A Travellerspoint blog

August 2019

Interesting historical sites near Gyeongju, Korea

Bulguska Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and designated as Historic and Scenic Site Number 1 by the South Korean government; the temple is considered a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art during the Silla kingdom

Bulguska Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and designated as Historic and Scenic Site Number 1 by the South Korean government; the temple is considered a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art during the Silla kingdom

The seated gilt-bronze Vairocana Buddha of Enlightenment at Bulguska is 1.77 m in height and made from gilt-bronze; the temple is possibly the oldest in Korea

The seated gilt-bronze Vairocana Buddha of Enlightenment at Bulguska is 1.77 m in height and made from gilt-bronze; the temple is possibly the oldest in Korea

The three-story No Shadow Pagoda which stands at 8.2 meters is a traditional Korean-style stone pagoda with simple lines and minimal detailing; it is more than 13 centuries old

The three-story No Shadow Pagoda which stands at 8.2 meters is a traditional Korean-style stone pagoda with simple lines and minimal detailing; it is more than 13 centuries old

Bulguksa is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and encompasses seven national treasures of South Korea, including the Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, Blue Cloud Bridge, and two gilt-bronze statues of Buddha

Bulguksa is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and encompasses seven national treasures of South Korea, including the Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, Blue Cloud Bridge, and two gilt-bronze statues of Buddha

At the peak of Bulguksa's glory, 80 wooden buildings graced the site, ten times more than today; during the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945, some restoration work was done but some of  the temple's treasures disappeared during this time

At the peak of Bulguksa's glory, 80 wooden buildings graced the site, ten times more than today; during the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945, some restoration work was done but some of the temple's treasures disappeared during this time

Bulguska Temple lies to the east of Gyeongju and only 4 kms west of Seokguram Grotto; the temple is one of the most visited in Korea but wasn't crowded when we were there

Bulguska Temple lies to the east of Gyeongju and only 4 kms west of Seokguram Grotto; the temple is one of the most visited in Korea but wasn't crowded when we were there

The Hall of No Words, the largest and possibly oldest (670) building on the site, gets its name from the belief that Buddha's teachings can't be taught by mere words alone

The Hall of No Words, the largest and possibly oldest (670) building on the site, gets its name from the belief that Buddha's teachings can't be taught by mere words alone

Among the earliest woodblock prints in the world, a version of the Dharani sutra dated between 704 and 751 was found at Bulguksa temple in 1966

Among the earliest woodblock prints in the world, a version of the Dharani sutra dated between 704 and 751 was found at Bulguksa temple in 1966

The entrance to Bulguska is by the Blue Cloud Bridge or White Cloud Bridge, both national treasures; 17 steps lead the pilgrim through Peace Enhancing Gate and into the temple

The entrance to Bulguska is by the Blue Cloud Bridge or White Cloud Bridge, both national treasures; 17 steps lead the pilgrim through Peace Enhancing Gate and into the temple

During the late 1500's all of the buildings here were burned during a war but all were reconstructed by 1604; the first temples built on this site were erected in 528

During the late 1500's all of the buildings here were burned during a war but all were reconstructed by 1604; the first temples built on this site were erected in 528

Seokguram is an artificial grotto made from granite and is unique in design; the small size of the grotto indicates that it was probably used exclusively by the Silla royalty

Seokguram is an artificial grotto made from granite and is unique in design; the small size of the grotto indicates that it was probably used exclusively by the Silla royalty

The highlight of the Seokguram Grotto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is this statue that many consider the finest Buddhist art in the country; the 3.5 m tall Buddha was completed in 774

The highlight of the Seokguram Grotto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is this statue that many consider the finest Buddhist art in the country; the 3.5 m tall Buddha was completed in 774

Yangdong is Korea's oldest traditional clan village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it dates from the 1400s when it was home to the aristocracy that ruled during the Josean dynasty

Yangdong is Korea's oldest traditional clan village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it dates from the 1400s when it was home to the aristocracy that ruled during the Josean dynasty

Gwangajeong is the name of this house (it's square-shaped so this is only one side) built around 1500 for a great Confucian scholar; Yangdong lies 16 km NE of Gyeongju

Gwangajeong is the name of this house (it's square-shaped so this is only one side) built around 1500 for a great Confucian scholar; Yangdong lies 16 km NE of Gyeongju

Family shrine at the oldest house in the village, dating from the 15th century; the houses were all very large since all generations of a family lived together on the same property

Family shrine at the oldest house in the village, dating from the 15th century; the houses were all very large since all generations of a family lived together on the same property

This juniper tree at Yangdong is said to have been planted in 1459 when the village was first settled; the tree is only 7 m high but its branches spread 12 m in diameter

