Discovering Hiroshima Castle aka Carp Castle or Rijo Castle

From the brochure of the castle, I got to learned that the castle is also know with a different name. Hirsohima Castle is also famous as Carp Castle or Rijo Castle in Japanese. The area where the castle was built known to be Koi-no-ura (Koi Sea Shore) and “Koi” means Carp in Japanese. Good to know the origin of the castle name.

After strolling around Peace Memorial Park, we targeted other parts of the downtown but because most of the places to see are museums which require more time, we ended ourselves exploring the Hiroshima Castle. Before reaching the castle we passed Hiroshima Museum of Art. Then we crossed the underground walkway to the castle.

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And not far from the street where we emerge from the underground walkway, we saw the Second Compound or Ninomaru of the castle where the Main Gate and surrounded Turrets are located. We walked towards the said gate. Before we crossed the Gate Bridge to the Main Gate, we stopped for few photo shots moment.

Ninomaru (Second Compound)

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Bridge Gate, Main Gate and Turrets (Yagura)

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Moats that surrounds the castle from the Gate Bridge

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Omotegomon (Main Gate)

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Hira-Yagura (One-Layer Turret)

We crossed the bridge and entered the Main Gate. We walked a bit towards the middle of the compound and I looked around and observed. I saw a door located at the corner, part of Hall Turret (Tamon-Yagura) and I walked and climbed towards it. My family followed me and we took off our shoes then put it on the shoe cabinet available near the door. Next, we stroll the Hall Turret and there we saw different exhibits. At the end of Hall Turret is Taiko-Yagura (Two-layer Turret) where the drum at the second part and used before for Samurai sally out.

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Main Entrance and Hira-Yagura (One Story Turret) captured from inside of Ninomaru

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One of the drums at Taiko-Yagura (Two-Layer Turret) used for signals

After looking around at Taiko-Yagura and Tamon-Yagura, we walked back and reached inside the Hira-Yagura and the top of the main gate.

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Inside the Ninomaru Omote Gate  (the top layer of Main Gate)

 

Inside Hira-Yagura (One-layer Turret)

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Ruins of Ninomaru (basepoint to defend the gateway of the castle)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery after crossing the walkway towards Main Compound (Honmaru)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery while leaving the castle ground

Honmaru (Main Compound)

When we reached the Main Compound of the castle, the first thing we saw was Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja Shrine where we saw another stone gate similar to what we saw in Miyajima Island. The original shrine has already built in two locations, the shrine was also destroyed by atomic bomb. When the decided to rebuild it, it was rebuilt after the war within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. As per history, the purpose of building the shrine is to mourn the Hiroshima-Han victims during the Boshin War (Japanese Civil War).

 

 

Photos of Hiroshima Gokoku Jina Shrine

We moved forward nearing the castle tower, but before we reach the tower itself, we have other stuff that we saw within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. We found the location of ruins of Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters. After reading the brochures in my hand, I’ve got to understand, why Hiroshima was possibly the main target of atomic bomb attack, its because of the castle ground was a military base. And I also learned that the base was also use to infiltrate the plan of Allied forces during World War II, in a war like that, a military base can be a main target for attack.

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Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters Ruins

At the ground, we also  found a castle ground map that looks like inscribe in a metal piece and put in a stone.

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Hiroshima Castle ground map

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The original foundation stones where the Castle Tower was built

As we walked towards the castle, I got more excited, I knew it was not the original tower, because like other buildings in Hiroshima City, it was also destroyed during the atomic bomb attack. The castle location is in the corner most of the ground and in an upper layer that we need to climb few steps of the stairs. The restored castle tower shows what its look before the second world war, thus we enjoyed the photos outside before we decided to enter the tower. The castle tower now served as museum before the war. We paid the entrance fee and ready to explore the building. At first, I never realized how many floors the castle has and when we were strolling around it, I just learned that it has 5 floors. All floors has exhibits and I cannot really take photos because there’s portion of the exhibit not allowed to take shots. But as far as I remembered, I still sneaked some shots inside the museum thought it was not too many unlike other museums where photography is allowed.

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Castle Tower (now a museum)

Each floor showcases different exhibits that portrays Hiroshima. At the first floor, there’s displays about Ancient Hiroshima, Castle History, its government, life inside the castle, its defense and even different castles in the world can be seen. At the second floor, the exhibits are more of castle town life and culture where it includes samurai versus townsfolk lifestyle. In the third floor, we saw different weapons and armors displays. The fourth floor currently displayed that time has a theme of life and progress of  Hiroshima Castle Town.

