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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mount Fuji, at the 5th Station

Mount Fuji is 3,776 meters high and is the highest mountain in Japan.  With unrivaled magnificence and a beautiful cone shape, Mt. Fuji has often been selected as the subject of paintings and literature.  It is a volcano that has been dormant since its last eruption, in 1707, but is still generally classified as active by geologists. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.

Mt. Fuji has an image of being snow-capped, but actually it's not covered in snow all year round. Usually, the snow melts in the summer and you can see the surface. Mt. Fuji usually starts being covered in snow in late September to early October, and the peak of the snowfall is from March to May.
In Japan, there has been a culture to respect a mountain as a spiritual spot since old times. Mount Fuji has been a sacred site for practicers of Shinto since the 7th century. Shinto is the indigenous spirituality of Japan. From the old days, many people worshipping and practicing Shintoism have been visiting this Komitake shrine, located at the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji.
It is said that Mt. Komitake was a mountain that existed before Mt. Fuji of today, and that this Komitake shrine was established as a place to pray more than 1000 years ago.
Komitake and Ko-Fuji (Old Fuji) became a base and erupted repeatedly, which formed the present figure of Mt.Fuji. In 937, Fujisan Komitake Sharing was located and the Komitake Shrine constructed on the peak of Komitake Mountain as the sacred place of the mountain faith.
At 2,400 meters the 5th station is the highest starting point to climb Mount Fuji, and it connects to a trail which is the shortest route to the top. Populated with several shops, cafes, a temple, a couple of observation decks and a post office, the station has the feel of a small village. You can thoroughly enjoy the magnificence of Mt. Fuji by just looking at the beautiful sight and its surrounding environment close at hand in all seasons without having to climb all the way to the top.
Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tokyo, at Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills is a development project in Tokyo and one of Japan's largest integrated property developments, located in the Roppongi district of Minato, Tokyo. Constructed by building tycoon Minoru Mohri, the mega-complex incorporates office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theatres, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheatre, and a few parks. 

The centerpiece is the 54-story Mohri Tower. Mohri's vision was to build an integrated development where high-rise inner-urban communities allow people to live, work, play, and shop in proximity to eliminate commuting time. He argued that this would increase leisure time, quality of life, and benefit Japan's national competitiveness. Seventeen years after the design's initial conception, the complex opened to the public on April 25, 2003.
The first six levels of Mohri Tower contain retail stores and restaurants. Roppongi Hills features more than 200 shops, cafes and restaurants. Most shops specialize in fashion, accessories, interior design and household goods, while restaurants offer a wide array of Japanese and international cuisine.
The top six floors house the Mohri Art Museum and the Tokyo City View with panoramic views of the city. A new exit from Roppongi Station empties into a glass atrium filled with large television screens and escalators, as well as several shops and restaurants. The rest of the building is office space.
Large open spaces have been built into the design of Roppongi Hills. About half of the area consists of gardens, pavilions, and other open spaces. A small oasis of greenery between the tall buildings of Roppongi Hills, the Mohri Garden is built in the style of a traditional Japanese landscape garden complete with a pond and trees. The garden has a number of cherry trees that make it a nice spot to enjoy the cherry blossom season in late March and early April. The Mohri Garden is a part of a lost mansion that housed members of the feudal Mohri clan.
By night, Roppongi becomes Tokyo’s most foreigner-centric nightlife spots, a center of late-night hedonism and fun. Bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants jostle for attention among the bright lights, giving visitors in search of a good time options the whole night.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Tokyo, at Asakusa Temple

