Top 5 wedding destinations in Asia

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Audrey Magazine (by Pauline Yang):
While this is surely an exciting time for engaged couples, you don’t need me to tell you that it can be stressful planning a wedding. For instance, those who have close relatives in foreign countries may end up with guests who simply can’t make it because a trip to America is expensive. This is just one of the reasons many couples are now opting for a destination wedding in Asia. It can be easier for some relatives to travel to, and with the right budgeting, a wedding in Asia can even be less expensive than having a wedding in America. Sounds like a win-win!

So if you’re considering a wedding in Asia, we’re here to help! Check out our top 5 wedding destinations as well as specific locations we recommend to have the wedding of your dreams.

1. Taiwan – Lakeside Luxury

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Taiwan has become a global trendsetter in the wedding industry, inviting international couples to celebrate the beginning of a new life together on the beautiful island. Many find that they are able to have more lavish parties and photoshoots for a fraction of the price. Taiwan has proven to be a great choice for those on a budget but don’t want to compromise on their happy day.

Where in Taiwan?
One of the eight wonders of Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is a scenic jewel in the island’s mountainous heart. The romantic lake transforms throughout the day to create different moods. In the early morning it is misty and mysterious. During the day it is a mirror of the mountains and forests that surround it. At sunset it shimmers with gold dust, and after dark, the lights of the villages and temples reflect gently across its surface. A stay at the Fleur de Chine Hotel, situated on the northern peninsula of the Sun Moon Lake, presents these magnificent views, as well as services and accommodations for an elegant outdoor wedding. Under the sun and moon, surrounded by the sky and earth, couples will surely take home sweet, unforgettable memories.

2. Indonesia – Island Dreams

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For those dreaming of a storybook wedding, Indonesia can provide dreamy backdrops and vivid imagery. With botanical gardens, intimate beaches and cliff top venues overlooking the Indian Ocean, Bali effortlessly sets the scene for romance.

Where in Indonesia?
Consider Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort for your stay and venue. The picturesque property transports guests to an otherworldly setting where postcards come to life. Pan Pacific’s grand location, luxurious facilities and excellent service was recently selected to host Miss World. Guests can play around on the award-winning Greg Norman golf course and enjoy spectacular sunsets over the Indian Ocean. The resort’s spacious coastline lawns serve as a perfect wedding location with incredible views of Tanah Lot and its iconic temple.

3. Singapore – Chic Cityscape

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If you opt for a more modern wedding in the city, Singapore is your place to go. The island country is known for its surreal city skyline. Singapore is not only considered one of the safest places to live, it is also boasted to be the food capital of the world. Sounds like a solid place for a wedding!

Where in Singapore?
Marina Bay Sands Singapore
is home to the futuristic Skypark, one of many iconic architectural buildings in Singapore. Its daring design and breathtaking rooftop decks, including the world’s largest infinity pool at 57 stories above ground, draw many couples to this contemporary resort. The Skypark’s landscaped rooftop gardens offers 360-degree views of Singapore and its offshore islands, easily becoming the most photogenic venue for couples tying the knot. World-class chefs and culinary concepts are also available to satisfy every taste.

4. Thailand – Golden Hours

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A country rich with culture and beautiful scenery, Thailand is one of the most versatile destinations for a wedding. From nature parks and beaches to Buddhist temples, there is a venue for every bride’s vision. Thailand’s prime location in the center of Asia also makes it a sensible choice for those inviting relatives from all over Asia.

Where in Thailand?
The Four Seasons Tented Camp, situated in an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of northern Thailand’s Golden Triangle, is right on the border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Intimate tented camps perched on private platforms receive six-star service to ensure guests have the best experience during their stay. Still not convinced? Imagine dressing in soft Thai silks while riding a gentle elephant through the bamboo jungle before your wedding ceremony. Yes, it’s just as beautiful as it sounds.

5. India – Heaven in the Hills

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There are many hidden gems in India when it comes to finding the perfect getaway. Its long history and strong cultural traditions make India a special destination to experience. For instance, the “pink city” of Jaipur is a popular choice for those interested in exploring the diversity of wedding venues available, such as ornate palaces, old mansions and private villas.