 

Some Exhibits displayed inside Hiroshima Castle Tower

We reached the final floor or fifth floor which called as Observation Platform. We stayed a bit in the floor because it offers a scenic views that surround the castle in many ways. Because the castle ground surrounded by trees and green plants and moats, I can sense how Japanese has great pride in their castle. Aside from having yagura or turrets that protects the castle grounds, there is moats that prevents the invaders to reach the castle  easily. If you are a strategist, it is a great place as well for military bases. And that’s what happened to Hiroshima Castle.

 

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Scenic snapshots that surrounds the castle ground and the moats from Castle Tower Observation Deck

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O-Torii – A Boundary Between the Spirits and the Human Worlds

As I mentioned from my previous post entitled “Miyajima Island – Island of Gods” that introduced a bit of Miyajima Island, on the way to the island while we were in the ferry, I had a chance to see O-Torii during high tide. And I was amazed of what I witnessed because the sceneries were all picturesque for me.

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O-Torii while in the JR Ferry

From the local restaurant that we had lunch we walked along the pathway near the shore where some local stores are available on the left side and on the right side the O-Torii was already visible from a far.

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O-Torii (Grand Gate) is a symbol of Miyajima Island and the belief that surrounds it is that Great Torii is the boundary between the spirits and human worlds (reference: visit-miyajima-japan.com). Learning that facts is one of the interesting  information I got for the said island and it was a way to understand a bit why the island seems to be sacred to Japanese.

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O-Torii

When we were closer with O-Torii, the water subsided a bit compared to the high tide that I saw while in the ferry. Seeing such structure on the inland of the sea was pretty amazing but to learn more that it stands on its weight was more mind-blowing. Because of that fact, natural calamities that passed by in Japan did not affect the Grand Gate and as we can see, it still magnificently stands to where it is.

After few hours in Mount Misen, we descended the mountain the same way we reached the summit which includes trekking, riding a cable car and taking a bus.

When we reached the ground, we explored the Itsukushima Shrine.

O-Torii and the surrounding area (water subsided)

After the exploration to the sacred shrine of Itsukushima, my sister and I walked down to the O-Torii since the land was dry from sea water due to low tide. We had a chance to approach the Grand Gate and we had lots of photos of it.

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Up close and personal with O-Torii

Chromatic Outlook : Saigon Opera House

Chromatic Outlook (Post#25) : Saigon Opera House

One of the buildings that I got a chance to see while backpacking in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon), the capital city of Vietnam was Saigon Opera House or Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh. The location of the opera house is not far from the backpacking street area of the city which is Pham Ngu Lao. As per description of the opera house, its design is french colonial architecture existing in Vietnam which built last 1897. Photo captured during the backpacking of the mountaineering group I am member last March 2011.

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Precious Moment In The Mountain : Mount Misen

Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#24) : Mount Misen

While roaming around in Japan, one of the mountain that we had a chance to visit and even had a chance to trek a bit was Mount Misen. Mount Misen is considered as sacred mountain in Miyajima Island (Itsukushima Island). We enjoyed the scenery while we were on our way to the top through gondola and tram lift. And more when I reached the summit of the mountain. The photo above shows some of the islands that are visible from the mountain. Photo snapshot captured last September 2015.

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Name Of The Place : St Kilda Marina

Name Of The Place (Post#24) : St Kilda Marina

One of the walks that I did while living in Melbourne for a while was walks near the shore. Since I lived in St. Kilda that time, I had a chance to see some part of the suburb and one of the things that St Kilda is famous is because of its beach or marina. I can say that its marina is one of the nearest from city center of Melbourne. The photo above that I captured was taken when I was passing St. Kilda Marina where boats and yachts do their parking and offers other marina services. Photo captured last December 2013.

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Miyajima (Itsukushima) Island – “Island of Gods”

After we decided to visit Miyajima Island that day, we walked back to Hiroshima Station from the hotel to take JR Sanyo Line. We used our JR Pass when we took the train and we got off at Miyajimaguchi Station. From the station we walked a little bit and we took JR ferry (other ferry available is Matsudai Kisen) using our JR Pass. The said ferry brought us from Miyajima Guchi to Miyajima Island. The travel time to the island was around 10-15 minutes.

