Friday, October 29, 2010

Kyu Iwasaki tei gardens

A full-fledged European style mansion, a Japanese-style building and a Swiss chalet-style building, these are the three remaining buildings, from more than 20 that formed the Kyu Iwasaki tei residence. The complex is now the Kyu Iwasaki tei gardens in Taito ward. The gardens despite its size and being a short walk from Ueno park, it’s difficult to find as is hidden on the backstreets between Yushima teijin, Ueno park and University of Tokyo.

The residence, designed by the “father of modern Japanese architecture” Josiah Conder, as the main residence of the Iwasaki family, founder of the Mitsubishi group. The three buildings have been designed as a important cultural property by the city of Tokyo. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the buildings

The western style mansion, a two stories wood building is the most outstanding of the three buildings, designed in the English’s Jacobean style of the 17th century and with Islamic motifs. There is a display of photos and documents of the Mitsubishi group founder Yataro Iwasaki and Ryoma Sakamoto as both formed part of the company Kanentai, previously Kameyamashachu, the first Japanese Corporation. Iwasaki founded the Mitsubishi Corporation, when the company was dissolved.

The Japanese-style building, build by Kijuro Ookawa, is connected to the European style building, with sliding door paintings done by Gaho Hashimoto.

The third building, the billiard room, is a wood building designed as a Swiss chalet, similar to a mountain log house, and is not connected to the other two buildings. Entrance is not allowed but the interiors can be appreciated from the open doors.

The grounds provide a snapshot not only of the era, but on one of the most important families in Japan.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Night Skyline from Roppongi hills

Roppongi hills observatory offers one of the best panoramic views of Tokyo skyline.

Seating has been set around the observatory windows to allow for a relaxed appreciation of the skyline. There is also a café and a restaurant to make your visit more memorable.

Daytime and dusk are perhaps the best time to visit, but night skyline has an amazing charm, in a less crowded environment.

The Tokyo metropolitan art museum is quite impressive even from above.

On days with good weather you can also visit the sky deck, or open air observatory (roppongi hills heliport), just be careful, you may be in awe with the observatory that you forget that sky deck entrance closing time (like I did).


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yushima Teijin Shrine to the god of learning

Yushima Tenmangu best known as Yushima Tenjin was established in 458 to worship Ameno-tajikaraono-mikoto; in 1355 the spirit of Sugawara Michizane, a virtuoso scholar and poet from the Heian period, was also enshrined here.

These days, students pay reverence to the “kami” of learning at the temple. On examinations periods it’s common to see students and mothers, writing petitions on the wihishing boards “Ema”. Additionally as the shrine is a short walk from Tokyo University, the place gets usually crowded on the days prior the entrance examination day.

After entering the shrine grounds, the most outstanding object is the beautiful building of the main shrine, or honden, the large number of Ema or wish boards comes a close second.

The main hall and the main hall are connected with a stunning bridge, at prayer time you can see the priest in full regalia crossing the bridge.

The shrine is preparing for the chrysanthemums flower festival, when the temple is decorated with this flower and wax figures wearing clothes made of the flower, the festival is celebrated in the first weeks of November.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Ueno Zoo

Ueno Zoo
A good way to spend a Sunday morning in Japan is to visit the Ueno zoo.
The zoo, founded in 1882, is the oldest and most famous in Japan, and is home to over 2600 animals.

Currently the most popular areas are the gorillas and bear, due to the cute baby gorilla and bear born this year.

tea house at ueno zoo
There are two historical structures inside the zoo, a tea house built in the 17th century and a five-stories pagoda, built in 1631. Additionally there is a Thai pavilion, a gift from the Thai government.

There are farm animals in the “fureai” or touch area, where children can touch the animals.

The zoo due to his convenience is always crowded, so arriving early or in weekdays is recommended.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Autumn’s walk in the park

As the weather has been steadily improving, it is a good time to check the autumn status with a walk at the Hokusou hananooka park in Chiba.

There are not many flowers in season at the moment, one of the most abundant are the buckwheat flowers that line the paths on one of the sections of the park.

Cosmos is another seasonal flower that is blooming.

Susuki grass, a traditional decoration on “autumn moon viewing”, is also spreading widely now, not only at the park but in many unattended fields as well.

Unfortunately, the autumn colors are not here yet, it is a bit early in Tokyo, but the season has already started in some regions at the north of Japan. I am really looking forward to it.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Senso-ji temple in Asakusa

Kaminarimon gate
Asakusa’s Senso-ji is now fully visible after over one and a half years of renovations.
Senso-ji founded in 645 is the oldest temple in Tokyo, it has been destroyed by disasters several times and reconstructed. The temple was the designated oration place for Tokunaga Ieyasu and subsequent Shoguns. currently with 30 million visitors every year remains one of the most important centers of worship.

The main entrance to the temple is through the famous Kaminarimon gate, with the gigantic lantern guarded by Fujin (wind god) and raijin (thunder god). The lamp is folded only during the sanja festival, and typhoons.

Leading the way between the Kaminarimon and the Hozomon gate the nakamise shops offer souvenirs and snacks to temple visitors.

sky tree from asakusa
Lateral streets provide a great view of the sky tree.

Hozomon gate
lantern at Hozomon gate
After nakamise the Hozomon gate guards the entrance to the main hall. The Hozomon gate is used to store the temple treasures.

five stories pagoda
To the right of the Hozomon gate stands the five stories pagoda, originally built in 942.

Main hall
Kannondo hall
After the Hozomon gate, the main hall is now finally visible. You need to look carefully to notice the renovations as it has been done mostly to some of the exteriors part in the roof area.