2012 New Year's Trip to Koya-san/Mount Koya (高野山)

On January 1, 2012, during my winter trip to Kansai, I went to Koya-san/Mount Koya (高野山). One of the reasons I choose to go to Koya-san on New Years is because nothing is open on New Years Day in Japan and going to a commerce-free mountainous temple town seemed to be a good idea and it would be interesting to soak up the atmosphere of a temple town.

Koya-san is the centre of Shingon Buddhism which was introduced in 805 by the monk Kukai (空海) (Kobo Daishi, 弘法大師) and Koya-san was first settled in 819. Koya-san is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name of the "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range".

The main gate of Koya-san, the traditional entrance to Koya-san before the advent of modern transportation means.


Kobe: New Towns, Arima Onsen (有馬温泉) and Mt. Rokko (六甲山)

On December 31, 2011, I visited Kobe, Japan (神戸) again as part of a trip to the Kansai (関西) area because luckily I had a Japanese classmate who was going back to his hometown in the Kansai area for the New Years Holidays and I could share a ride in his car for the 4 hour journey from the campus of Hiroshima University to the Kobe suburban town of Kakogawa (加古川).

I actually arrived in Kobe the previous day at around mid-afternoon and I stayed at a hotel north of the main Sannomiya (三宮) railway station called the Hotel Area One. In all my travels around Japan, it was one of the worst stays I ever had in a hotel. The hotel was located right behind a shrine and in preparation for the new year, the shrine was open for some sort of festival the entire night and because buildings in Japan generally have poor noise insulation, from the room, the noise was so loud that I could hardly sleep!

Generally in my opinion, there are not a good range of easily accessible hotels in Kobe, it is often better to stay in a hotel in Osaka and just take the 30 minute train ride to Kobe as there is a large selection of affordable and cheap hotels in Osaka.

One of the reasons for visiting Kobe (again) was to see the areas of Kobe that I had never seen before this was mainly the Kobe new town suburbs, Arima Onsen (有馬温泉) and Mt. Rokko (六甲山).

One of the interesting things I saw by chance in Kobe, the Gigantor (鉄人28号, Tetsujin 28-gō) statue.


The Many Visits to Miyajima

Miyajima is famous for being one of Japan's three best views and is also the home of the iconic floating torii that is usually featured in the travel books and pamphlets on Japan.

I have now been to Miyajima too many times. Four times in fact, first in 2004 on my first visit to Japan, and then two times in 2010, one time for a school field trip and one time when I went with a visiting friend, and then one time in 2011 for a travel survey. That's quite a lot of times going to a place whose sole tourist attraction is basically the floating torii and shrine!

In this post, I will show pictures taken during my 2010 and 2011 visits.

The famous floating torii.