunch, or sometimes, late brunch, which would be the same as lunch, but we call it brunch anyway to trick our body clock, that we still have a lot of time for the day. My internal clock always falls to the trick, it never learn.

Pink and White Under the Blue Sky

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E in Macau


This will be the last instalment of many Macau pictures that I shared before. Here are E's portraits in various locations, Fisherman Wharf, Largo de Senado, and The Venetian. 

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