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Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Posts relating to Japan and things Japanese

Approaching the Shodensanso Villa

As I mentioned in "Oppressive Crowds at the Shodensanso Villa" the other day, I paid my first visit to the "mountain cottage" Shodensanso (松殿山荘) this weekend. It's a half-hour drive south-east from my place in Kyoto, just over the border into Uji City.

From the makeshift parking area created for the special event, the path up to the villa looked like an empty river bed or canal.

Anyway, after coming up through the gate, one can approach the main house...

I didn't notice it at the time, but the lowermost tiles along the edge of the roof have the name [...]


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Oppressive Crowds at the Shodensanso Villa in South-Eastern Kyoto

(You can't tell in the wigglegram, but she was looking at a wonderful garden out in the bright sunlight.)

The peak of Kyoto's fall-foliage season is upon us, and today was likely the most crowded day the city has seen all year, if not all decade. It's the middle of a three-day weekend, and every hotel room is taken. (I know two people who wanted to visit Kyoto but couldn't get a hotel; one stayed 30km away in Osaka, and the other at our house.) The streets across the city were parking lots and the crowds were oppressive.

But not [...]


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An Among-the-Fall-Colors “What am I?” Quiz

The other temple we visited on Tuesday's outing after the spectacular Yoshiminedera (seen here and here) is one known as the "Flower Temple" (hanadera -- 花寺), though its official name is the Shojiji Temple (勝持寺).

In any case, the thing seen above was sitting on the veranda of the main temple building. On the front in faded big characters is 「大原野」(Oharano), the name of the area.

On the side is a date: July 1889.

What is this 125-year-old thing?

As usual with my "What am I?" quizzes, I'll keep all comments from appearing until after I reveal the answer in [...]


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Autumn 2014 Trip to Kyoto’s Yoshiminedera Shrine, Part 2

A few more from yesterday's visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple, about which I posted last night in "The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple".

The photo above is similar to one seen yesterday, but with a different, exaggerated presentation.

The parking lot was surprisingly unfilled, so we made a bee-line to the photogenic path seen in yesterday's lead photo...

Heading up that way, you get a nice view of the main temple building that we'd zipped on past, and the trees on the face of the opposing mountain in the background....

Sometimes the [...]


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Learning Japanese Slang For Ridiculously Large Portions, at Restaurant Kasuga in South-Western Kyoto

After yesterday's visit to the spectacular Yoshiminedera Temple in south-western Kyoto, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant we happened across on the way to the next temple. It seemed like an average lunch cafe, but it had a shocking surprise in store for us.

昨日の昼ご飯は京都市西京区の「茶房か寿が」で食べました。 ポールさんの注文は「マグロとアボカド丼定食」を大盛りにしましたが、びっくりほど大きいマンガ盛りマグロが多かった。本当に8〜10倍位見込みより多かった。1200円だけでめっちゃメッチャ良かったです。マグロはハイークオリティーでした。

Paul ordered the "tuna sashimi (raw tuna slices) and avocado over rice" lunch. At just 1,200 yen (about US$10.50) one doesn't expect much fish, so he ordered the large. What he got was a shockingly large amount of fish... 8 to 10 times the amount expected.

At first this brought to mind the [...]


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The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple

I paid a visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple in the mountains of south-west Kyoto today, and the resulting photos pretty much covered all the main things I normally have on my blog. Let's run through some of them....

Above we have a vertical desktop background, which I started doing four years ago. I've now posted 385 of them.

And here's a wigglegram featuring Ai (who appeared with her husband in this photoshoot a year and a half ago)...

I first started making these things that I call "wigglegrams" two years ago, and I still have a lot of work yet [...]


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Boat at Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Palace

The fall-foliage season is in full swing in Kyoto, and with the number of photos I take in an outing I'm quickly filling up my laptop's disk. So before I can even look at this year's photos, I need to make room for them by cleaning up prior years' stuff. I've spent the last couple of months going through my photos from 2012, and have worked my way through to late November 2012, and my first visit to Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Villa, and realize that I hadn't even looked at all those photos yet.

So, here are two more from [...]


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My First Fall-Foliage Outing for 2014: Temples in the Takao Area of Kyoto

Almost-microscopic mushrooms growing in a bed of moss is hard to resist when you have a nice macro lens, as seen in prior posts here and here.

Paul Barr is back in Kyoto for the first time in a year, as is the fall-foliage season. Paul, Damien Douxchamps, and I made our way out to the Takao (高雄) area in the mountains of north-western Kyoto to see the fall colors. It was my first outing for fall colors this year (though in the past month or so I've posted a lot of fall-foliage shots from prior years, including here, here, [...]


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A Few Photos From The Start of a Visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace

The grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace are open for tours most days, and like other imperial palaces in the area (Shugakuin, Sento, and, Katsura), holders of a foreign passport can visit pretty easily. It's much more difficult for a Japanese citizen to visit, except during a special open house for a few days each year.

During the open house, huge throngs of tourists (Japanese and foreign alike) visit, which makes it unappealing to someone who can visit on a less-crowded regular-tour day, but after finally making my first visit to the palace last week, I realized a great benefit [...]


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Huge Main Gate at Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple Now Shrouded in Scaffolding

I was surprised today to notice that the huge main gate of the Chion'in Temple (Kyoto, Japan) is in the process of getting a huge wooden scaffolding. It seems that it'll be having its roof tiles repaired for the next couple of months.

This construction is in addition to the multi-year renovation of the main hall that includes taking apart its roof, but as I belatedly discovered the other day, there's so much more to this site, so it's well worth a visit.