Where in India?
Nestled in the undulating Aravalli hills is the gorgeous Tree of Life Resort & Spa. This venue features 14 luxury villas built using local styles and designs to reflect Rajasthan’s long architectural history. Complete with an infinity pool at its center and private outdoor spas for each villa, this resort was created with a vision of a heaven away from the bustle of city life. Guests also have the opportunity to dine in their villa from a personalized 4-course menu that guests can design daily with the head chef’s help. Talk about an extravagant getaway!

First Lady Michelle Obama goes on adventures in Japan

Japan Today:

First lady Michelle Obama wrapped up her visit to Japan Friday with a taste of traditional culture in Kyoto.

Mrs Obama visited Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple founded in 780 on a forested hill overlooking the city, and viewed a Noh performance by local college students. The classical Japanese musical drama employs elaborate costumes and stylized masks to symbolize roles of women, ghosts and other characters.

Kiyomizu-dera is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Kyoto’s most famous vistas. Mrs Obama also visited the 1,300-year-old Fushimi Inari shrine, a place of worship for Japan’s other major religion, Shinto. There are 30,000 such shrines in Japan that venerate the guardian god of abundant harvests, prosperity and family safety.

Students staged a performance of taiko drumming at the shrine with Mrs Obama.

This is Mrs Obama’s first visit to Japan, as she did not accompany the president on his state visit last year. The visit is seen partly as a way of making up for her absence then, and as a sign of closeness between the close allies.

Two Japanese prefectures are completely void of historical temples due to anti-Buddhist movement during the Meiji Restoration

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RocketNews 24:

Japan is often praised for its ability to preserve traditional customs and architecture while still functioning as a modern society. There are few other places in the world where you can be in the middle of a buzzing metropolis, only to turn a corner and be face-to-face with a shrine that has stood for centuries. But did you know that there are actually entire prefectures that do not contain a single old temple?

Join us after the jump as we explore two such places and explain exactly why architecture that was hundreds of years old disappeared.

The first place we’ll take a look at is Kagoshima Prefecture. There is plenty of evidence that Buddhist temples existed in the area, as numerous ruins are protected to this day. Let’s take a look at a few:

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Oosumikokubun-ji

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Honryuu-ji

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As you can see, there are lots of ruins, but no ancient temples to be found. In fact, Japan has an average of 1,600 Buddhist temples per prefecture, but Kagoshima only has 485, all of which have been built within the last 200 years. What’s even more surprising is that at the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868), there were exactly 1,066 temples and 2,964 Buddhist monks, by 1874 there were none.

A similar story unfolded in Kochi Prefecture. Aside from also having a disproportionately low number of temples, Kochi is the only prefectural capital in Japan without a Pure Land sect Buddhist temple.

Of course, Kochi is a part of Shikoku, the site of the most well-known temple pilgrimage in Japan, the Shikoku JunreiHowever, taking a look at a map detailing the locations of all 88 temples on the pilgrimage trail shows something surprising:

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Kochi (the southernmost area on the map) is the largest prefecture in Shikoku, but has the least amount of temples along the pilgrimage route. So what happened?

The answer is haibutsu kishakuan anti-Buddhist movement during the beginning of the Meiji Restoration (1868 to 1912). Triggered by the new government’s official policy of separating Shinto and Buddhism, and heightened by lingering anti-Buddhist sentiment, violence, rioting, and the destruction of Buddhist temples was common during this time.

▼ Here we see temple bells being smelted for bronze during the haibutsu kishaku.

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▼ Here we see the burning of sūtras during the haibutsu kishaku.

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Hardest hit, as you may have guessed, were Kagoshima and Kochi, where haibutsu kishaku was most fierce, leading to the eventual destruction of all temples in the area.

However, as Japan continued to modernize and Buddhism became widely accepted and treasured, reconstruction efforts began. For example, Daiji-ji in Kagoshima was built in 1340, destroyed in 1869, and reconstructed in 1879.

