Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Videos From Nan's Party

So here are a few videos from our camera that I took at Nan's party.....

Lighting wasn't the best for the next one, we really should have turned the spotlights on...

Nan's Birthday

Well hasn't it been a while since my last post!!! What has been happening?? Rene went to London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Prague for 2 weeks at the end of August and back in September. I haven't really been up to much lately just the usual daily stuff. On the weekend we went to Nan's for her 88th birthday. Who was there?? Quite a few family members actually got there: Ian and John Jan Mum and Dad Marilyn Sue and Zeeanne Nathan, Jerry, Kyle and Larni Sefton, Karla, Chloe and Keith Rene and myself. It was great to catch up with every one as it has been a while. So here are some photos.....
The birthday girl with Mischka

Ian and John

Marilyn, Ian, Sue, Mum, Jan and Nan, just before Ian and John left

Kyle, my nephew

Nathan, my brother

The cake, yummy sponge!

Marilyn, Jan, Nan, Mum and Sue

More to come!!!

Catch you soon

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Videos From Tokyo and Kyoto

Here are a few videos from our trip to Japan...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kyoto Part 2

So after our woodblock printing lesson we noticed that there was a temple across the road. So we thought we might take a walk around and have a look at it. Turned out to be Heian Jingu. What a beautiful place. We had been told about a special garden within the grounds but unfortunately being spring there was a very large queue to enter. Oh well next time. So here are some shots of Heian Jingu.

While we were at Heian Jingu this group of elegantly dressed young ladies were very much in demand for photographs. Not Geisha or Maiko just ordinary girls out for the afternoon in their kimonos.

Then we headed off for the nearest subway. On our way we saw many stores selling beautiul hand made items so we bought a pair of chopsticks each and a pair of sake cups all made from a beautiful golden coloured wood. We caught the train back to the main line and then went back to our Ryokan for a quick rest. We got up refreshed from our Nanna nap and headed back in to town for a stroll and to find somewhere for dinner. On our way we found the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Inxpensive entry fee, Manga every where in book and Video format so you can sit and read(HMMM okay if you have Japanese reading skills as there was only a small selection in english) But very interesting none the less, heaps of stuff and interesting exhibitions.

Then we took a walk down Shijo-dori. WOW what a street, all the major Depato, and so many more shops, then there were covered sreets with heaps more shops. We were really working up an appetite with all this walking. So we headed back to Karasuma-dori to an Italian restaurant we had spotted earlier. What a fantastic find. The restaurant was named FLOWING, wonderful service and ambiance. Open kitchen, superb wine list and great menu. We had the Y3500 4 course selection and a bottle of french wine. All up for the 2 of us it cost about A$115. The food was really good, so if you ever go you have to try them. We enjoyed it so much we went again the next night. Here is a night shot of Flowing:

After dinner we caught the train back to the Ryokan and had a wonderful sleep.

The next day saw us get up fairly early and head out to Fushimi Inari Taisha. We caught the train out as it was only 22 stops from Kyoto station. We were really getting the hang of the trains. Another beautiful place, but with a secret we were not prepared for....4km round trip hike up a mountain. we think this shrine is hinted at in the movie 'Memoirs of a Geisha', it is the scene where she runs through the Torii. So we had to go, 'Geisha' is a favourite movie. It was amazing to see so many elderly people taking a stroll up the mountain and many family groups too. So here are some photos.

So then we headed back in to Kyoto station and walked around some more. Our main mission was to find Aritsugu knives in Nishiiki Market. What an amazing experience walking through the market, this market is regarded as the supermarket of Kyoto. You could buy your groceries or buy something to eat on the spot. We found the knife shop and were both blown away by the range available plus all the other accoutrements used by Japanese households, chefs and restaurants. After a quick look we got some assisstance form one of the VERY helpful staff and found my first Japanese craftsman made knife. They even engraved my name on it in Japanese. I haven't run it over a stone and it is still as sharp as the day I bought it. Back to the ryokan for a nap(we were a bit knackered after the walk around Fushimi Inari Taisha) and then we headed to Flowing again for dinner. The next day we headed back to the bright lights of Tokyo for our final 3 days. That is it for the moment. Thanks for looking and will catch you soon! Ciao for now!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Kyoto:The Old Capital of Japan Part 1

Well on our 6th day in Japan we boarded a Hikari Shinkansen for our trip to Kyoto. We were very excited to be heading there as we knew we would see lots of old buildings and temples. On our approach to Kyoto station we were a little surprised as it was a lot more modern than we were actually expecting.
So we worked out how to get the train to our Ryokan, Aoi So Inn. This was a very handy spot to stay. 3 minutes walk from the closest subway stop and about 10 minutes travel time from central Kyoto. So our first day we hopped on the subway to find our pick up point for our 1/2 day Kyoto tour and then went exploring. Staying on Karasuma-dori we soon found a huge Shinto shrine called Higashi Hongan-ji, undergoing a massive restoration project. This meant we were unable to go into the main building but we were able to look around the grounds, where I found this beautiful purification area.

