日本での一年間

May 11, 2009

Shirakawago

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 2:15 am

While in Takayama, we took a day trip to Shirakawago (白川郷), a small town up in the mountains famous for its gassho zukuri houses (合掌造り), which means ‘hands in prayer’ style. They’re a kind of wooden house with a steep rafter roof. That area of Japan is part of Snow Country (雪国), and gets some of the most snow in Japan. That’s a big reason why this style of architecture developed. It was common throughout the region, but now can only be seen in a few places, such as Shirakawago. I had wanted to visit during the winter, so I could see the gassho houses covered in snow, when they are supposed to be quite spectacular, but by the time we got there, the snow was mostly melted, only a few piles here and there in the shade.

There arent any trains to Shirakawago, most people get there on tour buses, like the ones in the bottom left of this picture.

There aren't any trains to Shirakawago, most people get there on tour buses, like the ones in the bottom left of this picture. It was very rainy the day we went to Shirakawago.

Even the restaurants and souvenir shops are gassho zukuri style buildings

Even the restaurants and souvenir shops are gassho zukuri style buildings

Right next to a gassho zukuri house

Right next to a gassho zukuri house

Another gassho zukuri house

Another gassho zukuri house

Looking out at gassho zukuri houses from the attic of another house

Looking out at gassho zukuri houses from the attic of another house

Babbling brook that goes past the gassho zukuri homes

Babbling brook that goes past the gassho zukuri homes

The house thats covered in plastic is set to have its roof repaired. Then roofs are repaired by groups of volunteers, who want to help preserve history

The house that's covered in plastic is set to have its roof repaired. Then roofs are repaired by groups of volunteers, who want to help preserve history

The homes next to the river

The homes next to the river

A lantern framed by poles that mimic the gassho zukuri style

A lantern framed by poles that mimic the gassho zukuri style

Shirakawago is a little village in a valley surrounded by mountains.

Shirakawago is a little village in a valley surrounded by mountains.

May 10, 2009

Travelling, from Nagoya to Hida-Takayama

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 12:43 am

I’m putting these pictures up kind of out of order, since I already put up pictures from Takayama, but these are some pictures from the train ride to Takayama, specifically between Nagoya and Takayama. We went to Nagoya from Tokyo by Shinkansen, Bullet Train, and then transferred to a limited express train. That ride went through mountains and past streams and was very pleasant. The following are some pictures from that trip.

Rice fields below the mountains

Rice fields below the mountains

Sunlight peaks out from behind the mountains

Sunlight peaks out from behind the mountains

more fields below the mountains

more fields below the mountains

stream that seems to come out from the mountainside

stream that seems to come out from the mountainside

April 25, 2009

Takayam (Part 4-Nikko)

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Nearby but not quite in Tokyo, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 4:08 am

Nikko (日光) is a town in Tochigi prefecture, a little ways North of Tokyo. It is famous for it’s shrines and temples, which are supposed to look especially beautiful when the autumn leaves change color (紅葉). The area is a UNESCO world heritage site. But what does this have to do with Takayama?

Takayama also has Nikko, in miniature. Takayama has a small museum with a 1/10th scale version of the shrines and temples of Nikko. The museum is pretty much one large room, with the building models spread out throughout the room. The lighting in the room slowly cycles to simulate daylight, sundown, nighttime, sunrise, and daylight again.

Some of miniature Nikko

Some of miniature Nikko

miniature pagoda

miniature pagoda

Looks like the sun might be going down now

Looks like the sun might be going down now

The chinese characters that spell the name Nikko (日光) mean sunlight.

The chinese characters that spell the name Nikko (日光) mean sunlight.

April 24, 2009

Takayama (Part 3)

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:14 am

Another set of pictures from Takayama:

A modern style building in Takayama

A modern style building in Takayama

Rickshaw!

Rickshaw!

