Monday, May 30, 2011
The temple Shiofune Kannonji in Oume Tokyo is one of the most famous spots to appreciate the spring azaleas. From late April to May visitors crowd the ancient temple surrounding slopes to enjoy the flowers.
According to the legend, the temple started in the Taika period (645-650) with the enshrinement of the golden multi-arm image of deity Kannon. Three of the remaining structures built in the muromachi period have been designated as national important cultural properties:
The hondo or main hall, a wooden structure with thatched roof, with a structure characteristic of the muromachi period.
The Nioumon, the main gate to the temple, a thatched roofed structure.
The Amidado, a wooden structure with hipped roof mono-layered in copper.
Additionally the surrounding buildings have been designated as important cultural properties by Oume city.
A very large Kannon statue at the top of the front slope has been recently erected to pray for peace.
The Azaleas around the temple are an unmatchable sight, 17,000 shrubs of different varieties of the flower, bloom continuously every spring, making the slopes look like a Matisse painting.
Another festival celebrated at the temple is the Buddhist rite of “cedar-stick bush burning”, a firewalking festival held in front of the gomado. I still have not been able to see this festival, but I expect to attend one in the near future.
View shiofunekannonji in a larger map
Saturday, May 21, 2011
As it is now traditional, every May the “One Love Jamaica Festival” is held at the Yoyogi park. Aiming to promote cultural exchanges between Jamaica and Japan, it is one of the most look forward free events in Tokyo.
The main event is the music concert, dominated mostly by Bob Marley’s music.
Another of the attractions is the food, with several stands offering authentic Jamaican food.
As every year, the event was very busy on the first day with a larger number of visitors expected on Sunday.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The good weather is back in Tokyo and there is no better way to spend a holiday that to visit a park. The Kasai Seaside Park in Edogawa is a popular destination that normally attracts large crowds, but as of the largest parks in Japan, with 81 million square meters, the crowds are tolerable (with the exception perhaps of the cherry blossom viewing season).
The park is divided into several zones, the central zone with the “Promenade to the Sea” main street running from the Kasai seaside station to the “Cristal view” observatory. The Northwest part is the grass area with the 117m tall “Diamond and Flower” Ferris Wheel, currently the largest in Japan, the wheel has one most beautiful light shows, that is not currently in display due to electricity power saving measures. The seaside-edogawa river hotel is also in this area.
To the east of the park the Aquarium Tokyo sea Life park, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi is one of the most popular Aquariums holding the record of most visitor in Japan.
Next to the aquarium is a bird sanctuary with fresh water and seawater ponds and birds watching observatories.
The Cristal view observatory offers a view of the sea breeze square, and the two artificial beaches, the waterbus station is at the east side of the square.
The park is perhaps too big to be enjoyed on one visit, but it is definitively worth several visits.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Ikebukuro is the second busiest stations in Tokyo, after Shinjuku, with the West and East exit separated by a huge gap created by the large number of train line tracks. The west exit, perhaps not as popular as the east one, it is populated with building of interesting architecture, that gives a very distinctive look to the area.
The Tobu store building is a concrete building with honeycomb like front that is the main entrance for the station west exit. A small plaza in front of the station is currently decorated with owls, the station symbol.
One of the most outstanding buildings of the area is the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, a glass and concrete building designed by Yoshinobu Ashihara. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government created the space for the development and promotion of art and culture, and its main hall is equipped with one of Japan largest pipe organs. The building is closed for renovations until 2012.
The Tokyo Toshima godou or Toshima ward tax office, designed by Tadasue Ohe, is a beautiful building located in front of the Tokyo metropolitan art space.
The Lumine, Tobu Plaza building is an elegant glass and steel structure that stands prominently on the south-west of the station.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Today we celebrate the children’s day in Japan, originally boy’s day only, now by government decree a national holiday to celebrate all children.
As this is part of a long holidays (also known as ‘Golden Week’), parks, and recreation centers, are full of families celebrating this holiday.
Parks, public transportations, and houses are decorated with the traditional “Koi nobori” or carp flags to mark this celebration.