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Onboarding JR Ferry

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Looking towards Hiroshima City while on our way to Miyajima Island

On the way to the island, I felt fascinated with the torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, while in the ferry I was able to see the gate with high tide that makes the gate so wonderful. When we reached the pier of the island, first thing we did was having lunch in one of the local restaurant in the island not far from the pier which has old township design. Inside the restaurants settings was Japanese traditional home style from its table, flooring, seats and its overall interior has all Japanese ambiance.

Miyajima Pier (Miyajima Port)

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Local Restaurant we had our lunch

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Different variety of Okonomiyaki

When I did my research about Hiroshima, I found that there is famous menu not to be missed while visiting Hiroshima and I learned that is called Okonomiyaki. In the restaurant that we had lunch in the island we ordered variety of Okonomiyaki. I can’t remember the specifics and because my family was not really a food adventurer, I decided to take 3 orders for the 4 of us which was enough as they serve it full in big plates they used. And to be honest, we enjoyed the food. My whole family seems to be satisfied specially my mother whom somewhat picky and does not like to try unfamiliar menus in the table. We’ve got full and enjoyed the restaurant for a while.

After the lunch we started our exploration to the island. I am curious why the island is special and why it was considered to be one of the Best Views or Top Scenic Spots in Japan.

The following significant interests that we discovered while roaming around the island are:

O-Torii (Grand Gate)

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Itsukushima Shrine

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Mount Misen

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Miyajima’s Temples / Halls

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I will post separate articles of the things we saw and experienced on these significant places.

Until then.

 

Picture Frame : Summit View From Mount Oberon

Picture Frame (Post#2) : Summit View From Mount Oberon

One of the best moment while in the summit of the mountain was enjoying the scenic and panoramic view from the top. After a bit of challenge in trekking up to the mountain, all the feeling of tiredness will be gone after seeing what the summit of the mountain is offering to us. This is one of the reason why even I’m having a challenge to climb a mountain, I still do love going to the top of the mountain. One of the views to enjoy at the summit of the mountain are Norman Beach, Norman Bay, Squeaky Beach and Leonard Bay. These photos were captured during my tour in Wilson Promontory National Park in Victoria Australia. Snapshots captured last May 2014.

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Below is my previous adventure at Wilson Promontory National Park

Trekking and Bush Walking at Wilsons Prom

Hiroshima – An Introduction To The Home of Two World Heritage Sites

Because Hiroshima is very far from Tokyo, I booked a domestic flight in ANA Airlines, where I found the cheapest price available at the time that I was booking the flight because I was able to maximize their offer price for foreign visitors.

After watching Sumo event and after spending time in Akihabara, when we reached the hotel, we immediately packed all our stuff back to our luggage since that night was the same as our last night in the hotel. We woke-up early in the morning as our flight was around 7AM and our airport was Haneda Airport, which is another airport located nearer in Tokyo compared to Narita Airport, the entry point we had in Japan.

From Kayabacho Station, we took Tozai Line to Nakano, transferred at Nihombashi, changed to Ginza Line to reach Shimbashi Station. At first we planned to take Monorail Line which mean we plan to go to Hammamutso station. When we were waiting at Shimbashi Station for the next train, we found out that the next train goes directly to Haneda Airport, I asked one officer in the train to confirm if the next train goes to Haneda Airport, and he confirmed it. We took the said train. When we were inside the train, my sister and I checked the next station that the train will stop by and we quite surprised because it seems it has too many stations on its route. Then, my sister and I keep monitoring the next train stop and we were thankful because it bypassed many stations, as time really matters for us in that situation because we were catching up with our flight schedule.

When we reached Haneda Airport it’s just right time, we’re not too early nor too late. The flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima took at least an hour and that flight actually saved us a bit of time. We touched down at Hiroshima Airport passed 8:20 AM in the morning and got off the plane passed 8:30 AM. Because we’re new, we did not realize that the bus schedule to Hiroshima Station is closer to our arrival schedule, therefore we were left behind even before we can buy our bus ticket (which can be get through automated machine) and we waited for the next schedule which was after an hour. When the next bus arrived, we boarded the bus immediately. The airport does not have train station and the only way to go to Hiroshima Station is through bus. The bus travel from the airport was around 45 minutes to reach Hiroshima.

