Sunday, September 23, 2007

A bit of culture...

Well we're back in rainy Glasgow, and I think I'm sufficiently recovered from jetlag enough to be able to operate a PC, string a sentence together and complete my Japan blogging. Just in case you thought we'd spent our entire time playing in yarn shops, arcades and eating - a bit of culture was also had.

These pics are from the Meiji shrine and surrounding Yoyogi Park. The top pic is a big pond full of koi karp, terrapins and massive dragonflies. We had our lunch there - it was very peaceful and relaxing. The above picture was the dwarfing entrance to the shrine. We walked around the gardens and had lunch but we never visited the shrine itself. [It was a Saturday so fairly busy and really humid hot, so we were looking for a bit of peace from the crowds.]

This was me walking in the park - I used my umbrella to shade myself from the sun, but on this occasion it was up despite being in the shade ... due to the massive spiders that lurked.

This was just at the entrance to the park, where all the funky Harajuku kids hung out [you can see me in the right of the picture imploring the boy to hurry as I was wilting under the heat - I have no idea how these kids managed under all their outfits] It was weird really - all these kids were decked out in their cool clothes in a corner while tourists surrounded them taking films and photos.

Back inside the shrine area - barrels of sake donated to the shrine, and below - one of the lights along the way.

The above and below pictures were of Osaka castle [at the top of a hill in the park - extreme heat!] On the walk through the park to get to the castle we saw something of a trademark of Japanese parks - blue homeless tents everywhere in the trees [we assume - it wasn't like there was a sign, but it was pretty obvious] - very neat, with proper toilets and showers built in the centre of the blue tents.

The boy took up the '300 Yen to dress up like a samurai' on the 3rd floor - gathered quite a crowd of smiling [or laughing - who knows] Japanese tourists.

It wasn't really a castle so much as a 'castle shell' with an air-conditioned inside all done up like a museum - I really really appreciated it though, and bought a Hello Kitty at Osaka Castle face cloth from the gift shop. Doused in water, the face cloth was a huge relief in the heat, and so I joined the ranks of Japanese walking around with wet clothes dabbing their faces - great idea!

The above pic and two below were back in Tokyo - Asakusa, where we visited the Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple. This was a total tourist place - even the connecting Ueno station had an English sign stating the cost to Asakusa [they must have got fed up of tourists queuing up to ask] but still totally amazing.

The five storey pagoda is supposed to hold some of the ashes of Buddha. We went into the shrine itself and hung respectfully at the back watching people purchase bits of paper from drawers and either tie them to specially-made rungs or take them away with them. We were a bit unsure of what was going on really, but there were people clearly coming for spirituality in the midst of all the tourists and gift shops.

Afterwards we went for some yummy tempura lunch around the corner, and found the paper shop just outside the entrance - bought some stunning woodblock prints and Japanese paper.

Above: the boy had heard that there was a gojira [Godzilla] statue somewhere around Ginza so off we traipsed to look for it. I have to say: a anti-climax indeed...

And below: a samurai sword shop at Asakusa - the boy got this great picture while I was in buying a Hello Kitty Senjo-ji face cloth [my Osaka one needed a wash by this point]

On our final day we were just walking around Shibuya getting some last minute gifts and all the main streets were closed for some kind of festival. Lots of men clad in traditional clothes - drummers [amazing - you could feel it in your heart- and they were so so fast!], and people carrying golden shrine-type things about. We still have no idea what was going on, but it was definately a big deal whatever it was.

The picture above was the drummers - you can barely see the one on the left he's going so fast.

... and finally - we stored all our photos on flickr [click here] if you want to see more :)

We had an amazing time in Japan - I can't believe that I was worried. It's not always an easy holiday what with the weather and language barriers - but it's an fantastic place, and we'll be going back without a doubt.


Flavaknits said...

Sounds like you had an amazing time! Its definitely a place I'd love to visit.

Midsummer night's knitter said...

GLad you had a
great time - hope you are going to show us some of your stash in person!

soCherry said...

Yep - I'll bringing some along for tomorrow's meet :)

JRS said...

I'm glad you had a great time and that you found lots of yarn and craft books to your liking!

Amy said...

I really enjoyed your Japan trip report! It's been a couple of years since I've been there and I think it's time I planned another trip over.