This was outside a museum commemorating the Showa era (1925-1988)

This was outside a museum commemorating the Showa era (1925-1988)

Takayama station

Takayama station

April 23, 2009

Takayama (Part 2)

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 1:14 am

More pictures from Takayama:

There are several old style houses that you can pay a small fee to enter and walk around and see the old architecture and some displays they might have available to look at. But in this house, they also had this little alcove in the back where they played Jazz records and had a permanent display of an artists work. (I forget the artists name...) I really liked the atmosphere of this back room and I sort of ignored most of the other things in this place and just sat a relaxed here for a while.

There are several old style houses that you can pay a small fee to enter and walk around and see the old architecture and some displays they might have available to look at. But in this house, they also had this little alcove in the back where they played Jazz records and had a permanent display of an artist's work. (I forget the artist's name...) I really liked the atmosphere of this back room and I sort of ignored most of the other things in this place and just sat a relaxed here for a while.

A little creek

A little creek

Inside the former government house of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the last one still standing. Storehouse area of the building.

Inside the former government house of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the last one still standing. Storehouse area of the building.

Former Tokugawa Shogunate government office. hallway.

Former Tokugawa Shogunate government office. hallway.

Former Tokugawa Shogunate office. Old school torture devieces.

Former Tokugawa Shogunate office. Old school torture devices.

Former Tokugawa Shogunate office. pictures displaying how they used the above torture devieces

Former Tokugawa Shogunate office. pictures displaying how they used the above torture devices

April 22, 2009

Takayama (Part 1)

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:37 pm

Takayama (飛騨高山) is a city in Gifu prefecture, a little ways north of Nagoya, in the Hida region. It’s a popular tourist destination because it has a small neighborhood thats been preserved as it was during the Edo period. It also is surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains in the winter and is known for it’s beef. (It may not be as popular as it’s rival, Kobe beef, but it’s well known in Japan and cheaper.) The following are some pictures I took when I went there in March.

the river

the river

sake

sake

green tea and sembei (rice crackers), which they sell fresh on the streets

green tea and sembei (rice crackers), which they sell fresh on the streets

April 7, 2009

Nagoya

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 5:23 am

On our trip, we had only half a day in Nagoya. We wanted to go on a free factory tour I had found out about, but they only had tours they were offering in the afternoon, so we unfortunately couldn’t go.

After Nagoya castle (which I’ll post pictures of later because I decided it was too similar to Osaka castle to post them right after one another), we had an hour and a half free before we had to be back at Nagoya station to meet a friend. We weren’t sure what we could do in that time, but my travel buddy found a park we could walk around halfway between the castle and Nagoya station, so we headed over there.

Nagoya Tower and Central Park (which is actually a shopping mall underground, beneath a park)

Nagoya Tower and Central Park (which is actually a shopping mall underground, beneath a park)

pond

pond

Man by the pond

Man by the pond

Funky modern building across the street

Funky modern building across the street

The tower from much closer

The tower from much closer

bridge

bridge

shiny glass buildings

shiny glass buildings

the bridge from closer

the bridge from closer

fountain

fountain

Los Angeles and Nagoya. Apparently theyre sister cities

Los Angeles and Nagoya. Apparently they're sister cities

reproduction of some of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

reproduction of some of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Anne Bancroft's star.

bridge and tower

bridge and tower

April 4, 2009

Ise Shrine (Part 3-Inner Shrine)

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 1:08 am

I wrote a bit about Ise shrine in my previous post about the outer shrine. For more information, you can also look at the official website. The link is to their English page.

Right outside the shrine. You can already see them preparing to rebuild it in 2013

Right outside the shrine. You can already see them preparing to rebuild it in 2013

My friend, with her lovely red umbrella, walking up to the shrine

My friend, with her lovely red umbrella, walking up to the shrine

The river running along next to the shrine

The river running along next to the shrine

Theres also an abundance of trees within the shrine grounds.

There's also an abundance of trees within the shrine grounds.

Shrine buildings

Shrine buildings, some of those that the public is allowed to see. As I wrote in my previous post, most of the buildings are closed off to the public.