This juniper tree at Yangdong is said to have been planted in 1459 when the village was first settled; the tree is only 7 m high but its branches spread 12 m in diameter

Yangdong village has over 160 tile-roofed and thatched-roof homes built on forested, steep hillsides; 54 historic homes more than 200 years old (the one shown is from 1540) have been preserved

Yangdong village has over 160 tile-roofed and thatched-roof homes built on forested, steep hillsides; 54 historic homes more than 200 years old (the one shown is from 1540) have been preserved

The lotus flower symbolizes creation, livability and reproduction and is one of the most  important symbols in Korean culture; an object with a depiction of a lotus flower along with two mandarin ducks is given to young couples to wish them happiness

The lotus flower symbolizes creation, livability and reproduction and is one of the most important symbols in Korean culture; an object with a depiction of a lotus flower along with two mandarin ducks is given to young couples to wish them happiness

Posted by VagabondCowboy 03:08 Comments (0)

Second dive at fantastic Ulong Channel in Palau

Unusually large school of grey reef sharks; they sometimes congregate during the day over flat areas but are more active, and feed, at night

Unusually large school of grey reef sharks; they sometimes congregate during the day over flat areas but are more active, and feed, at night

Critically-endangered hawksbill turtle; they nest in the Rock Islands of Palau and can grow to 37 inches long and weigh 145 pounds

Critically-endangered hawksbill turtle; they nest in the Rock Islands of Palau and can grow to 37 inches long and weigh 145 pounds

Spotted parrotfish; most parrotfish species live 7-10 years; however, the largest species can live around 20 years

Spotted parrotfish; most parrotfish species live 7-10 years; however, the largest species can live around 20 years

Yellowtail parrotfish; their teeth are fused into powerful beaks which are used for grabbing filamentous algae from dead coral

Yellowtail parrotfish; their teeth are fused into powerful beaks which are used for grabbing filamentous algae from dead coral

White belly damselfish;  this common species feeds on algae, fish eggs and zooplankton

White belly damselfish; this common species feeds on algae, fish eggs and zooplankton

Huge school of big-eyed jacks; uninhabited Ulong Island, with its gorgeous beach, is where Survivor was filmed

Huge school of big-eyed jacks; uninhabited Ulong Island, with its gorgeous beach, is where Survivor was filmed

Gray reef shark; three major ocean currents meet off of Palau which is one reason for the vast range of species here

Gray reef shark; three major ocean currents meet off of Palau which is one reason for the vast range of species here

The colorful Christmas tree worms retreat into their tubes when spooked with the opening protected by sharp, antler shaped spines

The colorful Christmas tree worms retreat into their tubes when spooked with the opening protected by sharp, antler shaped spines

Another grumpy grouper; I rented a car to explore the small island but you really don't need one as most dive shops and hotels offer a free shuttle service

Another grumpy grouper; I rented a car to explore the small island but you really don't need one as most dive shops and hotels offer a free shuttle service

I thought this black crinoid on wire coral looked just like a palm tree; with the strong current it was a challenge to get a photo from the right angle

I thought this black crinoid on wire coral looked just like a palm tree; with the strong current it was a challenge to get a photo from the right angle

Masked bannerfish couple; I got very sick a couple of times during the 4 month trip but avoided hospitals and never had a bad fall

Masked bannerfish couple; I got very sick a couple of times during the 4 month trip but avoided hospitals and never had a bad fall

Granulated sea star; amazing that I never had a flight cancellation or significant delay with 20  flights during my 4 month trip (and no lost luggage either!)

Granulated sea star; amazing that I never had a flight cancellation or significant delay with 20+ flights during my 4 month trip (and no lost luggage either!)

Ornate butterflyfish; this species feeds by scraping coral and dislodging polyps with each pass of their mouth that they then eat

Ornate butterflyfish; this species feeds by scraping coral and dislodging polyps with each pass of their mouth that they then eat

Amazingly, I saw this same shark 3 days later; he/she is easy to pick out since his/her dorsal fin is gone

Amazingly, I saw this same shark 3 days later; he/she is easy to pick out since his/her dorsal fin is gone

Pyramid butterflyfish; certain hotels and dive shops cater to the Chinese visitors while other hotels and dive shops refuse to book them due to problems they've had

Pyramid butterflyfish; certain hotels and dive shops cater to the Chinese visitors while other hotels and dive shops refuse to book them due to problems they've had

The trevallies gather in big schools and swirl like an underwater tornado during the spawning process; the choreography was impressive

The trevallies gather in big schools and swirl like an underwater tornado during the spawning process; the choreography was impressive

Posted by VagabondCowboy 03:27 Comments (0)

