Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Autumn Leaves

Another shot from the Kyoto Botanical Garden, I really enjoy Autumn with its crisp cool air and the sweet pungent smell of the damp leaves that crackle under your feet. The vibrant colors that speckle the mountainside and blanket the corners of gardens and street sides. Kyoto is really charming in this season and might be the best city in Japan to enjoy Kouyou, at least in my opinion.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kouyou Black & White

Normally, perhaps these days at least, the vibrant autumn landscapes are captured in color. For this scene I was drawn to try black and white, in this case with a red filter applied. I learned some about black and white printing in a photo lab with enlargers and color filters back in my school days. These days I work mostly in digital but still like to use filters, and the red filter actually filters out the "red" wavelengths of light - so the brilliant red and orange hues of the autumn trees fall to white. The effect is almost infrared photography like.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kouyou 紅葉

Fall colors (Kouyou) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms (Sakura) are to spring. The viewing of autumn leaves has been a popular activity in Japan for centuries and today draws large numbers of travelers to famous kouyou spots both in the mountains and in the cities. As you can probably tell I am a big fan of autumn and its kouyou, and will be boring you with many shots like these over the next few days. Consider yourselves duly warned. This is another image from within the Kyoto Botanical Garden.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kyoto Botanical Garden 京都府立植物園

Took a trip with some dear friends to the Kyoto Botanical Garden, which is a very nice place to view the many changing colors of the autumn leaves. The Kyoto Botanical Garden was founded in 1917, and opened to the public in 1924. After the World War II, it was occupied by the Allied Forces and fell into disuse, but was reopened as a botanical garden for relaxation in 1961.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Show Me Japan: Autumn

A statue of a monk on pilgrimage at the Sumadera temple surrounded by autumn foliage.

Last weekend the blog Budget Trouble: Travel and Trouble in Japan, hosted a photo meme called Show Me Japan (Vol.1 Issue 2), and now it is a weekly event. I really enjoyed seeing all the images from around Japan last weekend and was introduced to some wonderful folks; so I am participating again, and here we are.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Love Padlocks

Some may be under the impression that padlocks are just to keep personal property safe, well you may be surprised to hear they have another purpose. A custom has secured itself in Europe and Asia where romantic, and sometimes superstitious, couples inscribe messages on padlocks and then attach them to certain landmarks in specific areas - more often than not railings and fences near romantic hangouts - and then toss away the key. The practice, as well as symbolizing a couple’s unending love, is also thought to bring good luck to a developing relationship. Let's hope these two made it. . .

Oh, and to all those folks in the states Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old Factory

Abandoned factory near the docks in Hyogo.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goshiki-zuka Kofun 五色塚古墳

The Goshiki-zuka Kofun, or barrow cemetery, is a key-hole shaped tumulus (mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves). This 18 meter high tumulus sits in Tarumi, on a hill in the middle of a residential neighborhood overlooking Awaji island across the channel. The key hole shape can really only be appreciated from a birds eye view of the tumulus, however, you can get some idea of its shape from the top (which you can climb to via a stone walkway). The tumulus dates from the late 4th or early 5th century and is 194-meters long. Quite an impressive site, made more impressive by its suburban surroundings and the many school children and residents that pass around it unbiased; as to them it is just the normal backdrop of an everyday commute.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tarumi-ku 垂水区

Trying something a little new, I am afraid that this blog template doesn't display this type of image well; but if you click on it you can get a better view. This is a stitched panoramic image (done in camera) taken along the coast between Suma and next ward to its west Tarumi. Tarumi is suburban area of Kōbe, with a quiet residential feel that also provides many sea side views, beaches, an outlet mall and a port that hosts a modest coastal fishing industry. The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge connects this ward with the neighboring island of Awaji. I am especially attracted to these concrete "jacks" that are interlocked and stacked along most of the Japanese coast. In the States the coast is not really protected in such a homogenous and aesthetically pleasing manner.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Show Me Japan Photo Meme

Security officer overlooking Akashi Kaikyō Bridge.

Anna Ikeda, author of the blog Budget Trouble: Travel and Trouble in Japan, has started a photo meme called Show Me Japan (Vol.1 Issue 1) and has been kind enough to invite me along. So here is my entry, be sure to check out all the other interesting posts and photographs from around Japan.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Umeda Sky Building View

It had been a very long time, almost 12 years, from my last up-close and personal visit to the Sky building - which is one of my favorite buildings in Kansai; I just cannot help but feel like I have entered some 1980's esque science fiction film when I am transported through the tube like suspended bridges that connect the towers. However, this was my first trip inside the building and my first visit at night, you do have to pay to access the uppermost outdoor rooftop observatory called The Floating Garden, but from my point of view it is worth the cost (if it is after nightfall) just for the romantic kitch and the views. So now my inner 1980's child is wondering when the Japanese will complete the flying cars and personal robots to complete the view.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Umeda Sky Building 梅田スカイビル

The seventh-tallest building in Ōsaka and, at least for me, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. It consists of two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the center. In the photographs you can see the bridges, from the bottom looking up, the top looking down, and from the inside riding down.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kōbe Street Art

