Images from Japan (February 2016)

Work had been particularly busy this past 9 months or so. I’d had to cancel my annual Xmas trip to Japan to work on an equity project. My phase of work on the project had finally come to an end. It was time to take a well earned rest. Me and wifey came to spend some time in Tokyo and also to travel south to see some of the sites of interest in southern Honshu. This trip was to include a much anticipated visit to the historic and tragic city of Hiroshima. But first, it was time to enjoy some of the quirky sights, sounds and tastes of the streets of Tokyo:

Ginza street views [24.02.16]

My first full day in Japan after recovering from the overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur. A stroll around Ginza district, taking in the old and the new.

Ginza street signs (24.02.16)Street signs – new & old

Ginza street views [24.02.16] (5) [ed]Characterful cubby below the railway bridge

Ginza street views [24.02.16] (7) [ed]

Ginza street views [24.02.16] (6)Offering traditional style fare

Ginza street views [24.02.16] (10)

Ginza street views [24.02.16] (16)And more modern pleasures, for wild ones …!

Shushi Midori, Ginza [24.02.16] (1)

Shushi Midori, Ginza [24.02.16] (6)Difficult to beat the pleasures of Sushi Midori though!

Okayama Korakuen Garden [25.02.16]

Kōraku-en (後楽園, Kōrakuen), is a Japanese garden located in Okayama, Okyama Prefecture. It is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.  Korakuen was built in 1700 by Ikeda Tsunamasa, lord of Okyama. The garden reached its modern form in 1863.

The Korakuen is one of the few daimyo gardens in the provinces where historical change can be observed, thanks to the many Edo period paintings and Ikeda family records and documents left behind. The garden was used as a place for entertaining important guests and also as a spa of sorts for daimyo, although regular folk could visit on certain days.

In 1884, ownership was transferred to Okyama Prefecture and the garden was opened to the public. The garden suffered severe damage during the floods of 1934 and by bombing damage in 1945 during world War II. It has been restored based on Edo period paintings and diagrams. In 1952, the Korakuen was designated as a “special Scenic Location” under the Cultural Properties Protection Law and is managed as a historical cultural asset to be passed to future generations.

The garden is located on the north bank of the Aashi River on an island between the river and a developed part of the city. The garden was designed in the Kaiyu (“scenic promenade”) style which presents the visitor with a new view at every turn of the path which connects the lawns, ponds, hills, tea houses, and streams.

Okayama Korakuen Garden [25.02.16] (2)Sawe-no-ike Pond

Okayama Korakuen Garden [25.02.16] (5)Ryuten Pavilion

Okayama Korakuen Garden [25.02.16] (9)Jigen-do Temple

Okayama Korakuen Garden [25.02.16] (10) [ed]Inscribed stone near Jigen-do Temple

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16]

The Adachi Museum of Art (足立美術館, Adachi Bijutsukan) was established in Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture by local businessman, Zenko Adachi, in 1970. It houses a collection of modern Japanese art, including paintings by Taikan Yokoyama, and has a celebrated garden.

Photography was prohibited within the museum, but photographs of the classic Japanese Garden’s was allowed:

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16] (1)The Entrance Sign

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16] (4) [ed]The Moss Garden

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16] (9)The White Gravel Garden

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16] (11)

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16] (13) [ed]The Pond Garden

Adachi Museum of Art, Yasugi, Shimane [25.02.16] (14)The Dry Landscape Garden

Matsue Castle & Grounds, Shimane [26.02.16]

Ryokan at morning, Shimane [26.02.16] (3)Traditional Japanese breakfast at the Ryokan

Lake Shinji (宍道湖, Shinji-ko) is a lake in the northeast area of the Shimane Prefecture . The lake is the seventh largest in Japan, with a circumference of 48 kilometres (30 mi). It is enclosed by the Shimane Peninsula to the north, and the Izumo and Matsue plains to the west and east respectively.

Lake Shinji-ko is connected to the Sea of Japan via Nakaumi Lagoon, and as a result is made up of brakish  with an abundance of aquatic life, such as whitebait, eel and sea bass, and the most famous Lake Shinji-ko delicacy, the Shijimi clam.