Asakusa is a district in Taitō, Tokyo, Japan, famous for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. There are several other temples in Asakusa, as well as various festivals, such as the Sanja Matsuri.
For many centuries, Asakusa used to be Tokyo's leading entertainment district. During the Edo Period (1603-1867), when the district was still located outside the city limits, Asakusa was the site of kabuki theaters and a large red light district. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, modern types of entertainment, including movie theaters, set foot in Asakusa.
The complex resembles the Edo-period site, with several imposing gates, including the Kaminarimon or the Thunder Gate, with its iconic giant red lantern, and a five-story pagoda. The giant red lantern is 4 meters tall, 3.4 meters in circumference and weighs 670 kilograms. The front of the lantern displays the gate's name, Kaminarimon. Painted on the back is the gates official name, Fūraijin-mon. A wooden carving depicting a dragon adorns the bottom of the lantern.
The Asakusa temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. According to legend, a statue of the Kannon was found in the Sumida River in the year 628 by two fishermen, the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari. The chief of their village, Hajino Nakamoto, recognized the sanctity of the statue and enshrined it by remodeling his own house into a small temple in Asakusa so that the villagers could worship Kannon.
Every year on a weekend in mid May, a festival takes place in the Asakusa area , called the Sanja Matsuri. It is one of Tokyo’s most popular festivals. It is held in celebration of the three founders of Sensoji Temple, who are enshrined next door to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Its prominent parades revolve around three mikoshi (portable shrines), as well as traditional music and dancing. The procession of Sanja Matsuri  for the three mikoshi, begins from Nakamise-Dōri towards the Kaminarimon. These three elaborate shrines honor and represent the three men responsible for founding the Sensō-ji. During this final day of the festival, these  three important mikoshi are split up in order to visit and bestow blessing to all 44 districts of downtown and residential Asakusa.
Nakamise Dori is a shopping street that runs from the Kaminarimon right up to the Senso-ji Temple. Around 90 stores line up along the 250 meter long strip, transforming this street into the prime shopping spot in Asakusa. Nakamise Dori is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan.
Various products are sold here, such as Japanese chopsticks,  wooden combs, fabrics, dolls, art products and traditional Japanese snacks.
Further down between Asakusa and Ueno there is Kappabashi-dori, also known just as Kappabashi  or Kitchen Town, a street which is almost entirely populated with shops supplying the restaurant trade. These shops sell everything from knives and other kitchen utensils, mass-produced crockery, restaurant furniture, ovens, and decorations, through to esoteric items such as the plastic display food (sampuru) found outside Japanese restaurants.
If you’re after some reasonably priced traditional pottery, kitchen utensils, sake or tea sets, chopsticks or knives, you won’t leave disappointed.
Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Tokyo, seen from the Tokyo Tower

Tokyo is officially known as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.  The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world.
The Metropolitan area of Tokyo is a cultural hub bursting with historical traditions versus the relatively new cities’ buildings and huge shopping obsession.
With over 13,000,000 people  Tokyo is known as one of mega cities in the world. Many people commute from neighbor cities to Tokyo. During the daytime, the population swells by over 2.5 million as workers and students commute from adjacent areas. 
In Tokyo, there are 49 buildings and structures that stand taller than 180 metres. Skyscrapers are a relatively recent phenomenon in Japan. Due to Tokyo's location on the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates, it is prone to earthquakes. This caused many of the buildings to be lower in height than those of major cities of its size.
However, this fact has not deterred Tokyo from building skyscrapers, and the modern-day city boasts more high-rise buildings than just about any other city in Asia - possibly even the world. Engineering is a key feature of Tokyo's skyscrapers, taking precedence over height and beauty.
Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan. At 332.9 metres, it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations. Built in 1958, the tower's main sources of income are tourism and antenna leasing. Over 150 million people have visited the tower.
At the center of Tokyo, the Tokyo Imperial Palace is located as the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and contains buildings including the main palace, the private residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums and administrative offices.
It is built on the site of the old Edo Castle. The total area including the gardens is 1.15 square kilometres. The modern palace is designed by Japanese architect Shōzō Uchii and was completed in 1993. The Palace complex  contains buildings including the main palace and other buidlings. The palace is surrounded by a water-filled moat and tree-covered grounds - a precious taste of nature within the bustling metropolitan city.
Source: Wikipedia