Monthly Archives

July 2012

Japan

Magic at the Miyazaki Museum

The quality of pollen on these stamen make it look like they’re coated in sugar. I feel sort of like an erotic botanist for noticing.

edit: I just looked in the dictionary for the correct plural of ‘stamen’… It’s stamina. The erotic botanist strikes again.

Destinations Japan

Final Days for Now – Tokyo Time

Protestors against the use of nuclear power in Japan gather peacefully every Friday near Kasumigaseki Station in Tokyo’s political district, carrying signs that state the dangers of nuclear power, in the wake of the recent Fukushima disaster. July 2012.

 

Lily pond in Tokyo’s Imperial East Garden (皇居東御苑 – kōkyo higashi gyoen). I also just uploaded this and a bunch of others as prints, here! It’s so crazy how time flies, I was just texting a friend whose birthday it is that I remembered it was this time last year that I was just getting ready to go  on my big adventure to Japan. What an amazing time.

Destinations Japan

Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido

Such a cool lizard! It’s no wonder that Pokémon come from Japan.

From up near the Akiyoshi plateau.

In Akiyoshidai, Japan. On probably the hottest day, ever. Too hot to even look at the camera lens with my eyes open. That hot. So hot. But! Despite that, it was a pretty awesome place; I kept thinking it looked sort of like the Scottish highlands. The thermometer at the observatory said it felt like 41˚ Celcius. Coming out from Akiyoshido (the cave system underneath) the difference in temperature was so immense that all my lenses started developing some serious fogging/condensation because the air from below was so moist and cool compared to up above.

All the stones in the background are called ‘karst’ formations. They’re created when limestone bedrock dissolves, leaving its jagged remains behind as the water dries up over time. The area below (akiyoshido) is Japan’s largest natural cave system, and has over 400 limestone caves (although only one route is available for passage by pedestrians and tourists.  

It might look bright because of the long exposure, but this is actually an underground river in a cave system called Akiyoshido, in Akiyoshi, Japan. It’s the largest cave system in Japan, and quite hilariously called a ‘quasi’ national park in English. How is something a ‘quasi’ national park, I’d like to know. I google’d it, and as far as I can tell, Japan’s the only country that follows this naming convention. Just make them official national parks, already! They’re gorgeous!

I had a great time checking out the limestone formations, and just being in the cave in general. Cave temperatures year round are around 17˚ which was just so, so, so much nicer than the totally unnecessarily hot temperatures outside.

Destinations Japan

Gion Festival Season in Yamaguchi (Dozomonsen)

This girl’s face!

She really, really wanted one of those water-filled balloons. They’re one of the common game stall that pop up around Japanese matsuris (festivals). I hated having it done to me when I was a kid, but I’ve gotta say: I love seeing how the parents dress their kids for these festivals. It’s adorable; and you see so many great, fun yukata patterns. I suppose it also makes it easier to see your kid from far away.

Some facts: The differences between Yukatas and Kimonos: yukata are traditional Japanese summer clothes, like the one the little girl is wearing in the picture (kids’ version). They are not kimono; kimono are usually only worn in the winter, or during cooler weather (since they’re so hot!). Unless you’re a geisha; then you might be forced to suffer wearing one in the summer heat. Kimono are heavy, more elaborate, and a bitch to put on. Yukatas are more like really nice bathrobes. In fact, often when you stay at a Japanese ryokan or hotel, they’ll leave a yukata for you to wear on the bed. Another difference between yukatas and kimonos is that the obi (belt part) on the kimonos are usually a bit more built-up, whereas a yukata is usually just a simple bow; sometimes with an extra sash or decoration. I know for foreigner’s it’s easier to just say ‘kimono’ no matter what, since it’s the easy go-to word we’re familiar with for traditional Japanese clothing, and we apply it to pretty much anything that’s asian and wrap-around. But, it can’t hurt to know a little extra. Cheers!

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Night dancing during Gion Matsuri (祇園祭), Yamaguchi.

This is one of Yamaguchi’s bigger summer festivals. Essentially it’s a smaller version of the hugely popular (and just general huge) Gion Matsuri that happens around the same time in Kyoto each year. There are many separate events that comprise of the festival, but one of the highlights is the dancing competition which trails as a parade through the 
商業街 (shougyougai/shopping street) as many university and community groups try to impress the judges by performing the same traditional dance in unison. 

There are some pretty sweet traditional costumes to see during the Gion festival. My personal favorite were the two in the last picture, with the young girl. Hats off to the poor people who volunteered to dress up as the giant red and green balls beside her (traditional Yamaguchi-area Ouchi lacquerware characters) in the 30˚+ humidity.

Good times; my Community Activities class also took part in the dance (I managed to avoid showcasing my bad dancing skills by using the ‘but someone has to take pictures’ excuse). My classmates are the ones dressed up in the red ‘happi’ (the traditional, loose festival coats) that say 山口県大学 (Yamaguchi Prefectural University) on the sides. 

 

Night dancing during Gion Matsuri (祇園祭), Yamaguchi.

This is one of Yamaguchi’s bigger summer festivals. Essentially it’s a smaller version of the hugely popular (and just general huge) Gion Matsuri that happens around the same time in Kyoto each year. There are many separate events that comprise of the festival, but one of the highlights is the dancing competition which trails as a parade through the 
商業街 (shougyougai/shopping street) as many university and community groups try to impress the judges by performing the same traditional dance in unison. 

There are some pretty sweet traditional costumes to see during the Gion festival. My personal favorite were the two in the last picture, with the young girl. Hats off to the poor people who volunteered to dress up as the giant red and green balls beside her (traditional Yamaguchi-area Ouchi lacquerware characters) in the 30˚+ humidity.

Good times; my Community Activities class also took part in the dance (I managed to avoid showcasing my bad dancing skills by using the ‘but someone has to take pictures’ excuse). My classmates are the ones dressed up in the red ‘happi’ (the traditional, loose festival coats) that say 山口県大学 (Yamaguchi Prefectural University) on the sides.