▼ Daiji-ji in Kagoshima

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Zenraku-ji in Kochi was destroyed at the beginning of the Meiji period, and was reconstructed in 1929.

▼ Zenraku-ji in Kochi

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The fate of Kochi and Kagoshima’s temples is unfortunate. Although centuries of historical architecture was lost during the period of haibutsu kishaku, we’re fortunate to still have many fully preserved temples to visit throughout other parts of Japan.

Thailand’s Wat Rong Khun “White Temple” looks like it came down from Heaven

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Bored Panda:

 

Believe it or not, this is a real place – Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, is a Buddhist temple in Thailand that looks like it was placed on earth by a god.

Though it may have involved divine inspiration, it was in fact designed by a man. Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai artist, designed the temple in 1997. It was almost destroyed by an earthquake in May of this year, but Kositpipat was inspired to rebuild the temple after an outpouring of international support urging him not to give up and let the temple crumble.

Admission to many of the buildings has been forbidden until certain structural cracks are repaired, but visitors can still photograph the temples from the outside.

 

More info: thaipbs.or.th

 

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The many twists, turns and trapdoors of Kanazawa’s incredible Ninja Temple

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Ishikawa Prefecture is a little off most tourist itineraries of Japan, since it’s located along the north coast of the main island of Honshu. If you’ve got the time to spare, though, the capital city of Kanazawa has more than enough attractions to fill a day or two.

The city is home to Kenrokuen, considered one of Japan’s top three gardens and recently voted to be one of the 30 best sightseeing spots in the country. The Omicho Market is also a great place to enjoy delicious seafood, including the shrimp that Ishikawa is known for.

Or, if neither of those pique your interest, there’s also the ninja temple, whose layout is said to be so confusing that few could make it out without a guide.

Although the official name of the structure is Myoryuji, literally the “oddly built temple,” it’s better known as Ninja-dera, the ninja temple. First constructed in the 16th century, the building was moved to its current location in 1643 by Maeda Toshitsune, the warlord who controlled Kaga Fief in present-day Ishikawa.

As an official Buddhist temple, Myoryuji’s ostensible purpose was as a place of worship. In actuality, though, it served as a secret Maeda stronghold. By 1643, the civil war that had ravaged Japan for centuries had largely died down, with the Tokugawa shogunate having suppressed its political and military rivals. Still, the peace between the shogunate and the regional warlords was an uneasy one. Maeda feared the Tokugawa forces may one day come to separate him from his gold-rich lands, and placing Myoruji near Kanazawa Castle gave him a safe-house hidden in plain sight.

 

▼ Maeda Toshitsune

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Ninja-dera was never home to a clan of fearsome shadow warriors, however. Instead, its name come from the numerous traps and tricks incorporated into its design to help repel intruders.

The deception starts before you even enter. From the outside, Myoryuji appears to have two floors, in keeping with the feudal era restrictions that prohibited buildings other than the town’s castle from being over three stories tall.

 

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In actuality, though, the complex is built with a four-story frame, and the numerous spaces between the floors give it seven separate levels. Myoryuji’s 23 rooms are connected by an intricate network of no fewer than 29 staircases.

 

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These aren’t all ordinary staircases, either. For example, take a look at the wooden grid at the front of these steps.

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The white sections are actually made of paper. As intruders run up the stairs, guards positioned beneath the floorboards could stab at their feet.

Other staircases lead downwards to pit traps. Once the attacker falls into it, his slide continues to a room where a team of defenders is waiting to finish him off before he can recover from the shock and properly defend himself.

 

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As you’d expect from a building constructed at this point in history, many of the passages are connected by traditional Japanese sliding doors. Unlike normal doors of this type, though, many of Myoryuji’s automatically lock after being shut and can only re reopened from one side. This allows defenders to quickly block their adversaries’ advance or trap them in a confined space.

 

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As is the case in many countries, centuries-old architecture in Japan tends to be built for the shorter stature of the people from bygone eras. If the room shown in the following photo looks to you like it has a particularly low ceiling, though, you’re absolutely right.

