Ryoanji Temple and Rock Garden, Kyoto

If I pass through Kyoto, I have to visit an religious location there. Kyoto is historic in that sense and there are MANY religious sites.

Last year, it was Fushimi Inari Taisha. This year it was Ryoanji Temple with Rock Garden.

When we arrived, we got our tickets

We got to the beginning of the site and we had to take off our shoes and exchange for slippers.

Miyajima Island in Hiroshima

One of the places I wanted to visit was Miyajima Island. The famous Floating Torii was there!

Before hitting Takamatsu, I decided to stop and go to Miyajima Island.

Besides the Floating Torii, there is are other things to experience. 2 things I really wanted to experience were seeing the World’s Largest wooden spoon (which wasn’t available due to construction) and the small fish that eat dead skin off your feet (availability wasn’t until the next day).

Getting there wasn’t too bad. I took the Shinkansen from Kokura station to Hiroshima Station.

by Shinkansen, it was almost 1.5 hours.

At Hiroshima Station, I went to the ground floor and waited for the train heading to Miyajimaguchi station

30 mins

I was able to jump on the JR 227 series “Red Wing” trains!

There were 2 Ferry companies, I was with JR, so I took JR Ferry. Both were relatively the same price and went to the same island, just some slight deviation. Ferry rides are fairly short and frequent I believe.

Upon arriving, I got a map and looked at the things I wanted to see.

credit: miyajima-matsudai.co.jp

Floating Otorii gate !!!!

Itsukushima Shrine

Tickets were 300 yen ($3.00) each. I decided to pay for the Treasure Hall because part of my journeys is history. The price was about the same.

Itsukushima Shrine Treasure Hall Museum

Tahoto Pagoda

It wasn’t open to the public.

Omoto Sando Shopping arcade

Kokura station and Kitakyushu Monorail

Hakata station to Kokura station

My final morning in Kyushu, I headed to Kokura station in Kitakyushu because I wanted experience the Monorail there.

I took the Subway from Tenjin station to Hakata station and jumped on the Shinkansen (it was about 16 min ride).

Kokura station looks huge from the outside. I then went inside and stored my luggage.

Once I figured out where to go (which was behind me as I was looking at the fare map), it was kinda cool to see!

Some monorails are in a different part of the joint stations, sometimes even a short distance walk. This monorail came inside in the concourse area.

Monorail coming inside the concourse area!

I then went upstairs and jumped on!

After a short trip (I got of Tanga station to see the Tanga Market, which was close) and back, I explored Kokura station while waiting for the next Shinkansen to Okayama station.

Fukuoka 2 day pass and Subway system

Sometimes having JR isn’t enough. Every major city has additional transits systems and often times you can get a tourist’s pass. Japan had many companies offering 2-3 day passes. Additionally, most IC cards will work (my Suica card worked in Fukuoka), but I wanted to buy the 2 day pass for the pass itself.

Upon arriving to Hakata station, I went to the Fukuoka Subway office and got the 2 day subway pass. Local passes are useful since some of the stations are non JR.

Additionally, part of my journeys is to always experience the transit systems and use them as much as possible.

The pass cost 720 yen, I do a basic straight across exchange estimate of $7. Each station to station is usually 120 to 150 yen… so just going a few times will make it worth the pass. I was staying in Tenjin station, but it doesn’t have Shinkansen access, so I would have to take the subway to Hakata station, which again, makes it worth getting.

Fukuoka City Subway system

Since I was staying in Tenjin area, Tenjin station was nearby. It was also where I would use the subway system to get to Hashimoto station (Nanakuma Line) as well as going to Hakata station.

Fukuoka Night Walk

Fukuoka is gorgeous at night and I was told that the Canal area had some good foods to try.

While I have been busy going around and meeting with friends, it left me with very little time to explore. The last night I was in Fukuoka, I decided to go around until 3am.

Japan at night is a different feel than day time. It feels safe, it’s open and there is still a bit of a liveliness with people still walking around.

Tenjin station’s underground was really cool at night.

I started to walk towards the Canal area.

Then I came upon some of the places to eat! It was super cool to see at night.

After some ramen, I went to Canal City Hakata. I really wanted to see this place because it had a light show going on (Godzilla one of those shows) and the architecture is pretty cool. I mean, water is running through it! Unfortunately, the Godzilla show wasn’t on.

I then started to walk around a bit more!

Fukuoka was a great experience and makes me feel I need to spend some time down that way!

Western Railway Museum and Santa Train Ride 2018

In the US, I feel trains have been ignored because of political reasons. This goes with coal and cars. While visiting Europe and Japan, it is totally different. Their train systems are pretty much depended up. Japan’s trains are on another level of reliable transportation.

With that said, the rise of highways and cars have severely limited the trains outside of big city areas (that’s always questionable too).

I love trains and I wanted to bring my kids to a museum.

Western Railway is the closest museum, but also there is a Santa train ride.

It was a pretty decent drive, maybe about an hour. It was raining too, so that kinda made it difficult to enjoy the outside.

There are many volunteers here and there is always ongoing restoration of the some of the trains (you’ll see my pictures below).

While I do think $20 was steep, it went to the museum and for a good cause.

$20 a person.

We sprinted quickly to the train shed because it was decent rain coming down.

The train went down the tracks and eventually stopped off at a park. I believe during the other seasons, the trains go this location and events are usually happening such as BBQs or Easter egg hunts or Halloween stuff such as pumpkin patch and hay maze.

Just past where we started, we come upon Santa’s area. Free cup of jo and cookies.

After everyone has met and taken pictures with Santa, we got back on and went to the train shed. This is typically where some trains were stored. There was another building, but I believe that was a private tour in which I didn’t have time for.

But I did like to check out the trains in the shed. Many old SF ones!

Website: Western Railway Museum

ORCA card

This is the regional transit card. I bought this because I wanted to travel from Lakewood to Seattle. This is suppose to cover most of the buses, trains and even Ferry.

One Regional Card for All (ORCA)

The ORCA card is all you need to pay your fare on Sound Transit, Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Seattle Street Car, the King County Water Taxi, and Washington State Ferries.

Orca card

website: orca card

Starbuck Headquarters

It used to be a Sears Roebucks when I was a kid. But it has been Starbuck’s headquarters for the longest!

It was interesting to visit this location and see this upscale cafe. Many of the employees were from different stores throughout the US.

There were some really interesting and great tasting foods. There was also a bar.

Pike’s Place Farmer’s Market 2018

This was an impromptu trip to the Pacific Northwest/Seattle. I had decided to visit my parents for Thanksgiving a couple days before.

We were busy all day and by the time we hit the Market, it was pretty much closing. But it is always great to explore. It has been quite some time since I was there, so to visit with a different perspective and with kids, it was more about exploring.