At Hiroshima station, since it’s our first time again in another city of Japan, we really don’t know where to go to reach our hotel in the city. That problem was forgotten a bit after I saw the JR Train Line office at the station. I booked our ticket train from Hiroshima to Kyoto to reserved our seats the next day we travel. We scheduled to spend almost 2 days to go around in Hiroshima.

After booking the train ticket, we got off at the station and followed few people as we thought they were exiting the station. We ended up leaving the station in a wrong way. We passed the station docking area and underground way since we still did not realize where majority people goes when passing the station. We learned the right way later that day.

Tatami Room

River View from our Room

Even we used the wrong way in getting off the station, we were still able to find the way to our hotel. We did not take a cab as I booked a hotel just near Hiroshima Station. We reached the road Johoku Dori and turned left and then we crossed the bridge. After crossing the bridge, the hotel accommodation were after comes next. We stayed at Hotel Century21 Hiroshima located at Hijiyama Dori. In that hotel, we got a room with tatami room and river view. I really like the room that was assigned to us by the hotel.

The only plan that I had in mind initially in Hiroshima is to walk around in downtown to see the city and its historical places. I checked some brochures that I picked-up from the airport so I can plan and add more to the basic itinerary that I had.  My sister and I talked about what we’re going to do for the day while we were in the hotel. I had Miyajima in mind as additional to Hiroshima city. We discussed which one will go first, at first my plan was the city then Miyajima Island. My sister thought opposite. Her idea was more sensible than mine since the afternoon of the next day, we’re planning to go to Kyoto which is another famous city of Japan and very far from Hiroshima. So we decided with agreement that we will go and explore Miyajima Island first and followed by the city the next day.

Because of limited time we had, the major places we visited within Hiroshima Prefecture where two of world heritage sites can be found, they are:

1. Miyajima Island, Hatsukaichi City

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2. Hiroshima City

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View At My Window : Loch Ard Gorge

View At My Window (Post#21) : Loch Ard Gorge

One of the first places that I visited during my first travel in Australia was the Great Ocean Road in Victoria State. It’s around two weeks since the first day that I arrived in Melbourne, I joined a Great Ocean Road tour because that time, my first assignment was initially 3 months contract with the client. With that thoughts in mind that I will be out of Australia after 3 months, I grabbed my opportunity to see Great Ocean Road. One of the highlights of the tour was to see the Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell National Park. The gorge name was after the clipper ship Loch Ard. Loch Ard was a sailing vessel which was wrecked at Mutton Bird Island in 1878 which not far from the gorge location. As per history, there were 54 passengers and crew in the ship but only two survived. Photo captured last February 2013.

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Meandering At Kings Canyon’s Wilderness

My second day was mixed of Kata Tjuta, a bit of Uluru and Mount Conner. So far I was floating in satisfaction and fantastic scenery and experiences. At first, I thought that the group’s next destination was just nearby until we spent more than two hours in the road. It was like the same feeling during my Day 1 trip, I felt the time passed was too long but in reality it was not. Before arriving to Kings Creek Station we passed a beautiful scenery of George Gill Ranges located at our right side while we were on our way to Wattarka National Park from Lasseter Highway. I really enjoyed the scenic views for some time since it is a long mountain range. At that very moment while enjoying the scenery, I felt that part of the world like heaven in a sense that it was a peaceful moment of my life.

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At Kings Creek Station

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Our Tour Bus

 

Camels found at Kings Creek Station

We reached our destination, the Kings Creek Station and Kings Canyon was just around the corner. I remembered, our tour guide mentioned that our second and last night accommodation was an upgrade from the first one. He told us that from swag, we were upgraded to tent, a tent with bed. With that thought in mind, I expected that the tent is not the same tent I used in my hiking adventure, because a bed will not fit on it. We got off the bus and noticed that we stopped in a gas station, we walked around the area and familiarize ourselves in the place.

The good thing about the place, it has store that you can buy basic things needed in the outback and even gifts or souvenirs. Then we passed the shower rooms and bathrooms. We walked to the area and found the version of the tent that I was thinking. Then, I realized that the tent that our tour guide was referring to, was called safari cabin. Two single bed are fit in a cabin. Therefore we have to find our partners for each cabin and I found mine but apologies as I can’t recall her name right now.

