The shadows of leaves-
shake under the laughing moon
-on this road, tonight
On the 29th of July, the seniors went on a spiritual retreat for a day and a half at Angels' Hills, Tagaytay. I was so excited the day before because I know I'd be going to my second home (I have Tagaytay blood) and it was a really awesome place. What made me more excited is the fact that we have to be in school at 5:30 AM and I just love to wake up really early.
When I got to school, I was surprised to see that I was one of the earliest people to arrive (I was usually a bit late) and the school looked kind of creepy before dawn. After waiting for a few minutes for everyone to arrive and for the preparations to be done, we hopped in the bus and headed for Tagaytay. In the bus, we were (forced into) watching "(Helen of) Troy" and no, it's not the 2004 version but the 1956 version. Yup, you guessed it. It's the type of movie that has that cheesy suspense music, people who talk in funny voices, and of course, the obviously fake special effects. I dunno about others but I watched only up to the part where...I dunno. We also watched Twitches 2, a pretty interesting sequel on Twitches. But of course, I didn't watch all of it for I was chatting with Seigneur Paolo and Lord Joshua. I'm pretty sure we had some stops somewhere in the trip but I forgot what part it was so...yeah. When we got to Tagaytay, some people were "bewildered" (<--new word for some of you people who haven't heard it yet) by the wondrous scenes in the glorious Kingdom of Tagaytay. There was more stuff that happened in the bus, pretty sure there was. Oh, oh! We also stopped to buy and taste some delicacies from the EPIC Kingdom of Tagaytay. We were offered to order some of these delicacies during our retreat in the monastery/convent/whatever. Some people were so excited that they DID order. HAHA! The ones, including me, who decided to buy outside of the monastery/convent/whatever got them for only HA/LF price so...FAIL.
On a long journey
As the sun travels with us,
trees, watching us pass
I'm pretty sure we all enjoyed what happened during the retreat. Our speaker was soo hilarious, especially with his abuse (jk) of the word "hello". A lot of interesting things happened in the conference room which was was called SM2 if my memory serves me right. We had done a lot of stuff that made us cry but also brought us closer together as friends. We got to know each other better and our broken relationships were mended. I thank God for such a great experience. My favourite part was the "Palanca" letter reading time. This was the time for us to read encouragement letters from our loved ones. The letter from my mom made me cry soo hard and I am glad to have such a wonderful mom. While my mom's letter made me cry, the one from my dad had strengthened me. I would like to thank God once more for them.
Away from my home
Opening my mom's letter
tears on my desk
Though we were about to leave Angels' Hills, there was still one thing I haven't done. I still haven't read the letter from someone very special to me (due to the fact that there were certian situations which kept on delaying it, perchance God wants me to read it later). I decided to read it on the bus. As I opened the letter, I was surprised to see it so decorated with a lot of really cute designs. It contained a lot of touching things which had really touched me inside. The letter was heartwarming and comfourting. I would like to thank my very special friend for it. She really made my retreat and my life worthwhile. Thank you very much!
Headed towards home
As I opened her letter,
my heart has been touched
Of course, there were still a lot of stuff that went on within the bus. That includes people (including me) being forced to sing or else be left on the road (jk) and the calling of "jejemon" at random people on the road. A lot more phenomena had occured within the wagon of eternal laughter but they are too......many to list here. Of course, we got home....safe, so...yeah....my blog ends.
It's my sixth day in Kyoto and destinations were Lake Biwa and Ishiyamadera. We left off pretty late this time at 2:00 PM. The rest of the day, I stayed in my room surfing the net. I thought to myself maybe it's a nighttime tour. Miyako advised me to sleep during travel, because it will be a long drive to Lake Biwa. I did.
Ofcourse, when arriving at a body of water, you just have to ride a boat in it for fun, which is exactly what we did. Watching the sunset from a water vehicle can't get any better. It just makes you feel all "Jack Sparrow" and shit. After that long epic moment at Lake Biwa, we headed for Ishiyamadera where we saw some epic momiji . I'll tell you, they ARE epic.
On a sailing ship,
the sunset at Lake Biwa,
-that pirate feeling
After such a day, we obviously headed back to our hotel.
It's my fifth day in Kyoto and destinations were Sennyu-ji, Imakumano-Kannon-ji, Chishaku-in, and Kyoto Museum. We left off at 7:30 AM.
