Thursday, 17 April 2014

Twenty Seven Little Happiness For My 27th Birthday

“It takes a long time to grow young.”

Pablo Picasso

And so, I turned twenty-seven a couple of weeks ago. To all of you who wished me all over the places - Facebook, Line, Whatapps, Instagram, text messages, etc, here is a BIG THANK YOU from me. I sincerely appreciate each and every wishes from all. This year, it was a little extra special because I celebrated my big day in Kyoto. Why Kyoto, you may ask. That's because it was a birthday-cum-honeymoon trip. Haha, just kidding! I know it has been a while since April 1st, but no, this is not another April's prank from me lol!

This time, I will make it simple. As I had just turned 27, here are the 27 wonderful things during the 2-day-1-night trip in magical city of Kyoto.

#1: Hello from Kyoto!

#2: The long pathway of endless vibrant torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine.

#3: Kyoto city, as seen from one of the slopes which is surrounded with little shrines, tombs and neighbourhood.

#4: An antique green coach of Japan Railway, more commonly known as JR, on its way to Kyoto Station.

#5: Kamo River (鴨川), which literally means "duck river". There are no many ducks in this river, but the riverbanks are popular walking spots for residents and tourists.

#6: A group of random Japanese girls in colourful kimon, spotted along the way to Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

#7: This temple, built without a single nail in the entire structure, needs no further introduction. 
Kiyomizu-dera temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) in UNESCO World Heritage site

#8: Higashiyama shopping street, which is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto.
Narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops here invoke a feeling of the old capital city.

#9:Kyoto is well known for its matcha desserts and one of them is matcha soft cream.

#10: The Philosopher's Path (哲学の道) is a pleasant stone path which follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees.

#11: A close-up shot of the cherry blossom, or sakura.

#12: A trip to Kyoto will not be completed without experiencing the stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan.

#13: Served with hot green tea, sweets and warm hand-cloth upon checking into the ryokan.

#14: One of the popular area in the Gion district is the Hanami-koji Street, which are lined with preserved machiya houses many of which now function as restaurants, serving Kyoto style kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine).

#15: Chicken broth based ramen at Monsen (門扇) in the Gion district. This bowl of ramen was fantastic!

#16: The beautiful light-ups at Shirakawa area in Gion. As it is a little off the beaten path, the Shirakawa Area is typically somewhat quieter than Hanami-koji Street.

#17:Enjoying the night sakura, or yozakura (夜 桜) at Shirakawa Canal. The canal is lined by willow trees, high class restaurants and ochaya, many of which have rooms overlooking the canal.

#18:The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji Temple, which is one of the most recognised structure in Japan.

#19: The Zen garden at Ryōan-ji temple (龍安寺). Placed within it are fifteen stones of different sizes. The stones are placed so that the entire composition cannot be seen at once from the veranda. They are also arranged so that when looking at the garden from any angle (other than from above) only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one time. It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder.

#20: Cherry blossom tunnel in between Narutaki Station and Utano Station on the Randen Kitano Line.

#21: My first visit to Arashiyama! The station was simply beautiful.

#22:The magnificent bamboo groves in Arashiyama.

#23: Two Japanese girls clad in their beautiful kimono, walking along the bamboo forest, striking a great contrast with the refreshing green bamboo.

#24: The wooden Togetsu-kyo bridge that spans the Katsura River in front of Arashiyama Mountain, offering incredible views of the spring cherry blossoms.

#25:Visitors can hop onto a wooden boat and enjoy a short ride around the river.

#26: A set of tenpura-don at Kyoto station for dinner, before heading back to Tokyo.

#27: And to cap of a wonderful day, some home-made desserts and supper from 7-Eleven over several candles in glasses.

Sometimes, I guess you do not need fancy presents, candle-lights dinner, or big parties to celebrate your birthday. Simple little things, and when they come around with the right company, in fact make things more meaningful and memorable. And for that, I am very thankful for. 


Monday, 31 March 2014

The Majestic Nojimazaki Lighthouse

"Darkness reigns 
at the foot of the lighthouse"

Japanese proverb

The majestic Nojimazaki Lighthouse in between the pine trees.

Back in late September 2013, the second tour of Chiba Kun Ambassadors took us to tour the most southern tip of the Bōsō Peninsula in the city of Minamibōsō, Chiba prefecture. Sitting majestically on a hill was Nojimazaki Lighthouse (野島崎灯台), which was one of eight lighthouses to be built in Meiji period Japan under the provisions of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1858, signed by the Bakumatsu period Tokugawa Shogunate.

The lighthouse was completed almost 150 years ago, back in the second year of Meiji era (1869). A French - François Léonce Verny (1837 – 1908) was the engineer who was responsible in designing and constructing this lighthouse as the second Western-style lighthouse built in Japan.

At the entrance to the lighthouse, there are several marine-related items to greet the visitors.

The French engineer who built this lighthouse had his name engraved on the walls inside the lighthouse.

The huge Second Order Fresnel lens that has intensity of 1.2 million candela.

The breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the lighthouse.

The coastal line of Shirahama can be seen from the lighthouse too.

Photo-time with two fellow Chiba Kun Ambassadors from Korea.

Bonjour! So, this was the guy who built the lighthouse.

In this exhibition hall called Kirarin-kan (きらりん館), there is a French-made Fresnel lens, which looks more like a glass art.

Nojimazaki Lighthouse is noteworthy as the second lighthouse to be completed in Japan after the Kannonzaki lighthouse on the opposing entrance to Tokyo Bay. It was one of the eight lighthouses required to be built by Tokugawa shogunate in accordance with the Edo Treaty of 1866 signed with Britain, France and the Netherlands. As completed, the whitewashed octagonal brick structure stood 30 metres high, and had a first-order Fresnel lens, with a kerosene light source. The lighthouse was first lit on January 19, 1869.