And here is the main gate:

Cherry blossoms were every where. Along the banks of the Kamo-gawa they were beautiful. This is the street outside Higashi Hongan-ji:

The banks of the Kamo-gawa.

So our first full day in Kyoto saw us join a tour which was part of our package. We were headed for two palaces and one temple/shrine followed by lunch at the Kyoto Handicrafts centre.

Our first stop on the tour was Nijo-jo, which was the family seat of the Tokugawa Shoguns. Unfortunately this is a very delicate building and photos of the interior are not able to be taken. This palace has the Nightingale floors as part of the original security. This was amazing to hear and then to see the costruction underneath. This floor was designed so that no one could sneak up and eavesdrop on conversations. In the more private areas of the palace the nightingale floor was not used. Here are a couple of shots of the outside and the gardens.

Entrance gate to Nijo-jo:

The pond in the garden:

Then it was on to Kinkaku-ji also known as the Golden Pavilion. Another stunning piece of architecture and landscaping. The top two floors of the building are covered in gold leaf. When the building was rebuilt after being set alight by an arsonist, the gold leaf cost US$7 million.

The bell in the garden:

The Pavillion viewed from across the reflecting pond:

Close up of the Pavillion

600 year old bonsai:

This bonsai was planted at the death of Yoshimitsu, the builder of the pavillion, as part of his instructions in his will.

Here is the small, elegant tea house built in honor of a visit by Emperor Go-Mizuno-o in the 17th century:

Third stop was the Imperial Palace. Absolutely beautiful!! We were not able to go inside the buildings but some had open doors that we coould peek in.

Main Public entry:

One of the birch roofs over another entry:

Closeup of the roof:

These roofs are made in the same manner as they always have been. 70 layers of birch bark and bamboo nails.

Looking in to the throne room across the courtyard. This is where the Emperors have previously been crowned, now they have started to do the enthronement ceremonies in the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Interior shots of the waiting rooms for dignitaries, noblemen and courtiers:

After the Palace we went to the Kyoto Handicraft Centre where we had lunch, took a woodblock printing class and bought a kimono/dressing gown for me and Rene bought a Yukata with the Tokugawa family Hollyhock crest on it.

I think that is enough for part one. Stay tuned for more of beautiful Kyoto in part 2.
Thanks for having a look and catch you soon!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Japan Part 2: Tokyo Shots

Well the first part was largely photos of our trip to Fuji-san and Hakone. This part will be more about Tokyo and part 3 will be Kyoto. Part of our holidays is always spent hunting down watch and jewelry boutiques. We like to go and see things that we can't see here. We did of course go into some of the boutiques that are available here just for a look see and catalogues. One boutique that I have wanted to go to for a very long time is Harry Winston. I was very excited when I learnt there was one in Ginza. After booking an appointment we went and saw the jewels. Can't say that I was totally awestruck by what I saw....I will probably get in trouble here but a diamond is a diamond, sure the designs were pretty but where was the colour? I saw a 5 carat yellow diamond(of corse I tried it on) which was about A$1.5million and there was a very pretty cross with a pink tourmaline and diamonds, and that was about all the colour I saw. Felt a little dissappointed when we left. But I did score a couple of catalogues. Boucheron on the other hand was a mind blower. Such fantastic pieces and so much colour. Got a catalogue from them too. Went to Mikimoto and their rival Tasaki. Very lovely pieces. We missed the high end jewelry floor at both due to time. Catalogues from both. Did Cartier, Tiffany, Chaumet and Bulgari got catalogues from Chaumet, Tiffany and Cartier, forgot to get one at Bulgari. Any way how about some photos from Tokyo.... Day and evening shots from our hotel room Day and evening shots of Ginza Cartier Boutique Ginza Harry Winston Boutique Ginza Umm....let me guess...Bulgari Boutique Ginza Asakusa Shrine Meiji Jingu Shrine Shibuya...Remember this building from "Lost In Translation"? We also went to Roppongi (for the Hard Rock Cafe), Omotesando, Aoyama, Nakano and Shinjuku. A few people Rene knows who work or have worked in Tokyo are quite surprised by how much we got around. Suica cards is the best for getting around on the trains. That is it for part 2. Catch you again for part 3.