Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Things to Do & See at Jomyoji Temple, Kamakura, Japan

Across from Hokokuji Temple with Bamboo Garden, there is another zen temple that was established in 1188.
It is Jomyoji Temple, one of "5 Big Zen Temples in Kamakura" that used to be supported by Ashikaga samurai clan.
Jomyoji Temple, Kamakura, Japan
My point is that it is quite a "local" temple although it used to be counted as an important zen temple in the Middle Age.
This article is about things to do and see there. Plus, I hope to tell you the "local atmospheres" in the temple.

1: Temple Main Hall
When you get off the bus at Jomyoji Temple, you are in a local street and find the gate soon.
Gate of Jomyoji Temple
It is a quiet place - Jomyoji Temple is not counted as a top place to visit in Kamakura, so it is not crowded, either. It's time to feel the nature, listen to birds, and refresh.
Jomyoji Temple with fresh green
By the way, did you know that some maple leaves turn red in spring, not autumn? The contrast was so beautiful.
Red Maple Leaves in May
The main hall is perfectly symmetrical and roofed with copper.
The Main Hall of Jomyoji Temple
Today it is not a central place of anything where too many people gather, but the plain beauty makes me feel the history from Middle Age.

2: Matcha, Stone Garden & REAL Japanese House
Jomyoji Temple has a matcha house as well as Hokokuji Temple. Even if you say, "Again?", I say that it is a must to enter this Kisen-an.
In my opinion, there are 3 things to do and see here.
Way to Kisen-an Matcha House
First, the matcha house offers FRESH Japanese refreshment - Do you remember that I recommend fresh sweets at the matcha house in Tokyo?
Matcha & Fresh Sweet Set at Jomyoji Temple
I have one more thing to emphasize about this. We can have the Japanese sweet made by Misuzu, a famous Japanese confectioner in the town.
When you have a matcha break here, let me say that you should order the fresh sweet set!
If you are not used to sit on the floor, there are many chairs and tables in the house.

Second, we can see a beautiful Japanese garden with having a cup of matcha.
The Stone Garden of Jomyoji Temple
It is a classic Japanese garden of karesansui style, which means gardens with rocks, stones and sand without any ponds. The landscape of mountains and rivers are shown by the rocks in the garden. (Ryoanji Temple is Kyoto is famous for this.)
The Garden is made of Stones and Sand.
But I think the most interesting thing of this house is the house itself.

It is a classic architect of shoin-zukuri that originated from the Middle Ages. It used to be a tea house where so many priests gathered in the 16th century, but Jomyoji Temple had to go through hardships such as disasters after that time. The house had been private for long, but it finally got renovated into a matcha house that is open for temple visitors.

The point is that this house is as it used to be as a traditional Japanese house where people really lived.
Seeing is believing!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kawaii Character News - May, 2016


  1. Rilakkuma's Summer 2016 is Approaching!
  2. Pokemon's Nostalgic Items
  3. Totoro's New Socks
  4. Tamagotchi Store Tokyo is Closing & New Version is Coming This Summer!

1: Rilakkuma's Summer is Approaching!
I said last December that winter is a high season for Rilakkuma, but now I regret it.
Rilakkuma is in sea otter costume now!
Sea Otter Korilakkuma!!!
Swimming Sea Otter Rilakkuma
Do you remember that it was Kapibara-san who was wearing sea otter costume last year?
Sea otters are stars in any aquariums because of their cute behaviors, but the problem is that they are in few aquariums.
That's not a problem. I love Rilakkuma Sea Otter!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

All About Hokokuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan - A Zen Temple with Bamboo Garden

Kamakura is an old town located south from Tokyo, which was once the capital of Japan established by Minamoto samurai clan in 1192.
Today it is an interesting destination for both of international travelers and Japanese locals.
The greatest thing to see in Kamakura is undoubtedly The Great Buddha.
But must-sees are not all for travelers. Kamakura has many cozy sites to explore the Japanese Middle Age.
This article is all about Hokokuji (also, Houkokuji) Temple. It is extremely beautiful - Seeing is believing.
Bamboo Garden in Hokokuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan
Yes, this temple has a calm and beautiful Bamboo Garden!
I'm telling you

  1. How Beautiful & Refreshing the Bamboo Garden is
  2. Matcha House, A Must-Do at Hokokuji Temple
  3. Things to See in the Temple
  4. Practical Visitor Information & Useful Links

with 35 photos in this article.
Hope you share the breezes at the Zen temple in May!