Street art is still being made in Kōbe, recently the city has painted over some older works, and the fresh blank walls have attracted new artists like moth to flame. Love it or hate it, these artists are persistent and they constantly mold and manipulate the landscape.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Located in Ōsaka at Tempozan Harbor Village, near the Kaiyukan Aquarium, this wheel is the 5th largest in the world; with a height of 112.5 meters and a diameter of 100 meters. Tempozan Ferris Wheel opened to the public on July 12, 1997 and features colored lights that provide a weather forecast for the next day: orange lights indicate a sunny day, green lights a cloudy day and blue lights indicate rain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ōsaka Castle 大坂城

Last week visited Ōsaka castle and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was decorated with a very large landscape-like artificial hill composed entirely of flowers (represented a waterfall complete with bamboo bridge) for the chrysanthemum festival. Every year there are chrysanthemum festivals organized throughout Japan, as this particular flower is a prominent symbol of Japanese nobility. Known as the “sun” flower, the chrysanthemum was formally a symbol of the emperor, who was believed to be a descendant of the sun goddess. The highest order of Japan is even called the Grand Order of the Badge of the Chrysanthemum, which is the highest possible honor a Japanese citizen could be awarded during his or her lifetime.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coins At Kinkaku-ji

A water filled bowl carved out of the center of a large stone, located at one of the smaller shrines at the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The bowl also collects coins offered to the Kami 神 (spirit) of that particular shrine.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺

Visited the very popular, and consequently very crowded, Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyōto. The Pavilion is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex and the top two stories of the pavilion are covered with gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (however tourists cannot enter). The building is topped with a bronze phoenix ornament, which is my favorite element on the building. The Pavilion is set in a magnificent strolling garden that includes a pond that reflects the building.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rust & Stairs

An old pedestrian overpass in Suma near the aquarium. The rust stained stairs have caught my eye in the past, and a few days ago I finally had a suitable combination of filters and lighting to capture a decent image.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Metalworker busy at his craft in Shin-Nagata, seen on one of my recent walks around the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maritime Memorial Detail

Detail inside the small maritime memorial in Kōbe.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Maritime Memorial

Small maritime memorial in Kōbe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pseudorca Crassidens

Close to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium there are two different dolphin shows, this photograph is of the False Killer Whale (Pseudorca Crassidens), a cetacean, and the third largest member of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae). It lives in temperate and tropical waters throughout the world. As its name implies, the False Killer Whale shares characteristics such as appearance with the more widely known Orca (killer whale). Like the orca, the False Killer Whale attacks and kills other cetaceans. However, the two dolphin species are not closely related.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Located within the Ocean Expo Commemorative National Government Park in Okinawa, Japan. It is the world's second largest aquarium, behind the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, in the U.S. Photograph is a long exposure of the large tank that houses The main tank, called the Kuroshio Sea, that holds 7,500 cubic metres of water and features an acrylic glass panel measuring 27 by 74 ft with a thickness of 24 in, the largest such panel in the world when the aquarium was opened. Whale sharks and manta rays are kept alongside many other fish species in the main tank.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Idea Leuconoe

Idea Leuconoe is the latin name for the Tree Nymph Butterfly and this is its pupa, rather pretty really, but apparently not appetizing to predators as it shiny golden glow seems to lack camouflage. Photograph taken at the Okinawa Fruits Land.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tree Nymph Butterfly

There are many names for the tree nymph butterfly, including rice paper butterfly, paper kite butterfly and wood nymph butterfly. The name rice paper butterfly likely comes from the unusual texture of its wings. The way it flits and floats in the air led to the name paper-kite butterfly. The Japanese call it Ogomadara or Lady of the Southern Island. The tree nymph has a wingspan of 37 to 43 inches, making this large black and white insect the largest butterfly in Japan.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Manzamo 万座毛

The name Manzamo stems from the original Okinawan Hogen dialect, meaning ‘big enough for 10,000 men to sit on this field by the cliffs.’ Also referred to as the Elephant’s Nose at Manzamo, the craggy cliffs form the elephant’s trunk.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ficus Microcarpa

Ficus Microcarpa, also known as the Malayan Banyan, is native to the Okinawa islands. Historically the Okinawan people worshipped Ficus Microcarpa as a sacred tree, believing that this tree with aerial roots is a place where spirits (fairies) live.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Okinawa Black Sugar

Okinawa is known for its black sugar, and traditionally the cane is ground by one of these fellows pushing a long pole attached to the devices below where the cane is placed and ground.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Roof Tiles

Whereas many homes in Japan are made with wood and allow free-flow of air to combat humidity, typical modern homes in Okinawa are made from concrete with barred windows (protection from flying plant matter) to deal with regular typhoons. Roofs are also designed with strong winds in mind, with each tile cemented on and not merely layered as seen with many homes elsewhere in Japan.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shīsā シーサー

Shīsā are traditional Ryukyuan decorations, often found in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog. Many people put a pair of shisa on their rooftops or flanking the gates to their houses. Shisa are wards, believed to protect from various evils. When found in pairs, the shisa on the left traditionally has a closed mouth, and the one on the right an open mouth. The open mouth to ward off evil spirits, and the closed mouth to keep good spirits in.