Monday, December 26, 2011

Matsuyama Castle

Hard to beat the view from the top of Katsuyama Hill.

It's as steep as it looks. The climb up the Castle Hill is meant to fatigue any invading army.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Asakusa Public Hall

Asakusa Public hall in a ward in Tokyo is also home to Kabuki Theater.

Kabuki Web entry for Asakusa Public Hall

Dinner in Yokohama

The home of my host in Japan back in 1995. A kind man with a wonderful sense of humor. The sign above his house offers music lessons in traditional Japanese harp music.

The gentleman who helped me around Japan was quite remarkable. He taught me how to navigate Japan's transit system so I could travel on my own. He has passed away but he is not forgotten.

Tokyo back in 1995

A priest praying for offerings in support of his temple. There are Buddhist Priest imposters. Attention to detail will tell the difference. How many priest imposters are there? Difficult to say because it is not illegal to be an imposter priest praying for Temple offerings.

A child's playground in the backstreets of Kawaski.

The famous Tokyo Tower. Built in the 1950's to emulate Paris's Eiffel Tower. The top was bent in the famous earthquake that occurred in Japan this year. Traffic around the tower is quite congested. I almost got struck by a car in the cross walk beneath the tower because I was not paying attention.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shinjuku - A look back in time (1995)

Sakuruya Electronics in Shinjuku was a major electronics store in Japan. It opened in 1946 and was taken over by a subsidiary of Best Denki (Bic Camera).
Tenkai Japan article on Sakuraya closing

Shinjuku is a district in Tokyo that is a combination of business, government, shopping and entertainment. It is in the center of Tokyo and is situated on the edge of the outer moat of old Edo Castle. Shinjuku means "new station" (or new inn).
Another bloggers visit to Wendy's in Shinjuku

¥3,800 for sukiyaki! That's a lot of money back in 1995. In today's dollars (and the exchange rate sucks, thank you Fed) it amounts to almost $50 dollars American.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ningyo-yaki (Doll Cakes)

Ningyo-yaki (fried dolls) is a doll cake from Asakusa, in Tokyo. It's a sponge cake filled with bean-jam on the inside. The child's facial expression in the lower left hand window of the cake maker is priceless.

Ping Mag Guide to Ningyo-yaki

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kamakura Lacquerware

Japanese Kamakura Lacquered Wood is a Buddhist tradition that has been passed down in history for over 800 years. Kamakura is famous for its sculpted wooden trays. They are flawlessly made and meticulously lacquered. Japanese craftsmanship at its finest.

Light of Day Workshop Hall, located at 3-12-19 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

From the workshop website "(We are) a very strong (workshop) among lacquer ware, especially "lacquer and wood" to get the warmth of Cedar. (We craft) jujube tea box, etc., to allow us to meet any customer orders, and all repeated daily in artisan training workshop. Based on 800 years of tradition, (we) work to protect exactly the sight, and also (look forward to) a new challenge every year."

A link to the Light of Day Workshop Hall (in Japanese)

Kamakura Lacquerware Trade Association Website (in Japanese)

Japanese Arts Website Section on Lacquerwork

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shopping in Yokohama

Taking time out from a business trip in 1995 to do some shopping in Tokyo and Yokohama. Yokohama is the second largest in Japan by population. It is close to Tokyo and is considered a major port city of Japan.

Japanese figures. Figurines are given as gifts to children at various times as they grow up. This is to signify steps in adolescence.

My favorite, Japanese wood cut prints.

This picture was taken at a store in Tokyo. The store specialized in kitchen supplies. I remember that the supplies in the store were very expensive and back in 1995, there was a favorable exchange rate on the US dollar vs. the Japanese Yen.

Yokohama Skyline in 1995.

Taken from outside a Yokohama Department Store.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coming of Age Day - Monday, January 16, 1995

Taken in a Tokyo district in 1995. As a reference point, this is the day before the Kobe earthquake that occurred on the morning of Tuesday, January 17, 1995. The women are wearing furisode, a style of kimono that feature long sleeves that drape down. They are also wearing zōri sandals, which are traditional formal foot wear. If you notice the young man nonchalantly smoking a cigarette on the right, it is illegal to smoke in Japan if you are under the age of consent.

Studio Alta, a popular gathering spot in Shinjuku.

Tokyo Essentials featuring Studio Alta

The Enoden train, it is the charming and scenic route that takes you to Kamakura.

Enoden Official Site

All of the pictures were taken in 1995.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Asakusa Entertainment Hall (Engei-Hall)

The hall has free seating (up to 340 seats) as well as paid seats. The shows feature classic comedy, comedic routines and magic. This establishment has a reputation for featuring female dancers. The picture was taken in 1995.

Places to visit in Asakusa (the entertainment hall is half way down the page)

Asakusa location in Tokyo (Japan National Tourism Website)

Sensoji Temple

Tokyo's oldest Temple, Sensoji Temple is located in Asakusa, Taitō Ward. These pictures were taken in 1995.

Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate)

Nakamise-dori - small shops line the street as you approach the Temple.

The sign offers visitors alternative footwear for weary feet.

Japanese Lifestyle Guide to Sensoji Temple

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hachiman Shinto Shrine - Kamakura

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hasedera Temple - Kamakura

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Imperial Palace - Tokyo

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.

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 is currently being renovated with completion expected by 2012. 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.