The Entrance Gate of Hokokuji Temple
When I passes through the gate, I thought I was right to visit here. I was amazed to see much green in Buddhist temple style.
Buddhist Garden near the Gate

A Buddhist Statue in the Garden
Hokokuji Temple was originally built by a priest and Ashikaga samurai clan in 1334.
The important fact is that it is a Zen temple - When Kamakura was the capital of Japan, some new sects of Buddhism were established to save people living in unstable times. Hokokuji Temple belongs to Rinzai Sect, one of the Zen sects started in Kamakura era.
It is a Zen temple that concentrates culture and history of Kamakura of Kamakura.
Main Hall of Hokokuji Temple - Not so big
However, compared with big temples and shrines in Kamakura, Hokokuji Temple is small - in good meanings. You can explore "local Japanese temple" atmospheres that are not in big tourist spots. Getting off the bus at a local bus stop, going along a local path, and you'll find the Zen temple. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?
Goldfish near the Counter
We can get a ticket to enter the Bamboo Garden here. I find NO reason Not to get the combined ticket with a cup of matcha. Remember?
"Bamboo Garden" Entrance
Fortunately, we can see bamboos all the year around. But I must say that May is special because of fresh green of all the trees...
Fresh Green Maple Leaves in May

Hokokuji Temple holds sutra hand-copying every day and weekly Zen meditation every Sunday morning. Common people come and join them.
Main Hall and the Back Yard of white stones
Let's go to the Bamboo Garden.
2000 bamboos are quietly waiting for us. How tall!
Bamboos Much Taller than the Roof
Talking about bamboos, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is getting very popular. If you have bought a guidebook of Japan, you might have put it into your future travel schedule. But did you know this Zen temple in Kamakura?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kameido Tenjin Shrine: Wisteria Festival on an IMPERFECT Day & A Practical Guide

Wisteria (Fuji in Japanese) Festival at Kameido Tenjin Shrine has been loved by Tokyo locals for hundreds of years. As a blogger, I wanted to share this with you!
Wisteria (fuji) Flowers in Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
...But the reality was not very easy for me.
The abnormal weather in winter and early spring this year did not show us the perfect views. See the three IMPERFECT views?

1: Wisterias did not bloom fully as I wished...
The View of Kameido Tenjin Shrine from the entrance
This SHOULD be ALL pale purple. There are flowers, but not as many as I expected...

Kameido Tenjin is really a beautiful shrine. Many ponds occupy much of the space, carp and turtles are swimming elegantly, and wisterias surround the ponds. There are few shrines like this!
2: If only it were clear and sunny...
The Elegant View of the pond, red bridge and main hall - on a cloudy day
The next is the best photo spot in Kameido Tenjin Shrine. Tokyo Skytree is in the back!
3: If only Skytree did not hide its head in the cloud...
Kameido Tenjin Shrine and Tokyo Skytree - on a foggy day
But there WERE beautiful views on that day!
Let's focus on positive things. That makes our life easy and happy.

Friday, April 22, 2016

3 Reasons to Visit Ueno Park AFTER Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Festival

I have talked about how beautiful Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Festival is three times.

  1. Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) Ueno, Japan - Why You Shouldn't Miss Shinobazu Pond!
  2. A Perfect Guide to Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Festival IN THE EVENING
  3. Another Must-See in Cherry Blossom Season in Japan: Hana Matsuri, Buddha's Birthday Festival

Ueno Park is definitely one of the best cherry blossom spots in Tokyo.
But how does it look like after cherry blossoms fall? Isn't is just a park that can be anywhere in the world?
I must say that Ueno Park after cherry blossoms is amazingly beautiful!

1: Late-Blooming Sakura
I have been repeating that there are many kinds of cherry trees and some flourish after standard sakura.
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden is very famous for late-blooming cherry blossoms in Tokyo, but I'm not saying that there are not any in Ueno Park!

Late-Blooming Cherry Blossoms in Ueno Park
Late kinds of cherry trees are planted along large Shinobazu Pond. You can't miss it - You'll find a pale pink area when you are proceeding to the pond.
On beautiful sunny days, the large park is so cozy in this season.
The views are great, too. Tokyo Skytree is seen from Ueno Park.

