Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bad weather

Sorry about the lack of pictures.  It's just been crappy rainy weather most of this past week.  When it was not pouring rain it was a light misty rain.  I have been out enjoying Tokyo but nothing that I have been doing has been interesting enough to bother recording with photos.  Tomorrow (Sunday) really isn't looking much better right now either.  In fact the weather doesn't seem to be really clearing up here until later next week, after I have left of course.

The only thing of interest was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan near the Fukushima Daiichi reactors just before midnight last night.  Far enough away from Tokyo that it was just a bit of minor shaking here for about a minute.

Well at least this time I didn't lose a car to a flood.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Shibuya

A few photos from just wandering around Shibuya tonight.








Friday, August 21, 2015

Bright Lights, Big City

Wandering around Shinjuku at night.










Tokyo

I'm in Tokyo now for the last portion of my trip.   I may catch a festival or two and I may visit a tourist area or two but I probably won't be posting as often as I have been.  I just want to enjoy this city.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Himeji Castle

I visited Himeji Castle in 2008 during my first trip to Japan.  I decided to revisit it today because it underwent 5 years of restoration work that was completed earlier this year.  

Here's a picture I took during my first visit 7 years ago:




And here are a few pictures I took today:







It looks a little more white to me, I guess.  It probably looks much better in sunlight rather than on a rainy day.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Okayama Korakuen

I'm in Okayama for a few days.  After arriving on the train I stopped by the Korakuen Garden.  It is considered to be one of Japan's three best landscape gardens.  One of the others is the Kenrokuen in Kanazawa that I visited last year.  The Korakuen Garden was originally completed in 1700 and has been maintained and repaired (it was destroyed during WWII) ever since, with very few changes made to its original appearance.




Feeding time.


Tea plantation.


Rice fields.


Okayama castle in the background.  It is a concrete reconstruction of the original castle.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Night photos

Just posting a few pictures I took while wandering around tonight.









Sunday, August 16, 2015

Uji, floating lanterns, and fishing by firelight

I headed south of Kyoto today to the small city of Uji.  Uji seems to be all about matcha (green tea).  There were cafes, restaurants, and stores with green tea sweets, green tea noodles, green tea drinks and green tea ice cream.  While there I visited the Byodoin Temple, a Buddhist temple with distinctly Chinese influences.


Green tea ice cream with matcha powder sprinkled on top.
















I saw this old gentleman fishing in the river.  I'm not sure if he caught anything though.




In the evening, after having returned to Kyoto, I headed to the Arashiyama area for the Paper Lantern Festival.  People float paper lanterns down the river as part of Obon.  Obon is the Japanese Buddhist custom of honouring their ancestors spirits.  The lanterns in the river are guiding the spirits back to their own world.











Looking over from the other bank.




After walking away from the crowds I found that there was a demonstration of cormorant fishing (Ukai) going on just a little ways up river.  The fisherman use trained cormorants to catch the fish underwater and bring them back to the boat.  A snare around the bird's neck prevents it from swallowing its catch.  This method of fishing dates back 1300 years in some parts of Japan.





Video of the lantern festival and the cormorant fishing.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kyoto

I'm in Kyoto.  One of my favourite cities.  All the touristy places were very crowded tonight.  I'd advise anyone with vacation time to go to visit Italy right now because I think every Italian is here in Kyoto with me.   Because of the crowds I wandered away from my usual areas (Gion and Higashiyama) and wound up finding some very beautiful and fairly quiet areas to walk through.

A quiet back street.





A cemetery going up the side of a hill and lit up with lights. 


You get some interesting results with overexposed pictures at night.


Looking down Shijo street.