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This purposefully cramped design was chosen in order to give assailants less room in which to swing their weapons, which would put them at a disadvantage against guards who were already aware of the low clearance and adjusted their tactics accordingly.

Even Myoryuji’s well is more than it appears to be at first glance. At the bottom of the 25-meter (82-foot) shaft is a passage that’s said to connect with Kanazawa Castle, although no one who’s alive today has gone deep enough into the tunnel to confirm this.

 

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It’s said that once you enter Myoryuji, its layout is so confusing you won’t be able to find your way out. Thankfully, the temple offers guided tours, which are offered between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Reservations are required though, which can be made by contacting the temple by phone at the number listed on its website here up to three months before the date of your intended visit.

Perhaps the most mysterious thing about Myoryuji, however, is that no one knows the identity of the architect that designed its defensive features. Given the detailed written records throughout Japanese history that chronicle the accomplishments of scholars, statesmen, and strategists, this sort of anonymity is especially rare. Thankfully, not knowing who was responsible for the Ninja Temple so many years ago doesn’t mean visitors can’t still marvel at his or her craftsmanship today.

 

Check out this link:

 The many twists, turns and trapdoors of Kanazawa’s incredible Ninja Temple

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Elaborate Buddhist Temple Made From Discarded Amazon Boxes

Elaborate Buddhist Temple Made From Discarded Amazon Boxes

And you thought breaking down your Amazon boxes for recycling was creative—Japanese gamer and amateur modeler Upuaza Touryou just trashed the competition, turning his stack of old flimsy cardboard into an insanely elaborate Buddhist temple.

Elaborate Buddhist Temple Made From Discarded Amazon Boxes

The sculpture took five months to assemble, sure, but discarded cardboard boxes have never looked so good. Now, if only Amazon could somehow include perforations in their packaging, so we could all pop out and assemble such glorious models on our own…

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

What do you do with your Amazon cardboard boxes? Throw them away? An individual in Japan turned them into one of the country’s most famous temples, the Byodoin.

The temple is a national treasure in Japan and is featured on the back of ten yen coins.

NicoNico Douga user Upuaza Touryou took around five months to complete the sculpture, which is made up of over five thousand cardboard parts. Total cost? 300 yen or about US$3.

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Amazon Cardboard Boxes Make a Beautiful Buddhist Temple

Check out this link:

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Contemporary art meets Buddhism

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A South Korean Buddhist temple is playing host to a contemporary art show, in an effort to throw a new perspective to the ancient religion and the age-old surroundings.

The Temple of Haeinsa, a 1,211-year-old shrine located on a mountainside 280 kilometers (174 miles) southeast of Seoul, is home to the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, laws and treaties, engraved on more than 80,000 woodblocks carved in the 13th century. The woodblocks, their storage and the surrounding temple grounds are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The temple’s monks hosted the inaugural contemporary art show in 2011 to mark the millennial anniversary of the first woodblocks, which were engraved with a wish for protection against invasion from a northern dynasty that occupied lands now belonging to Mongolia and China. Those 1,000-year-old blocks were lost in a fire during the ensuing incursion.

This year marks the Haein Art Project’s second edition, which features 30 artists from South Korea, Hong Kong, India, the U.S., Spain and Italy. Most created new artworks after spending two weeks or more at the temple.

The works, scattered around the temple grounds, are informed by Buddhist thinking. Take an installation of white flags at the pathway leading up to the temple gates: The work, by Indian artist Vibha Galhotra, represents national flags stripped of color to represent a world without borders or differences.

Inside the temple yards, a work by South Korean artist duo Mioon projects images of nature and architecture that appear and disappear sporadically in an echo of fullness and emptiness of the mind.

It wouldn’t be strange to compare modern art and Buddhism to water and oil. They aren’t supposed to mix together,” said Ven. Hyangrok, the show’s organizer and resident monk at the temple. “But artists are like disciplinants. Their meditation also leads them to a sort of enlightenment.”

The Haein Art Project runs until Nov. 10.

Check out this link:

Contemporary art meets Buddhism

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