Unfortunately, the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 torn down the top eight meters of the structure. It was rebuilt in concrete and re-commissioned a couple of years later on August 15, 1925. However, the structure suffered major damages again 20 years later in 1945 by the bombardment by the United States Navy. It was repaired after the war with a second-order Frensel lens, and was subsequently electrified.

Surrounded by the Japanese pine forest is an old shrine – Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) which was built in 1779.

This shrine celebrates the Seven lucky Gods (Shichi Fukujin, 七福神), the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology and folklore.

Beautiful red torii gates at the shrine.

Today, the Nojimazaki Lighthouse is open to the public. Besides the mini museum at its base, that showcases the history of the lighthouse and also a model of the gigantic lens use at the top of the lighthouse; visitors get to climb all the way to the top of the lighthouse. From here, visitors will be able to enjoy the fantastic panoramic view over the Pacific Ocean.

Nojimazaki Lighthouse is registered with the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities as one of the "One Hundred Most Important Lighthouses in the World" and by the Japanese government as a Historic Monument.

The 29-meter tall Nojimazaki Lighthouse, as seen from a open field below.

Standing at the most southern tip of Minamibōsō Peninsular.

Minamibōsō Shirahama sunrise point.

Beautiful blue ocean and if you look carefully, you can see a whale ship at the horizon.

Do drop by this lighthouse when you happen to visit Tateyama city!

Nojimazaki Lighthouse (野島崎灯台)
Opening hours:
200 yen (including the exhibition hall)
Address: 630 Shirahamacho, Shirahama, Minamibōsō-shi, Chiba Prefecture 295-0102, Japan
Tel: 0470-38-3231
① Train:
From JR Tateyama station (JR 館山駅): Board bus for Shirahama (白浜行き), alight at Nojimazaki-todai (野島崎灯台).
From JR Chikura station (JR 千倉駅): Board bus for Shirahama (白浜行き), alight at Nojimazaki-todaiguchi (野島崎灯台口).
② Keisei Bus:
From JR Chiba Minato station (JR 千葉みなと駅)・Keisei Chiba-chuo station (京成千葉中央駅)・JR Chiba station (JR 千葉駅), board bus that heads to Tateyama station・Shirahama・Nojimazaki (館山駅・白浜・野島崎).
③ Express bus: From Tokyo station Yaesu Exit (東京駅八重洲口) to Awashishirahama (安房白浜), board Boso-nanohana-go (房総なのはな号) express bus.
February 24, 2014 - Malaysia Won Big At Chiba Kun Ambassador's Grammy Event
January 28, 2014 - Amazing Hot Spring Bath Of Inubousaki
January 24, 2014 - Fresh Sumptuous Seafood From Choshi
January 22, 2014 - Making Handkerchief With Choshi's Chijimi
January 18, 2014 - Aiberry From Tounosho-machi
January 04, 2014 - Welcoming 2014
December 14, 2013 - Sumptuous Bamboo Shoot Cuisine At Takenoko
December 09, 2013 - Spectacular Fall Colours of Yoro Keikoku
December 06, 2013 - Siti Nurhaliza At ASEAN-Japan Music Festival 2013
December 02, 2013 - Ossan Power Won Us Third Place In Futsal
November 20, 2013 - Shirahama Marine Museum
October 24, 2013 - Tateyama's Hasshokudon
October 14, 2013 - Okinoshima Of Tateyama
September 20, 2013 - Ota Ward's Festival Of Fireworks
September 16, 2013 - Yamanote Line Marathon - The Run
September 15, 2013 - Yamanote Line Marathon - The Preparation
August 30, 2013 - The Art Of Making Futomaki-zushi
July 31, 2013 - Tojo-tei House Of Tokugawa Akitake
July 29, 2013 - Weighty As Baby George
July 19, 2013 - Summer Icebreaker At Yuigahama Beach
July 16, 2013 - Hydrangea Of Hondoji Temple
July 11, 2013 - Comesta - Italian Home Restaurant In Noda City
July 03, 2013 - Kikkoman Soy Sauce Museum
June 19, 2013 - I Was In Japanese Newspaper
June 13, 2013 - Making Traditional Japanese Fan - Boshu Uchiwa
June 09, 2013 - Chiba Kun Ambassadors For The Third Straight Year
June 04, 2013 - Tateyama's Broiled Seafood Bowl & Daifukuji Temple
May 31, 2013 - The Hidden Gem Of Enoshima
May 16, 2013 - Golden Week Gathering 2013
May 14, 2013 - Food Hunt Around Sendai
May 10, 2013 - Cherry Blossom From Inokashira Park
May 01, 2013 - My Experience As An Oversea Voter In Tokyo
April 27, 2013 - Visiting Japan's Most Scenic View Of Matsushima
April 16, 2013 - Weekend Gateway In Sendai
April 11, 2013 - Surprise Belated Birthday Dinner
April 09, 2013 - Turned Twenty Six
April 03, 2013 - Welcoming My 7th Year In Japan
April 02, 2013 - Gotcha! It Was April 1st Wasn't It?
April 01, 2013 - Thank You Gateway Computer
March 30, 2013 - Yozakura Of Nakameguro
March 19, 2013 - Early Spring Blooms Of Kawazuzakura
March 12 - 2013 - Visiting Taiping's Maxwell Hill
March 02, 2013 - Taste Of CNY Barbecue

For the rest of the entries, go to Archive.