Monday, November 25, 2013

Autumn Illumination at the Iwayado Park - Seto

Last week, while watching the evening news on NHK I came across a coverage of the autumn foliage illumination in and around Nagoya. The visuals of the illumination at Iwayado Park in Seto city were breathtaking and I made up my mind -this was a spot that we had to visit over the weekend. On Friday evening, our family along with our family friends decided to visit the Iwayado park.

Iwayado park is a scenic spot located in the Aichi Kogen Quasi National Park. The natural scenery can be enjoyed in all four seasons but the best times to visit are in spring for cherry blossoms and Autumn for the foliage.What makes this place more beautiful in the autumn is the reflection of the fall colours in the still waters of the Torihara river.

The news coverage specially mentioned that the park maintenance team does a great task of cleaning of the water for any fallen leaves so that visitors are not disappointed with fallen leaves spoiling the reflection. 

The park is illuminated in the evening between 5:30 and 9:00 pm and this attracts visitors from the surrounding areas. 
Iwayado is short for Iwayayama Yakushido and is a part of the inner sanctuary of the Jogenji Temple.
It is said that in 725 AD, three Buddhist statues were carved inside a cave to pray for Emperor Shomu's recovery from illness and the temple was established later to offer gratitude upon his recovery. 

The Gyomyo-ga-taki waterfall flows just behind the Iwayado temple. 
The path leading to the Iwayado temple and the Gyomyo-ga-taki are also illuminated. 
The park has many walkways, unusual rock formations, caves and waterfalls and is a good place to spend a day. The park also has a day barbecue area. We are definitely going back there in spring ! 

Address : IwayachoSetoAichi Prefecture 480-1215Japan

Entrance fee: Free 

Parking: Free parking available for 100 units. 

Autumn Foliage: Best time to visit is mid to end November. 

Autumn illumination : 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm 
( in 2013 the autumn illumination was done till 24th November). 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Autumn in Kyoto - Kiyomizudera

Kyoto. The one unique city in Japan where modern life and traditional Japan exist together.Kyoto is beautiful in any season, be it the hot and humid summer or the cold and snowy winter. But the best seasons to experience and enjoy Kyoto is no doubt Autumn. The golden yellow ginko lined streets and the red and orange maple leaves, make it a sight that cannot be told, it needs to be experienced. Autumn is also the season when Kyoto is most crowded and finding accommodation is tough unless you have planned well in advance. Luckily for us, based in Nagoya, Kyoto is just a 2 hour drive - perfect for a day trip ! 

Last weekend, we visited Kyoto to view the autumn foliage. Our first stop was Arashiyama. The leaves had just begun to change colour and it was still too early to view the autumn colours. We then went to Ginkakuji temple- the Silver Pavilion. It has a beautiful garden and the autumn foliage was beautiful. More about that in my next post. 
Our final destination for that day was a visit to Kiyomizudera. 

Kiyomizudera is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto and is one of the most visited temples in Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto- UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts tourists from all over the world.This was our third visit to the temple, but this visit was special.  
Kiyomizudera temple has special illumination events in Spring and Autumn and special evening opening hours during Autumn, Spring and Summer. The roads leading up to the temple were crowded with tourists and locals waiting to see the temple light up. The temple closes around 4:30 and then opens up for the night illumination at around 6:30. The sight of people patiently waiting outside in a queue to enter the temple once it reopens is another testimony of invincible Japanese patience ! 

Most buildings of the temple complex are lit up and a blue laser beam lights up the sky. The blue laser beam signifies the Compassion of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.

The walking path down the hill is also lit up. 

Autumn Illumination period : 15th November to 8th December 2013 
Special admission hours - 18:30 to 21:30 hrs
Evening entrance fees: Adults 400 yen, 
                                  Children (elementary to junior high school) 200 yen
Address : 294 Kiyomizu 1 Chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862

Phone :  075-551-1234

Note: The best way to reach Kiyomizudera is to take public transportation. Finding parking space is very difficult.