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Posts tagged japan pictures

Nikko 日光

Last week, hoping to see a bit of snowy Japan, we headed north to Nikko for a night. Ironically, the night before we left, Tokyo experienced its first real snow of the winter. The way there was beautiful, with the snow covering shitamachi in Asakusa and extending all the way to Nikko.

We purchased a Tobu Nikko World Heritage Pass, which saved us several thousand yen. Some sites on the internet say you need to show your passport with your “visitor visa” in order to obtain the pass and prove you are not residing in Japan. However, I could find nothing on Tobu’s site stating such. They didn’t ask for our passports or any proof so I suppose this restriction of “foreigner’s only” is either no longer the case or not enforced.

The top photo is of Shinkyo (神橋), one of the first things we saw upon arrival in Nikko. I’m sure it looks great in any season, but I thought it was very nice with fresh snow.

The Sacred Stables (厩神 or umayagami) can be found on the grounds of the Toshogu Shrine (東照宮). I didn’t realize the place was so famous until doing a little research after our trip as no one was taking pictures of it, even though I thought it was lovely in the snow. Actually, there were few people period, which is probably very unusual for Toshogu. A weekday in the dead of winter is a good time to avoid the crowds (and be very cold in the process).

Why is umayagami famous? Because of this:

The oldest rendition of the “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” monkeys (三猿) can be found here.

Tama River Walk

As mentioned a couple days ago, Tokyo experienced some January temperatures in the 60s (upper teens by local Celsius measures). To celebrate, I took another of the Day Walks Near Tokyo. Walk #9 is called Tama River.

Most of the content in the book about this walk is too dated to be useful. For starters, the book (copyright 1992) states the Komiya Station (小宮駅) has only one exit. Sometime in the past 18 years, a second exit was added to the station, and, of course, that happened to be the one I took which left me instantly lost for the first of a dozen or more times during the day.

Eventually, I found myself in the neighborhood pictured in today’s entry. Parts of this neighborhood didn’t exist in 1992 (although much of the above photo probably did), but this area is along the route of the suggested hike.

There is now a firefighter training center near the Tama River (多摩川), and a group of kids were on a field trip to watch the action.

Did I mention the weather was lovely? You can see part of the kotatsu (炬燵) in this home, but the residents wouldn’t need to use it on this warm day.

Mt. Mitake Hike – Part 2 (Kori Station to Mt. Otsuka)

thatched roof building near kori station 古里駅

Before actually getting on the trail, the road from Kori Station (古里駅) to the dirt path is very scenic.

fall colors in japan near tokyo

There are thatched-roof houses, small farms, and colors galore.

japanese mountains farms kori tokyo japan okutama nishitama

After turning to the right, you will begin to climb. The views don’t last long as after a few hundred steps you will be in the trees for at least a couple of hours.

ellie at crossroads kori station 古里駅 mt. mitake road sign

If you can’t read kanji, and are doing this hike without a Japanese person with you, you’ll want a list of what a few dozen kanji mean. The trails are well marked for the most part, but you can easily get lost if you take a wrong turn. The signs don’t have any romaji on them. There are many junctions, some going off in more than a half dozen different directions.

An evening in Tokyo

mt. fuji sunset from shinjuku tokyo japan

On a recent, extremely clear sky day, after rain and wind, I went to the top of Shinjuku to watch the sun set. It was marvelous. And yes, that is Mt. Fuji (in the upper right part of the photo) from Tokyo. The sun set on one side of the building and then…

shinjuku at dusk full moon

The moon rose over the other side of Shinjuku…

night shot of shinjuku east exit

And then the people came out to play…

Kamakura – Part 1

giant buddha kamakura daibutsu

I recently visited Kamakura for the second time in my life and first time in over 21 years. The Daibutsu (大仏) hadn’t changed, unlike Shinjuku, but it was great to be in its presence again. Photographs can’t impress the feeling that comes from actually standing at the base of this giant.

kamakura japan daibutsu history sign giant buddah

Sumo – Part 2

sumo square off tokyo ryogoku japan rikishi

These two makuuchi (top division of 42) wrestlers (Toyonoshima (豊ノ島) on the left and Takamisakari (高見盛)) are an instant away from smashing into each other. The referee stands between them with his gunbai. You can also see one of the five shinpan (judges) to the left of the referee in this picture. Don’t miss the expressions on the faces in the crowd either.

sumo pillow seat cushion

One thing I hadn’t noticed when I first witnessed sumo in person 21 years ago, nor have I seen on the NHK broadcasts of sumo, is that the higher ranking sumo wrestlers each have their own special cushion to sit on while waiting for their bout. Most are brightly colored and feature the sumo’s theme. For instance, the wrestler with this orange pillow (武州山 隆士, Bushuyama) may also wear an orange kimono into the stadium (pictures of the top sumo wrestlers entering the stadium forthcoming) and may also have an orange, embroidered apron (keshomawashi) to wear during the ring-entering ceremony before his matches.

It seemed a bit silly to see the colorful seat cushions trotted in and out on a continual basis.

advertising at sumo match ryogoku tokyo japan mcdonalds makudonarudo

The advertising between matches was also somewhat ridiculous. You sort of miss it on TV as NHK usually switches to commentators or have writing over the ads featuring the upcoming wrestlers’ names and records. You can’t miss it in person though. The ad for Ozeki Sake before the ozeki matches seemed somewhat clever and brought a smile to my face, but ads for McDonalds and one for a place to have your pet cared for are very much out of place. The ads are walked around the ring, sometimes after the wrestlers are already in the ring, and can actually prevent the sumo guys from getting into the ring or back to their corner.

I understand the sponsored bouts feature more prize money due to the advertising; the money is presented to the winning wrestler in an envelope on the gunbai immediately after victory. I’ll show you a photo of that performance in a future blog entry.

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