{travel} November ’16: Fushimi Inari Taisha

Hello! Time for another throwback to November ’16, to that day I went to Fushimi Inari Taisha for like the 9272836428364th time, no okay, just kidding, more like the third or fourth time, hah with a good friend of mine.

Fushimi Inari Taisha is probably one of Japan’s best-known shrines, attracting millions of visitors each year, especially around New Year’s. It is very famous for the thousands of orange and black torii (鳥居) gates that stretch along the trails leading from the bottom to the top of Mount Inari. These torii gates were actually shown in a scene in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha which many of you have probably seen.

This is the famous scene I’m talking about (where are the crazy crowds of tourists huhhh I’m sure they must have already existed during that time period) (From GnomoDesu on Youtube.com)

The shrine is partially named after the god it houses (which is kind of obvious, Simone, so why do you even have to mention that, okay I’m talking to myself, bye)Inari Okami. Inari is short for “ine ni naru” which can be roughly translated to “harvest of rice.” As such, Inari Okami could be considered the god of rice. This deity can bring many other blessings, however, not just that of good harvest. During the Heian period (which stretched from 794 to 1158 – as I already mentioned in one of my previous exchange posts if I remember correctly),

people prayed for things like good matches in marriage. […] Over the years, people also began to pray for business prosperity, prosperity of industries, safety of households, safety in traffic and improvement in the performing arts, a tradition that continues today (Source).

Wow, that was probably the most informative paragraph I’ve ever written, and half of it is a quote. But anyway, moving on: Continue reading

{food} Vegan in Japan [2]: Useful Vocabulary for Grocery Shopping and Eating Out

Bonjour! As I already mentioned in the first part of this little Vegan in Japan “series” (lol), living vegan in Japan can be pretty challenging, especially with regards to food. For some reason, there are so many different animal-derived ingredients in so many different products (that normally don’t even require animal ingredients [example: bread]) that grocery shopping and eating out can often turn into a pretty challenging endeavour … even more so if you cannot read Japanese. Therefore, I thought it might be kind of nice to put together some sort of list of all animal-derived ingredients and their names in Japanese. Hopefully, this will be of some help to any vegans living in or visiting Japan!

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Please excuse these two extremely un-vegan photos, I desperately needed one for this post and these two were the only ones I found that I ever took that are remotely related to grocery shopping, hah.

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{travel} November ’16: Rurikouin

[Wrote the majority of this post at the beginning of March and didn’t finish it until today, oh my god, worst blogger of the year award goes to me, meee, MEEEEEE. Oh and I’m still alive, by the way, more or less, life update post coming soon, or next year, who knows anymore]

I feel like not a whole lot of people know of Rurikouin in Kyoto. Which is actually a bit sad, because this temple is located in a beautiful area and so rich in history, and offers its visitors a different experience with every change in seasons. Rurikouin is only open during certain periods of the year, for so-called special exhibitions, and one such special exhibition period is in fall, during the fall leaf season.

Rurikouin temple is easily accessible from central Kyoto. All it takes is a fifteen-minute train ride on the Eizan Electric Railway from Demachiyanagi station to Yase-Hieizanguchi station, and then another short walk from Yase-Hieizanguchi station to the actual temple. An entrance ticket to the temple is quite expensive, 2000 yen for an adult. But, trust me, it’s more than worth it, and that’s coming from me, who usually never pays to enter temples because I’m not cultured enough and because I don’t have money, hah.

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{travel} November ’16: Takao

I feel like I’m never going to catch up with all of these exchange semester posts. Ahhhhh. I arrived in Germany on the fifth (Sunday), and I have been kind of busy since then. Had Monday to unpack and relax a bit before having to head to the Netherlands for university. I didn’t find an apartment in The Hague (but I also kind of didn’t look hard enough), so this semester I will be commuting from Düsseldorf to The Hague. It works out kind of well because it’s only about two and a half hours by train, and because I only have classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning I can just sleep over at friends’ Tuesday night and hence have to do that train trip only once per week. Sure, it’s a bit sad because I will literally have no social life because I won’t see my friends, like, ever, except on Tuesday during my free hours and maybe Wednesday morning … but at the same time I’m kind of excited to get to live with my family and bother and annoy them a bit. I can also work at my old summer job place again (a vegan restaurant), so yeah, got the money part covered, too. And since this semester is the last, but also the busiest because I have to do an important project and write my bachelor thesis, maybe it’s kind of good to be living with my mother who’s going to cook and do my laundry and stop me from jumping out the window (love you, mom ♥). So yeah.

Anyway, this post wasn’t technically supposed to be a life update, but another snippet or whatever from my life in Kyoto. So let’s get into that. Today I want to write a bit about Takao. Takao is a mountainous area, located in the North of Kyoto. (kind of behind Arashiyama? Kind of. Or at least not too far off. *geography queen, obviously*) There’s three famous, historic temples in that area: Kozanji Temple, Jingoji Temple, and Saimyoji Temple. Like pretty much everything in Kyoto, Takao is most beautiful (and most popular) in fall, particularly in November, when the fall foliage starts coming out. So that is why a friend and I decided to go in early November, to get the most out of it.

Takao is connected to central Kyoto by bus. There is the JR bus that leaves from Kyoto Station, and also the City Bus 8 that leaves from Shijo-Karasuma. Both busses take around 45 to 50 minutes to reach Takao.

My friend and I decided to take the city bus, but the bus was so crowded and stuffy and hot that after approximately twenty minutes I felt super sick and asked to get off early. (Pretty sure my friend hated me in that moment, oops.) And then, since busses don’t come that frequently, we decided to just walk the remaining distance to Takao instead of waiting thirty minutes for the next (probably crowded) bus. The weather was amazing and the surroundings beautiful, so it wasn’t all too bad.

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