After we took our stuff from the bus, we arranged ourselves at the cabin and made ourselves comfortable. I arranged my bed and my stuff, then, I went out to help the group for our dinner. That night, all of us in the group were helping out. Another thing that I noticed was that our tour guide knows a lot about food. Even we have members in the group that are vegetarians, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner were not been an issue to him. I learned something about food wrapping. Learned that having stuff to fill in the wrap, you are ready to fill in yourself without really cooking. Another thing that I discovered was cooking using charred wood. There was a bonfire area just near from our cabin which also used for cooking. I was familiar with cookware, pans or pots used for cooking but the new stuff for me was pots where it’s lid has a portion on its top area where you can  place burned wood wherein the heat was not only coming from the bottom of the pot but also on its top to make cooking easier and faster. It was an amazing stuff that I discovered and a very important cooking pots or basins when you wanted try to live in the outback.

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Bonfire

 

Cooking Basins

That night, we prepared a lot of food. Maybe because it was our second and last night together in the outback. I snapped the idea because it made my feelings gloomy. We still have the next day for the last adventure. We cleaned-up the kitchen and the dishes we used in preparing and cooking our food.

Maybe because it was our last night together, most of our group did not sleep immediately after the dinner. We sat around the bonfire we used in cooking for our dinner and we started talking together. At that moment in my life in front of bonfire at the outback together with the people I had been with for the past two days feel like a familiar feeling, though we’re all still strangers personally but I felt it was like home. I knew that it may not or may take longer that moment to happen again, and every bit of it, I treasured the moment in my heart and my mind. We spent hours in front of bonfire and then, one by one were saying good nights. I was one of the last person to stand away from bonfire and went to the cabin.

I felt relaxed when I returned to the cabin and in a matter of minutes I was dreaming. I walked up early in the morning, had our breakfast, cleanup the dishes and ready for the last day adventure. For our third and last adventure, I was still excited because we were scheduled to walk and trek around Kings Canyon. One of the canyon I saw was a long time ago and that time I was inside the rocky mountaineer train which was Cheakamus Canyon in Canada. I felt excited and inspired to see and experience Kings Canyon.

All of us jumped into the bus and drove towards the canyon. From Kings Creek Station we reached the parking area. Our main activity was to walk within the canyon. We followed the Canyon Rim Walk track with estimated of 3 to 4 hours of walk and trek. Our tour guide gave us a warning that the initial part of the trail is called a “heart attack” hill because we have to climb a steep and rugged steps (stairs) which he mentioned as 45 degrees. This means the climbed in that stairs will be a bit of exhausting.

 

Scenery enjoyed while resting after the heart attack trail

We walked a bit until we reached the uneven stairs. I saw the trail and I saw that it was a bit of steep climb. I knew it was a quite challenging climb because even though there’s a rugged steps, for me it’s more challenging to climb a stair than climbing with your own steps. When I did the climbed, I remembered that I was catching my breath. I looked-up and checked if the last step of the stair was almost near. I rejoiced when I saw that I was almost at the top of the stairs. The warning given by our guide was right, it was a heart attack climbed. It was not that really difficult like my other climbs that I had, it’s just that everyone were pushed to follow the steps of the stairs. So there’s a bit of time than I rested to recover my breathing. When we reached the top, we stopped a bit so everyone in the group will be gathered again. What I saw at the top excites me because I knew that we were exploring a canyon in the red center of Australia.

 

Our tour guide explaining something about sand dunes and rocks

When everyone were at the top area after the heart attack trail, our tour guide started to tell something about the canyon and its sand dunes. He mentioned that there were other trails available in the canyon and we were taking the trail that will finished just after lunch time. Next, we enjoyed the walk within the canyon wherein I just realized we were actually walking in the weathered sandstone domes that looks like the Lost City when we were at the other side of the canyon.

 

Snapshots while walking in between of weathered sandstone domes  which called Lost City of the canyon and while resting a bit not that far from the heart attack trail

We walked, ascended, then we repeated the process until we reached the famous lookout within the Canyon – Cotterrils Lookout. The said lookout gave us a chance to see 365 degrees of the canyon. We had a wide view of the Kings Creek and the overall scenery of weathered sandstone domes. In the said lookout we spent time here for photos and funny posts that our guide suggested us to do as our memories of the canyon.