Long overdue visit to outstanding Atlanta Botanical Garden

Phoenix is just one of 31 mosaicultures; mosaiculture first became popular in Europe in the 16th century as wealthy land owners commissioned elaborate three dimensional gardens

Phoenix is just one of 31 mosaicultures; mosaiculture first became popular in Europe in the 16th century as wealthy land owners commissioned elaborate three dimensional gardens

One of the 3 best botanical gardens I've visited (Butchart Gardens in Canada and Keukenhof in the Netherlands); gardens can vary so much by season that one visit isn't enough

One of the 3 best botanical gardens I've visited (Butchart Gardens in Canada and Keukenhof in the Netherlands); gardens can vary so much by season that one visit isn't enough

There were plenty of hummingbirds visiting the colorful plants; they don't realize hundreds of millions of dollars helped create this fantastic urban oasis in the heart of Atlanta

There were plenty of hummingbirds visiting the colorful plants; they don't realize hundreds of millions of dollars helped create this fantastic urban oasis in the heart of Atlanta

Dragon is 20 feet tall and 25 feet long and contains almost 25,000 individual plants; the garden hosts a packed calendar of events including concerts, festivals and lots of food and drink

Dragon is 20 feet tall and 25 feet long and contains almost 25,000 individual plants; the garden hosts a packed calendar of events including concerts, festivals and lots of food and drink

Camel; the garden has begun the curation and DNA barcoding of its 2000  orchid species; the Atlanta Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays

Camel; the garden has begun the curation and DNA barcoding of its 2000+ orchid species; the Atlanta Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays

27 foot tall White Rabbit; the 30 acre garden, founded in 1976, seems much larger and is adjacent to Piedmont Park in the heart of Midtown Atlanta

27 foot tall White Rabbit; the 30 acre garden, founded in 1976, seems much larger and is adjacent to Piedmont Park in the heart of Midtown Atlanta

I was perplexed by these flowers; it was as if one of the petals had morphed into something else entirely (maybe one of my intelligent readers can enlighten me on what this is)

I was perplexed by these flowers; it was as if one of the petals had morphed into something else entirely (maybe one of my intelligent readers can enlighten me on what this is)

Alice and the Cheshire Cat; the garden is a popular place for weddings and seems to have been designed with Instagram in mind

Alice and the Cheshire Cat; the garden is a popular place for weddings and seems to have been designed with Instagram in mind

The garden and its partners have installed seven pollinator gardens across the metropolitan Atlanta area, providing pockets of beauty and ecological resources for pollinators

The garden and its partners have installed seven pollinator gardens across the metropolitan Atlanta area, providing pockets of beauty and ecological resources for pollinators

Shaggy Dog was one of my favorite mosaicultures; having visited in 1986 it is amazing to see how the gardens have been transformed into such a world-class facility

Shaggy Dog was one of my favorite mosaicultures; having visited in 1986 it is amazing to see how the gardens have been transformed into such a world-class facility

You reach the Water Mirror in Storza Woods via the canopy walk; Storza Woods is one of the few remaining secondary growth mature hardwood forests in Atlanta

You reach the Water Mirror in Storza Woods via the canopy walk; Storza Woods is one of the few remaining secondary growth mature hardwood forests in Atlanta

The current exhibition of mosaicultures ends October 27 but several pieces are now permanent like the one behind me; admission is $21.95 plus they charge for parking

The current exhibition of mosaicultures ends October 27 but several pieces are now permanent like the one behind me; admission is $21.95 plus they charge for parking

The Fuqua Orchid Center is home to the largest collection of species orchids on permanent display in the U.S. and hosts a wintertime display known as Orchid Daze

The Fuqua Orchid Center is home to the largest collection of species orchids on permanent display in the U.S. and hosts a wintertime display known as Orchid Daze

Chessboard; Atlanta has a wealth of great tourist sights including the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, Carter Center, MLK National Historic Site, Stone Mountain, the Beltline and more

Chessboard; Atlanta has a wealth of great tourist sights including the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, Carter Center, MLK National Historic Site, Stone Mountain, the Beltline and more

The garden doubled in size in 2010 and encompassed the construction of a number of new facilities, the most noticeable of which are the new visitor center and 600-foot-long (180 m) canopy walk

The garden doubled in size in 2010 and encompassed the construction of a number of new facilities, the most noticeable of which are the new visitor center and 600-foot-long (180 m) canopy walk

Water Lily; despite dozens of visits through the years to Atlanta , this was my first visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and I definitely should not have waited so long

Water Lily; despite dozens of visits through the years to Atlanta , this was my first visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and I definitely should not have waited so long

Mermaid; the Garden's Conservation CryoBank is a cryostorage facility for long-term germplasm storage of seeds and tissues of endangered plants, including Torreya taxifolia

