Japan Diaries: Day 7 and 8

Day 7 December 25, 2014:

Merikurisimasu from Japan! This is our first Christmas away from the Philippines. Lucky for us, we are celebrating it with our Japanese family. With them around we won't feel that we are away from home.

Today is also our first rest day since we got to Japan. Although it's Christmas, our Japanese family still had to go to work which is in contrast of how we consider December 25 as an official non-working holiday. That night we had a little celebration and Mr. Toshi gave me two Japanese novels (translated in English of course). We also had a simple feast to celebrate this special day. To sum it up, we didn't visit any new places today but we had a fulfilled day because we got to spend it with our Japanese family.

Day 8 December 26, 2014:

After spending Christmas Day at the Kameyama Residence, it is time once again for another adventure. Sadly, it would only be a solo backpacking adventure for me because my wife chose to stay behind and rest.
Welcome to Wakayama City
My destination for today is Wakayama City in Wakayama Prefecture. I chose it because it was less visited by foreign tourists and it is near the Kameyama Residence. Mr. Toshi drove me to JR Hineno Station so that I could catch the train early. As expected the trip was comfortable, safe, and right on time. Luckily the train was not crowded which was contrary to what I always see in the movies.
The castle's bridge and gate near the post office

When I got to Wakayama City, my first destination was the tourism information center and my first order of business was to get an updated map of the city. The first tourist destination that I have in mind was the Wakayama Castle. It is about 30 minutes to 40 minutes away by foot from the train station and about 5 to 10 minutes by bus. I chose to get there by foot and it proved to be the wiser decision. Although it took time, I managed to "experience" what Wakayama City is like. I also got the chance to visit the Wakayama post office and availed the castle series postal stamp for my stamp collection.
some flamingos inside the castle's zoo
Posing with a ninja outside the castle
Wakayama Castle
The view from the viewing deck of the castle

From the post office, Wakayama Castle is just a few minutes away. However, it took me a bit more because before I entered the castle I took time taking pictures. Speaking of time, it actually took me more than 2 hours inside the castle complex because I wanted to capture as many beautiful well angled and composed pictures as possible. Aside from that I also wanted to visit every corner of the castle complex (You can't blame me, this is my first Japanese castle).
The tourist information and souvenir shop
had a little warrior for a day dress up...
...then bought some souvenirs
Before leaving the castle complex, I stopped by the tourist center which is also located in the vicinity. I bought some souvenirs and had my picture taken while wearing the traditional warrior costume during Wakayama's olden times. My next destination is Kimiidera (Temple). In order for me to get there, I rode a bus to Kimiidera bus stop. However the station names were all in Japanese and despite the note given to me by the staff of the tourist center, I can't seem to find the right bus stop. what made the situation more stressful is that I only had 15 minutes before the bus arrives. Lucky for me though a Good Samaritan (wait let me rephrase that... a good Japanese) was there to help. He even ran with me and waited with me on the bus station. (God bless that man). Because of him, I was able to get on the right bus on time and got to Kimiidera bus stop without much hassle.
Heading off to Kimii-dera (temple)
Since I arrived a little after lunch, I tried to look for a restaurant that serves the famous Wakayama Ramen. A local even helped me look for one but sadly, the nearest restaurant that offers the ramen already closed.
The street leading to the temple
Torii leading to the temple
One has to walk up to reach the temple
Having failed to locate any restaurants that offers the ramen, I just proceeded to the Kimiidera (temple). It is the #2 temple in the Saikoku 33 Kanon pilgrimage. The temple is located on top of a hill and I had to climb up using the steep man made stairs to reach it. From the top,  you could see a panoramic view of Wakayama City and its surroundings. Aside from the beautiful view and the old temple, the other structures in the vicinity also adds to the wow factor of the place. I enjoyed taking pictures of the old structures and statues in the temple vicinity. Lucky for me,  I had my tripod with me. If not, all my pictures would have been landscape and architecture photographs.
One of the structures in the vicinity of the temple
In it you'd see a giant statue of Buddha
Kimii-dera (temple)
I spent almost an hour in the vicinity taking pictures and admiring the beauty of the place. Since it was almost afternoon, I decided to head back home. I had to walk almost a kilometer to reach Kimiidera Station. From there I rode a train back to Wakayama Station before transferring to a JR train that would bring me to Kumatori Station. From there I jumped on a bus that brought me home.
posed for some souvenir shots
Well that ends my 8th day in Japan... Tiring but fulfilling isn't it?

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