Saturday, May 24, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tokyo - Day 2

I'm just enjoying being in Tokyo.  Visiting new places and places I haven't been since my first trip here 6 years ago.   While enjoying a stroll through Meiji Shrine, I happened across another wedding party.  Again I stayed way, way back and shot these pictures at max zoom.

Trying to get everyone in their places for a photo.

Making sure everyone looks perfect.

Aaaaaaaaannnd......stupid tourists.

Later at night I went out to get a shot of the new Tokyo Skytree.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


I'm in Tokyo for the last few days of my trip.  After arriving on the Shinkansen from Nagoya, I just got off the train and wandered around taking in the familiar sights of Shinjuku.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Toyota Museum

A rainy day and I had nothing really planned that I wanted to see so I went to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.   I didn't know this until visiting the museum but the Toyota company started out in the textile industry.  Sakichi Toyoda started Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, which would later become Toyota, in the early 1900s.

I guess his greatest invention was a type of automatic loom that would stop if there was a problem.  In 1924 it became the highest performance automatic loom in the world.

The 1924 Toyoda Automatic Loom.

Circular Loom invented by Toyoda in 1906.

There were many displays of looms (not just Toyoda looms) and other tools used for producing textiles from throughout the ages.  From hand spindles for turning cotton into yarn to giant modern machinery that does it for a hundred spindles at a time.  From early wooden hand looms, to modern air jet looms that do intricate patterns.  It was surprisingly interesting.

Modern air jet loom.

Then the museum offered displays on what I was actually expecting, cars.  The Automobile Section of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works was started in 1933 by Sakichi's son Kiichiro.  To learn about how automobiles worked they reversed engineered a 1933 General Motors car Kiichiro had purchased and their early designs were based of off GM and Ford vehicles that were already on the roads of Japan.

The 1936 AA.  Toyota's first production vehicle.

The 1935 G1.  Toyota's first truck.

1955 Toyopet Crown.

1970 Celica.

First generation Prius.  1997.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A walk in the past

Today I took a journey I've been wanting to do since my first trip to Japan in 2008.  I never seemed to get around to it on my previous trips but this time I made certain that I made this journey.  Between Nagoya and Nagano there is an area called Kiso Valley in the Central Alps of Japan.  Starting about 400 years ago this area became part of the Nakasendo, the "path through the mountains", one of the two routes between Kyoto and the new capital Edo (Tokyo).  Because of this flow of commerce along the Nakasendo post towns developed every few kilometers to give travellers places to eat, rest and find a place to sleep at night.  Two of these post towns, Magome and Tsumago, have sections that have been preserved and restored to appear as they did during this time and they are connected by a maintained section of the former Naksendo.  It's an 8km hike I've been waiting 6 years to make.


First stop is the town of Magome.  About an hour train ride, followed by a 30 minute bus ride outside of Nagoya.  I arrived about 9:30am and the town was just starting to wake up.  Only a few shops were open.  There were a few tourists in the town, some of whom had stayed overnight in ryokans (traditional Japanese inns).

Official notice board containing decrees from the Shogunate.

And away I go!


It is a slightly easier walk from Magome to Tsumago.  About 3km uphill until you crest the mountain and then about 5km mostly downhill to Tsumago.  It is a very beautiful walk and for the most part I was alone on the path with only the occasional traveller heading past me making the opposite trek from Tsumago to Magome.

Every once in a while there would be bells on posts with signs reading "Ring the bell hard.  Against bears."  I never did because I figured that any bears in the area are probably used to the sounds of the bells by now.  So rather than being a deterrent it would just tell the hungry bear exactly where its next meal was located.

I stepped off the path to enjoy a few minutes walking in a bamboo grove.   Can't do this at home.

There were a few other little villages along the path.  Not much there, just a few houses and no one around.  It was a little eery the first time I came across one to just walk through with neither sight nor sound of another human being.

At one point I popped out into a clearing and found a little teahouse at the side of the path.  It was run by a friendly Japanese man who offers free tea and a chance to sit and rest to travellers.  He only asks that you sign his book with your name and where you are from.

Two trees that are nearly 300 years old that have grown together into one tree.

About half way.


I arrived in Tsumago after a 2 ½ hour walk.  It was about 1:00pm and there were a few busloads of tourists in town but it was still pretty quiet.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I'm staying in Nagoya for the next few days.  After a 3 hour train ride from Kanazawa I just wandered around the city a little bit before checking into my hotel.  I didn't visit anything special or noteworthy so no pictures for now.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Today I headed to Shirakawa-go, about a 1½ hour bus ride outside of Kanazawa.  There is a village there called Ogimachi with many traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses.

A few of the farmhouses were open for tourists to walk through.

Ground floor.

Second floor.

Third floor.