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Japan album for grandparents, 2/2

The rest of the Japan album we made for my grandparents, thirty-three pictures with captions.

If you'd prefer to click through the album picture-by-picture, here's the Scrapbook gallery. All of Chad's pictures are on Flickr, and mine are in another Scrapbook gallery.

Landmark Tower, Yokohama
After Kyoto, we stayed for a week and a half in Yokohama, which is near Tokyo and a large city in its own right. This is the Landmark Tower, where we had a ridiculously huge hotel room on the 62nd floor.
Landmark Tower, Yokohama
Yokohama hotel bathroom
Our Yokohama hotel bathroom. See? Ridiculously huge. (The hotel upgraded up because it was the off season and we were staying for so long.)

The separate room for a shower is typical for Japan, where baths are for soaking after you’ve already gotten clean. The enormous tub—long enough for Chad to stretch out in—was not typical.
Yokohama hotel bathroom
Koishikawa Korakuen
Koishikawa Korakuen is a very beautiful stroll garden in Tokyo that dates from the 1600s. In the background is the Tokyo Dome, a stadium. We kept hearing the crowd inside roar loudly as we were walking through the otherwise-peaceful garden.
Koishikawa Korakuen
Meiji Jingu, sake offerings
These are offerings of sake at Meiji Jingu, the shrine to the Meiji Emperor (1852-1912). Sake barrels are very common sights at shrines.
Meiji Jingu, sake offerings
Meiji Jingu, wine offerings
These are offerings of wine at the same shrine. Since wine is a Western drink, it is very unusual to see wine at a Japanese shrine. However, this emperor presided over the Meiji Restoration, when Japan deliberately set out to learn Western knowledge and adopt many Western practices. The Meiji Emperor set an example by eating Western food and drinking wine with it, and so the French government donated these barrels in his memory.
Meiji Jingu, wine offerings
Sensô-ji main gate
This is the main gate to the temple Sensô-ji in Tokyo. It’s the oldest temple in Tokyo, founded in 628 after two fishermen found a statue of Kannon in the river. (Kannon is something like a goddess of mercy in Buddhism.)

A roofed-over shopping street leads up to the temple, with dignified hundred-year-old shops right next to shops selling really cheap tacky tourist stuff.
Sensô-ji main gate
Sensô-ji lantern carving
This dragon is carved on the bottom of the big red lantern in the middle of the gate.
Sensô-ji lantern carving
Sensô-ji garden
This stream is part of the tiny gardens at Sensô-ji, and is a good example of how we found beauty in small corners in Japan.
Sensô-ji garden
Engaku-ji gate in pouring rain
We took a day trip to Kamakura, which was the central city in Japan during the 12th through 14th centuries. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain when we got there: this picture was taken at the first temple we visited, Engaku-ji.
Engaku-ji gate in pouring rain
Kids in rainy Kamakura
The rain lessened by early afternoon, though these kids are still carefully bundled up against the rain. We call this the “Make Way for Ducklings” picture.
Kids in rainy Kamakura
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gû duck carving
Temples and shrines are often decorated with ornate carvings. This duck is a particularly good example because the paint has been carefully maintained.

We took this picture at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gû, a shrine in Kamakura with a long and sometimes bloody history (a shogun was assassinated on its grounds).
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gû duck carving
Hase-dera scary koi
Almost all decorative ponds have koi, basically oversized goldfish. All koi tend to beg for food from visitors, but these were by far the worst.

This was at Hase-dera, a temple established to house another statue of Kannon. A monk carved two thirty-foot high statues, put one in a temple, and threw the other one into the ocean to find its home. It washed up in Kamakura and Hase-dera was built around it.
Hase-dera scary koi
Daibutsu at Kamakura
Another really large statue in Kamakura. This Buddha is a little smaller than the one in Nara, only forty-four feet tall, but we liked it much better as a piece of art, especially the peaceful way it fits in with the surrounding landscape. Also, it’s hollow and you can go inside, which is wonderful.
Daibutsu at Kamakura
Ninna-ji garden
Another peaceful scene, of a garden at Ninna-ji Temple.

(This was actually back in Kyoto, but the picture didn’t fit anywhere else.)
Ninna-ji garden
Shinjuku giant crab
This giant crab is in Shinjuku, a busy district of Tokyo. It’s been used as a landmark for years. Its claws, legs, and eyes all wave back and forth at passers-by.
Shinjuku giant crab
Harajuku crowds
It gets very crowded in Tokyo’s shopping districts on weekends. As this picture shows, Harajuku was so crowded that we didn’t even bother trying to shop. (The balloon mermaid may indicate that there was a festival or event going on; we couldn’t tell.)
Harajuku crowds
Hachikô statue
The dog Hachikô met his owner every night at the train station. After his owner died, Hachikô still went to the station waiting for him: every night for ten years. This statue was created in his honor.
Hachikô statue
Chad's-eye view of Tokyo subways
What Tokyo subways look like to Chad. While the most recent generations of Japanese people are a lot taller, it’s still a country designed for a much shorter population than in America.
Chad's-eye view of Tokyo subways
Nikkô Tôshô-gû main gate
Ieyasu Tokugawa founded the political dynasty that ruled Japan from 1600 to 1868. The book Shogun was loosely based on him. He was deified after his death and enshrined at Nikkô Tôshô-gû in the town of Nikkô.

