Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nishi Honganji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

Nishi Honganji's Goeido (left) and Amidado (right)

Higashi Honganji's Goeido (center) and Amidado (left)

Shoseien Garden

Nishi Honganji (West Honganji) was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, after the sect's former head temple, Ishiyama Honganji in Osaka had been destroyed by Oda Nobunaga  due to the temple's interference in politics. Nishi Honganji is the head temple of the Honganji faction of the Jodo-Shin sect with over 10,000 subtemples across the country and 200 temples overseas.

Nishi Honganji's two largest structures are the Goeido Hall, dedicated to Shinran, the sect's founder, and the Amidado Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in Jodo-Shin Buddhism.  Nishi Honganji is designated an UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the largest wooden structure in the world.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Japan- Tsukiji Fish Market and Ginza Shopping Area

Walking around the market

Lots of unusual looking items for sale

Good looking salmon

Many wires in the market area!
Shopping in ginza

Large department store in Ginza

The Tsukiji Fish Market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood  market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.

The market is located in Tsikiji  in central Tokyo, between the Sumida River and the upmarket Ginza  shopping district. While the inner wholesale market has restricted access to visitors, the outer retail market, restaurants and associated restaurant supply stores remain a major tourist attraction for both domestic and overseas visitors.

It was an adventure spending the morning in the market.

The Ginza  is Tokyo's most famous upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment district, featuring numerous department stores,  boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs and cafes.
One square meter of land in the district's center is worth over ten million yen, making it one of the most expensive real estate in Japan. It is where you can find the infamous $10 cups of coffee and where virtually every leading brand name in fashion and cosmetics has a presence.

From 1612 to 1800, today's Ginza district was the site of a silver coin mint (Ginza means "silver mint" in Japanwsw), after which the district was eventually named. The Ginza evolved as an upmarket shopping district following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

Most shops in the Ginza district are open every day of the week. A visit is most pleasant on weekend afternoons when the central Chuo Dori street is closed to automobile traffic and become a large pedestrian zone. The road closure takes place from 12 to 5:00 PM.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Japan- Yatai Kaikan Museum

Yatai Kaitan Museum

Float from festival, very old

Festive colors!

Detail of wheel

Floats on display

 The Takayama Festival, held in spring (April 14 and 15) and autumn (October 9 and 10), is ranked as one of Japan's three most beautiful festivals.

Four of the autumn festival's eleven floats (yatai) are exhibited at the Yatai Kaikan Museum in Takayama,  a hall next to Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine. The elaborately decorated floats are several hundred years old and beautiful examples of Takayama's legendary craftsmanship.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Japan- Tokyo SkyTree

The Tokyo SkyTree

Amazing views of Tokyo from the top of the SkyTree

Tokyo SkyTree is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. It became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010 and reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Japanese Alps

Tram to the top

Great views

Beautiful country

The higher we climb, the more snow we see

Gorgeous mountains
The Japanese Alps is a series of mountain ranges in Japan which bisect the main island of Honshu.  The name was coined by William Gowland, the "Father of Japanese Archaeology," and later popularized by Reverend Walter Weston (1861–1940), an English missionary for whom a memorial plaque is located at Kamikochi , a tourist destination known for its alpine climate. When Gowland coined the phrase, however, he was only referring to the Hida Mountains.

At the top we looked out over the Owakkudani Valley. Driving through in March 2017, we saw three feet of snow, beautiful scenery and a light snow fall! Very beautiful vistas!! Very inspiring and I am sure will inspire my next series of art!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tokyo- Harajuku

Harajuku Station

Shoppers in Harajuku

Harajuku  refers to the area around Tokyo's Harajuku Station, which is between Shinjuku and Shibuya. It is the center of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for adults and some historic sights.

The focal point of Harajuku's teenage culture is Takeshita Street and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.

Lots of people and lots to look at and buy!! Almost too much, a bit overwhelming!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tokyo- Meiji Shinto Shrine

Meiji Shinto shrine
Part of the complex

Torii Gate

Dedicated to the late 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine is wonderfully serene and austere, not colorful or flashy like other Asian places of worship, and is less of a tourist trap than Senso-ji, the big Buddhist temple across town in Asakusa. The 40-foot-high torii gate at the entrance to the 200-acre park is made of 1,500-year-old cypress, and there's a second one like it closer to the shrine itself. Stop at the cleansing station where you can dip into a communal water tank and purify your hands and mouth before offering up a prayer. You can write wishes on little pieces of paper and tie them onto the prayer wall, or do as the locals do — toss some yen into the offering box (it's near the enormous taiko drum), bow your head twice, clap twice, and bow once more.

Tokyo- Senso- ji Asakusa Temple

Oldest temple in Japan

Very popular tourist site

Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, the Asakusa, It is typical to see a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine very close to each other.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Japan- Edo-Tokyo Museum

Scale 1:30 of Edo

Emperor's Palace in miniature

Model of building from Edo Period

Model of Nakamuraza Theater
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a museum of the history of Tokyo during the Edo period. It was established in 1993. The main features of the permanent exhibitions are the life-size replica of the Nihonbashi, which was the bridge leading into Edo; the Nakamuraza Theatre; and scale models of towns and buildings from the Edo, Meiji and Showa periods. It was designed by Kiyonori Kikutake. The distinctive elevated shape of the museum building is modeled after an old storehouse in the kurazukuri style.

Japan- March 2017

Tokyo, capital of Japan, is lmost populated city in the world.

Shibuya is the most populated intersection with 100,00 people crossing it a day!

Lots of neon and shopping!

Park near Shibuya

Japan is a sovereign island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian mainland, and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk  in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the southwest. Japan is often referred to by the famous epithet "Land of the Rising Sun" in reference to its Japanese name.

Japan is an archipelago  consisting of about 6852 islands. The four largest are Honshu, Hokkaid, Kyushu and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and often are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions; Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one. The population of 127 million is the world's 10th largest. Japanese make up 98.5% of Japan's total population. Approximately 10 million people live in the capital city of Tokyo.

The greater Tokyo area is the most populated city in the world. It is the seat of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese government. Tokyo is in the Kanto region  on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu  and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Formerly known as Edo, it has been the de facto seat of government  since 1603 when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters. It officially became the capital after Emperor Meiji  moved his seat to the city from the old capital of Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture.

Some personal observations: Tokyo and all of Japan that I saw is clean. So many people but no litter, no trash cans. People feel responsible for their own trash and take it with them. Everyone is very polite and accommodating. They bow in greeting and good byes. The staff in restaurants, stores, hotels cannot do enough for you. There are signs in English which is helpful at train stations, finding streets, etc.,  but most people do not speak English. And when they do, the accent makes it difficult to understand. There was no TV in English. So people do not hear it spoken very much. People wear uniforms from their jobs in stores and hotels. It is easy to see who works in a place since they are wearing a specific uniform for that company. There is little, if any, honking of car horns. The streets, though crowded with people and cars, are quiet.