A Travellerspoint blog

February 2006

Arashiyama

Current umbrella count: AC = 1 CW = 1

We decided today that we would make our way up to Kyoto. The only problem we ran into is that it was pouring rain that day. So, we did what we've done in many other situations, we just looked to see what everyone else was doing and then did that. So, we decided the best thing to do was to buy umbrellas and continue on our trip.

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We had read in our Lonely Planet book about a place called Arashiyama and how they had a bamboo forest and some great hikes, but it said it was far from Kyoto. So, we decided to just go to Kyoto. However, along our way we discovered that we actually passed by Arashiyama, so we got off there. We were both really glad that we did. It was an absolutley gorgeous area and it was really quiet (I thought it was quiet because it was out of the city, but then I realized that it was because of the rain). We walked through the gardens of an old temple and through a bamboo forest. The bamboo was soo thick it made it extremely dark in the forest. Once we got out of there we just wandered through the small town looking at the different types of houses. Arashiyama is a hard place to describe, pictures do it the most justice.
Ar-Mountain.jpg Court and Bamboo.jpg court hiding.jpg tree and lake.jpgAr - Bamboo.jpgAr - temple2.jpgAr - temple3.jpgAr - temple.jpg

After we walked around there we went to Kyoto station (34, 59 08N 135 45 29E for the Google Earth users out there). It is a VERY modern looking building in the middle of a 2000+ year old city. It caused quite an uproar when it was built. I think it provides a unique contrast to the rest of the city. There is a large department store in the station and outside there are escalators in a perfect line that go up 8 stories. It is impressive to see. Parts of them are also outside, so we had to make sure we had our umbrellas then as well.

Kyoto Station.jpg

About 6 floors up there is a pedway that goes from one side of the station to the other. It is competely enclosed, but you can see out one side over Kyoto and the other side over the station. We wandered around there for a while and decided to get some food. When they sat us in the restaurant they asked us if we wanted smoking or non, so we said non and got put in the middle of two smoking tables. But, then we realized that most people in Japan smoke, so it will be hard to stay away from it.

After this we realized we were soaked and freezing so we just made our way back to Juso.

Posted by agc_cwm 05:20 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

The Osaka Aquarium

We went to the Aquarium to celebrate Court's Birthday. Warning: scientific names ahead.

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This is how Courtney wanted to celebrate her birthday. Which I had no problem with, it seemed like a good way to spend the day. Everything we read said to be there when the doors opened, so you'd avoid the crowds. This was no problem for us because of Jet Lag. At this point we were still getting up at 04:30 or 05:00 and going to bed at 21:30. The aquarium opened at 09:30, so we ventured out for our second trip on the train. We didn't have any problems finding our way there, all the train signs are laid out in English and everything makes a lot of sense.

We were glad that we showed up before the doors opened because that let us stay in front of these people...

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I think it's a pretty good system for class trips. Every group gets a different coloured hat, so as the chaperone you know exactly who's in your group and who isn't. They were pretty cute though. They behaved exactly like kids back home do. There was a lot of screaming and running from one display to the next. So we had to keep on our toes and move quickly ourselves.

Here is a link to the page for the aquarium for anyone who would like more info on it.http://www.kaiyukan.com/eng/index.htm

When we got into the aquarium the first display we came across were the asian smallclawed otters (Amblonyx cinerea). The only problem was we couldn't find them in the display. We searched high and low for them and eventually found both of them over in the corner having sex. When they say otters are playful, I think that's putting it very PG... what imaginations! Needless to say the chaperones moved the kids on pretty quickly.

Here are a few other pictures from our trip to the aquarium.

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This ocean sunfish (Mola mola) was kept in its own tank, and there were signs warning against flash photography.

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There were a few Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) on display. Their tank seemed really deep, but not quite so wide.

Gnome and Penguin.Jpg
Yep, he made some friends. Here's a close-up. It's actually the best picture we got of a penguin, because they were swimming and diving so fast. This one's a gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), but there were also emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri) and rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome) varieties.

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The female whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the primary attraction at the aquarium. This specimen is 4.3 m long and weighs about 850 kg.

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The giant spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi) can reach up to 3.7 m claw tip to claw tip. The ones on display weren't quite that big (maybe 1.5 m). This picture was just begging to be taken. The funny thing is, there was a Japanese couple next to us taking the same picture, except it was one of them in the picture instead of a gnome.

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The big penguin costs ¥100,000 ($1000). Presumably someone has purchased one for that amount. Oh, to have that kind of disposable income to spend on a huge stuffed penguin.

Posted by agc_cwm 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)