Autumn Colors – 2011, Nagoya


It was early December of 2011 and I was new to Japan . I took a stroll to the nearby Chikusa park and was awestruck by the clear blue sky and colorful trees.

Today’s clear blue sky reminded me of those days in Nagoya.  I felt an urge to look at those pics and memories came flooding back.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of autumn colors at Chikusa park, Nagoya, clicked with our then new DSLR.

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New Year’s Day 2017


It was New Year’s day 2017. We had planned to meet our friends for lunch at Odaiba. We started early to visit a temple at Tsukiji. I came across this temple on the internet and I’ve wanted to visit it for a long time. New Year’s Day was perfect!

Tsukiji Hongwanji temple is a Buddhist temple very close to the famous Tsukiji market. It’s exterior is made of stone unlike other Buddhist temples in Japan. The stone exterior is based on ancient Indian architecture.

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People lining up in front of Tsukiji Hongwanji temple on New Year’s day

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Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple

The interior is just like any other Buddhist temple in Japan. I’ve seen the crowd in shrines and temples on New Year’s Day. But this temple was not very crowded. We waited for just about 5 minutes to get inside.

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Interior of Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple

 

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諦 (tai) means to see it attentively, or to see it as it is. It is a translation of the Sanskrit word, Satya for truth. How rich we can be at mind and heart by seeing ourselves, others, objects and events: everything as it is! I’d like to take this point of view to my heart at this very beginning of the new year.  – Yugen Yasunaga the Director-general, Tsukiji-hongwanji

Card of January [ Calligraphy for the New Year ] – 

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Finally, my favorite click!

An afternoon stroll on the Nihonbashi bridge


I took a stroll on the Nihonbashi bridge after watching a TV programme which explained the history behind this bridge.  The centre of the bridge is the Zero milestone/ Kilometre zero for Tokyo i.e the distance to other cities from Tokyo is measured from this point. It was interesting to know that the area around the bridge is named after the bridge.

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Nihonbashi

日本橋(Nihombashi/Nihonbashi)   –>日本 (Nihon)- Japan, 橋 (Hashi)- Bridge.

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The first Nihonbashi Bridge was made of wood and was completed in 1603

 

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Nihonbashi 2015

 

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Zero Milestone in Japan

Nihonbashi Bridge was built in 1603 and designated by the Edo Shogunate government as the starting point of five major roads in Japan. The present Nihonbashi Bridge built in the Renaissance style in 1911, is a double-arched bridge made of stone. The calligraphy engraving “Nihonbashi” on the plaques on each of the four newel posts is based on the work of Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the last Shogun. In 1972, the original “Zero Milestone of Tokyo City”, formerly located in the middle of Nihonbashi Bridge was transferred to this square for preservation and replaced by a memorial plaque. The characters “Zero Milestone of Japan” on the plaque were taken from the writing of the then Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Eisaku Sato.

Both “Zero Milestone of Tokyo City” and Nihonbashi Bridge, which celebrated its eighty-eighth anniversary in 1999, are designated important cultural assets of Japan.

 

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Nihonbashi Bridge built in the Renaissance style in 1911, is a double arched bridge made of stone

 

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Lion at Nihonbashi Bridge

 

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Kirin ( a mythical creature) at the Nihonbashi Bridge

 

The engraving “Nihonbashi” in Hiragana and Kanji

 

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The original “Zero Milestone of Tokyo City”, formerly located in the middle of Nihonbashi Bridge was transferred to this square for preservation

 

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Zero Milestone of Tokyo City

 

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The memorial plaque in the middle of Nihonbashi Bridge

The highway built above definitely spoils the beauty of this stone bridge and also the river below. It’s now dark with no sunlight. This highway was built hastily before the 1964 Summer Olympic games. It is said that, before the construction of the expressway, the Mt.Fuji was clearly visible from the bridge. There is a petition from a number of people  for the removal of the highway.

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The first Mitsukoshi department store

The first Mitsukoshi store was started near Nihonbashi bridge. It was founded by the Mitsui family in 1673 and was formerly known as Echigoya.

