“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” - James Michener
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Kinkakuji Temple (The Golden Pavilion)
Kinkakuji Temple (The Golden Pavilion)
All that glitters is gold at Kinkakuji Temple in northern Kyoto. Gold leaf covers the two upper floors of Kinkakuji or the Golden Pavilion which was once the retirement villa of the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. When he died in 1408, his villa became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism as specified in his will. It is officially called Rakuon-ji which is also the name given to Yoshimitsu on his journey to the next world.
The Golden Pavilion represents three architectural styles. The first floor is in the Shinden style featuring a large room with a veranda and wooden pillars supporting the upper storeys. The second level reflects the samurai style and was used for private meetings. It's completely gilded on the outside. The top floor emulates Chinese Zenshu style of architecture with cusp windows, gilding inside and out, and houses the Amida triad and 25 Bodhisattvas. A bronze phoenix which is also covered in gold leaf crowns the rooftop. These three distinct styles blend harmoniously to create a glittering shariden that houses the relics of Buddha. Kinkakuji was rebuilt from scratch in 1955 when a crazy monk burned it to the ground in 1950. The Golden Pavilion is closed to the public as is the Abbot's House or Hojo.
Kinkakuji is beautiful to behold from across the pond which bears its reflection. The pond and surrounding gardens have been designated as a National Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty.
Abbot's House (Hojo)
A stroll around the property could be a relaxing walk in the woods were it not for the hordes of tourists and students who are everywhere. It's hard to find a spot where one can quietly enjoy the scenery except perhaps in the tea garden where I found a few empty seats behind the foliage.
Crowds notwithstanding, the walk up to the upper pond is pleasurable with much to catch the eye. I especially liked the little fishing deck on the side of the Golden Pavilion. Before leaving the temple grounds, visitors toss coins at these statues for good luck.
Buses 101 and 205 stop at Kinkakuji from Kyoto Station. It costs ¥220 for the 40 minute ride. There is an entrance fee. It's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Twenty minutes south of Limerick City on the River Maigue is Ireland's prettiest village, Adare. It's a small town, pleasantly quiet even in mid July, at the height of the tourist season. There was a celebrity classic golf tournament going on at the exclusive Adare Manor Golf Course during my visit. But thankfully, this did not bring in the crowds.
Augustinian Priory It's an easy stroll from the Augustinian Priory to Bill Chawke's Lounge Bar on the opposite end of town. Centuries old thatched roof cottages, medieval monasteries, vine covered townhouses, the Adare Town Park and the quintessential Irish pubs line Main Street. There's no need to rush. All these places invite visitors to linger and savor the moment.
At Bill Chawke's the kegs are full and ready to be served. But before saying your first "sláinte!" (to your health), consider walking the extra mile or so to the ruins of Desmond Castle, north of Adare Manor. It dates bac…
At Greenhills indoor flea market, you will find santos (religious statues), costume jewelry, authentic South Seas pearls, clothes, shoes, knock off branded handbags, Oriental furnishings, Christmas decorations, paintings, souvenirs and linens. There are stalls upon stalls of goods and you walk down narrow aisles teeming with shoppers who are at this moment doing their Christmas shopping.
I was particulary interested in new costume jewelry trends and there are a variety of stones and glass beads on display. The latest is a headband made of shiny glass beads, a unique party accessory. I was pleased to find wood carvings and paintings at much more reasonable prices than elsewhere in the city, except in Divisoria which I have yet to check out.
Weekends and holidays are the worst times to come though you can shop their night market during the holidays. Crowds notwithstanding, I plan to spend more time shopping for home furnishings at Greenhills after the holidays.
Lagoon 1 (open to the public) There are four inviting lagoons in Ko Olina, on the western shores of Oahu, about 30 minutes from Honolulu International Airport. If you prefer to be far away from the madding crowd, the Ko Olina resorts are an option. Each resort has its own private lagoon, which, even on the weekends is uncrowded. While first time visitors flock to Waikiki and locals congregate at Ala Moana Beach, Ko Olina remains off the radar screen except to those who belong to the Marriott Vacation Club. The Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort and Spa and the Ko Olina Beach Club are open to non members. Lagoon 3
As of this writing, there is construction going on for more units which will surely impact the peace and quiet of this area. For now it is a great place for lazy days on the water, for energizing walks through all four lagoons, for rejuvenating mind and body, for watching the sunset, and for being grateful for yet another beautiful day in paradise. Secret Lagoon Among other att…