Exhilarating.

was the first word that came to mind as my eyes revelled at the sight of luscious greens and reds and the orange tinge that covered the trees, so randomly arranged that it reminded me of the color-by-number books I used to have as a child. It was the breathtaking beauty of autumn in all its crowning glory.

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The road to Osaka Castle

I will never tire of using the word beautiful to describe every place I went to in Japan. There’s just no sense of redundancy when we’re talking about its profusion of flora and fauna, the uniformly paved roads, fresh whiz of breeze, and the perfect manifestation of mother nature meets technological progress.

Even here at the Osaka Castle, where its walls were silent witnesses to the ravages of war, one can see the ancient façade that houses the automated tour guides serving as the mouth, articulating what its walls had seen.

Too bad the spirit of autumn couldn’t show me the pretty pink sea of cherry blossom leaves, gently falling on the fresh spring grass.

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Simply Oriental: an exquisite dining experience

I sat there thinking how the luxury of the moment relied not solely on the food, but the ambience of the surroundings, like the very air I breathe was filled with the vividness of intoxicating Japanese culture.

➤ the hand-washing area featured a traditional wood and stone fixture

➤ can you see the smoke rising up from that warm towel? heavenly feels on a cold autumn day

➤ we were allowed to choose the hashi-oki (chopstick rest) we wanted,
mine being that sophisticated-looking owl

➤ the toothpick and condiments tray looked like an elegant porcelain toy set fit for a dainty little princess

➤ and ah, the food in its superb Japanese flair.

完璧 kanpeki!

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The kami for luck in business ventures

We strolled further into walkways and the stone paths between the ponds and our next adventure as the gods looked upon us, with those eyes that have looked onwards for centuries. The torii, a gate that signifies an entrance to holy ground, led us to the god who gives luck in career and business. Otousan taught me how to pray to their kami using a ritual that involves bowing and clapping and closing your eyes, the exact procession of which, had regretfully slipped the reserves of my mind.

I wish there was a place like this I could visit as much as I wish, here in the Philippines. There was nothing but calmness and the whisper of the wind, bringing about the relaxing songs of the birds and the secrets of the trees.

P.S. These photos are unedited, (colours are as is, with the white balance set to cloudy) and were simply resized in photoshop.

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日本庭園 /nihon tei-en/ (Japanese garden)

My host family took me to really beautiful restaurant, where weddings and engagements are celebrated, where getting lost amidst its lush greenery is a form of enchantment—and where the middle-class can’t afford to dine—yes, it’s that kind of place.

➤ The tall stone edifice is one of their forms of veneration to the Shinto gods.

➤ Next to it is a place where you can wash your hands, probably before entering the adjacent chapel.

➤ Also, two weddings and an engagement party happened that day, so I took a quick snapshot ala-stalker mode of the couple having their photoshoot. I just thought they looked really lovely together *sighs in enthralment*

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Sadou: the second time around

Truly, there never really is anything quite like the first time.

No, not even close to it.

This day was unequivocally, a first-hand experience of ichigo ichie (one time, one encounter)—same ceremony, same type of clothing, the exact same kind of tea, yet an absolutely different experience altogether. I’ve always known how things are never the same way twice (Buddhism reference) but reality never fails to drown me with its overwhelming veracity. See, the second time I took part in a tea ceremony, it lacked the substantial touch of profundity and intimacy the first one had. Probably because there were more of us, and my first experience was something short of nirvana that nothing could ever, ever compare to it. Ever.

On a lighter note, I really miss eating omanju 😦

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