 

Around or near Cotterrils Lookout

 

Cotterrils Lookout

 

While at Cotterrils Lookout

 

Lost City like scenery from Cotterrils Lookout

 

Kings Creek

Our walk in the canyon allowed us to discover the area of the canyon where there was a spot that was similar to Bungle Bungle (included in my list to see in Western Australia – I hope I will got a chance to tour around that state).

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The Little Bungle Bungle within the Kings Canyon

After enjoying the scenery of the sandstone domes, our trek within the canyon continued. We reached the wooden stairs and we descended and followed the track. Next we crossed the bridge. Then, we reached a gorge between cliff. While following the track after the stairs we saw what they called Garden of Eden because it serves as oasis where there are natural spring waterholes and has different plants around the area.

 

The Wooden Stairs and Bridges

 

Garden of Eden

 

Before we climbed up at the other side cliff we rested at the Garden of Eden near the oasis. Aside from us, other visitors stopped there too and there were few young male teenagers who jumped off in the oasis and enjoyed their swimming. While we’re resting our tour guide gave us some snacks that the whole group shared.

After resting we returned in our track and we climbed up the wooden stairs. When we reached the other side of the canyon, it gave us a chance to see the canyon in a different outlook or perspective. The part of the canyon that we just walked by and passed by, we were able to see it from the other end what it looks like. The rock domes are more notable compared to when we were walking along with it.

 

While climbing at the other side of the cliff

 

Rock Domes

 

In between Rock Domes

 

Waterhole

At the top we saw the oasis in a different angle even and the same with Kings Creek. Our walk continued. After sometime, we saw the part of the canyon that showcase another view of weathered sandstone. That weathered sandstone from a far looks similar to Old Aztec City that is why it is being called as Lost City.

 

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Kings Creek

 

The other side of the wall of the Kings Creek in Kings Canyon

 

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Lost City in Kings Canyon

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At the top, we spent more time for photos, selfies, groupies with the wonderful scenery that surrounds us. And then, our tour guide announced that we will start descending the canyon. We started our walk and followed our guide. With that moment, I know that once we reached the ground, that’s the last moment that I will have with the canyon. Probably with other people it’s just another canyon to see and visit, but for me the outback as a whole was another world for me that I may not be seeing again, but the place gave me a lot of memories because I was given a chance to discover and explore them in a short period of time. I somehow thinking that if I am not an IT (Information Technology) by profession I maybe a geologist. It may be an interesting profession.

When we touched the ground, we had our pack lunch and we headed straight back to Alice Springs where we started our 3 days adventure in the outback. I spent another night in Alice Springs and returned to Melbourne the next day.

Below are some photos that I still have after reaching Alice Springs and on my way back to Melbourne.

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Back to Alice Srings

 

With Wallabies

 

Alice Springs Airport

Note:
This is the 3rd or last part of my travel post and the continuation of my adventure of the Red Center in Australia. It takes a while for me to finish the post as I am overwhelmed with so many places that I traveled to and half of the post was done last year and now I got a chance to finish it up as I also tried to remember everything not only from photos and but also from all the experiences that are still in my memory.

Here are the other 2 posts from Australia’s Red Center which already published.
Uluru / Ayers Rock
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Juncture With Folk(s) : At Silanguin Beach

Juncture With Folk(s) (Post#3) : At Silanguin Beach

Summer Season is the period that most of Filipinos got a chance to go to beaches and because my country home is an archipelago and surrounded by body of water, there are lots of beaches available in the country that we can adore and enjoy. Last March this year (2016), I got a chance to join the mountaineering group that I was affiliated with and this year’s summer season I was able to be with them after such a long time. It’s been 6 summer seasons that I never joined them because I was out of the country and for other scheduling conflict reasons. I was glad that this year I was able to go with them once again.

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Kawaguchiko – Finding Enjoyment on its Lake after Unexpected Moments

After spending sometime in the 5th station of Mount Fuji, we decided to go to Fujikawaguchiko. A town near at the base of the mountain. My whole family and I will never forget this town in our Japan travel because it was the place we experienced a nervous and quite hopeless moments of our lives. It was not really a life threatening situation but a desperate moment of our travel.

