Princess Mononoke Theme Song - My Piano Version

Posted by : foongpc | Friday, June 12, 2015 | Published in


I don't watch much anime but one that I watched and left a deep impression on me is Princess Mononoke.

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Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, this 1997 anime epic from Studio Ghibli is about a young warrior called Ashitaka who is involved in a struggle between the forest gods and the evil humans who consume its resources.

I still remember I found myself totally immersed in the movie when I first watched it. Since then, I had always wanted to watch Miyazaki's other anime movies. A few years after Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki released another anime called Spirited Away and that movie took my breath away! Perhaps I will talk about Spirited Away at another time.

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Besides the engaging storyline and the artistic drawings, I was also attracted to the musical soundtrack of Princess Mononoke, especially the main theme song. Composed by Joe Hisaishi, the song is just so beautiful and it suited the anime perfectly.

The theme song was originally performed by the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra (instrumental version) and sung by counter-tenor Yoshikazu Mera.

I thought this song sounds beautiful on the piano so I have decided to play my own version and here's my recording of it. As usual, please ignore any errors and slips in my playing. Hope you like it! : )

If you like to listen to my other piano recordings, do follow me on Soundcloud by clicking HERE.

My Visit To Tran Quoc Pagoda At West Lake, Hanoi

Posted by : foongpc | Tuesday, June 9, 2015 | Published in


There are many temples and pagodas around West Lake in Hanoi. I did not have the time to visit all of them, so I had to pick and choose the more important ones.

Having visited Phu Tay Ho Temple and Kim Lien Pagoda, two of the most famous pagodas at West Lake, I decided to visit the oldest pagoda in Hanoi - Tran Quoc Pagoda.

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From Kim Lien Pagoda, my motorbike driver brought me to Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is less than 5 minutes ride away.

Even before I came down from the motorbike, I could already see the tall pagoda in the distance.

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The Tran Quoc Pagoda, built way back in the 6th century during the reign of King Ly Nam De, is a Buddhist temple. Originally named Khai Quoc, it was first built on the shores of Red River (where Red River and West Lake meets) before relocated to Kim Ngu islet (the present site) in the 17th century.

A causeway linked the mainland to the temple. Palm trees lined both sides of the causeway, making it looked rather pleasant.

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Walking on the causeway, I could see the vast lake known as West Lake or Ho Tay. Just so that you can imagine the size, the circumference of this lake is about 13 km or 8 miles!

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I reached the front gate of the pagoda. This gate is actually a recent addition, built in 1815.

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This is a passageway right after entering the gate. The pagoda is located on the left side, behind the wall.

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The sight of the pagoda tower right in front of me was quite breathtaking. It is about 15 metres high and has 11 tiers. Each tier is designed to represent the petals of a lotus flower. There are 6 arch windows on every level - each housing a statue of Buddha made from precious stones.

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OK, let's do a quick math, shall we? Since this six-sided pagoda has 11 levels, how many Buddha statues do you think reside in this pagoda?

Close shot of some of the statues.

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Shrines made from bricks surround the tower.

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These shrines, with big chinese letterings on the walls,  have altars with incense wafting out the windows.

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I took two pictures of this. One with the man who was blocking the view.

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And the other without the man so you can see what's there.

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There were quite a number of tourists during my visit - fortunately it was not crowded.

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There is another pagoda here - a yellow pagoda built in 1939.

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This yellow pagoda houses 14 engraved plaques chronicling the refurbishments from 1813 to 1815.

I took a shot of West Lake standing on the temple compound.

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I could also see Sofitel Plaza Hotel from here.

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There is another shrine and a large bodhi tree at the back of the temple courtyard, but I did not take any pictures. Instead, I took more pictures of the pagoda tower.

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The architectural design together with the ambience of the green trees and lake make a visit to this pagoda very worthwhile indeed.

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If you only have time to visit just one pagoda in Hanoi, I would recommend that you visit Tran Quoc Pagoda!

Coming Up Next : The Amazing Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology

My Visit To Kim Lien Pagoda At West Lake, Hanoi

Posted by : foongpc | Wednesday, June 3, 2015 | Published in


From the Phu Tay Ho Temple, I took a motorbike ride to Kim Lien Pagoda (Chua Kim Lien) which is not very far away, probably about 5 minutes ride.

Arriving at the front gate of Kim Lien Pagoda, I instructed my driver to wait for me before entering the temple compound. There are many pagodas around West Lake (Ho Tay) and I would need the driver to get me to these temples.

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The wooden entrance gate looked unusual as it has three arches and multiple roofs with sword shapes at the edges. I entered via a smaller gate at the side as the main gate was closed.

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Also known as the Golden Lotus Pagoda, Chua Kim Lien is considered one of the most ancient Buddhist temples in Hanoi. From the lake, the pagoda looks like a golden lotus floating on the water's surface.

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I like the architectural design of this temple, especially its curved roof, door and circular windows.

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There was an information board on the wall but it was all written in Vietnamese language.

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According to legend, the pagoda was built in the 12th century by Princess Tu Hoa, who later moved in and taught the locals how to rear silkworms to make silk.

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I saw many flower pots hanging along the wall of the temple.

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Cute looking bells.

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The temple compound was very quiet during my visit. There were not many people around. I only saw two or three tourists. I did not step into the temple, but just walked around the temple compound.

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Lotus-shaped decoration hanging from the ceiling.

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Bat-shaped decorations that are considered auspicious.

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View of a small pond next to the temple.

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Despite numerous renovations being done throughout the years, the pagoda managed to retain its unique architectural style.

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Once I was outside Kim Lien Pagoda, I was greeted by my motorbike driver who was all eager to take me to my next destination, which was of course another pagoda. Temple-hopping around West Lake is definitely an activity you should not miss!