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Kiyomizudera is my favorite place in Kyoto. I went there three times total while I was in Japan…I love it so much! The first time I went was December 1, 2008.  I spent a while walking around by myself, and then I asked a guy to take a picture of me. We started talking,and ended up hanging out for the rest of the night. His name’s J and he’s teaching English in Osaka. We watched the sunset at Kiyomizu, and we saw a male geisha…it was so traumatizing and creepy!

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" Please let us stay as the most STUPID couple in the world. =) "

" Please let us stay as the most STUPID couple in the world. =) "

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A couple from Mayalsia took this picture.

A couple from Mayalsia took this picture.

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jay

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J and I walked back towards my guesthouse, and he got on the subway to take the train back to Osaka. He got us lost (haha) but eventually we figured out where we were. And we found a kitty!!! By the time I got back to my guesthouse, I was so exhausted! But it was such an amazing day. I love Kyoto.

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I got up early and said goodbye to the friends I made at my guesthouse. After that, I decided to spend the day walking around Kyoto. First, I went to a small shrine called Yasuikonpira-gu (that’s a mouthful!) that I wandered upon. It was a very pretty, peaceful shrine and there weren’t many people there at all.

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Brenda (:

Brenda (:

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This little guy was hanging around the shrine the whole time I was there, just enjoying the morning.

This little guy was hanging around the shrine the whole time I was there, just enjoying the morning.

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Next, I went to Entokuin. It’s a wonderful temple that was formed for Toyotomi Hideyoshi after his death, by his wife. It’s beautiful and charming and I loved it. I’d definitely recommend visiting this temple when you’re in Kyoto.

Entokuin

Entokuin

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I walked through Yasaka shrine again, on my way to the Ryozen kannon. I saw a geisha at the temple near Yasaka, it was a bit unreal! The Ryozen kannon was incredible…after a 10 minute climb on a very steep staircase, you make it to the top and can look over all of Kyoto. Then I explored the kannon by myself, and it was so beautiful and amazing. I lit a candle and made a wish inside, and then spent a while just walking around the area.

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I looked up while I was taking these pictures, and these guys were just chilling....sitting there and staring at me!

I looked up while I was taking these pictures, and these guys were just chilling....sitting there and staring at me!

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Oh, Kyoto. I love you.

Oh, Kyoto. I love you.

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Ryozen Kwannon

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My candle.
My candle.

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I walked towards Kiyomizudera (which was my goal) and stopped for lunch at a cute little cafe. I had a salad, margherita pizza (!!!) and a drink and just watched people walk by. Then I walked through a little garden and finally made it to Kiyomizudera!!!

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I took the night bus from Tokyo to Kyoto, and got to Kyoto Station around 5 am!! That’s super early, and about 1.5 hrs before we were scheduled to get there. NOTHING was open, it was terrible…so I got a locker for my stuff and went to McDonald’s. They actually opened an hour early, because there were 30 people wandering around with nowhere to go!! Once people started moving around, and places opened up, I decided to take my bags to my guesthouse. I got on the subway and went to Gion, then dropped my stuff off at the guesthouse at 7 am. There was no one outside, it was dead! I want to Yasaka Shrine for most of the day, it was amazing.

After Yasaka, I walked to Kenninji, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. It was huge and a little overwhelming, and completely gorgeous.  I felt so calm and peaceful there, and I walked around in awe the entire time.

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The amazing ceiling!

The amazing ceiling!

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I went back to IchiEnSou after wandering around the area for another few hours. I met a few people who were staying there, and we went to the stairway leading to Kiyomizudera, so they could buy some presents for people back home. The stairs are lined on both sides with tons of little shops and cafes. They’re so cute, and an awesome place to buy gifts! Everyone had okonomiyaki for dinner…but it was the type of restaurant that only had once choice, and since I’m vegetarian, of course I couldn’t eat it. The little restaurant was tiny and had an awesome atmosphere, and it was funny trying to teach them how to say ごちそうさまでした.

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 I wandered arond the streets of Gion for a while, and eventually ended up at Yasaka shrine. I spent an hour or two walking around and taking pictures, I think I explored every possible part of the shrine that I could! I also went to a temple that was very close to Yasaka, I’m not sure of the name.
A small shrine in Gion.

A small shrine in Gion.

Yasaka shrine at 8 am.

Yasaka shrine at 8 am.

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The Yasaka shrine complex is huuuge.  There’s a park with a lake and stream, many different paths and smaller shrines all around the complex. There’s a very big cherry tree in the park, and many smaller trees. It’s gorgeous in the fall, and gorgeous in the spring. I’ll be posting more about Yasaka when I get to March (my mom visted me & I took her to Kyoto).

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I went to a temple that was very close to Yasaka shrine…I’m not sure of the name, but it was very nice. I was basically the only one there, because it was 9 am, so it was kind of eerie. But it was very calm and peaceful. I love temples and shrines.

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I went to Tokyo for 2 days in November. It was just a stop on the way to Kyoto, I only stayed for one night. I stayed at Sakura Hostel in Asakusa, and spent a lot of time wandering around Asakusa. I went to Tokyo Tower to see my friend, and we walked around Ikebukuro and Roppongi and admired the Christmas lights. On the 29th, I spent all day at Sensoji in Asakusa and the underground shopping mall at Yaesu. Then I boarded a night bus for Kyoto at 9 pm….and well, that’s the next post!!

