Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Iceberg is an outstanding glass building structure, representative of the modern Japanese architecture, designed to reflect light from all angles.
Designed by Tokyo based British architect Benjamin Warner, completed in 2006, it is listed as one of the seven architectural wonders in Condé Nast Traveler.
The building located in Meiji street, between Harajuku and Shibuya, hidden between other structures, just stand out once you get close by its form and unique design.
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Monday, July 25, 2011
Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu Chiba, is one of the most popular attractions for kids in the summer (oddly around Christmas is full of young couples). Trying to avoid the incredible long queues, I visited the park one week before the official start of the school summer holiday.
Tokyo Disneyland is a licensed park from Walt Disney Company, and with next-door Tokyo Disney Sea, are the only Disney parks not owned by Walt Disney.
The park is modeled after California Disneyland, and it has become one of Japan tourist attraction for visitor from neighborhood countries.
The park closed briefly after the earthquake, due to some minor damage, but it has now re-opened with most of the attractions operating normally. The park is operating with energy saving measures, but these measures are barely noticeable.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Horikiri Iris garden in katsushika prefecture is the remanent of the historical Horikiri garden.
The Horikiri Iris was one well-known attractions of the Edo period, becoming the subject of one of the “one hundred views of Edo” color prints by Hiroshige.
There are currently 6000 Irises of 200 varieties planted at the garden, especially of the edo period type.
Even the park is no so small (7700 m²), it felt so due perhaps due to being surrounded by housing buildings and the shuto expressway.
The park is quite busy on weekends and on peak period, around the end of June. I visited on a weekday and after the period, so I did not have a view of the park in full bloom, but being able to roam about the garden freely, somehow compensated for it.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Mt Tsukuba Shrine is an ancient shrine in the Ibaraki Prefecture. The shrine has a history of over 3000 years, its name appearing in poems written in the 8th and 10th century. Tsukuba Mountain has been considered a sacred mountain since people started to live in the Kanto area. The male “kami” or spirit, enshrined on the Nantaysan peak, and the female “kami”, enshrined on the Nyotaisan peak, represent the Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto deities. Tha main hall of the shrine is at the base of the mountain on the south side.
A huge metal Torii signals the way to the shrine, and a smaller concrete torii marks the entrance to the shrine grounds.
The holy bridge was dedicated by a Tokugawa warlord to the shrine, and passing through the bridge is allowed only on certain festival days in February, March and November.
The gate to the main courtyard is beautiful old wooden gate that gives perfect emphasis to the age of the shrine.
In the main court there is an old tree called “marubakusu”, it has been designated as a natural monument by the city, it is said that there are only two trees of this type in Japan.
The gardens on the courtyard are beautiful and well kept. Some of the structures were slightly damaged by the earthquake and still need to be repaired.
The Main shrine with his giant bell. the carving on the shrine and adjacent building, are similar to the ones in Nikko.
The shrine it is believed to bestow marital harmony and conjugal bliss and has become a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Mount Tsukuba in Ibaraki, with 877 m is one of the most famous mountains in Japan.
According to the legend, a deity descended from the heavens and asked two mountains for a place to stay, Mt Fuji with the higher summit and a perfect shape, thinking arrogantly that it does not need the deity’s blessing, refused. Mt Tsukuba humbly welcomed the deity. Today Mt Fuji is a cold and bare rock mountain, whilst Mt Tsukuba is full of vegetation and colors that change with the seasons.
Mt Tsukuba is a popular hiking destination; its double peeks Nyotai-san (female) and Nantay-san (male) are considered kami or spirits by the Shinto religion. For non-hikers there is a cable car to the notch between the peaks and a ropeway to the East Ridge, to about the same elevation as the cable car.
On this trip, I used the funicular to climb to the top. At the station at the top there are several shops and restaurants, even one with a rotating panoramiv view (looking like it will fall apart any minute). The view was fantastic, and from there you can see Tokyo and Mt. Fuji on a clear day.
From here, you can climb to the true summits, Nantay-san to the left of the station and Nyotai-san to the right. The hiking courses to each of the summits are clearly marked.
The climb to the Nyotai-san is a 15 mins hike through a well-maintained path. There is a small shrine at the top (there is another at the top of the Nantay-san), and a rock formation where you enjoy the view.
There is a path to go down to the top station of the aerial tramway, the tramway offers dramatic views of the mountains. At the end station at the bottom, there is a small amusement park next to the exit of the hiking course.
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