Mermaid; the Garden's Conservation CryoBank is a cryostorage facility for long-term germplasm storage of seeds and tissues of endangered plants, including Torreya taxifolia

In 2011, the garden hosted its first Garden Lights, Holiday Nights show in which millions of lights decorate the grounds; it's been a huge success with the show now including music and choreography

In 2011, the garden hosted its first Garden Lights, Holiday Nights show in which millions of lights decorate the grounds; it's been a huge success with the show now including music and choreography

Pegasus; in 2011, the garden partnered with the Florida State Parks District in a large-scale restoration initiative at 3 of the 7 globally imperiled coastal dune lakes in the Panhandle

Pegasus; in 2011, the garden partnered with the Florida State Parks District in a large-scale restoration initiative at 3 of the 7 globally imperiled coastal dune lakes in the Panhandle

The gardens has secured federal grants to conduct much of its conservation research on endangered species, such as the Apalachicola rosemary in Liberty County, FL

The gardens has secured federal grants to conduct much of its conservation research on endangered species, such as the Apalachicola rosemary in Liberty County, FL

In addition to restoring lost orchids in the Caribbean and helping preserve a rainforest in Ecuador, the garden has also established thge International Plant Exploration Program, which aims to evaluate, preserve and disseminate seeds from plants in SE Asia

In addition to restoring lost orchids in the Caribbean and helping preserve a rainforest in Ecuador, the garden has also established thge International Plant Exploration Program, which aims to evaluate, preserve and disseminate seeds from plants in SE Asia

In addition to the whimsical mosaicultures, kids also loved the specially designed Children's garden; there were lots of kids visiting but the steep admission would keep many Atlanta families away

In addition to the whimsical mosaicultures, kids also loved the specially designed Children's garden; there were lots of kids visiting but the steep admission would keep many Atlanta families away

The garden hosts photography, art, cooking and gardening classes in addition to offering myriad volunteering opportunities

The garden hosts photography, art, cooking and gardening classes in addition to offering myriad volunteering opportunities

Mammoth; a 100,000-gallon cistern was installed underground to aid in water conservation; it fills with only an inch and a quarter of rain and waters about 40% o the new gardens

Mammoth; a 100,000-gallon cistern was installed underground to aid in water conservation; it fills with only an inch and a quarter of rain and waters about 40% of the new gardens

The Water Mirror; Chihuly in the Garden was first presented in 2004 and then again in 2016 with some pieces being retained for the permanent collection

The Water Mirror; Chihuly in the Garden was first presented in 2004 and then again in 2016 with some pieces being retained for the permanent collection

Earth Goddess; other great botanical gardens in the US are in Brooklyn, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas and Washington DC

Earth Goddess; other great botanical gardens in the US are in Brooklyn, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas and Washington DC

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:28 Comments (0)

Kyoto, Japan shines with endless interesting sights (pt 1)

The orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine are one of the most photographed places in Japan; the key industry of Kyoto is IT and electronics: the city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo, Kyocera and Rohm

The orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine are one of the most photographed places in Japan; the key industry of Kyoto is IT and electronics: the city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo, Kyocera and Rohm

The Arashiyama Monkey Park was the perfect destination for those of us with temple burnout; it's also at the top of a very steep hill so a good workout was involved in getting there

The Arashiyama Monkey Park was the perfect destination for those of us with temple burnout; it's also at the top of a very steep hill so a good workout was involved in getting there

Kyoto Tower is the tallest structure in the city with its observation deck at 100 m (328 ft) and its spire at 131 m (430 ft); Kimiko Date, a tennis player who reached number 4 in WTA rankings in the 1990s, was born here

Kyoto Tower is the tallest structure in the city with its observation deck at 100 m (328 ft) and its spire at 131 m (430 ft); Kimiko Date, a tennis player who reached number 4 in WTA rankings in the 1990s, was born here

In 1950, a novice monk burned down the Golden Pavilion which was subsequently rebuilt; this temple is one of the most popular sights in Japan and is rated the number one thing to do in Kyoto

In 1950, a novice monk burned down the Golden Pavilion which was subsequently rebuilt; this temple is one of the most popular sights in Japan and is rated the number one thing to do in Kyoto

Tofukuji Temple was destroyed in 1319, 1334, and 1336, and burned again in the 15th century; the temple is best known for its massive gate - at 22 meters it is the largest in any Japanese Zen temple

Tofukuji Temple was destroyed in 1319, 1334, and 1336, and burned again in the 15th century; the temple is best known for its massive gate - at 22 meters it is the largest in any Japanese Zen temple

Tofukuji Temple has one of the largest rock gardens in Kyoto and the checkerboard pattern left visitors wondering how it had been made; in 1997, Kyoto hosted the conference that resulted in the protocol on greenhouse gas emissions