Lake Shinji, Shimane Prefecture [26.02.16] (3)Jizo Statue – Lake Shinji

Matsue Castle (松江城, Matsue-jō) is a feudalcastle in Matsue  in Shimane Prefecture. It is one of the few remaining medieval castles in Japan. The castle retains its original stone and wood construction form.

The construction of Matsue Castle began in 1607 and finished in 1611, under the local lord Horio Yoshiharu. In 1638, the fief and castle passed to the Matsudaira clan, a junior branch of the ruling Tokugawa clan.

Matsue Castle & Grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (5) [rc]Matsue Castle – outer wall

Matsue Castle & Grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (2) [ed]Matsue Castle grounds – marker stones

Matsue Castle & grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (9)Mastsue Castle surrounds

Matsue Castle & grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (10) [ed]Matusue Castle grounds

Matsue Castle & grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (12)Matsue Castle – 16th Century

Matsue Castle & grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (18)View from Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle & grounds, Shimane [26.02.16] (19)Wifey inside Matsue Castle

Yaegaki Shrine, Matsue [26.02.16]

Yaegaki Shrine (八重垣神社, Yaegaki Jinja), is aShinto shrine in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.

Yaegaki Shrine, Matsue [26.02.16] (2)Yaegaki Shrine – view from main entrance

Yaegaki Shrine, Matsue [26.02.16] (5)Yaegaki Shrine buildings

The gods Susanoo and princess Kushinada are enshrined here. This shrine is dedicated to marriage and matchmaking. The people who come to this shrine often pray for a marriage partner, good marital relations, pregnancy and healthy child-bearing. In keeping with this theme, several large wooden phalluses can be found on the shrine’s grounds:

Yaegaki Shrine, Matsue [26.02.16] (7)Yaegaki Shrine – wooden anatomical fertility symbol

Izumo Oyashiro, Shimane [26.02.16]

Izumo Oyashiro (also known as Izumo-taisha, 出雲大社), Izuma Grand Shrine, is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan, located in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture. It is dedicated to the god Okuninushi (Ōkuninushi-no-mikoto), famous as the Shinto deity of marriage.

Izumo Oyashiro, Shimane [26.02.16] (2) [ed]Izumo-taisha’s Kaguraden (神楽殿 Kagura hall)

Izumo Oyashiro, Shimane [26.02.16] (3) [ed]Caligraphy and lantern alongside the Kagura hall

Izumo Oyashiro, Shimane [26.02.16] (8)Bronze torii gate in front of the prayer hall (haiden)

Izumo Oyashiro, Shimane [26.02.16] (9) [ed]Buildings in the inner sanctuary

Izumo Oyashiro, Shimane [26.02.16] (16) [rc ed]Buildings in the inner sanctuary

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and Omori Town [26.02.16]

The Iwami Ginzan (石見銀山) was an underground silver mine in the city of Oda, in Shimane Prefecture in Honshu. It was the largest silver mine in Japanese history. It was active for almost four hundred years, from its discovery in 1526 to its closing in 1923.

The mine was discovered and developed in 1526 by Kamiya Jutei, a Japanese merchant. It reached its peak production in the early 1600s, with approximately 38 tons of silver a year, then one third of the world’s production.

Silver from the mine was used widely for coins in Japan. It was contested fiercely by warlord until the  Tokugawa Shogunate took control of it in 1600 after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.

Silver production from the mine fell in the 19th century, as it had trouble competing with mines elsewhere in the world. Mining for other minerals, such as copper, then replaced silver as the predominant material produced from the mountain. The mine was eventually closed in 1923.

Iwami Ginzan Silver mine [26.02.16] (3)Ryūgen-ji mabu (mine shaft)

Iwami Ginzan Silver mine stoneworks [26.02.16]Memorial pillar and old stone lantern

Iwami Ginzan Omori [26.02.16] (3) [ed]Main street, Omori

Iwami Ginzan Omori [26.02.16] (4) [rc]Post box, Iwami Ginzan Omori

Iwami Ginzan Omori [26.02.16] (12)Temple detail – wooden gargoyle

Hiroshima Peace Memorial [27.02.16]

The first ever atomic bomb, code named “Little Boy”, containing 141lb (64 kg) of enriched uranium,  was dropped on Hiroshima at 08:15 on the 6th of August, 1945. The bomb exploded 4.4 seconds later at an altitude of 600m. Devestation and loss of life was massive.