When we arrived at Sennyu-ji, I was once again amazed by the momiji of its garden. Imakumano-Kannon-ji is just beside Sennyu-ji so we just walked our way to it. To my surpirse, there was this tree that had the deepest red leaves. I went under it and stared into the sky. O_O was my expression for its beauty. I was driven back to my childhood and for some reason, I can hear a shamisen playing in my head.
Under the red tree
Under the clear, cloudless sky
-sound of shamisen
After such a religious experience, we went to Chishaku-in where I saw a kamon (don't know which family). Chishaku-in has a pretty cool interior and exterior. Even so, I still want to see this place in the night. Next, we went to the Kyoto Museum, which is just a walking distance from Chishaku-in. Believe it or not, it's like I walked from Japan to the Europe. Everything just changed, even the trees. It was cool to be able to learn about the history of Kyoto. I'm glad the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo because I just don't want t see it get so urbanized. It's so much cooler this way.
After such a day, we went back to the New Miyako Hotel, as always.
We left of pretty early today at 3:00 am from the New Miyako Hotel and destinations were Nijo Castle, Enryaku-ji, and Takao. When we were heading for Nijo Castle, Miyako explained to me why we left off at 3 am. It is because the momiji, or autumn foliage, are best viewed when it is dark and not much people are around. I asked her if we are allowed to enter at this time. She said that we have a special pass, which made me realise why this tour is so expensive.
When we arrived at Nijo Castle, we saw the large moat that surrounded it. As we entered the main gate, I felt really excited when I saw the crimson trees. We entered the Ninomaru Palace through the karamon. I felt so amazed by the crimson foliage in it's garden. I thought the Ninomaru Palace was already the main castle, but Miyako showed me the way to the actual main castle. This place is not like how I pictured it before for it was way huge. I felt like going samurai again because of the falling leaves and all the wonderful shit that's in here. We stayed there until sunrise but I was never bored. The next stop was Enryaku-ji. It lies on high ground on Mt. Hiei. The autumn air was really fresh and I just felt like going Shugendo. The trees looked like they were bleeding and the mist just makes it all look unbelievable. We were really hungry so we ate at this place beside the temple. I wasn't able to understand what the name said but I was able to read "soba" in the name. I guess that explains why we were served soba. After Enryaku-ji, we headed towards Takao, which is a thinly populated, mountainous region of Kyoto that lies to the north of the Arashiyama district. Takao offers visitors scenic natural landscapes, and is known throughout Japan as a site for viewing the autumn leaves. In my opinion, this is the best place to shoot the Japanese version of Twilight. We started in Kouzan-ji, where you can see Japan's first tea plantation and FIRST MANGA. Walking around Kouzan-ji, I enjoyed the wonderful colours of the trees. We then bought some ice cream and headed for Saimyo-ji. When we got there, I just felt like flipping out and killing people (in a good way). I was mad-driven by the trees. Autumn is just my favourite season. This place is just like Tagaytay with autumn trees.
All along this road,
the first leaf has fallen since
the Bloom of Crimson
After such a great time momiji viewing, we headed back to the New Miyako Hotel.
Third day in Kyoto and destinations were Ryoan-ji, Ninna-ji, Uzumasa Studio and Kaikono Yashiro shrine. Ryoan-ji and Ninna-ji are Zen Buddhist temples, Uzumasa Studio is famous for making samurai movies, and Kaikono Yashiro is a Shinto shrine. We left off from the New Miyako Hotel at 7:45 am and headed for Ryoan-ji, which I have read a little bit about on the net.
Whilst heading towards Ryoan-ji, I can't help but to notice that the places we were passing were quite familiar. Then, it struck me. We were in Myoshin-ji again. Miyako told me that we had to pass here to reach Ryoan-ji and I laughed at the thought of it. When we reached Ryoan-ji, I was dazzled by the morning mist on the autumn trees in the entrance gate. It's a perfect place to shoot romantic dramae. We stayed there for about 3 hours because it was HUGE. We then ate at 竹林の里店 where we were served katsudon or fried pork chops. We then headed for Ninna-ji which was only a long walking distance from Ryoan-ji. It was a pleasure spending noontime here for the trees and pagodas shaded us from heat. I sat under the autumn tree by the five-storey pagoda where I reminisced my last summer days. After Ninna-ji, we went to Uzumasa studio. We saw where they shoot movies about traditional Japanese life such as samurai and ninja movies. The machiya and lanterns were awesome and so are the ninja actors and the moving tree. In Kaikono Yashiro, we passed under a torii and saw a kamidana and some other Shinto figures.