Kawaii Character News - April, 2016


  1. A Guide to Perfect Tamagotchi Trip to Tokyo! (Digest ver.)
  2. Rilakkuma Cafe Honey Forest Souvenirs (& the next place)
  3. Bonus: Kapibara san in Bandai Headquarters
It's April. It's spring! I finally share something that I longed to talk about! I also have good news about Rilakkuma Cafe of last month. Enjoy kawaii spring!!

1: A Guide to Perfect Tamagotchi Trip to Tokyo! (Digest ver.)

Have you ever seen this Mametchi somewhere online?
Mametchi on Bandai Logo
This is in Bandai Headquarters Building in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan!! In Kawaii News April, I finally talk about this to you!
I am going to update "Full ver," of "A Guide for Perfect Tamagotchi Trip to Tokyo" later so that you can read it on your iPhone offline.
This time, please explore how Bandai Headquarters in Asakusa is like and why it can be a perfect destination for your trip to Tokyo!

Sumida River - Place of Legend
Sumida River Cherry Blossom Festival 2016
The fact is simple to understand.
Iconic Sensoji Temple, Sumida River and Bandai Building is all in a walking distance in Asakusa district. Sumida River is one of the best cherry blossom spots in Tokyo, and even in Japan.
And do you remember? Tamagotchi's original story in 1996 begins on this riverside - A UFO accidentally hit heartbroken Professor Banzo strolling along Sumida River!

Bandai Headquarters
Mametchi at Bandai Headquarters Building, Tokyo, Japan
Bandai is a leading toy company in Japan. And it is a common sense for US that Bandai is the toy company that has been making tamagotchis!!
In the front of the building, Mametchi is standing on the logo and welcoming people. There are many other characters there, but the main is Mametchi. This fact demonstrates how important tamagotchi is for Bandai.
Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Dragon Ball... It is the home of superheros, too.

There are not shops nor special souvenirs here. But that's not a problem, is it?
Fans of anything hope to approach the origins, and that's why we search for fandoms online, connect each other, start blogs and social media, write about our favorite things, read other fans' articles, and become friends.
Visiting the home of our beloved tamagotchi will become precious memories!

Old Tokyo Traditions
Here is one more travel tip.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Another Must-See in Cherry Blossom Season in Japan: Hana Matsuri, Buddha's Birthday Festival

Cherry blossom season in Tokyo is late March to early April.
If you are in Japan on 8 April, you have something that cannot be missed. It is the day of Hana Matsuri, yearly Buddha's birthday festival!
Full-Blooming Cherry Blossoms & Kiyomizudo Hall of Kaneiji Temple in Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan
Officially, this festival is called, "kambutsu-e" or "gotan-e," but people like the friendlier name - Hana means "flowers, especially sakura," and Matsuri means "festival" in Japanese.

You will find things like this at Buddhist temples on 8 April.
Hana Matsuri shrine and decorations
Temples make a small shrine decorated by flowers, put a statue in hydrangea tea (amacha) inside to celebrate Buddha's birth.

Most travelers visiting Tokyo in cherry blossom season will go to Asakusa and/or Ueno. Then, you'll drop in at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and Kaneiji Temple that is part of Ueno Park. So easy to see Hana Matsuri, right?
(Attention! Hana Matsuri is a festival in TEMPLES, NOT SHRINES. See the difference between temples and shrines in Japan?)
Views of Cherry Blossom and Bentendo Hall
The culture is not difficult at all; You pour amacha from the top of the statue by using the ladles.
Little Buddha Statue and Amacha
Generally, Hana Matsuri is held only on 8 April, but Kaneiji (Kan-ei-ji) Temple in Ueno Park hold Hana Matsuri Week. You have many chances to see it!

You can see the flowery shrine at Kiyomizudo Hall and Bentendo Hall in Shinobazu Pond.
Hana Matsuri shrine at Kiyomizudo Hall
At Kiyomizudo, visitors could taste amacha - As a local, I'd like to point out that it is a very rare chance. Amacha is NOT Japanese green tea, matcha, nor any other standard tea in Japan. The sweet tea appears only in Hana Matsuri. A local never misses this chance, and you?
Views of Ueno Park from Kiyomizudo 
In 2016, cherry blossoms reached peak on 31 March in Tokyo and lasted until Hana Matsuri. It depends on the year, but 8 April is always at the last days of cherry blossoms.

You do not need to worry.

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