Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Japan in a Week - July 2005

This trip to Japan was actually a business trip, but I did manage to snap a few (hundred) pictures. Below are the more interesting ones. All pictures are from Tokyo and Kyoto.


One of the things that grabs you about Japan is the number of temples and shrines. This is especially true in Kyoto where whole areas are one temple after another interspersed with some religious paraphernalia stores, tourists shops and restaurants.

The first picture is the gate of Senso-ji, a major temple in Tokyo.

This shows what a typical shrine within the temple looks like. This was a side temple, not one of the main buildings, hence much less busy.

Kyoto has temples sprinkled all over. This specific one is Higashiyama-ku, built on the side of the hill overlooking Kyoto.

You can see a view of Kyoto's downtown area from the top temple level.

The temple on the right is Kyoto's famous golden temple, originally part of a private mansion later converted to a temple. This building in the complex is covered with real gold.

Each temple has many buildings, with many areas to pray and leave prayears. A sample praying area can be seen in this picture.

Almost every temple building has a place for you to purify yourself with incense smoke, and a place to wash hands, usually with a dragon providing the water. The following are from various temples:

The gates to the temple are guarded (or maybe this is a welcoming god - I couldn't read the signs).

Gravestones and statues in the temple are adorned with red cloth tied around them.

Prayers are written on small wooden boards and left in the temple.

Alternatively, messages are written on a piece of paper and tied in a knot around a pole.

Prayers can also be left at shrines, next to statues of little old men like this one.

Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo

The fish market is one of the largest in the world. Tourists can no longer go into thee area where fish are auctioned off to wholesalers. The rest of the market is quite large, full with sellers showing anything that can be found in the sea. Narrow lanes like this fill whole areas of the market. Each stall has Styrofoam boxes full of ice and fish, as well as salt water aquariums with live fish.

The larger lanes in the market are patrolled by this ingenious little car. It's basically a platform with an engine-come-steering-wheel attached to the front. The engine, by the way, is marked as "Mighty Car". Drivers patrol the market back and forth ferrying fish from one area to another.

I took very little people pictures. I wasn't there long enough to get comfortable with asking permission. Here are the few I did manage to take.

I saw these girls all dressed up in matching traditional kimonos, sitting and eating. Using the international language of pointing at the camera and mumbling I got their permission to take the picture, but what can clearly be felt is that there's a third girl missing on the right. I wasn't sure if she was uncomfortable with the picture or was just getting up as I came and was surpirsed by my request. Here's the proof:

The following picture, on the other hand, is one I didn't get permission for :)

I took this picture on Sunday, just before leaving Japan. It's an area of Tokyo where mostly teenagers come to hang out, walk around, see and be seen.

This picture was taken in the same place. I liked all the pink that went well with the store.






Japan at Night - Hanging out In Tokyo and Kyoto

Shinjuku is one of Tokyo's nightime areas. Many people walking around at night, department stores and restaurants abound. Many neon lights decorate surrounding buildings, vying for people's attention.

Kyoto has a different feel to it. The area we walked along is near one of the cannals crossing Kyoto. It is full of restaurants and bars - places for people to hang out.





You can see people walking around the banks of the cannal, sitting in the restaurants, enjoying themselves.





The Artistic Corner

The rest of the pictures were my more personal take of Japan.