Tofukuji Temple has one of the largest rock gardens in Kyoto and the checkerboard pattern left visitors wondering how it had been made; in 1997, Kyoto hosted the conference that resulted in the protocol on greenhouse gas emissions

The main shrine at Fushimi Inari-taisha Temple was built in 1499; the shrine draws several million worshipers over the Japanese New Year(2.69 million for 3 days in 2006 reported by the police, the most in western Japan)

The main shrine at Fushimi Inari-taisha Temple was built in 1499; the shrine draws several million worshipers over the Japanese New Year(2.69 million for 3 days in 2006 reported by the police, the most in western Japan)

The Five-Storied Pagoda at Toji Temple is the highest in Japan at 187 feet; the current pagoda was built in 1644 at this UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Five-Storied Pagoda at Toji Temple is the highest in Japan at 187 feet; the current pagoda was built in 1644 at this UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sanjusangendo Temple was founded in 1164 and rebuilt a century later after the original structure had been destroyed in a fire; 124 of the 1000  statues in the temple are original while the others are from the 13th century

Sanjusangendo Temple was founded in 1164 and rebuilt a century later after the original structure had been destroyed in a fire; 124 of the 1000+ statues in the temple are original while the others are from the 13th century

These painted panels at the Ryoanji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are being displayed for the first time in 115 years; the panels would fold to allow for flexible room configurations

These painted panels at the Ryoanji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are being displayed for the first time in 115 years; the panels would fold to allow for flexible room configurations

Ryoanji Temple; with its 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact – Kyoto is one of the best preserved cities in Japan

Ryoanji Temple; with its 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact – Kyoto is one of the best preserved cities in Japan

The Insho-Domoto Museum of Fine Arts was one of the few architecturally adventurous buildings in Kyoto; Japan's television and film industry has its center in Kyoto

The Insho-Domoto Museum of Fine Arts was one of the few architecturally adventurous buildings in Kyoto; Japan's television and film industry has its center in Kyoto

The furnishings in the Shinto shrines, like this chandelier at Nishi Kongwanji Shrine, were tasteful but not often labeled; cities in Japan are surprisingly quiet since there is no honking, people are soft spoken and loud noises are frowned upon

The furnishings in the Shinto shrines, like this chandelier at Nishi Kongwanji Shrine, were tasteful but not often labeled; cities in Japan are surprisingly quiet since there is no honking, people are soft spoken and loud noises are frowned upon

The Ministry of Environment included the Sagano Bamboo Forest on its list of 100 Soundscapes of Japan -- a selection of everyday noises intended to encourage locals to stop and enjoy nature's music

The Ministry of Environment included the Sagano Bamboo Forest on its list of 100 Soundscapes of Japan -- a selection of everyday noises intended to encourage locals to stop and enjoy nature's music

There were 140  snow (Japanese) monkeys living in Arashiyama Monkey Park; babies are born from April to July with maturity taking 10 years and with life expectancy 30 years

There were 140+ snow (Japanese) monkeys living in Arashiyama Monkey Park; babies are born from April to July with maturity taking 10 years and with life expectancy 30 years

Considering the age of the Buddhist temples in Kyoto, it was impressive how well-maintained the complexes (like here at Tenryu-ji Temple) are

Considering the age of the Buddhist temples in Kyoto, it was impressive how well-maintained the complexes (like here at Tenryu-ji Temple) are

For $1 you could buy a small bag of apple or banana slices and feed the monkeys; you go into a wooden room with wire windows (like a cage) and feed the animals who are free and on the outside of the cage

For $1 you could buy a small bag of apple or banana slices and feed the monkeys; you go into a wooden room with wire windows (like a cage) and feed the animals who are free and on the outside of the cage

Anraku-ji Temple had more bling than other temples; it is famous for its annual pumpkin festival in July when visitors eat boiled pumpkin which is said to prevent paralysis

Anraku-ji Temple had more bling than other temples; it is famous for its annual pumpkin festival in July when visitors eat boiled pumpkin which is said to prevent paralysis

Honen-in Temple; this temple is on Philosopher's Path which is listed as one of the 100 most beautiful walks in Japan but I was underwhelmed since it was poorly maintained

Honen-in Temple; this temple is on Philosopher's Path which is listed as one of the 100 most beautiful walks in Japan but I was underwhelmed since it was poorly maintained

Hatto building at Nanzen-ji Temple (1628); this temple is typically considered an end to the Philosopher's Path (the walk to Ginkakuji takes about 30 minutes)

Hatto building at Nanzen-ji Temple (1628); this temple is typically considered an end to the Philosopher's Path (the walk to Ginkakuji takes about 30 minutes)

