Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gyoda city’s ancient Lotus

Last week visited again the Ancient lotus park in Gyoda city, as now the flowers are in season.

As last year I arrived quite early, lotus flower only opens between 6:00 and 10:00 AM, and again as last year there were already a large number of visitors at the park.

The park is divided in two sections: the ancient lotus pond and the world lotus garden.

There are many lotus gardens in Tokyo, but can hardly compare in variety and beauty to this park in Saitama, This park beauty make worthwhile the trip from Tokyo.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kiyosumi gardens

There is no need to go out of Tokyo to enjoy one of the most beautiful Daimyo (feudal lord) gardens; Kiyosumi garden in fukugawa, Koto ku, is a beautiful example of the ancient garden style.

The state, formely the house of an Edo era magnate, was purchased in 1878 and turned into a garden by the founder of Mitsubishi to entertain guests. It was later donated to the city of Tokyo and open to public in 1932.

The garden it is designed around the wide pond, with paths, trees, artificial hills and islands located strategically to provide different scenic views along the stroll path. The park was appointed as place of scenic beauty of Tokyo in 1979; it is perhaps the most pleasant Japanese garden in Tokyo.

There are 55 exceptional stones collected from around the country, at different locations of the park, although you really need to be a stone expert to appreciate fully their beauty.

There is also a Japanese lily garden in the park open space, stunningly beautiful when in bloom.

The Ryotei overlooking the pond, styled like a teahouse, provides a unique view of the garden, but it may be difficult to enter without reservation.

The park provides a perfect excuse to escape of the summer heat, and relax while enjoying the scenic view.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Umi Hotaru

A rest area in the middle of the sea in the Tokyo bay. Umi Hotaru is located on the cross over point from underwater tunnel to bridge, on the Tokyo bay Aqua line Highway.

The Highway was contructed in 1997, to reduce the drive time from Kanagawa to Chiba from 100 km to 14 km, to the incredible cost of 1.44 trillion JPY. It is composed of a 4.4 km bridge and a 9.6 km tunnel, the fourth largest in the world.
The highway is not heavily used, despite the huge time saving, mainly due to the high toll cost of 3000 JPY.

The rest area has parking space for 400 cars, restaurants, food courts, coffee shop, museum, souvenir shops, and amusement area. With all the facilities it is difficult not to make a stop when crossing the Aqua line.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Nihon-ji Big Buddha

Big Buddha
A visit to the largest stone-carved daibutsu, to one of the oldest temples in Japan, and a mountain hike, all included in a visit to the nihon-ji temple big Buddha at the Nokogiri Mountain, Chiba prefecture.

The Nihon-ji daibutsu with 31 m is the largest stone carved daibutsu and one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan (Kamakura Budda is 13.75 m for comparison). The statue represents the kusurishi nyorai or Buddha of healing, holding a medicine jar with the left hand.

The daibutsu completed in 1783, originally was 37.7 m tall, losing almost 7 m to erosion, it had a major restoration in 1966, and now part of the admission fee is used for restoration and maintenance.

Nihon-ji bell
daikoku hall
Yakushi shrine
Kenkon inari
Cave Heaven
The temple is located in the Nokogiri Mountain, divided in five areas that can be accessed by climbing the temple well maintained trails, or by using the cable car in the Hamakayama station to the top of the mountain and make your way down.
The first area is the temple access area or Omotesando where the Kanon temple is located. A short path climbs to to the middle area where most of the temples are located: The Nihon-ji bell (designated an important cultural property), the Daikoku hall, the Yakushi shrine, the Kenkon inari and the path to heaven cave.

Big-Buddha square
The next area is the Big Buddha square where the big-Buddha can be appreciated; there is also a Jizo statue at the square, surrounded by small statues.

Tokai Arhats
Tokai Arhats
Tokai Arhats
Tokai Arhats
The next area, the Rakan area, is a serie of caves and inlets, housing 1500 arhats statues; steep paths separate the caves some of them covered with moss, so good shoes are required for this area.
The last area or top of the mountain area, which I didn’t have enought time to visit, host a 100 feet Kanon carved on the mountain, and an observatory called a Jigoku nozoki (peep into hell), where the Boso peninsula and the bottom of the mountain, thus the name, can be appreciated.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pedestrian Zone in Ginza

A large pedestrian zone is created every Sunday in Ginza, Chuo Street, to allow shoppers and visitors, to roam the area without worring about the normally busy traffic.


The weather is still hot and humid, but some see this as a business opportunity, a car company offered futsal clinic for kids, while the waiting parents check out the car, but no doubt about who got the longer queues, a beer store selling extra cold beer, with an ingenious display of the beer temperature.


Chairs and tables set in the street, performers displaying their skills, attention deprived pet owners showing off, all in a good Ginza Sunday.