Here are some interesting pictures of Nihonbashi:

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Nihonbashi 1911

Source: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihonbashi

 

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Nihonbashi 1933

Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C5%AB%C5%8D,_Tokyo

 

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Nihonbashi after 1945 bombing

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihonbashi

 

Big time rush..Big time surprise..!!! Part-2


Lulled by the sea waves we had a peaceful sleep at the resort. We woke up to the sound of chirping birds and sunlight streaming through the blinds and wished ourselves a Happy Anniversary. 🙂

We decided to celebrate our anniversary wearing our traditional dress, Saree and Dhoti (In our mother tongue, Telugu, its called Cheera and Pancha) 🙂  Kiyotaka San and Yoriko San joined us in our celebration. Our traditional dress took them by surprise. 🙂

First Wedding Anniversary

Yoriko San suggested us few main tourist spots. We decided to visit Ikema island, Underwater Observatory, Kurima island and Cape Higashi Hennazaki.

The Ikema Bridge connecting Miyakojima with Ikemajima is 1425m in length and was opened in 1992.

Ikema Bridge

Beautiful sea in shades of blue

Ikema beach

Cape Higashi Hennazaki is located on the easternmost tip of Miyako Island. It is approximately 2 km long, flanked by the East China Sea in the North and the Pacific Ocean in the south. There is a light house located at the tip of the cape.

Road leading to the tip of Miyako Island – Cape Higashi Hennazaki

The Light house at Cape Higashi Hennazaki

Cape Higashi Hennazaki

Kurima bridge  is 1,690 meter in length and was completed in 1995. The view of sea from Kurima bridge is spectacular similar to the Ikema bridge.

Kurima Bridge – A view from Kurima island

The Irabu bridge is under construction and is scheduled to be completed in 2014. It will be 3500m long and a major tourist attraction. We didn’t get a chance to go to Irabu Island but we were able to click this pic from Kurima island.

Irabu Bridge

The Emerald Sea at Ingya Marine Garden Park

We drove across the whole island. Agriculture, Fishery and Tourism are the major industries in Miyako. Sugarcane fields were found everywhere. A major portion of Sugarcane products of Okinawa is from Miyako.

Sugarcane field

Dragon Fruit

Farming

After a drive across the island, we planned to spend sometime in the beach near the resort. While Ganesh went snorkeling, I collected few colorful shells and corals. The next day we started back to Nagoya.

It’s a splendid and breathtaking place one has to visit. 🙂 And next to come is my post on Battle of Okinawa.

The photo frame I made using the shells collected at the Miyako beach

Big time rush.. Big time surprise..!!! Part-1


Sep 1, 2012
Nagoya

It was 7:00 AM and we were rushing to catch a taxi. I had no clue where we were heading to..  We finally got a taxi. Ganesh directed the driver to go to Chikusa station. That gave me an impression that we were going to take the Shinkansen since it’s our usual route. He answered all my questions with a “Shhhhh…… “

K: Where are we going…?
G: “Shhh… Suspense… “
K: By train..? By car..?
G:  Shhh…. (smile) Looks at his iphone (tensed smile).

One thing for sure… We were running late. We took the JR line from Chikusa, went to Kanayama and there… I saw him inquiring about the train to Chubu Centrair Int’l airport.  OMG..!!! To the airport…????  I was going mad, very anxious to know where we were heading to…  But I couldn’t pester him a lot because he was restless. The train arrived. We got into it. Little relaxed..

The next day, we were going to step into our second year of marriage. Yup..! Our First Wedding Anniversary…!!! 🙂

Our Marriage – Sep 2, 2011

I was lost in thoughts. Suddenly, I heard him talking to himself looking at his iphone, “We need to check-in atleast 20 min before departure.. I think we can manage”. We reached the airport at 7:50 AM, ran towards the airline counter and checked-in our baggage.

All I knew was we were late. Run Run Run…….!!

K: Where are we going..? (gasping for air) When is the flight..?
G: 8:20

I tried to look at the display but it was useless.

Boarded the flight, SKY551…  Naha..? Where is Naha..?

Okinawa..?? Wowwww….  OKINAWA ..!!

Looking at each other we began to laugh. Relaxed and happy. This was a surprise from my husband for our First Wedding Anniversary 🙂

It was a 1.5 hour flight to Naha. At the Naha airport while I was looking at the pamphlets for details of the top tourist places in Okinawa, I was surprised to hear Ganesh asking the person at the counter to keep the luggage until 1:00. What..??? Where are we going again…? Ahhhh……….. He kept me guessing… Again…!!!