The 25 m high torii gate of Heian-jingu Shrine was the only one I've seen across a major road; the gate is in front of the excellent Kyoto Metropolitan Museum of Art

The 25 m high torii gate of Heian-jingu Shrine was the only one I've seen across a major road; the gate is in front of the excellent Kyoto Metropolitan Museum of Art

Of the dozens of temples I visited in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera was my favorite; the buildings were constructed in 1633 and the complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Of the dozens of temples I visited in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera was my favorite; the buildings were constructed in 1633 and the complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

At Kiyomizu-dera Shrine there is even a temple for a safe and easy childbirth!; this Buddhist temple, like the others, seems dependent on superstitions with faithful praying to counter them

At Kiyomizu-dera Shrine there is even a temple for a safe and easy childbirth!; this Buddhist temple, like the others, seems dependent on superstitions with faithful praying to counter them

A 19th century aqueduct passes through the grounds of Nanzenji Temple, one of the most important Zen temples in Japan; Nanzenji is also roughly at the southern end of Philosopher's Path

A 19th century aqueduct passes through the grounds of Nanzenji Temple, one of the most important Zen temples in Japan; Nanzenji is also roughly at the southern end of Philosopher's Path

Kyoto was a wonderful city with plenty to see and do (besides all the temples); with more time, I would have taken day trips to Osaka and Nara (there's even an Obama, Japan nearby!)

Kyoto was a wonderful city with plenty to see and do (besides all the temples); with more time, I would have taken day trips to Osaka and Nara (there's even an Obama, Japan nearby!)

The Kara-mon Gate stands at the entrance to the Ninomaru-Goten Palace in the Nijo-jo Castle complex; gate architecture was used to indicate status explaining the magnificent carvings seen here

The Kara-mon Gate stands at the entrance to the Ninomaru-Goten Palace in the Nijo-jo Castle complex; gate architecture was used to indicate status explaining the magnificent carvings seen here

Barrels of rice wine (sake) have spiritual significance when located near a Shinto shrine; sipping a cup of sake is still a prayerful act of symbolic unification with the gods in the Shinto religion

Barrels of rice wine (sake) have spiritual significance when located near a Shinto shrine; sipping a cup of sake is still a prayerful act of symbolic unification with the gods in the Shinto religion

At the Shimogamo Shrine I watched traditional Japanese martial arts being demonstrated; the shrine, dating to the 6th century, existed centuries before Kyoto became the capital of Japan in 794

At the Shimogamo Shrine I watched traditional Japanese martial arts being demonstrated; the shrine, dating to the 6th century, existed centuries before Kyoto became the capital of Japan in 794

The mounds of sand represent a deity here at Kamigamo Shrine; in Kyoto, temples are typically Buddhist while shrines are usually Shinto although sometimes complexes have elements of both religions

The mounds of sand represent a deity here at Kamigamo Shrine; in Kyoto, temples are typically Buddhist while shrines are usually Shinto although sometimes complexes have elements of both religions

Painted screens and bamboo mats (here at Ninnaji Temple) are ubiquitous at Japanese temples; most of the popular temples prohibited photos to keep the crowds moving

Painted screens and bamboo mats (here at Ninnaji Temple) are ubiquitous at Japanese temples; most of the popular temples prohibited photos to keep the crowds moving

Higashi Honganji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in 1591; the temple serves as headquarters of one of Japan's largest Buddhist sects

Higashi Honganji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in 1591; the temple serves as headquarters of one of Japan's largest Buddhist sects

Kyoto was removed from the atomic bomb target list (which it had headed) by the personal intervention of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, as Stimson wanted to save this cultural center, which he knew from his honeymoon and later diplomatic visits

Kyoto was removed from the atomic bomb target list (which it had headed) by the personal intervention of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, as Stimson wanted to save this cultural center, which he knew from his honeymoon and later diplomatic visits

In 1933 Inshō Dōmoto painted the large and vivid Blue Dragon ceiling painting at Tofukuji Temple in 17 days; Tofukuji is the largest and oldest temple in Kyoto

In 1933 Inshō Dōmoto painted the large and vivid Blue Dragon ceiling painting at Tofukuji Temple in 17 days; Tofukuji is the largest and oldest temple in Kyoto

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for 1000 years until it was moved to Tokyo in 1868; with 1.5 million people, it's the 9th largest city in Japan

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for 1000 years until it was moved to Tokyo in 1868; with 1.5 million people, it's the 9th largest city in Japan

Japan is pretty crowded at times, just ask the turtles!; the azaleas were in bloom at Toji Temple which is an easy walk from Kyoto Station

