Monday, December 29, 2008

Hieizan Enryakuji Temple

It's located in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and was first founded by a buddhist monk Saicho in 788. It's the headquarters of the Tendai Sect.
Since Saicho opened it, it played a central roll in the Buddhism activities in the Heian Period (794 to 1192) on par with Kongo-Buji Temple on Koyasan.

Enryakuji is a collective name consisting of various towers and sub-temples dotted on Mt Hiei. It has turned out a lot of famous buddhist monks such as Ennin, Shinran, Dojin etc. The temple is on the Unesco's World Heritage list.

As time passes, the derived sects (those in power) came to be polarized so that many monks got armed. The 6th general Yoshinori Ashikaga in the Muromachi Regime got a plot and convened those monks in power to kill them.
Yoshinori controlled over Enryakuji, and the monks in despair committed suicide by burning the temples. It was 1435.

After Yoshinori was killed, Enryakuji had come to get armed with several thousand monks, and it became independent. In 1571, Nobunaga Oda surrounded Enryakuji and fired the whole premises. It was completely burned down.

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Kompo Chudo (I'm not very sure, sorry...)


Bell Tower

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Photos taken at the top of Mt. Hiei:

Lake. Biwa

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I first caught the Kyoto Subway Tozai Line from Keijan-Sanjo to Hama-Otsu, then changed to the Keihan Line to Sakamoto. Then I walked to the Sakamoto Cable Car Station for 15 minutes.

Keihan Line train

Sakamoto Cable Hieizan Station

When I returned to Kyoto, I took the bus to Shijo Kawaramachi.
You might consider purchasing the Kansai Thru Pass for this journey. It will pay for itself.


Friday, December 19, 2008

The way from Narita Airport to Maihama, Tokyo Disney Resort

Not a small number of tourists head from Narita Airport to Maihama directly to their hotel, however the last Limousine Bus leaves the airport rather early in the evening, which makes many people flying into Narita late at night inconvenienced.

So I'd show alternative modes of transport to the Limousine Bus here.

(1) Limousine Bus info
This is by far the best option as long as you can catch it.

(2) Taking trains on the Keisei and JR Sobu and Keiyo Lines via Funabashi and Nishi-Funabashi

This way is twice as frequent as the one shown in #3 below, and it will work out cheaper.

(3) Catching the bus to JR Kaihin-Makuhari Station, then changing to the JR Keiyo Line to get to Maihama with only one transfar en route.

Route map
A: Narita Airport
B: Kaihin Makuhari Station
C: Maihama Station

A-1: Narita Airport (NRT) to Maihama on weekdays:

bus timetable from nrt to makuhari, chiba

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kaihin-makuhari tokyo bound timetable weekdays

A-2: Weekend Keiyo Line Tokyo bound timetable from Kaihin Makuhari (The bus timetable is valid on weekends also.):

kaihin-makuhari tokyo bound timetable weekends

How to get to the Keiyo Line platform from the Narita Express one at Tokyo Station

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B: Bus timetable from Kaihin Makuhari to NRT:

Train schedule finder from Maihama (or somewhere else) to Kaihin-Makuhari

bus timetable from makuhari to nrt


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shinkansen trip from Qingdao to Shanghai, China

Mori Tower and Grand Hyatt in Shanghai

This past October I took the bullet train from Qingdao to Shanghai, China. I had intended to take an overnight T train on that segment, yet the train on the day I wanted to travel turned out to be full so that I gave up sightseeing in Qingdao and had to leave the city much earlier. I could barely secured a first class ticket on the bullet train also. Seems the trains between Qingdao and Shanghai are quite busy at that time of year.

The path from Qingdao to Shanghai

Qingdao Station; The style in architecture is apparently influenced by German one.

I had to queue up to purchase the ticket for the following day as soon as I landed at Qingdao by sea from Inchon, Korea. The wait was approx. 30 minutes. That's China, I'd say. Too many people here and there.

Train seat or sleeper vacancy list. The letter '有' in red stands for 'vacant', that is, most trains are fully booked.

china train ticket001
Ticket I bought and used for the ride.

Qingdao Station is very modern and magnificent in structure.

Modern and old

As soon as I boarded the train, I realized the carriages are all manufactured in Japan. As I went over in Wikipedia, out of 60 CRH2 units, three were completely finished by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kobe and imported from Japan, the parts of six units are imported from Japan and assembled in China, and the rest were mabufactured in China under license.

JR East, who operates commuter trains in Tokyo, Tohoku, Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen Lines offered the technology in the Shinkansen field to the China side.
The seats, signboards, toilets are all the same as the ones in Japan.

Toilet on the Chinese bullet train

Toilet on the train run by JR Central, the operator of Tokaido Shinkansen in Japan.

Other than the toilets, the exterior window frames and the body lines are very similar to each other.

Chinese CRH2

Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Series 300 used for Hikari and Kodama

I was excited like a schoolboy to ride the Shinkansen in another country, and the first class seat was comfortable, yet that excitement ceased in a couple of hours. It changed to a pain the rest of the journey...It was a ten-hour journey.
The train can as fast as 250km/h, but most of the time it cruised at 150 to 170km/h.
It looks like the capability of the carriage is a little excessive until they upgrade the tracks to meet a higher velocity service.

First Class compartment

Second Class compartment

Finally I arrived at Shanghai Station.