He told me that we were going to spend only few hours in this city of Naha, Okinawa. As Okinawa is the southern most part of Japan, I just couldn’t guess what the next place we were going to visit was. It was indeed thrilling. We took a monorail and got off in a station which was very close to the famous shopping street, the Kokusaidori.

Kokusaidori – The shopping street @ Naha, Okinawa

We bought a hat and Okinawian style beach dress. We were very happy to find sugarcane juice. It’s been longtime.. we used to eat lot of sugarcane back in India.

Ganesh told me that it was time to get back to the airport. We took the monorail back to the airport. Late…!!!

Realized we were running late again. Reached the airport at 1:15 PM, checked in our baggage. It might have been perfect if we had proceeded directly to the gate after check-in. But my dearest husband wanted to have a look at the Armani and Coach sunglasses at the duty free shops. Unlike our last flight, I had some time to check the flight info and the destination. It was a place called Miyako. Before I could browse some details about the place, as expected, we heard an announcement calling out my name. “Kiiiruuthaanaa” (Keerthana)..

Run Run Run………………….!!!

Ganesh couldn’t control his laughter. Second time in the day, we ran helter skelter to catch the flight. 🙂

Nagoya, Naha, Miyakojima

We landed at Miyako airport. Kiyotaka San and Yoriko San of Pai Base Resort came to pick us up at the airport. It was a 20 minute drive to the resort. Yoriko San briefed us about the tourist spots in Miyakojima. Ganesh and I were amazed at the island’s close resemblance to India. The sugarcane fields, the flat roofed independent houses, tractors and cows in the fields reminded us of the drive to our village in India.

Okinawa is around 1500 km from Tokyo. It has a tropical climate unlike the rest of Japan. We were able to see Sugarcane, mangoes, guava, papaya and many other tropical fruits and vegetables. Felt like I was in India… 🙂 Miyako Island belongs to the Okinawa prefecture and is about 290km southwest of Naha city. It has a population of around 55,000.

Naha and Miyakojima

Our cottage was facing the beach. It had a very beautiful view of the sunset.

Cottage and the Sea behind

It was a pleasant evening and Ganesh just couldn’t resist diving into the sea. He snorkeled and I enjoyed the beautiful sunset. It was also a full moon day. We took the car and went downtown to have our dinner. The city was almost shut down except for few restaurants.

The next day we celebrated our First wedding anniversary and went around Miyakojima. Nature at its best @ Miyakojima in the next post. 🙂

Nihon no Ise Jingu – I


After bidding goodbye to winter, excited with the idea of driving a car on a lovely spring day, we planned to take a drive through Mie prefecture.

A two hour drive from Nagoya is the ‘Ise’ city. Ise is well known for the “Ise Grand Shrine” or “Ise Jingu”. It is a Shinto shrine complex. The two main shrines are the Naiku and Geku.

One third of the Ise is forestland owned by Ise Jingu. A happy drive, beautiful landscape, clean river and the astonishing facts of the shrine made Ise one of the unforgettable places we have ever been.

Ujibashi Torii

The Ujibashi Torii leads to the Ujibashi Bridge. It is a huge traditional wooden bridge which spans 101.8 meters over the Isuzugawa River. This bridge is rebuilt every twenty years following the Shikinen Sengu Cycle.

View of Isuzugawa River from Ujibashi Bridge

Naiku Garden

Apart from the Ujibashii Torii at the entrance, there are two other Toriis on the way to the main Shrine. I’ve written about the significance of Torii in my last post.

Temizusha

Temizusha is a place where people purify themselves by rinsing their hands and mouth before going to the shrine.

Isuzugawa River

One of the many old trees

Naiku is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu-ōmikami. She is the goddess of the sun and a major deity of the Shinto religion. The name Amaterasu is derived from Amateru meaning “shining in heaven.”  “Kami” means God/Natural force/Spirit.

On the way to the main shrine is the Kaguraden. A sacred dance (Kagura) and music are offered to the Kami during ceremonies in this building.

Kaguraden

The Sacred Dance

Shogu is the Main Shrine where the supreme deity Amaterasu-ōmikami is enshrined. It is surrounded by wooden fences. Over 1500 annual rituals are conducted here.

Main Shrine

My next post will be about the Shikinen Sengu ceremony which is held here every 20 years. The next ceremony will be conducted in 2013.