After we got off from the bus we took from 5th Station to Kawaguchiko Station, we walked around near the station to find an ATM machines so I can withdraw some money we need. First, we tried the convenience store that we found and we were unlucky because I was not able to take some money because it seems that my ATM card was not being accepted. Next, we tried another similar convenience store and I tried again my ATM card and the result were the same. At that time I started to feel anxious. We walked back to the station and went to the information center and asked around about the ATM nearby. After some inquiries, I let my parents stayed in the station. My sister and I went to find the banks and the post office that was given to us by the officer from information center. There were two more banks we visited and tried my ATM card, again both result were the same. I was really confused and surprised because I was able to get the money at the ATM in airport. There was one last place we had tried on, the post office where there’s international ATM. At that time, I was really nervous and felt uncomfortable because my family and I were in the middle of a town far from Tokyo and does not have enough money to even come back to the city (I only reserved the bus and still need to pay for it). At the post office, I tried to use my ATM again and the result was failed again. When that happened I had a feeling that my ATM card was somewhat blocked by my bank in the Philippines. It’s my suspicious reason why my ATM was not accepted for almost 5 places with international ATM.

I was thinking to call the bank. I have my mobile phone but felt doubtful to use it since I was weary about the international calls that will cost me. I checked my Skype and checked if it has still load to allow me to call outside. I saw that it wasn’t enough. I reloaded my Skype account and used it to call the bank. During the call, my hunch was  correct. The bank blocked my account after they detected, that there was withdrawal in my ATM outside the Philippines. I was really angry with them, because they never notified me, then told me they’re trying to reach me but unsuccessful. The agent that was talking to me, immediately unblock my card. After the call, at the post office, I tried my ATM card again and without issues, I successfully withdrawn money. It was really a great relief. That time I felt at ease. My sister and I came back to the station to pick-up my parents. That’s the only time we were able to had our lunch. What an experience indeed!!!

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Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko)

Because we lost time to see more around Fujikawaguchiko, I decided to see the nearby lake from the station. We walked around half an hour and we reached Lake Kawaguchi. As we were anticipating the bus scheduled booking that I had to go back to Shinjuku, we estimated our time to spend in the lake. We spent sometime in some parts of the lake. We walked a bit and enjoyed the sceneries that the lake is offering.

Kawaguchiko Station

Finally, we went back to Kawaguchiko Station. And there I exchanged my booking to bus tickets and paid appropriately. Then we’ve waited for our bus to arrived. If our travel from the city to Mount Fuji 5th station was smooth in the morning that day, it was different when we were on our way back to the city. Since it was Sunday night, we experienced the traffic jam that Japan has. We left Kawaguchiko station past 6PM and we arrived in Shinjuku station almost 11PM and had our dinner in the area. We reached our hotel in the city almost 12AM. It was a good thing that the next day adventure we had in our schedule gave us ample time to rest because we were schedule to watch Sumo Bout event.

That’s how we spent our third day in Japan.

Mount Fuji – A Sacred Famous Mountain and Arts Inspiration in Japan

One of the considered perfect cone volcano in the world is Mount Fuji. I first learned to know about this volcano in Japan when our very own active volcano from my country named Mayon Volcano which is also considered to be the same with perfect cone volcano. I learned that Mount Mayon considered to be similar to Mount Fuji. Though I haven’t seen Mayon Volcano for real and only in photos, I can see the resemblance of the two. For me, both of them are probably has perfect cone. Based on photos, both of them has magnificent scenery from a distance. The difference that I can emphasized between the two is Mayon Volcano doesn’t have snow-capped because we don’t have winter season like Japan.

As a mountaineer, I also dreamed to climb Mount Fuji. But during the trip to this mountain, it’s not part of the family’s itinerary, I only planned to see the mountain and its summit up close and personal and be within the mountain since I was with my family.

It was our third day in Japan when I scheduled the trip to Mount Fuji. It was Sunday that day and the only thing I booked was a bus going to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (also known as Yoshidaguchi 5th Station or Kawaguchiko 5th Station) of the mountain from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and a return bus from Kawaguchiko Station back to Shinjuku Station.

All of us woke-up early in the morning and prepared as early as possible we can based on the time calculations I did to reached the bus station that will bring us to Mount Fuji. From the hotel we took subway Hibiya Line from Kayabacho station to Naka-Meguro and we transferred to Marunuchi Line to Ogikubo in Ginza station and got off at Shinjuku Station.

