Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hachiman Shinto Shrine - Kamakura (1995)

Kamakura's most important shrine, it was founded in 1063. It was relocated in 1180 by Japan's first Shogun under the Kamakura government, Minamoto Yoritomo. These pictures were taken in January of 1995.

Japan Guide to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

Hasedera Temple - Kamakura (1995)

These pictures was taken in January, 1995. The Temple is quite striking as it is situated on a hill. As part of the compound, there is a cave, that according to legend, was dug out by Kobo Daishi himself (in seclusion). The Temple thrived in the 13th century and has ties to a sister temple in Nara.

Temple Guide in English

A link to the sacred Kannon

Sanmon (Temple Gate)


Yakuyoke (Protector from Evil Spirits) Amida Buddha, located in Amida-do Hall

Temple cave, as told in legend, to have been dug out by Kobo Daishi himself

Temple grounds - the entrance to the cave is on the right, beneath the small stone pagoda

Scenic lookout view of Sagami Bay

Imperial Residence - Tokyo - 1995

The Japanese Imperial Palace is only open to visitors 2 days a year, January 2nd and December 23 (the Emperor's birthday). These pictures were taken in January of 1995. Having visited the area recently, the area around the Imperial Residence is virtually unchanged 20 years later.

Tokyo Station (located in the Marunouchi business district), a ten minute walk to the Imperial Palace, located in the heart of Tokyo. It is said to be modeled after Amsterdam Central Station. It was built in the Meiji Period.

Castle moat, walls and guard tower.
Japan Guide to Imperial Palace (compare their picture with the one above)

As was explained to me by a Japanese gentleman who was my guide, this is the spot where hundreds of Japanese committed jisatsu after the Emperor renounced his divinity at the conclusion of World War II. He pointed to the ground we were standing on and said it was covered in blood.

Nijubashi Bridge

The Imperial East Gardens

The foundation of the former castle tower. It was completed in 1638 and was destroyed in 1657 in a fire that swept through Edo. It was never rebuilt. It should noted that this was a palace of the Tokugawa shogun who resided in Edo at that time. The true home of the Imperial Family resides in Kyoto.

Although it does not show in the photograph, there were (most probably still are) cranes on top of the office buildings. The Marunouchi District is the most prestigious area of Tokyo for businesses to be located at.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kotoku-in (The Great Buddha) from 1995

These pictures are taken from a visit to Kamakura in 1995. The Great Buddha was originally built of wood, then destroyed, it was constructed again in bronze sometime in the 13th century, although the date is not exact. It was originally housed in a building but the building was destroyed by storms, war and floods (it was rebuilt after the first collapse).

The electric rail line that takes you to the Great Buddha. Notice the truck grill on the front? The ride is only about a half an hour in length. The ride itself is charming. You pass peoples backyards along the way. There are small crossing gates for pedestrian safety.

The approach is deceiving, the Buddha is much larger as you get closer.

Incense offerings.

Only when you stand directly beneath the Buddha do you see that the eyes are not closed but looking directly at you.

Behind the Great Buddha.

Inside the Great Buddha.

A Guide to Kotoku-in

Kamakura City's Official Website

Edo-Tokyo Museum - January 1995

The museum opened its doors in 1993. It has mixed reviews. Some people don't like it, some do. It is a decent museum as it does chronicle what daily life was like in Edo. The museum does an excellent job transitioning Edo to present day Tokyo. The displays are impressive. It is a worthwhile place to visit.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

How To Ride Tokyo Subways - 1995 to Today

Tokyo Subway Map 1995

An extremely useful piece of literature, which guided many visitors in Tokyo to successfully navigate the wonderful Tokyo Subway system.

Tokyo Subway Map Today

Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.

Visit Tokyo's Metro's Website.

Monday, February 23, 2015

20 years ago - Map of Tokyo

January 1995. The design is made up of empty cigarette boxes. Back in 1995, people could still smoke in offices.

A look back in time, revisiting Hasedera Temple, Kamakura, 1995

January 1995. There is a cave, which is supposed to be carved out by Kobe Daishi, which the visitor can walk through. The cave is dark and winding and is lit by candles. The cave features statues of the Goddess Benzaiten and 16 children carved out of the cave walls. Benzaiten is one of the 7 Gods and Goddess of fortune of Japan. Bensaiten is Goddess of Music, Fine Arts and Literature.

Kamakura Hase-dera Temple

A look back in time - Kamakura Station - 1995

January 1995. The station design is uniquely Japanese.
Kamakura Station

Kamakura, a look back - 1995

Train ticket from Kamakura to Kotoku-in. The train is quite small, old and literally goes through the backyards of homes with little crossing gates at each pathway. Scenic and serene.

Nothing can prepare the visitor for the first time they visit the Great Buddha. As the visitor walks up - the statue gives an illusion that the eyes are closed. Only when the visitor stands in front of the Buddha does the visitor realize that Buddha's eyes are open and looking down directly at you. A very stirring moment in time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Japan 1995 - Looking Back

I first visited Japan in 1995. I was there during the great Kobe earthquake. Although I did not feel the earthquake in Kawasaki, I felt the impact on the people in the office who's lives were affected by those they knew who lived in and around the earthquake zone. It was a deeply moving experience to see how devastating this was.
I will always remember this trip as it took me to Kamakura. Kamakura is a lovely place to visit and it is rich in history as well as being a beautiful place to see.
Coming of Age Day

Small train to Kamakura

Hachimin Shinto Shrine

Cave carved by hand by Kobo Daishi

Kabuki Theater in Asakusa

Laquerware shop

Train Station in Kamakura

Tokyo Station

The child's face is priceless

This has not changed in 20 years.


Thunder Gate

Tokyo Tower before Skytree

Yokohama - very different today