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Magical pieces from Japan

#shrine #inari #cemetery #lantern #koyasan #monkey #temple #onsen #bamboo #geisha

Story by David Varga July 25th, 2016

FINALLY...

In the end of last year I finally did what I wanted for a long time. Together with few of the friends of mine we spontaneously bought the discounted flight tickets to some other part of the world (and surprisingly not to Iceland, Norway, Canada or anything outdoorsy or mountainous at all).

One casual evening I got a call from Vaclav who told me about the very cheap tickets to Japan. Probably just the error in the flight tariff with Turkish Airlines, but worth a shot. Return tickets from Prague or Budapest for just around 200 EUR, very tempting. After like 5 minutes of hesitating I made my mind and finally went for it. Later on, I convinced Roman, Klarka and Matka to join us as well and so, 5 months later, we departed to the country of the rising sun, to the country with unique culture and amazing history.

In the end we had a flight from Budapest to Osaka and back and spent 8 days in Japan altogether. The flight with Turkish was very comfortable with the great food and service provided onboard and they just proved what I heard about them.

Before leaving to Japan none of us actually made any kind of plans or itinerary, so we went there knowing we would have to improvise, just like I prefer it. :-) Accommodation having via Airbnb, traveling via local railways (we did not even buy the Railpass as most people do) and doing our best to capture as many impressions and as many (sometimes weird) experiences as possible.

Not having the Railpass we decided to stay in the Ósaka prefecture for the whole time and explore this region in more detail with all the old historic towns and temples around. I only had 4 places on my list to visit: Inari shrines in Kyoto, the cemetery in Koyasan (both in order to take some nice pictures) and then to try out the onsen (Japanese traditional spa) and spend the night in the capsule hotel. We managed to check all of them (and much more) and it was definitely a very nice trip, so much different from how I am used to travel, but still with many great memories.

Below you may therefore find my selection of photos from some of those few places we visited.

Ósaka city

(good place to start, great vibe and street-food, lot of Pachinkos, restaurants and shops, otherwise nothing special)

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Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine

(very atmospheric and spiritual place, best to come there in the evening and stay till (or even after) the dusk)

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Kyoto - Arashiyama

(the bamboo forest and the monkey park - worth a half day trip finished with the delicious Ramen soup, with crowds of tourists though all around)

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KyOTO - the Golden Temple

(pretty nice surprise, even despite the crowds of people this place had a great energy and a bit of magic feel)

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NARA - The Temples

(unfortunately we missed the opening hours at the spectacular Todaiji temple that evening so we just wandered around, played with the popular deers in the local park and enjoyed that magical peace of this area)

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Koyasan - Okunoin cemetery

(for me the best part of the trip - an evening walk throughout this amazing cemetery, actually the biggest in Japan, with the hundreds of little shrines, tombs and enlightened lanterns - all of that carefully built at the bottom of huge cedar trees - it was just unforgettable, very spiritual and mystical (also a bit spooky))

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After spending our night in one of the Koyasan buddhist temples and after attending the morning ceremony inside we really had to come back to the cemetery again on our last day here. It was truly an amazing place, even in daylight.

Totally recommended!

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Footnote: dav.varga@gmail.com, www.dvarga.net
Ósaka, Prefektura Ósaka, Japonsko