A nice short post this one.
Out and about in Matsumoto we came across this woman carrying a small yappy-type dog and a teeny-tiny chair.
She then plonks the chair down puts the dog on it and starts to snap away with her phone.
Up she gets, we follow, and she repeats the process and carefully arranges blossom artistically, I really hope this was for some doggy themed calendar and not just a mad dog lady!
This was a great surprise. We were looking for a couple of stops to break up the Tokyo to Hiroshima journey. We did a little bit of searching and booked a night in Matsumoto. Unfortunately, all of the other places we looked at for the security be were booked up. So we opted for a second night in Matsumoto and what a good decision that was.
We were picked up from the station by the charming people from our hotel who pointed out the sights of the town. She also mentioned that it was the first night of the blossom festival. This is where the castle is floodlit, with music, food, tea ceremonies and blossom.
Tokyo is an amazing city. A really cool and interesting place to just wander. So, that is just we did on a slightly damp Saturday morning. To begin we jumped off the train at Kagurazaka. This is an area of narrow alleys, temples, bars and interesting shops. It's really interesting and what you imagine Tokyo looked like before all the hyper-modern high rise was built.
The first couple of temples were exactly what they should look like in the middle of blossom season.
One of the places we were keen to visit in Tokyo was Shibuya. This is supposed to be a very hip and fashionable place and just the spot for wondering and people watching. Perfect for us. However, we also thought we should take in some of the more cultural sights like Meiji Jingu.
This is shrine is right next to the station and once you have walked under the massive gate is pretty 15 minute stroll through forest to get to it.
On the way though was a huge stake of old sake barrels covered in woven straw. A very nice, if unexpected photography subject they made.
...and so on to Tokyo. Tokyo means Eastern capital; in the same way Beijing is northern capital and Nanjing western. Possibly Xian is the western one. Xi is definitely Mandarin for Western, but the rest is guess-work!). Not sure why, given the antipathy between China and Japan, the Japanese allow their capital to be named in relation to the Chinese one... So to WIkipedia: Originally called Edo the city changed its name when it became the imperial capital.... Just an Asian thing then, that the capital city includes the word capital in its name.
Anyway, become the Imperial capital it did and that capital needed a palace to house the Imperial household, which was our first stop (See. what a clever little intro it was!). The gardens, which are the only bits you are allowed to see, are stunning this time of year. A magnificent display of blossom.
Having waited for it to get properly dark and looked at the castle our attention to the blossoms and some night shots of that.
One of my favourite things as a tourist wandering around Kyoto in particular is the number of Japanese who put on their Kimono to see the sights.
According to Wikipedia (so it must be true!), means 'thing to wear'. Ki meaning thing and mono to wear. Some are clearly of better quality than others though. The bit that fascinated me this time was the obi: the belt thing that ties around the back and holds the whole thing together.
The castle was originally built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns. The Tokugawa Shogunate used Edo as the capital city, but Kyoto continued to be the home of the Imperial Court.
This really was a great city and worth a lot more than the 24 hours we gave it. The scenery around and about looked lovely. Lots of fresh mountain air, which when your coming from China, is a real boon.
We attacked the town on bicycles, much to the boy child's delight. This was a doddle! As flat as you like and fairly compact. Additionally, the Japanese are very video considerate on the road and absolutely follow all the rules of the road so it is both easy and safe.
The he highlight is, of course, the castle. This is one of the few genuinely old castles left... A combination of fire, earthquakes and the RAF saw to that.
This is, I think, one of the more iconic sights of Kyoto (along with Geisha, obvs!). Inari is the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the tori (The red gate like structures) is donated by a Japanese business. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice, apparently.
This Shinto shrine received Imperial patronage from at least 965, which probably explains its scale and grandeur, more modernly, it featured in the film Memoirs of a Geisha.
This is a collection of Zen temples and raked gravel gardens. Not sure what to make of the gardens. You can appreciate the effort that goes into making them (daily) but they are not really what you would call pretty. Still, it was a really enjoyable stroll around the temples and gardens.
The gardens were, though, what they were supposed to be which is a quiet and relaxing spot in which to sit and ponder. The temples themselves had a lot of impressive screens in them.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.
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