Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Senso-Ji and Mt. Fuji Sunset

Since I've lived in Tokyo I haven't been playing tourist as much during my time here, a lot of my time has been spent visiting friends and relaxing. But some of the time I've played tourist, especially with places that I didn't see or couldn't spend as much time visiting in the past. The photos below are from two places like that. The first is Senso-Ji temple (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sens%C5%8D-ji) which is one of the most famous temples in Tokyo. I've visited Senso-ji plenty of times while I lived here, but the thunder gate, the huge gate shown in the photos below was being refurbished while I lived here so I never had a chance to see it. I also spent an evening watching the sunset from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku. When I lived in Tokyo my desk at work had a view of Mt. Fuji (when it wasn't hidden by clouds which is most of the time in summer), I used to love the sunsets behind the mountain but never really had a chance to take photos of it. You can see the full sets of photos here: Senso-Ji Full Set and Mt. Fuji Full Set

The Thunder gate at Senso-Ji:

The approach to the ga

The top of the Temple building, the sky was a very beautiful blue that day as it has been many days recently, winter is a great time in Tokyo:

Another view of the gate:

The sunset with Mt. Fuji, someday I need to come back in October/November when the sunsets right behind Mt. Fuji to take a photo I've seen it from work and it was amazing:

Monday, February 25, 2008


My time in Japan continued with a trip to Nagasaki which a lot of people say is similar to my home town (San Francisco). After spending some time in Nagasaki I can understand why people say that, it's a nice city with rolling hills overlooking a nice bay, it's like San Francisco on a smaller scale. My photos from Nagasaki can be found below, as always the full set can be found in Flickr here.

For a very long time Nagasaki was the only port in Japan open to outsiders and trade with the outside world so there is a lot of foreign influence, one of the things I hadn't expected to see was a large number of Catholic Churches, Catholicism came to Nagasaki with Dutch traders, one of the churches can be seen below:
There is a park above the church called Glover Garden where the houses of dutch traders from the 1800's have been preserved, I thought it was hilarious that in Japanese fashion the outdoor park is full of escalators:

Nagasaki bay has a lot of shipyards as can be seen below:

The view of the city and the bay from Glover Garden:

The bridge as seen from the Garden:

Like Hiroshima, Nagasaki still has it's old trams:

Due to my height, I am constantly running into funny situations in Japan that remind me that I am not the right size to fit in, as you can see in the photos below the hand holds on the tram are a bit low:

Nagasaki has a lot of Chinese influence, it's the closest part of Japan to China, you can actually take a ferry from Nagasaki to Shanghai. It's also been the only port of trade between Japan and China for long periods of history. At the time of my visit it was Chinese New Year so the city, and especially Chinatown, was fully decorated for the celebration:

Chinatown had an outdoor market for

There was a citywide "Lanternfest" as part of the Chinese New Years celebration, the whole city was covered in beautiful lanters:

One of the parks in the city was decorated with animals for the New Years Celebration, I thought this panda was funny I've never seen a panda with nasty fangs like that:

The park also had a temporary Shrine for the New Years celebration that had a huge number of pig's heads, the heads had the tail from the pig stuck into the head, I would love to know the significance of this, I'm at a loss to explain it:

Nagasaki like Hiroshima was the site of a nuclear bombing during world war II, the monument below stands at the site of the bomb blast:

The remnants of a Catholic cathedral destroyed in the bombing:

The peace cranes offered by Children as part of the memorial, like Hiroshima the memorials and museums are very sobering:

Nagasaki is at the far end of Japan, quite a ways from Tokyo. I had planned to take a Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo but discovered it would take 8-10 hours which would have then left me at Tokyo station 1-2 hours from my destination in Tokyo so I did some research and found a new Japanese low cost start up airline and flew back (not on the JAL plane shown below), it was a nice flight:

Friday, February 22, 2008


Miho and I continued our trip through southern Japan with some time in Hiroshima. Hiroshima is obviously famous for having been the target of the first nuclear bomb dropped on Japan during world war two, its now a very big cosmopolitan city and really quite nice. Hiroshima has great atmosphere and also great food including Okonomiyaki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okonomiyaki) which you can see in the photo below being prepared. The Hiroshima version of Okonomiyaki involves making the “pancakes” with nothing but egg, the fillings are yours to choose, the Okonomiyaki was fantastic in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is also famous for it’s street cars, most Japanese cities used to have street cars but have since gotten rid of them. Hiroshima still has them and they have an interesting mix of old and new trams as you can see in the photos below:

We spent a good amount of time visiting the nuclear sites which are quite sobering and at times very depressing, the photo below shows the rubble inside the A Bomb dome:

The A Bomb dome up close (you can see the reinforcing structure which was added to keep the building from falling down):

The dome along with the river and surrounding park, it was very surprising to discover that the dome is right in the middle of the modern city, right across the street it looks like any other modern Japanese city:

The dome as seen from the peace park:

The mound below is the burial site for many thousands of people who died in the bombing, it's in the peace park:

The children's peace memorial:

The monument and everlasting flame:

One of the old trams:

The grounds of Hiroshima Castle:

A family headed to the shrine:

Hiroshima castle

The full set of photos can be found here