Japan is pretty crowded at times, just ask the turtles!; the azaleas were in bloom at Toji Temple which is an easy walk from Kyoto Station

Posted by VagabondCowboy 20:40 Comments (0)

The Remarkable Royal Palaces of Seoul

The changing of the guard ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace occurs three times a day and is an elaborate production; there are 5 royal palaces in Seoul but this is the most historically significant

The changing of the guard ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace occurs three times a day and is an elaborate production; there are 5 royal palaces in Seoul but this is the most historically significant

The photogenic throne room at Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest wooden structure in the country and very impressive; inhabitants of Seoul are faced with a high cost of living, for which the city was ranked 6th globally in 2017

The photogenic throne room at Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest wooden structure in the country and very impressive; inhabitants of Seoul are faced with a high cost of living, for which the city was ranked 6th globally in 2017

The Phoenix throne at Gyeongbokgung Palace was the site for important meetings, receptions and coronations; Seoul is an extremely expensive real estate market, ranked 5th in the world for the price of apartments in the downtown center

The Phoenix throne at Gyeongbokgung Palace was the site for important meetings, receptions and coronations; Seoul is an extremely expensive real estate market, ranked 5th in the world for the price of apartments in the downtown center

The royal palaces in Seoul generally have the same architectural design elements and have similar buildings which are sparsely furnished; there is a graceful harmony to these complexes that I appreciated

The royal palaces in Seoul generally have the same architectural design elements and have similar buildings which are sparsely furnished; there is a graceful harmony to these complexes that I appreciated

This pavilion, surrounded by a lotus pond, at Gyeongbokgung Palace was used for banquets and civil service exams; Seoul had great weather for my visit but does average 25 snow days annually

This pavilion, surrounded by a lotus pond, at Gyeongbokgung Palace was used for banquets and civil service exams; Seoul had great weather for my visit but does average 25 snow days annually

I thought this was beautiful and think it was used to burn incense in the throne room at Gyeongbokgung Palace; Seoul is home to the headquarters of 15 Fortune Global 500 companies, including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai

I thought this was beautiful and think it was used to burn incense in the throne room at Gyeongbokgung Palace; Seoul is home to the headquarters of 15 Fortune Global 500 companies, including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai

Gyeongbokgung Palace, built in 1392, is Seoul's number one tourist attraction with dozens of buildings and a couple of good museums; the palace was originally built to house the royal family at the beginning of the Josean dynasty

Gyeongbokgung Palace, built in 1392, is Seoul's number one tourist attraction with dozens of buildings and a couple of good museums; the palace was originally built to house the royal family at the beginning of the Josean dynasty

My large tour group was very cliquish and my least favorite of the many G Adventures tours I've been on; the members weren't very interesting and were either young and into K-pop or elderly and not very active

My large tour group was very cliquish and my least favorite of the many G Adventures tours I've been on; the members weren't very interesting and were either young and into K-pop or elderly and not very active

Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best-preserved palace in the city; Donhwamun, dating from 1609, is the oldest palace gate in the city

Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best-preserved palace in the city; Donhwamun, dating from 1609, is the oldest palace gate in the city

Changdeokgung's impressive throne room is the most regal of all Seoul royal palaces; the immaculate paintwork and carpentry makes this palace visually stunning

Changdeokgung's impressive throne room is the most regal of all Seoul royal palaces; the immaculate paintwork and carpentry makes this palace visually stunning

This is the colorful entrance to the king's office at Changdeokgung Palace; this palace was home to royalty as recently as 1910 and was occupied by the last king until his death in 1926

This is the colorful entrance to the king's office at Changdeokgung Palace; this palace was home to royalty as recently as 1910 and was occupied by the last king until his death in 1926

I loved the painted ceilings in all of the royal buildings (this is Seonjeong Hall at Changdeokgung Palace); Seoul is noted for its population density, which is almost twice that of New York City

I loved the painted ceilings in all of the royal buildings (this is Seonjeong Hall at Changdeokgung Palace); Seoul is noted for its population density, which is almost twice that of New York City

A library overlooks a lotus pond in the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace; one of Seoul's most photographed sights, it's truly amazing in autumn

A library overlooks a lotus pond in the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace; one of Seoul's most photographed sights, it's truly amazing in autumn

Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden were more enjoyable than Gyeongbokgung because of the much smaller crowds; there is a lot of walking involved in seeing the 78 acres of green space surrounding the palace

Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden were more enjoyable than Gyeongbokgung because of the much smaller crowds; there is a lot of walking involved in seeing the 78 acres of green space surrounding the palace

Unique shutter system at Changdeokgung Palace; 26,000  specimens of a hundred different species of trees live in the Secret Garden and some of the trees behind the palace are 300  years old

