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.
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.
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:
Matsue Castle & Grounds, Shimane [26.02.16]
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.
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.
Yaegaki Shrine, Matsue [26.02.16]
Yaegaki Shrine (八重垣神社, Yaegaki Jinja), is aShinto shrine in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.
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:
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.
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.
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 epicentre – Peace Bell
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.
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.
Taka-butai (High stage)
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:
Salmon advertisement in a fishmongers, Ueno
Fresh (still alive) crabs on ice, fishmonger, Ueno
Tsukiji Fish Market [29.02.16]
Frozen Bluefin tuna (#1)
Frozen Bluefin tuna (2#)
Cutting frozen Bluefin tuna with a band-saw
Collecting Bluefin tuna heads for use in cosmetic products
Fishermen’s shrine stonework
Japanese “sandwich” – salmon and tuna onigiri