The main gate of Nikkô Tôshô-gû, which is so elaborately carved that pictures can’t do it justice. All the buildings in the shrine complex are like this.
Nikkô Tôshô-gû main gate
Three wise monkeys
The famous three wise monkeys, carved on a stable at Nikkô Tôshô-gû, who “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
Three wise monkeys
Thunder god at Taiyûin-byô
Ieyasu Tokugawa’s grandson, Iemitsu, is enshrined near his grandfather. This statue is outside one of the gates. He’s the thunder god and is frequently seen at temple gates with the wind god, who is on the next page.
Thunder god at Taiyûin-byô
Wind god at Taiyûin-byô
The wind god at Iemitsu’s shrine. These are good examples of these common statues because the paint has been maintained.
Wind god at Taiyûin-byô
Chad at Kegon Falls
Kegon Falls is up in the mountains near Nikkô, up a road with forty-eight hairpin turns total. (The bus ride was very exciting.) A volcano erupted and created a nearby lake, which the Falls flow out of. An elevator takes you down one hundred yards through solid bedrock to this platform where you can take pictures and admire the view.
Chad at Kegon Falls
Ryokan river-side sitting area
After Yokohama, we spent two days in Takayama, a small mountain town. We stayed in a traditional inn, called a ryokan.

Kate at the small sitting area next to the windows. We’d just arrived and the air conditioning hadn’t kicked in yet. Note the fabulous river view.
Ryokan river-side sitting area
Ryokan dinner
The ryokan served breakfast and dinner in the room. Dinner in particular involved lots and lots of little dishes. This was dinner the first night (with Kate caught chewing).
Ryokan dinner
Chad in yukata
The robe that Kate was wearing in the last picture, and that Chad is wearing here, is called a yukata. It’s made of a stiff cotton and is worn to and from the bath. Our ryokan had a separate bathing room with a four-person tub filled with incredibly hot water. This turned out to be a good thing because a very hot soak helps loosen the muscles after sleeping on the floor in the traditional manner.

You can tell this is a ryokan that has a lot of Western visitors because this yukata is actually long enough to fit Chad.
Chad in yukata
Hida Folk Village
The Hida Folk Village is a collection of houses from the 1700s and 1800s, preserved to show traditional building styles. It also has craftspeople working on the premises.
Hida Folk Village
Takayama rice paddies, hills
This picture was taken from the train near Takayama. The flat green fields are rice paddies, which are everywhere in Japan, even where we’d think people’s backyards should be. But the country does not have a lot of room to grow food, so every bit of land counts.

In the background are some of Japan’s hills, which seem to start very abruptly from flat ground and to have a lot of folds.
Takayama rice paddies, hills
Beer vending machine, Ôsaka hotel
One of the unusual things about Japan is the contents of vending machines. This vending machine sells beer, which would never work in the U.S. because there’s no way to check the ages of buyers.
Beer vending machine, Ôsaka hotel
Underwear vending machine, Ôsaka hotel
This vending machine sells underwear. Seriously. Right in the middle row. (The top row, which is cut off in this picture, is snacks. We don’t know what’s in the bottom row.)

We also saw machines selling batteries, which makes sense, and fly-fishing gear, which is surprising, but we didn’t get pictures of those.
Underwear vending machine, Ôsaka hotel
Pow!
Another thing we found unusual about Japan is the advertising, which tends to use cartoon characters much more than in America. This sign was in Takayama and appeared to be advertising a seafood restaurant. We’re not sure why the octopus has punched the fish, knocking it over.
Pow!
Umeda Sky Building
We spent our last night in Ôsaka, a busy modern city. This is the Umeda Sky Building, a building with two forty-story towers connected at the top by an observatory. You get to the top by a glass elevator and a glass escalator from one tower to the other.
Umeda Sky Building
Ôsaka sunset
We visited the Umeda Sky Building’s observatory in time for sunset. It was a little too cloudy, but we still had fun sitting in the café, having a snack, and watching the sun set outside and reflected in the café table, as seen here.

That sunset finished our tourism in Japan. We flew home the next morning.

We hope you enjoyed taking this trip down memory lane with us!
Ôsaka sunset


glvalentine

2008-01-01 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Of all these pictures, "Engaku-ji gate in pouring rain" is somehow my favorite; evocative.

Oh, that and my "Hey, that robe fit Chad - what's going on there?" response by the end of it, poor guy.

kate_nepveu

2008-01-02 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)

(Both posts now with line breaks in the captions where they should be! Don't know how I missed that.)

Evocative, it certainly is; oh my goodness we got drenched. (One of the pictures that got cut for space was of the ridge path we took in that rain, just to show what a foolish thing it was to do . . . )

Seriously, they can't have a lot of call for yukata that fit people just under 2 meters tall . . .

glvalentine

2008-01-02 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Maybe the ninja-inn lady told them you were coming?

Link to scary picture?

kate_nepveu

2008-01-02 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Scary picture, at least the scariest I could find: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11070535@N08/1464094550/

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