Unique shutter system at Changdeokgung Palace; 26,000+ specimens of a hundred different species of trees live in the Secret Garden and some of the trees behind the palace are 300+ years old

Changdeokgung Palace was completed in 1412 and was the second of Seoul's Royal Palaces; this building was the king's private residence and was later used as a conference hall

Changdeokgung Palace was completed in 1412 and was the second of Seoul's Royal Palaces; this building was the king's private residence and was later used as a conference hall

Tours of the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace get booked up so I wisely bought my ticket in advance online; Taekwondo is South Korea's national sport

Tours of the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace get booked up so I wisely bought my ticket in advance online; Taekwondo is South Korea's national sport

Royal furniture was designed more for the impression it gave rather than comfort; the two major religions in Seoul are Christianity and Buddhism

Royal furniture was designed more for the impression it gave rather than comfort; the two major religions in Seoul are Christianity and Buddhism

Secret Garden pavilion at Changdeokgung Palace;with 8  million passengers per day, Seoul has one of the busiest subway systems in the world and the largest in the world, with a total track length of 940 km (580 mi)

Secret Garden pavilion at Changdeokgung Palace;with 8+ million passengers per day, Seoul has one of the busiest subway systems in the world and the largest in the world, with a total track length of 940 km (580 mi)

This Chinese juniper at Changdeokgung Palace is believed to be 750  years old; Koreans tend to speak very loudly (especially compared to the Japanese) and seem unaware that they are speaking much louder than necessary

This Chinese juniper at Changdeokgung Palace is believed to be 750+ years old; Koreans tend to speak very loudly (especially compared to the Japanese) and seem unaware that they are speaking much louder than necessary

The only building in the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace with a thatched roof; these small pavilions were used by royals to read and today most are still stocked with books

The only building in the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace with a thatched roof; these small pavilions were used by royals to read and today most are still stocked with books

Deoksugong Palace is entered through Daehanmun, a gate on the east side of the complex; this goes against the tenets of feng shui, which would put the entrance on the south side

Deoksugong Palace is entered through Daehanmun, a gate on the east side of the complex; this goes against the tenets of feng shui, which would put the entrance on the south side

Deoksugung Palace originally belonged to Wolsandaegun (1454-1488); it became a proper palace when Gwanghaegun (1575-1641) ascended to the throne and gave this royal residence the name Gyeongungung Palace in 1611

Deoksugung Palace originally belonged to Wolsandaegun (1454-1488); it became a proper palace when Gwanghaegun (1575-1641) ascended to the throne and gave this royal residence the name Gyeongungung Palace in 1611

Junghwajeon Hall, at Deoksugung Palace, was the center of politics during the Korean Empire and served as the backdrop to critical discussions on national affairs among the country’s leaders during the 1900s

Junghwajeon Hall, at Deoksugung Palace, was the center of politics during the Korean Empire and served as the backdrop to critical discussions on national affairs among the country’s leaders during the 1900s

Seokjojean Hall, part of Deoksugung Palace, was completed in 1910 as King Gojong pushed ahead with a program of modernization and reform; this came about after Korea finally opened its ports to other nations

Seokjojean Hall, part of Deoksugung Palace, was completed in 1910 as King Gojong pushed ahead with a program of modernization and reform; this came about after Korea finally opened its ports to other nations

Deoksugung Palace is one of the five grand palaces built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty; in addition to the traditional palace buildings, there are also forested gardens, a statue of King Sejong the Great and the National Museum of Art

Deoksugung Palace is one of the five grand palaces built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty; in addition to the traditional palace buildings, there are also forested gardens, a statue of King Sejong the Great and the National Museum of Art

Deoksugung Palace, the last of the five grand palaces to be built. it became the seat of power in 1592; only 2 kings lived here before the seat of power was moved to a different palace

Deoksugung Palace, the last of the five grand palaces to be built. it became the seat of power in 1592; only 2 kings lived here before the seat of power was moved to a different palace

Located at the corner of Seoul's busiest downtown intersection, Deoksugung Palace is famous for its elegant stone-wall road; it is the only palace that sits alongside a series of western style buildings that adds to its uniqueness

Located at the corner of Seoul's busiest downtown intersection, Deoksugung Palace is famous for its elegant stone-wall road; it is the only palace that sits alongside a series of western style buildings that adds to its uniqueness

Jajeongjeon Hall at Gyeonghuigung Palace, completed in 1620, was a hall that was used by the king for meetings with his royal council and also for his own personal use as a living room

Jajeongjeon Hall at Gyeonghuigung Palace, completed in 1620, was a hall that was used by the king for meetings with his royal council and also for his own personal use as a living room

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:01 Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 11) Previous « Page 1 [2] 3 » Next