Japan Travel


In Kyoto everything is very well taken care of. After fulfilling my ritual of acquiring a map of the city, which was free and there were indications of temples and bus and subway lines, I set out to walk. It was difficult to choose which temples to visit and pay for admission, and it was a rush around the city. I have put together a list below of the temples I was able to visit that day:

•            Kinkaku-Ji (the “Golden Temple”): Buddhist temple originally built in 1397 by Shogun Yoshimitsu, is all gold foliage, considered one of the most beautiful in Japan. In Itapecerica da Serra (São Paulo) has a replica that had already visited, which is why I was not very impressed.

•            Heian-jingu: shinto temple is also very beautiful, built in 1895 AD in commemoration of the thousandth anniversary of the founding of Kyoto.

•            Kiyomizu-dera: A Buddhist temple dating from 798 AD, with its typical streets and stalls selling souvenirs and other little things, very beautiful. Crowded with local tourists and some foreigners.

•            Gion: is the Geisha district, full of temples, shops and typical restaurants.

•            Fushimi-Inari: It’s a complex with five Shinto temples being also a maze! It has 30,000 toriis, which are those portals, of all sizes. The movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” was shot in part here.

In the late afternoon I went to Inari, as recommended by Teru. It was really something quite different. I walked mount Inari up among the “toriis”, I was lost up there, without signs and almost without anyone walking, I went into despair, because it was getting dark. I found my way back after finding a gentleman running and pausing to pray, although he didn’t speak English, he indicated the way. I ended up barely taking pictures. Inari is a deity of fertility, business, agriculture, rice and sake (a Japanese strong alcohol drink made from fermented rice).


BingLing Temple (炳灵寺) China

This place is hard to get to but worth the effort! It is so remote the only way to get there is by boat but the beautiful cliffs, Yellow river, and Buddhas (carved right into the cliffs!) make me want to go again and again. 

There are hundreds of stone statues throughout the 100+ caves. There is a bit of walking so be sure to wear comfortable shoes but there weren’t as many stairs as I had expected so that was a plus.

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Myanmar Travel

The Golden Rock, Myanmar

Sorry women – this rock in men only. The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is a sacred Buddhist site that is on top of the golden rock visible behind me. Due to the practice of male monks not being allowed to make physical contact with females, only men are allowed into the inner sanctuary.

Even as a male, the rules are very strict on what I could wear when I went in. I had to take off my sandals and wear a sarong. This is shows respect to the holy site that, according to legend, is balanced on a single strand of Buddha’s hair.

Whether you are a boy or a girl, it is still worth a visit if you are in Myanmar. It is amazing just to look at this rock and marvel at how close to the edge it can be without rolling off the edge.

Traveler Ni in front of the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda on top of Golden Rock in Myanmar

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The Holy Pig Festival in Sanxia, Taiwan

On January, 30th. 2020, I went to a a very curious tradition in Taiwan.

The Holy Pig (Shen Zu – 神豬) Festival in Sanxia (a traditional district in New Taipei City in northern Taiwan) according to its annual Lunar New Year. Local pig farmers compete to display the largest pig, the winner takes home a trophy every year and they are sacrificed to the local god. The annual festival marks the birthday of the Chinese deity Zushi and was held in a square outside the Zushi Temple. Each year one Clan Family is responsible to host the ceremony, this year (2020) was the Lin. There are a total of 7 clans that host this ceremony, so after 6 years the Lin Clan will host again, after Huang, Chen, Liu and other threes.

Many Holy Pigs up weights near 900 kg whereas a normal pig would weigh only 120 kg. After the sacrifice in the night before their skin is stretched to a metal frame, looking even bigger than the abnormal big animal. A whole pineapple is not forgotten to put into their mouths and a parade starts the next early morning. Some food like a whole chicken and a still alive fish is also part of the feast.

There is a displayed list of each Lin family’s clan with their respective donation made to the temple each year. In the past the feast was for free for all the invitees and the public, but now the pork is sold for more than USD 55/kg.

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