As I mentioned in a recent post, this place has a lot of flights of stairs. The [...]


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A Wigglegram of Three Lovely Ladies in Kimono at the Kyoto Imperial Palace

I visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace for the first time yesterday, and these three young college students also enjoying the sites were kind enough to pose for a wigglegram for me. The frame above is the last in the series, after they broke out in a smile at the rapid-fire sound of my camera capturing frames at the zippy pace of 10 per second.

昨日京都御所でこの大学生の美人達はポーズしてくれて、僕はウイグルグラムを作りました。以下の写真の上にマウスをあっちこっちしてね!

Here's the wigglegram:

Kimono are almost always photogenic, which is why they tend to appear in my wigglegrams, such as this one and this one.

Because the individual frames are taken manually (as I sweep [...]


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How To Keep a Japanese Washing Machine Clean

For some reason, Japanese washing machines build up a sludge of some kind, out of sight, on the underside of the drum, and at some point it builds up enough that it starts randomly leaving small deposits on your clothes like speckles of mud. This sort of defeats the purpose of washing them.

洗濯機の汚れはなかなか掃除やりにくいですが、この商品で簡単にピカピカになりました。400円だけで、かなり良いバリューです。

It's particularly maddening because the washer we have has special cleaning features meant to avoid this, but they apparently do not work.

I thought that I could take the thing apart myself to clean it, but it turns out that to get the drum out you [...]


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Rediscovering the Chion’in Temple, Part 2

Picking up from yesterday's "Rediscovering Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple via a Short Mountain Hike", where I had descended on a mountain trail into a back area of the Chion'in Temple that I hadn't known existed. Yesterday's post ended with me getting to the main area I'd always known about...

I'd seen this area briefly last year, at the end of the roof-repair visit, when it was lit up for an evening lightup event. Here's a photo from Nov 2, 2013:

(A similar shot appeared late last year as decoration on a post about Garmin's horrible products.)

At that time the area [...]


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Rediscovering Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple via a Short Mountain Hike

It's been a month since I sprained my ankle while on a mountain hike. It's been feeling mostly better for a while, so I finally decided to do a short hike up to the Shogunzuka overlook just to test things out.

The hike is very simple (I've done it with a five-year-old in tow), and from home it took only 10 minutes to the trailhead, and from there 20 minutes up.

It was a splendid day, but the view from the top was hazy and dull...

The plane in the distance is Jetstar 615, half way on its run from [...]


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Oodles of Cheerful Little Men at the Sekisanzen-in Temple in North-East Kyoto

Still revisiting autumns past while we wait for the fall-foliage season to start here in Kyoto, here are some genial little men at the Sekisanzen-in Temple in north-east Kyoto.

I'm not sure what they're for, but I suspect they represent votive donations, such as these statuettes at the Sanzen-in Temple.

I stopped by with Damien prior to my first visit to Kyoto’s Shugakuin Imperial Villa two years ago, because we had a few extra minutes and it's nearby.

The affable men were in front of a little sub building on the temple grounds...

Though this was a short visit, photos [...]


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Entrance to Kyoto’s Jojuji Temple at its Fall Best

A couple of weeks ago during a scooter ride around western Kyoto, I came across a temple that I recalled having visited a couple of years ago. Its entrance path is quite nice.

Here's how it looked two weeks ago:

I'll have to visit again in a month when the colors are hitting their peak, but until then, here are some more views from Dec 1, 2012:

The smudge of red reveals who joined me on that visit. It was the same trip two years ago with the intense rainbow over Arashiyama a pretty path, a bunch of whimsical carvings, [...]


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Teppanyaki Lunch at The Garden Okazaki in Eastern Kyoto

Fumie's folks took us out for lunch the other day, after a morning event to mark the 100th day of Fumie's dad's mom passing during the summer (she was 99½). The meal was teppanyaki at The Garden Okazaki, similar to the exquisite meal at another local hotel that I wrote about in the spring.

So, the big question is whether this one was better than the one before, and we were split, so it's probably that they're quite comparable.


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Odd Things in Western Kyoto

The other day while scootering around western Kyoto, I paid a visit to something that looked odd in Google Maps, to see what it actually was.

It seemed to be a building of cube rooms...

It turns out to be an assisted-living nursing home named "Life in Kyoto" (ライフ・イン京都) with 226 units ranging from 350 ft² to 920 ft². It seems a bit pricey to move in... of the four units currently available, the largest is a scant 445 ft², but costs $350,000 for a single person to move in, or $470,000 for a couple. As far as I can [...]


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Finding a Rainy 25-Year-Old Memory on Miyajima Island

During past weekend's trip to Miyajima Island, the impending typhoon brought back memories of my first trip to the island, in 1989 after having been in Japan for only a month. A friend at work (Andy Krantz) had a nice trip planned for the week-long Obon holidays the country takes every August, and kindly invited me along. On this trip we stopped by Miyajima Island, which I knew nothing about (at the time I knew nothing about Japan except Perl Harbor and Sony).

On that visit I certainly would have seen the famous shrine gate, but I don't remember it [...]


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Colorful Precipitation Radar Five Hours Before the Typhoon

I've never seen the precipitation radar look quite this colorful. This is from a few minutes ago. I live at the black dot to the lower-right of center. Typhoon #19 ("Vongfong", though these kind of names are never used in Japan) is forecast to pass through Kyoto in five or six hours. A bit exciting.

Update: 70 minutes later, it's all the more impressive:

Now at 7:25 it's a field of red, and it's raining here, but it really doesn't seem that bad. Also, the wind, which was quite strong a few hours ago, seems to have died down considerably.

[...]
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