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Kansai Highlights

October 21, 2010

The Japan Blog Matsuri, hosted by Todd’s Wanderings this month, calls for the best Japan has to offer: Japan Highlights! I’ll narrow it down to Kansai Highlights and introduce you to places I recommend as a must-see when you visit Kansai. I can’t decide on a ranking, so I’ll just list them from north to south:

1. Arashiyama, Kyoto

If you follow Katsura river upstream you will reach the Togetsu (“Moon Crossing”) bridge which leads to Arashiyama in the western part of Kyoto. (Of course you can just go there by train or bus as well.) Togetsu bridge is a popular spot for viewing cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. You can rent a boat for a romantic cruise on the river or watch the cruisers while eating in one of the restaurants with river view instead. Beside restaurants and cafes you find artisan shops, parks and temples in Arashiyama. Take a walk through the temple’s gardens and don’t miss the bamboo groves!




2. Flea market at Toji temple, Kyoto

I love to stroll on flea markets and have a look at all the curiosities offered there. I used to sell toys and other stuff as a kid myself and I still like to see what people once possessed and used, but it’s even more interesting to go to a flea market in a foreign country. If you’re like me you should mark the 21st in your calendar ๐Ÿ˜‰

Toji temple is well-known for its five storied pagoda, which is the highest in Japan, but on the 21st ofย  each month a huge flea market is held on its ground and its surrounding streets. Here you can find everything new and old from cheap to pricey, pottery, clothes, accessories, food, you name it!

3. Takarazuka Revue, Hyogo

The Takarazuka revue is an all-female musical theatre troupe. There’s also a Takarazuka stage in Tokyo but the Takarazuka Grand Theatre is its home stage. Located in a very quiet area, visiting this castle-like theatre feels like moving out of Japan.

Takarazuka plays may not contain a deep story, rather they show a dream world often located somewhere outside Japan, but the play itself is not that important. The highlight of a Takarazuka show is the revue at the end of a play. All characters will appear on stage again for additional performanecs, but this time in a special sparkling costume. Main characters are featured with solo performances or duets and finally the star character, now adorned by a feather attire, will walk down a staircase that appears only for this part of the show. The revue is the most fun part of Takarazuka, but attention: If you’re allergic to sparkling and glitter, you’d better leave the theatre before the revue starts or you might get hurt by an overdose!

4. Shinsekai, Osaka

Although it is often described as dirty and dangerous, Shinsekai is one of the most interesting parts of Osaka. Once designed as a model western city for an exhibition, many Osakians wouldn’t dare to set a foot in here today. But if you do you’ll enter a colourful district in which the streets are lined with small kushikatsu restaurants. Kushikatsu (deep-fried pieces of meat, fish or vegetables on a stick) is the speciality of Shinsekai, but you can also try fugu (blowfish) here.

Shinsekai became one of the poorest places in Japan so it might not surprise that Billiken, “The God of Things As They Ought to Be”, can be found in Shinsekai. If you visit the observation deck of Tsutenkaku you can touch Billiken’s feet for good luck.

5. Okunoin, Wakayama

Okunoin, the largest graveyard in Japan, lies on Mt. Koya and contains the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi or Kukai who played a major role in Japanese religious history as the founder of Shingon Buddhism. Feudal lords and other Japanese VIPs found eternal rest at Okunoin to be close to Kobo Daishi. Their tombstones are now covered with moss, but there are also new stones erected by companies to their dead employees or to termites! You’ll find a lot of interesting and surprising tombstones if you wander around Okunoin. But beware of vampires, ahem, mosquitos. Insect repellent is highly advisable!



6. Nachi-waterfall, Wakayama

Last but not certainly not least, there is Japan’s tallest waterfall, Nachi no taki, which falls down 133 meters. Nachi no taki was considered sacred by the Japanese very early and soon a shrine and a temple were built next to it. Kumano Nachi Shrine and Seigantoji are located on a hill in front of the waterfall, so they offer a great view on Nachi no taki. You’ll have to climb some steps to enter Kumano Nachi Shrine, but it’s worth it.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 11:15

    A real pleasure to find your site. All these posts about Japan make me want to go back…

    • franeymoon permalink
      October 26, 2010 11:59

      My pleasure to read your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. October 27, 2010 02:34

    Hey this is great! I have not spent much time in Kansai (though I certainly would like to!) Thanks for the ideas! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • franeymoon permalink
      October 27, 2010 12:37

      You’re welcome! Feel free to contact me when you stop by in Kansai again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. March 5, 2014 09:24

    I’m really loving the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues?

    A number of my blog audience have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer
    but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any suggestions
    to help fix this problem?

    • franeymoon permalink*
      March 5, 2014 09:35

      Thanks for your comment!
      Unfortunately, I can’t help you with your problem. I’ve never had such problems or at least nobody ever complained…
      Hope you’ll find a solution!


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