ultramarinus – beyond the sea



In Kyoto, we saw skies of blue and clouds of white, and foliage of crimson as if sea of dancing flames.  The bright blessed days, the dark sacred nights, the crystal reflections in the water and the festive scent in the air of peaceful valleys and the thousand-year capital.  After our five-day visit, we think to ourselves what a wonderful place Kyoto truly is.  The moment we left the ancient capital we were already dreaming of our return.
In early December, we decided to take a 5-day escape from our hustle and bustle life in Hong Kong.  We picked Japan’s Kyoto, the city where we purposely avoided during our previous Kansai visit because back then we couldn’t find adequate time for a decent introduction to this crown jewel of Japan.  This time around at the twilight of autumn, we destined to indulge ourselves for a feast of the ancient capital, at which 5-days of fantastic moments inspired us once again to feel the joy and beauty of traveling.  In the next while we will share with you our delightful Kyoto and Nara experience.

kyoto-2016_01Fantastic 5 Days: Getting up early each morning, 5 autumn days with pleasant weather allowed us to visit a number of temples and shrines in Kyoto and Nara, plus incredible cafes, cozy restaurants, interesting design shops, living market, idyllic old neighborhoods, and much more.

dsc_2643Autumn Foliage: Nature’s most vivid instant beyond the eaves of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

dsc_3642Festivity: Celebrations of the season with illuminations, music and food.

dsc_1701-1Colours of the Night: Luminosity and hues of Kyoto’s autumn night.

dsc_2217Zen Gardens: Moments of redemption from the bustling noises of daily life.

dsc_3324Buddhist Architecture: Ancient timber structures revealing a millennium of architectural heritage and cultural preservation.

dsc_1296Eternal Beauty: Enthralled by the eternal beauty of the thousand-year ancient capital.

dsc_2404Tranquil Morning Strolls: Placid old neighborhoods at the first light of the day.

img_9251Sincere Cuisine: Unpretentious regional sake and cuisines with fresh local ingredients.

dsc_2892Contemporary Design: Architecture, industrial designs and handcrafts that celebrate the spirit of the present.

dsc_4022Mystical World of Spirits and Nature: Entering the spiritual woods and legendary mountains of Shintoism.


Our posts on 2016 Kyoto and Nara:
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: RYOANJI TEMPLE (龍安寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NINNAJI TEMPLE (仁和寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KINKAKUJI TEMPLE (金閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KITANO TENMANGU SHRINE (北野天満宮), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NIGHT AT KIYOMIZU-DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA to KENNINJI, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: ○△□ and Chouontei Garden and Ceiling of Twin Dragons, KENNINJI TEMPLE (建仁寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: SFERA BUILDING (スフェラ・ビル), SHIRKAWA GION (祇園白川), KAMO RIVER (鴨川) & DOWNTOWN, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: NANZENJI (南禅寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: PHILOSOPHER’S PATH (哲学の道), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: HONENIN (法然院), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: GINKAKUJI (銀閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 4: HORYUJI (法隆寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: TODAIJI TEMPLE (東大寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KASUGA TAISHA (春日大社), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KOFUKUJI (興福寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI SHOTEN (中川政七商店 遊中川), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: RAMEN & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 1, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 2, Kyoto, Japan



copyright_bluelapisroad_2015kansai_intro Pastel white, pale crimson, moss blue, bright green, and various shades of charcoal filled up our viewfinder like an Impressionist painting capturing the colour palette of the Japanese spring.  It was the second week of April.  We set off to the Kansai region in central Honshu Island of Japan for a 9-day vacation. We spent over half of our time at the southern Kii Peninsula, where the century-old pilgrimage routes now known as the Kumano Kodo crisscrossing the Kii Mountains in the Wakayama Prefecture.  In the midst of cedar groves, river valleys, bamboo forests, rice paddies, and tea farms lays the legendary Hongu Taisha, the spiritual centrepiece in this part of Honshu, and the charming Yunomine, the nation’s oldest onsen town which had been witnessing 18 centuries of the Japanese bathing culture. Apart from Kumano Kodo, we also had our first ever hanami experience at Mount Yoshino, where 30,000 sakura trees dotted over the hills from foot to summit. Tasting seasonal fruit and indulging in the local cuisines, from seafood in Tanabe and Kii Katsuura, onsen kaiseki in the Kii Mountains, beef teppanyaki in Kobe, to street food in Osaka, also heighten the whole travel experience.  The journey is completed with a visit to the timeless masterpiece by architect Tadao Ando. Having a trip started from hiking in the mountains and visiting ancient temples along the way, and ended with some finest contemporary architecture in Japan allows us to appreciate the connections between Japanese minimalist design to the ancient aesthetic and spatial concepts of Shinto shrines and traditional timber houses. copyright_bluelapisroad_2015kansai_map

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Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka


Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia and Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together, along with images of the extreme: eerie salt flats of Uyuni, diverse wildlife in the Pantanal, marvelous cities of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janerio, the enchanted mountains and glaciers of Patagonia have long cast a South American spell on us.  To make an extensive backpacking trip in South America has become our dream in recent years.

We will begin our journey in Buenos Aires, the bustling Argentinean capital.  From BA we will fly to the Iguazu Falls and continue our journey into Brazil.  After weeks of lush wetlands, hill towns, modernist architecture, and magnificent cities in Brazil, we will move on to the cloud forests, colonial towns and Andean highlands of Bolivia.  From the Bolivian highlands, we will gradually descend to the northwest of Argentina, and then to the Chilean desert of Atacama.  Heading south, we will detour at the Chilean Lake District and Chiloe Islands before reaching the magical Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.  At the southernmost land in the world other than Antarctica, we will indulge ourselves with mountain and ice trekking, topped with a feast of southern seafood.  Our journey will end with New Year countdown in Valparaiso of Chile.

In the next 80+ days, follow our journey on this blog!


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Read other posts on our first destination, Buenos Aires, Argentina
1. South America 2013
2. Journey Begins

Day 1.1 – San Telmo Loft, Buenos Aires
Day 1.2 – First Walk in Buenos Aires
Day 2.1 – Morning Stroll in San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Day 2.2 – Cementer de la Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Day 2.3 – Architectural Bennale, Buenos Aires
Day 2.4 – El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires
Day 3.1 – Don Julio Parrillas, Buenos Aires
Day 3.2 – Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires
Day 3.3 – Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires
Day 4.1 – Malba, Buenos Aires
Day 4.2 – Chan Chan Peruvian Restaurnant, Buenos Aires
Day 4.3 – Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Day 5.1 – Pasaje Defensa, Buenos Aires
Day 5.2 – Buseo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires
Day 5.3 – Cafe San Juan, Buenos Aires
Day 5.4 – Cementerio de la Recoleta (2nd Visit), Buenos Aires
Day 5.5 – Dylan Ice-cream Parlour, Buenos Aires

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought