JAPAN 2018

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Photos © Ruud Leeuw

Japan 2018 Travelogue - Ruud Leeuw

 

OSAKA

Osaka 2018
After we'd checked into our hotel, we did a stroll through the area to see where we were at. Everything seemed
normal here, people doing their thing in a park, but I found one abnormality: no waste bins! I found this common
everywhere in Japan, a lack of waste bins. So I walked around all day with some banana peels I couldn't get rid off.
Because people in Japan don't eat in the street...

Osaka 2018
We see here bicycles parked where they shouldn't, but what I found more annoying was that most cyclists cycle
on the footpath, even if there is a cycle path. I had difficulty in adjusting to the Japanese anomalies during the
first few days, and there were plenty...

Osaka 2018
We could still see the devasting effects of Hurricane Jebi, which went through this area the month prior to our visit.
It was the strongest Hurricane to hit Japan in 25 years. One of Japan's busiest airports, Osaka's Kansai Int'l
Airport (KIX), was closed for several days because of flooding and a tanker ship had hit a bridge connecting
KIX to land. Fortunately KIX reopened for international flights shortly before our visit, though we entered
the country through the low cost terminal as the modern international terminal was still in repairs.
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Japan 2018
By 18:00 it was completely dark, a disadvantage for an October visit perhaps, but the temperature was tropical.

Japan 2018
FamilyMart and 7-Eleven soon became routine evening stops.

Osaka (Japanese pronunciation: oːsaka) is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan.
It is the 2nd largest city in Japan by daytime population after Tokyo's 23 wards. And the 3rd largest city by nighttime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and Yokohama, serving as a major economic hub for the country.
Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the 'nation's kitchen' and served as a center for the
rice trade during the Edo period (1603 and 1868).
en.wikipedia.org:_Osaka

Osaka restaurant
First encounter with selecting a meal by pictures, eventhough we were
given an 'English menu'. Worked out ok (the beer was easiest!).
But... we noticed the staff was very loud in welcoming the guest and
saying goodbye in unison to the patrons: a form of politeness ?!?

And.. we soon found out that in some restaurants people are still allowed to smoke.


Japan 2018
During the evening stroll we came across the castle here at Osaka; we did not manage a day visit.

Japan 2018
A proud statue at Osaka's castle

Japan 2018

 


 

HIMEJI CASTLE

Daytrip to Himeji Castle
It took me a while to get familiar with the public transport system, though every effort seems to have been made
to make it user friendly for non-Japanese. Such as a button here for an English menu. The plethora of signs in
train stations is confusing but English names are most often to be found, one just has to get accustomed to all
the signs, lines and colours. It is the same for the metro. The public adress in the trains is also often in English.

Daytrip to Himeji Castle
Off on daytrip to Himeji Castle. I was still coping with the jetlag, so a half day outing seemed appropriate.
Distances shrivel while travelling on the Shinkansen hi-speed train.

We made good use of the Japan Rail pass.
"The JR Pass is the ideal travel solution and the best way to discover Japan by train. Economical and simple to use, the JR Pass gives you access to the JR network nationwide and is a lot cheaper than buying individual train tickets."
It seems good value for money, though I have to confess I did not compare prices. It was mostly the ease of travel that prompted me to buy a pass for 2 weeks.
Upon payment I received vouchers which we presented in Osaka and in return we received the actual passes.
More details on this website: www.japan-rail-pass.com/jr-pass

Shinkansen
In the ticket office of Japan Rail one can make seat reservations for the Shinkansen. Long lines at the counter
or 'fully booked' status also made us choose the non-reservation compartments in the Shinkansen. But that meant we
sometimes had to stand, waiting for a seat to become available. Sometimes there was free wifi available, not always.


 

Himeji Castle, 2018

Himeji Castle, 2018.

Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex, situated in the city of Himeji which is located in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan.
The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 rooms with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.
Himeji castle is frequently known as 'White Egret Castle' or 'White Heron Castle', because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed (!) resemblance to a bird taking flight...
Himeji Castle dates back to to 1333, but in subsequent centuries has been rebuilt, remodeled and expanded many times. But for over 400 years now, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II and natural disasters, such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.
en.wikipedia.org:_Himeji_Castle

Himeji Castle, 2018
Even before entering the actual castle there is a gradual climb, approaching the castle in a half circle.

Himeji Castle, 2018

Himeji Castle, 2018
I was disappointed to see all the rooms on every floor empty, without any effort for decoration.
We shuffled on our socks, as visitors had to leave the shoes at the entrance.

Himeji Castle, 2018

Himeji Castle, 2018
An insight in the building of this castle.

Himeji Castle, 2018

Himeji Castle, 2018

Himeji Castle, 2018

Himeji Castle, 2018

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
I concluded that Himeji Castle is best enjoyed from the outside.

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Himeji Castle visit
Popular with school excursions

Himeji Castle visit
Now that's better than graffiti

Himeji visit
We went looking for lunch; this isn't so easy if one likes to sit down and this situation played on my mood during
this trip. But this location in a backstreet, almost invisible from the main street, was a delightful place.

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Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
We found little of interest explained here in English

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History

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Hiroshima, 2018
The streets here are of little interest, I guess I expected it to be picturesque like Kyoto and Tokyo

Hiroshima, 2018
There is a large covered shopping mall that also leads back to the trainstation. Little of interest here for me.

Hiroshima, 2018
I did like the displays on the ground of the covered market.
One of the books I bought had prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858); the traditional illustrations of
those days continue to hold with a unique fascination, equally so the modern illustrations of today.
en.wikipedia.org:_Hiroshige

Hiroshima, 2018
Not much to learn from this table, except that we were on the right track for Tokyo.
Shin-Osaka was our stop to transfer to the subway network.

 


 

HIROSHIMA


hIROSHIMA 2018
With our Japan Rail pass we had a free ride on the loop the tourist bus drove; the Lemon Route was one of three.

Hiroshima 2018
Unfortunately these busses were not fitted for westerners; perhaps they were obsolete busses put in use again.

Hiroshima 2018
Our stop was no.6, the Atomic Bomb Dome, but those first 6 stops were not too distant from each other.

Hiroshima 2018

Hiroshima 2018
The Atomic Bomb Dome in the background

Hiroshima is the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu – the largest island of Japan.
It was the first city targeted by a nuclear weapon, when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city at 8:15 a.m. on 06Aug1945.
The nuclear bomb 'Little Boy' was dropped on Hiroshima from an American Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 70.000 people, including 20.000 Japanese combatants and 2.000 Korean slave laborers. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought the total number of deaths to 90.000–166.000.
The population before the bombing was around 340.000 to 350.000. About 70% of the city's buildings were destroyed, and another 7% severely damaged.

On 17Sep1945, Hiroshima was struck by the Makurazaki Typhoon (Typhoon Ida). Hiroshima Prefecture suffered more than 3.000 deaths and injuries.  Over 50% of the bridges in the city were destroyed, along with heavy damage to roads and railroads, further devastating the city.

In 1949, a design was selected for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest surviving building to the location of the bomb's deto- nation, was designated the Genbaku Dome or 'Atomic Dome', a part of the Hiroshima Peace Mem'l Park.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was opened in 1955, in the Peace Park.
en.wikipedia.org:_Hiroshima

Hiroshima 2018
Students read something aloud or adressed their fellow students.
Hard to make out what they said exactly, but it is good that history is respected and passed on.

Hiroshima 2018
In the context of this place 'Seek Joy, Feel Good' is remarkable. But learning about history is in itself rewarding.

Hiroshima 2018

Hiroshima 2018
I did not know about the Korean victims here

Hiroshima 2018

Hiroshima 2018
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall

Hiroshima 2018

Hiroshima 2018
In the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima, Oct.2018
Shocking to read that days after the blast the survivors thought that the worst was over, until the malignant tumors
and cancers became evident. So much pain and sorrow still lay ahead.

Hiroshima, Oct.2018
"I fought with myself for about twenty minutes. Then, finally, I forced myself to snap the shutter."

Hiroshima, Oct.2018
Before the bomb fell

Hiroshima, Oct.2018
Devastation on its way..

Hiroshima, Oct.2018
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Hiroshima, Oct.2018
I did not find Hiroshima a very inspiring city in terms of architecture. Perhaps the respect by younger people for
the elder and established classes is too much and so marked renewal is suppressed. But that's just my two cents.


 

MIYAJIMA - ITSUKUSHIMA SHRINE


Actually, the visit to Hiroshima's WW2 past had worn me out; it was warm and humid and the nights cut short by jetlag.
But a visit to Miyajima is often mentioned in context to a visit of Hiroshima, so we caught the train. It was another hour
by train and a short boat ferry ride to the island. A slight drizzle started to fall.

Itsukushima Temple - Miyajima

Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima-jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima), best known for its 'floating' torii gate.
The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It has been destroyed several times, but the first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century.
The torii appears to be floating only at high tide. When the tide is low, it is approachable by foot from the island.
en.wikipedia.org:_Itsukushima_Shrine

Itsukushima Temple - Miyajima
Perhaps I was already too tired here to appreciate the place, but I thought a Torii gate in the water very little
reward for this endeavour. However, I do enjoy making photos such as this one.

There is a street leading back to ferry dock, lined with souvenir shops and snacks.
Miyajima
The 'Conger Eel Steamed Bun' may be a Miyajima specialty, but I'll prefer a Snickers bar any day.
We did not break our stride here and continued to the docks, the day wasn't over yet: places to go & things to see.


 

OSAKA

Osaka - Namba
The Namba district in Osaka is where the bright lights of Osaka are at.

Namba  is a district of Osaka. It is located in Chūō and Naniwa wards.
Namba is regarded as the center of so-called Minami ('South') area of Osaka. Its name is one of variations on the former name of Osaka: Naniwa.
It is best known as the city's main south-central railway terminus: JR, Kintetsu, Nankai, Hanshin and three lines of the Osaka Municipal Subway have stations there.
en.wikipedia.org:_Namba

Osaka - Namba district
Again we had difficulty in finding a nice place to eat which ticked at least two boxes: able to sit down and cold beer.
Meanwhile, the bright lights and the noise from the advertisments by loud speakers were impressive.

Namba walk (Osaka)
'Namba walk x Hello Kitty'. The Japanese have a unique fondness for 'Hello Kitty'-type advertisements.
The subway system often seem to have extended shopping areas; here they are closed due to the late hour.

Japan metro system, buying tickets
We kept learning by observation, such as the option to buy two tickets in one purchase or, if you know the rate, buy
a ticket for the advertised sum. From Namba to our Hommachi station on the Hanzomon line was only one stop, JP¥ 180.
It had been a long day, but looking back on only the second full day here, I could conclude we'd already seen a lot.
And learned a lot, like it is very much a cash society in Japan. At home we'd pay these tickets by debit/credit card.


'Women Only' cars; more than once I'd line up and found I needed to find another carriage to board. Trains for women only, in Japan

 


 
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NARA

Nara, Japan (2018)
Nara is often advertised as a day excursion from Osaka or Kyoto, but we visited it the day we transferred from
Osaka to Kyoto. Not sure if we could store our bags at the Nara rail station we travelled by Shinkansen to Kyoto
first, a trip of only 35 minutes, stored our suitcases in a coin locker there and went by slow train (1 hour) to Nara.
Illustrating the ease of traintravel in Japan. We need not have worried, we did see coin lockers in Nara too.

Nara, Japan (2018)
We saw several cars I normally associate with the USA or Mexico: those who can 'bump' the car with its suspension.
The footpath crossings in Japan are remarkable too.

Nara, Japan (2018)
I began to develop an eye for the traditional Kimono (or actually 'Yukata') dress in the street.

Nara, Japan (2018)
Progress

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Nara, Japan (2018)

Nara, Japan (2018)

Nara, Japan (2018)

Nara, Japan (2018)

Nara, Japan (2018)
Kohfuku-ji Temple (office)

Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan. It borders the Kyoto Prefecture.
Eight temples, shrines, and ruins in Nara remain, collectively they form 'Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara', a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During 710 CE - 784 CE, Nara was the capital of Japan, and the Emperor lived there before moving the capital to Kyoto.
en.wikipedia.org:_Nara

Nara, Japan (2018)

Nara, Japan (2018)
At several temples we noticed a common presence of deer: endearing

Nara (Japan), 2018

Nara (Japan), 2018
The modern and the traditionalists

Nara (Japan), 2018

Nara (Japan), 2018
Himuro Shrine

Nara (Japan), 2018

Nara (Japan), 2018
A process of sounding the bell and hands folding in prayer.
There is also a tribute by pouring water over a stone and folding prayer papers in a tree.

Nara (Japan), 2018

Nara (Japan), 2018

Nara (Japan), 2018
Tall guards at the gate

Nara (Japan), 2018

Nara (Japan), 2018
The main building, which houses the Big Buddha

Nara, the Big Buddha (2018)

Nara, the Big Buddha (2018)

Nara, the Big Buddha (2018)

Nara, Japan (2018)

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The Nara National Museum (annex)
The Nara National Museum here in Nara (which was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784) we found closed but
through an underground passage from the reception area and this led to an annex building, with a collection of
Buddhist art on display, including images, sculpture, and altar articles. Pity photography was not allowed.

The Nara National Museum (annex)
The face expressions on these statues are fascinating and so are the poses of the standing statues.

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Nara, Japan 2018
Back in 'modern' Nara, on our way to the railway station, to catch the train to Kyoto.


 

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Created: 25-Oct-2018
Updated: 18-Nov-2018