Im not sure why, but there were chickens there

I'm not sure why, but there were chickens there

buds on the trees

buds on the trees

the light on this green spot was really nice when we happened to walk past it

the light on this green spot was really nice when we happened to walk past it

April 2, 2009

Ise Shrine (Part 2 – Aka Fuku)

Filed under: Chubu, Cuisine, Desserts, Domestic, Food, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 3:48 pm

After the visiting the Outer Shrine, we went to a store called Aka Fuku to get something to eat, a recommend my friend had received when she told someone she was going to Ise. Aka Fuku is apparently the most famous store in Ise city. Their menu was very simple. They simply had a display case next to the cash register with two items inside. One was their famous Aka Fuku Mochi, Mochi (glutinous rice cake) topped with red bean paste, and the other was zensai, a kind of red bean soup with mochi in it. We ordered one of each and sat down.

Everyone sits on benches there and because the whole place is out to the open, they have cauldron like things with small fires gong that you can sit next to to keep warm. Along with the sweets, they give you all the hot green tea you want, continuing to refill until you leave. The food was delicious. And after going to Ise, we saw these sweets sold everywhere. They sold them at Ise station, Nagoya station, Kyoto station and Osaka station. Apparently, these sweets were originally only sold in Ise, but they became more popular and they’re now sold over a much larger region as souvenirs.

Here’s the Akafuku English Website, and the Japanese site.

The arcade that the main store of Aka Fuku is located in. They have at least 2 stores in Ise city.

The arcade that the main store of Aka Fuku is located in. They have at least 2 stores in Ise city.

Aka Fuku mochi and our tea. It makes a face!

Aka Fuku mochi and our tea. It makes a face!

same stuff from a normal angle

same stuff from a normal angle

zensai. we had to wait a little bit longer for them to bring it out.

zensai. we had to wait a little bit longer for them to bring it out.

Aka fuku waitress

Aka fuku waitress

The people sitting an enjoying their food in Aka Fuku

The people sitting an enjoying their food in Aka Fuku

Ise Shrine (Part 1- Outer Shrine)

Filed under: Chubu, Domestic, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 2:40 am

After leaving Kobe, we went towards Ise (we actually made a brief stop in Osaka at 6 am, but I’ll post those pictures later). In the city of Ise, pretty much all there is to see is the Ise shrine, one of the most important shrines of the Shinto religion. The Shrine is enormous and split up into two sprawling complexes, the outer shrine and the inner shrine. The outer shrine is a short walk from the train station and the inner shrine is a 20 minute bus ride away from there. Ise city is located in Mie prefecture and isn’t next to any major cities, but because this shrine is so important, there are express trains linking Ise to both the Kansai area (meaning Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe) and Nagoya. And the city is packed with tourists who come in on the 2 train lines and on buses.

The shrine is dedicated to Ameterasu, the sun goddess, and is rebuilt every 20 years. Apparently this rebuilding is related to a Shinto belief about death and renewal. But it’s certainly very expensive to constantly rebuild the huge shrine. On the day we visited the shrine, it was raining violently all morning, right up until the time we reached the shrine. It seemed like the sun god herself was preventing the rain from falling on her shrine and coming out to greet us. As soon as we reached the shrine, it was suddenly sunny.

One unfortunate thing about this shrine, however, is that most of it is closed off to the public. The buildings themselves are beautiful, but you can only catch small glimpses of it through holes in the fences or over barriers. Still, the shrine is worth a visit in my opinion, especially the bigger inner shrine.

a bridge leading up to the outer shrine

a bridge leading up to the outer shrine

Shinto gate

Shinto gate

The only real part of the shrine the public can go to. But you cant take pictures once past that gate. Some people, after sawing their prayers inside the gate, bow upon exiting, as these people are doing.

The only real part of the shrine the public can go to. But you can't take pictures once past that gate. Some people, after sawing their prayers inside the gate, bow upon exiting, as these people are doing.

One of the barriers that prevents you from seeing the actual shrine

One of the barriers that prevents you from seeing the actual shrine

you can kind of see the shrine over the fence, behind the trees.

you can kind of see the shrine over the fence, behind the trees.

After we’d walked through the whole outer shrine, my friend who I was traveling with asked me, “Where’s the outer shrine?” She didn’t know that most of the shrine is blocked off.

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