Around Sensoji:

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One of my favorite pictures that I took while in Japan!

One of my favorite pictures that I took while in Japan!

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There's always a ridiculous amount of people at Sensoji...except very late at night and very early morning. Both times are incredibly calm and peaceful.

There's always a ridiculous amount of people at Sensoji...except very late at night and very early morning. Both times are incredibly calm and peaceful.

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Around Asakusa:

Shopping street near Sensoji

Shopping street near Sensoji

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Awesome graffiti near Sakura Hostel. I think the building is a community center....(?)

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The pharmacy/hospital that my host brother works at had a fair/festival in November. I helped out, and made/gave away cotton candy! It was so much fun.

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Making cotton candy!

Making cotton candy!

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Every year, companies have a “company party” at the end of the year, in November or December, for all the employees. My host family works at 3 different pharmacies; my host brother works at Sakura Dispensing Pharmacy, my host sister and dad work at Miharu Pharmacy(??) and the front of my house is actually a pharmacy/drugstore –  Hamada Pharmacy. So for the company party, it was a combined party for all 3 pharmacies. It was at a big hot spring/banquet hall type thing. We had dinner, played a game (rock paper scissors, of course!) and had a variety show. It was so fun! Then afterwards, some of us went to the onsen and then to the bar for karaoke. It was really funny to see everyone drunk and trying to sing karaoke!!

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Can you find me?! :P

Can you find me?! 😛

seisho gu....

Saisho iku...

Janken poi!! And Kazu is the winner!

Janken poi!! And Kazu is the winner!

I think there's about $3.00 there.

I think there's about $30.00 there.

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And here are some pictures of Christmas lights displays in my neighborhood!

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My school’s festival was on November 20, 2008. Every year, schools in Japan have a school festival; every three or four years, it’s a huge festival that lasts all weekend! My school’s big festival is this year, 2009…and I really wish I could be there!! It was such an awesome day, I got to walk around and talk to so many people I’d never had the chance to meet before. I really loved it…it’s one of my best memories at Tamura.

The first year kids made handprint "turkeys" for Thanksgiving in English class.

The first year kids made handprint "turkeys" for Thanksgiving in English class.

I was excited because it snowed.

I was excited because it snowed.

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Our flower display

Our flower display

My favorite 3rd year boys!!

My favorite 3rd year boys!!

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There are so many different things at the school festivals…most clubs set up booths or demonstrations, there’s pictures and flyers and posters everywhere, and there are tons of activities. Examples of a few: tea ceremony demonstration, flower arrangement display, live music/concerts, piano performances, crafts, dance performances…and so many more! It was awesome and so great to see all the talent of the kids in my school!!

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This band was all girls, and they dressed up in costumes...like Pikachu!

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These are all 3rd year boys. They yelled at me while I was walking down the hallway, and made me take a picture with them.

These are all 3rd year boys. They yelled at me while I was walking down the hallway, and made me take a picture with them.

Their was a little display of pictures and a slideshow from our trip to Okinawa!

Their was a little display of pictures and a slideshow from our trip to Okinawa!

I couldn't stop laughing when I saw this. What a weird name! It's a photography poster....no "Nipples" are pictured!

I couldn't stop laughing when I saw this. What a weird name! It's a photography poster....no "Nipples" are pictured!

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Calligraphy exhibit about the Okinawa trip. Some of these kids are amazing at calligraphy!!

Calligraphy exhibit about the Okinawa trip. Some of these kids are amazing at calligraphy!!

3rd year boys. People always wanted me to take their picture!

3rd year boys. People always wanted me to take their picture!

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Okinawa

Okinawa

These were taken from a teacher's office, where I spent all of my Japanese lessons and study halls.

This was taken from a teacher's office, where I spent all of my Japanese lessons and study halls.

3rd year girls. "CHELSEY! CHELSEY! SHASHIN KUDASAI!!"

3rd year girls. "CHELSEY! CHELSEY! SHASHIN KUDASAI!!"

Pumped up Doraemon? Lay off the steroids, dude.

Pumped up Doraemon? Lay off the steroids, dude.

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2nd year girls (:

2nd year girls (:

Bassist in my friend's band. They're rockstars!

Bassist in my friend's band. They're rockstars!

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These guys put tape on their shirts to spell out girls names, while the girls were onstage dancing. How cute!

These guys put tape on their shirts to spell out girls names, while the girls were onstage dancing. How cute!

I'm a celebrity!! Haha, it was ridiculous how "famous" I was!

I'm a celebrity!! Haha, it was ridiculous how "famous" I was!

3rd year girls, right after they got done dancing.

3rd year girls, right after they got done dancing.

The last activity of the day. They had to pass some tiny items down the line, from chopsticks to chopsticks.

The last activity of the day. They had to pass some tiny items down the line, from chopsticks to chopsticks.

2-4 won...followed by all 3 sports classes. Of course, right?!

2-4 won...followed by all 3 sports classes. Of course, right?!

I was always getting ambushed for pictures. These girls were all in my gym class. <3

I was always getting ambushed for pictures. These girls were all in my gym class. ❤

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2nd year sports class boys. They were always asking me to be their girlfriend! Haha, they're so funny.

2nd year sports class boys. They were always asking me to be their girlfriend! Haha, they're so funny.

Courtyard from our balcony on the 3rd floor. I climbed lots of stairs everyday!

Courtyard from our balcony on the 3rd floor. I climbed lots of stairs everyday!

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