Hiroshima A-Bomb history [27.02.16] (10)Panorama view – 160m from ground zero

Hiroshima Industrial Promotion Hall (29.02.16)Hiroshima Industrial Promotion Hall – before, after and as it is today

Hiroshima A-Bomb history [27.02.16] (6) [c]Hiroshima Industrial Promotion Hall (27.02.16)

Hiroshima - epicenter peace clock (27.02.16)Hiroshima A-Bomb epicentre – Peace Clock

Hiroshima - Bell of Peace [27.02.16]Hiroshima A-Bomb epicentre – Peace Bell

Hiroshima - A-Bomb blast and heat damage [27.02.16]Hiroshima A-Bomb : examples of blast and heat damage

After spending a very sobering and moving morning at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, it was time to move on to Miyajima Island. This is a place of beauty, demonstrating man’s creativity and artistic skills, in stark contrast to the preceding example of man’s inhumanity to man. It was good to add some sense of balance after the harrowing history of the atomic bomb attack and it’s aftermath:

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16]

Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese: 厳島神社 Itsukushima-jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as  Miyajima), in the city of Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture. The shrine has a famous tori gate set in the water infront of the shrine, which is separated from land at high tide.

Itsukushima Shrine torii [27.02.16]Itsukushima Shrine O-torii, stone torii and site information

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (10)Itsukushima Shrine  – “floating” O-torii

The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, and is believed to follow an earlier design from the 12th century. That design was established in 1168, when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori.

The shrine was “devoted to the worship of goddesses to whom Kiyomori owed thanks, he felt, for his success in life.” Originally it was a pure Shinto shrine “where no births or deaths were allowed to cause pollution.

The shrine was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay  so that it would appear to be floating on the water, separate from the sacred island, which could be approached by the devout.

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (8) [ed]Statue of a lion-like guardian at the temple entrance

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (17) [rc ed]Itsukushima Shrine corridor (Kairo)

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (19)View of O-torii from the corridor to the main shrine

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (27) [ed]Guardian dragon, Taka-butai

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (33) [rc ed]

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (28) [c]Views of the O-torii gate and ornamental lantern from Taka-butai

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (34) [ed]Taka-butai (High stage)

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (38)Sori-bashi (Arched bridge)

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima [27.02.16] (49) [rc]Samuri warrior (the one in armour)

 Street Views – Shimbashi and Ueno [28.02.16]

After our return to Tokyo on Saturday evening, and a good lie in, it was time to tour Tokyo again, this time in search of nice food and for views of modern Japan:

Modern Japan - Shibashi [28.02.16]Razor edged building and bizarre modern sculpture, Shimbashi

Bluefin Tuna posters, Ueno (montage)Tuna posters, showing Bluefin tuna and the different quality of tuna cuts

Ueno fishy views [28.02.16] (2)Salmon advertisement in a fishmongers, Ueno

Ueno fishy views [28.02.16] (4)Fresh (still alive) crabs on ice, fishmonger, Ueno

 Tsukiji Fish Market [29.02.16]

AG at Tsukiji (29.02.16)Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (1)Frozen Bluefin tuna (#1)

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (16)Frozen Bluefin tuna (2#)

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (20)Cutting frozen Bluefin tuna with a band-saw

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (30) [ed]Collecting Bluefin tuna heads for use in cosmetic products

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (33)Bluefin tuna eye balls – nothing goes to waste

Tsukiji Market - assorted sea food (29.02.16)Example of the quality and variety of fish, squid and shellfish on sale

Tsukiji Market - Irish Bluefin Tuna (29.02.16)Bluefin tuna from Ireland ….!!

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (6)The fish need to be cut – high quality Japanese fish knives

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (35) [rc]Fishermen’s shrine stonework

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (42)Large Bluefin tuna head at a sushi stall

Tokyo Tsukiji Market [29.02.16] (45) [ed]Japanese “sandwich” – salmon and tuna onigiri

Tsukiji Tuna advertising displays (29.02.16)Tuna displays, advertising sushi restaurants

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