Deborah Stone

PurpleDeborah

Deborah Stone




Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Miyajima April 14th 2016

While preparing for our trip to Japan, Danny and I listened to a Japanese history podcast. The image for the series was the floating tori gate of the Itsukushima shrine so it was a special treat to see it today. The gate stands in the Inland Sea as the entrance to the shrine on the island of Miyajima, near Hiroshima. Its foundations are sunk in the sand so it appears to float when the tide is high. The rest of the shrine, a sprawling structure of orange pillars and curved rooftops, is on the water's edge with canals lapping around it like a Shinto Venice. Miyajima is a beautiful island. Much of it is a nature preserve and there are wild deer who try to eat anything tourists have but are otherwise docile. The island has ... read more
Floating Tori gate
Wedding ceremony, Itsukushima Shrine

Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Hiroshima April 13th 2016

Danny felt we could not visit Japan without paying our respects at Hiroshima, the city whose name has become a metonym for the devastation of atomic warfare. The memory of the A-bomb is a constant shadow in this city, not just at the Peace Park and Peace Museum. Random trees, for example, are marked as having survived the bomb, which flattened most of the city. The most visible memorial is the well known Atomic Dome, originally a trade building with a domed roof near the hypocentre of the attack, which unlike all other buildings in the vicinity was still standing albeit in shreds. Today it has been reinforced to ensure it remains in the state it was on 6 August 1945, as a witness. The Peace Park has a great many memorials to different groups of ... read more
Peace dove, Hiroshima Peace Park
Atomic Bomb Dome
Moss-covered tree, Hiroshima Peace Park

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama April 11th 2016

The train trip from Kyoto to Takayama was very scenic, steep forested mountains in the background and in front hosts of daffodils and cherry blossom, which is still in full bloom in the colder mountain air. While the cities of Japan are densely populated, 73% of the land is considered uninhabitable and once you get into the mountains you really see a different side of the country. Takayama itself has a pretty old town with lots of Edo-era wooden buildingS. Adding to the picturesque setting, it actually snowed lightly while we were walking around today, which was rather pretty and made our subsequent retreat to the hot spring even more enjoyable Takayama is famous for its festivals and we visited the float museum but we're very happy that we saw the Inuyama festival which is less ... read more
Snow falls in front of the Edo-era buildings of Takayama
Deborah properly dressed
Danny after eating kaiseki

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto April 9th 2016

Our last day in Kyoto, the historical capital of classical Japan where we have seen so many beautiful gardens and temples but will have to leave hundreds more unseen. We finished with a bang today, with one of the most famous temples and one of the best known gardens. Rokuon-ji is better known as Kinkaku-Ji, the Golden Temple, because of the gold leaf that adorns its exterior. The gleaming building is one of the great sights of Japan. It was destroyed in a notorious arson attack in 1950 and was fully restored -some say better than the original. It sits above a beautiful reflecting pond in another lovely garden and is certainly a not-to-be-missed sight. Our other stop today was Ryoan-ji, a temple famous for its stone garden but also home to some beautiful ink paintings ... read more
Cherry blossom snowstorm at Ryoan-ji
Reflections at Ryoan-ji
Zen stone garden at Ryoan-ji

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto April 8th 2016

Spring rains send arrows The first cherry petals fall Know that life is short. Walking the philosopher's path today has inspired me to begin this entry with an attempt at a haiku. I think the last time I tried to write one was in primary school. The philosopher's path got its name because it was the daily walking route of a Kyoto University philosopher. It is a beautiful cherry-tree-lined path which runs alongside a canal, with shrines and temples coming off in every directuion. There was a soft snowfall of cherry petals and parts of the path and canal were carpeted in pink, though there are still many blossoms on the trees. At one end of the path is Ginkaku-ji, the silver temple, which isn't actually silver but has the name because of the intentions of ... read more
Raked sand garden at Ginkaku-ji
Shoin Zakura architecture at Nanzen-ji
Reflecting pond at Ginkaku-ji

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto April 7th 2016

The heavens opened today and it poured, washing many fragile cherry blossom petals into the gutters. I think we may have had the best of the season though there will still be some blooms around and it is expected to clear tomorrow. Limited to inside activities, we had a slow start and a short day - a good rest for Deborah's foot and Danny's back. We visited the Ninomaru Palace at Nijo-jo Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the final great unifier of Japan and founder of the Edo era. It is the classic example of shoin-zakura architecture, that beautiful style typified by sliding sliding screens, tatami mats and elegant tokonoma alcoves where one precious piece is displayed. Ninomaru is famous for its 'nightingale floor', a corridor that squeaks when you walk on it so as to ... read more

Asia » Japan » Hyogo » Himeji April 6th 2016

Himeji Castle is often described as the prettiest castle in Japan and, although we haven't seen all the others, it's not difficult to believe. We are so lucky to have seen it. Nicknamed 'White Heron' or 'White Crane' because of its gleaming exterior and delicate architecture, it has been closed for restoration for several years and only reopened a couple of weeks ago, in time for cherry blossom season. So significant is this fact that the finale of the Miyako Odori dances we attended celebrated the blossoming of the 1000 cherry trees at Himeji. The survival of the castle is in itself quite miraculous. It was sold to a private buyer in the Meiji era (late 19-early 20 C) for the equivalent of $2500 in today's money and was slated for redevelopment but the project was ... read more
Kokoen Gardens
Maiko farewells a client outside a Gion tea house.
Wedding coupe at Himeji Castle

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto April 5th 2016

The orange gates of Fushumi Inari are one of those classic sights like the Parthenon or the Eiffel Tower. For months now I've been walking past Michael's Camera Shop where they display such a photo and anticipating seeing them for myself. Well, it lives up to the photographs - though how those photographers got the shots without crowds of tourists in the way is a mystery. Fushimi Inari Shrine is a bright orange Shinto shrine, with multiple sub-shrines around it. The drawcard is walking through some of the 1000 orange tori gates leading from the shrine up to the top of Mt Inari (or all of them if you have the energy). It's a very impressive sight, the orange stands out against the surrounding green forest and within one feels cocooned by the colour. I can ... read more
Baby brought for first shrine visit
Women in kimono walk the Tori
First fall of the cherry blossom petals

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto April 4th 2016

Today was another special and memorable day, in which we had a chance to experience the classic Kyoto culture in the Southern Higashiyama area, a district filled with temples, steep winding alleys and flowering cherries. We began at Kiyomizudera Temple, a huge temple complex more than 1200 years old, though much rebuilt. It was certainly striking though we thought the towering orange pagodas rather clashed with the soft pink of the many cherry blossoms. The name means Temple of Pure Water and the complex is built around a small waterfall where the faithful can catch water to wash before praying in the main hall. In one of the other halls we met two artists whose work was displayed, both themed around water. One was a young woman who makes cut outs which were skillful but didn't ... read more
Weeping Cherry, Maruyama Park
Maiko in Sannenzaka
Kiyomizudera Temple

Asia » Japan » Aichi » Inuyama April 3rd 2016

Despite my ferocious planning of our trip, I know there are times when serendipity delivers the best experiences. Today was one such occasion and what a fabulous experience it was. We only heard about the Inuyama Castle Festival when chatting to another tourist in a queue at the airport. When we checked our itinerary we discovered we would be only an hour away the weekend it is held so this morning we took the train from Kyoto to Nagoya and on to Inuyama castle. We had a small mishap en route: we were briefly separated when train doors closed on us and I had to get off at the next station and backtrack to retrieve Danny! The festival was a something we will remember all our lives, with the colour and vitality that seems to be ... read more




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