Because Shinjuku station is one of the major and interchange station we experienced some difficulties to find the bus terminal that I bought the ticket online. The terminal we were looking for was Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal. We arrived at Shinjuku station at the right time that I planned it, but because we need to find the terminal, it seems that the timing was very tight as the bus schedule we need to take was 6:40am and at 6:30am we must be in the terminal as we need to exchange the booking that I had to a bus ticket. We asked few locals around the area of Shinjuku station but it seems no one understand our English language. We looked around and saw where the bus coming from and asked again while we were walking towards the  terminal. We talked to someone and confirmed where the terminal was. I had a map of the bus station but because of some orientation issue we got confused at first. My sister whose really good in directions confused too until she noticed some of the landmarks.

Finally we found the bus terminal and we saw a lot of people in the station. It was not really surprising because Mount Fuji is a popular tourist destination in Japan. I went inside the ticket office where queues of people can be seen, I queued myself and when it was my turn, I exchanged my booking to a ticket and we were set to board the bus. Most of the people coming to Mount Fuji were climbers or hikers. They were completely geared for the climb. When I saw the climbers I felt some envy within myself because they will climb Mount Fuji and I wasn’t.

We queued in the line and waited for our bus. When the bus arrived, I started to get excited because Mount Fuji like its country of Japan was one of my dream to see for real. When we got on-boarded in the bus, I can’t deny the excitement that I felt. The bus left the terminal and while we were trying to leave Shinjuku area, I saw some part of Shinjuku. I just realized and noticed that the place is towering of buildings. It seems there are lots of businesses districts and offices area that surrounds Tokyo.

We took the highway after leaving Shinjuku area. The bus travel we did that day was the first travel we had by land aside from train. From the time that we arrived in Tokyo, we always took trains from one point to another. Because we were in the bus, it added some excitement because I can see some part of Japan while traveling. The great thing about it, I can see a lot of places while in the road. The whole travel took us more than 2 hours before we reached the 5th station in Mount Fuji. Because we traveled in Sunday morning there’s not much traffic in the road. When we reached the base of the mountain, I felt that the atmosphere changed and the road trajectory was snaky. Then, next thing happened, there’s some drizzle in the air. Being part of the mountaineering group made me realized the rain within the mountain specially if nearer in the summit seems to be normal and that drizzle in Mount Fuji was not really surprising to me.

After the rain just stopped while in 5th Station in Mount Fuji

At 5th Station (Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station)

Around Mount Fuji 5th Station

Before we reached the 5th station of Mount Fuji, the rain fell. And when we got off the bus, we felt the cool weather in the mountain. And to think that its raining, we really experienced the windy chilly rain. Since the 5th station is the most developed than other stations around the mountain before summit, we saw different establishments in the area such as hotel for accommodations and shopping stores that people can go to temporarily as a shelter while it’s raining outside and for last minute shopping before climbing the summit.

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Mount Fuji Summit

With Mount Fuji Summit

Mount Fuji is so popular to tourist and people flocking in the mountain is normal. And I also learned, that the weekend that we visited the mountain was the last weekend that the mountain was open for climbing season as it will close due to season changes. I saw a lot of groups who really came just to climb the mountain and I felt sadness again. I promised to myself that I will come back in the mountain with the objective of climbing the summit of it.

At one of the shops in Mount Fuji 5th Station

Since we were not climbing the mountain and the timing when we reached the 5th Station was not really that great. What we did were stayed and roamed around inside of one of the stores in the area as we were amazed on a lot of stuffs and souvenirs to enjoy, had our lunch, walked around in the nearby temple and lookout and finally we took photos as we can with the summit of the mountain as our background.

Komitake Shrine

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Komitake Shrine

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Sceneries at Observation Point near Komitake Shrine

A View of Yamashita Park and Marine Tower

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Yamashita Park with Marine Tower

Yamashita Park

The green park that we saw before we reached Hikawa Maru is Yamashita Park. The place is appropriate in such place where both locals and visitors enjoys the walks while appreciating the beautiful view that Port of Yokohama offers.

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Yamashita Park

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Hotel New Grand – at the front of Yamashita Park

Marine Tower

Marine Tower is located near where Hikawa Maru docked. Its front is Yamashita Park. The tower is considered as the tallest lighthouse in the world. We just took photos of the tower and we did not try anymore to visit its observation deck.

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Marine Tower