Third day in Kyoto,
walking in between the four
sides of Earth and Sky
After sightseeing, Miyako told me that now is my free time. I don't like shopping much so I just went with them back to the New Miyako Hotel where I took pictures of myself for the rest of the day.
Today, I left off from the New Miyako Hotel at 8:30 am. Miyako told me that we will be visiting Kyomizu-dera, Myoshin-ji, and Shisendo. I was really excited for I can relate to these places, especially Myoshin-ji for some secret reasons. Whilst I was in the car, I listened to my iPod and fantasized about many things like I did in South Korea last year.
Scent of the morning
of the Ancient Capital
What awaits me soon?
When we arrived at Kyomizu-dera, there were a lot of people at the temple's road. I was delighted to see a monk whom I had a photo with just like the monk in Seoul, South Korea. Miyako then took me to the entrance where I saw the pagoda. I thought to myself, "Holy sh*t this place is insanely amazing." We also saw some Maiko (apprentice Geisha) and they were purty. As we drew close to the core, I can't help but to realise that this temple is what always appears in Kyoto postcards. It's the pagoda that's always lit up at night and stuff. When we walked around it, I just felt like going samurai. Miyako and I then went to the Kyomizu-dera stage where we saw some pretty autumn trees. After Kyomizu-dera, we headed for Shisen-do. Whilst we were in the car, Miyako was laughing at me for music tripping to Ren Zhe by Jay Chou. When we arrived at Shisen-do, I was dazzled by the tall bamboos that was laying before me at the entrance. I thought to myself, "I wonder how this place looks like by night." The entrance has many steps with bamboos lined at both sides. We saw the interior of Shisen-do and I asked Miyako if this is one of those Zen gardens that I see on the net. She said the garden was only part of the temple. Amidst the autumn trees, we saw this sozu, or deer scarer which had a cute black lizard in it (shouldn't it be scared away by the sozu?). When we finished seeing Shisen-do, we ate at a place called 豆花 (mamebana is how I read it). The food was pretty good, especially the tofu. After eating, we headed for Myoshin-ji, which unlike Kyomizu-dera, only had a few people in it that day. We enjoyed it's great zen gardens and pretty cherry blossoms. I was so surprised to see how big Myoshin-ji is. It covers so much land that I was never disappointed with what I saw.
Spring trees, summer suns,
autumn leaves and winter snow
walk upon Kyoto
After a long day visiting temples, we headed back to New Miyako Hotel where I spent the rest of my day lazying around my bed. It sure was nice to see more of Kyoto and then just kick back after a tiring but exciting day.
Today was my first day in my virtual vacation in Kyoto. I stayed at the New Miyako Hotel where I will be staying for seven days. I left off today at 8 AM via shuttle bus. The tour guide's name was Miyako (coincidence) and the driver's was Fumio. Miyako told me that we will be seeing Tofuku-ji, Yasaka Shrine, and Mibu-dera today. The rest of the day, she said, will be my free time.
As we were heading towards Tofuku-ji, I couldn't fall asleep because I was so excited. When we got there, Miyako took me to see the front gate of Tofuku-ji which was the Myoan-ji gate. Then she took me to the Gyoun bridge where I saw some amazingly colourful autumn trees. She then brought me to some steps where I saw more autumn trees. Finally, we saw Tofuku-ji itself and we were the only ones allowed to enter cuz we were so cool. After Tofuku-ji, we headed for Yasaka Shrine. When we arrived, Miyako and I went under a torii, or spirtual gate. It was a great feeling to pass under one. We enjoyed the colourful autumn trees and the beautiful sights of Yasaka Shrine. Then we headed to Mibu-dera where we saw some beautiful machiya, or traditional Japanese houses. The interior of Mibu-dera is very beautiful and has a warm atmosphere. There, we watched the sunset from the Mibu-dera gate.
After all that, we returned to New Miyako Hotel where we ate our dinner. We returned to our rooms after eating and taking pictures of the hotel at night. I immediately opened my laptop to make a blog about this and then went to bed after.
First day in Kyoto-
Tomorrow, I shall see more
of its great beauty