FC: JAPAN Sandy & Steve Alley April 2014
1: Our trip to Japan would not have been possible without our daughter Brooke and her husband, Todd Maddox. She planned out the days and booked the hotels. Todd and Brooke both worked hard to help us get to our destinations, since we rode buses, trains, subway trains and walked...a lot. Todd's keen eye for bakeries and restaurants kept us from eating things that weren't too strange and food that didn't make us sick. They were excellent travel companions and made our vacation very enjoyable. Thank you Brooke & Todd!
2: Here we are...anxiously awaiting to start our adventure to Japan. Our flights began in Billings, MT then to Salt Lake, UT, then to Seattle, WA & finally onto to Tokyo which was a 9+ hours in Economy Comfort. Leaving at 7:30 pm Friday & arriving Saturday at 10:20 pm. | After getting through the long line at customs, we found English speaking Information, exchanged our dollars for yen, and realized we were too late to catch a train to our hotel. We spent the night catching a few hours of sleep with 60+ of our now closest friends.
3: Bathrooms Most public restrooms had both "Squatty Potties" and Western Toilets (Bidet style with warm seats). They also had a sound system that when you closed the door, the sound of running water would (loudly) play to cover up any sounds you may make.
4: Hotels We stayed at the Comfort Hotel in Hiroshima the first two nights. And the Kyoto Central Inn the 3rd and 4th nights. Each hotel room was very, very small with hard full size beds with flat pillows. Robes & slippers were available in our rooms for our use. Our last night was in Tokyo at the military hotel, The New Sanno Hotel, which had American size rooms & bathrooms. | The bathrooms in the hotels were very, very small. They appeared to be a plastic cubicle that could they hose down between guests. The tub/showers that were very tall. We both wondered how the Japanese got into the shower. Shampoo, conditioner & body wash was provided in large bottles... way too big to put into your suitcase.
5: Food Coffee brewing at Holly's Cafe. Starbucks were everywhere in the 3 cities we visited. | Yakisoba Yum! | Green tea & cherry blossom Manji - YUCK! | Green Tea was put into everything! | Food was interesting, you never were quite sure what you may get when pointing at a picture. Soup & salad was served at breakfast.
6: We ate at this restaurant for breakfast the first morning at the airport. They were very concerned how they made your toast...which was wonderful...but the scrambled eggs were extremely runny! | There were many street vendors smaking and selling food. Taiyaki is a fish shaped cake made with pancake or waffle batter then filled with red bean paste, custard or chocolate. The custard one was good, be not overly sweet.
7: All school aged children wear uniforms. The uniforms change according to the school and grade the children are in. In the city of Kyoto, many women and teen girls were dressed in Kimono. Kyoto encourages women to dress in the old traditions and even offer tourists the opportunity to rent a Kimono.
8: . | Hiroshima is home to two World Heritage Sites Hiroshima Castle Built in 1591, it has 5 floors, we were unable to take photos inside with the exception of the photos of Brooke & Todd on page 1. The castle was rebuilt in 1958 following it's destruction from the atomic bomb. | Hiroshima
9: The A-bomb Done shows what remained of from the Aug. 6, 1945 atomic bomb that killed approx. 140,000 precious lives. The story of those lives and the effects the bomb had on Hiroshima is displayed in the Peace Memorial Museum. | The museum showed the area where there once was a vibrant city to nothing left.
10: The Peace Memorial Park is host to the Children's Peace Monument, also known as theTower of Paper Cranes. The monument was inspired by Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia 10 years after the bombing. In the hospital, she folded over a thousand paper cranes using medicine wrapping paper in the hope that doing so would cure her. Her and her classmates folded cranes until the day of her death, Oct. 1955 | The Memorial Cenotaph, pictured left, is the central monument to honor and console the souls of the victims. In the center of the monument lies a stone coffin which holds the register of the A-bomb victims. Carved on the coffin says "Let all the souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil."
12: This Shinto shrine, Miyajima, on the island of Itsukushima best known for its 'floating" torii gate. 1st built in the 16th century is one of Japan's most popular attractions. We had to take a ferry to get to the island.
13: When the tide is high, the torri gate appears to be floating on water, when the tide is low, as it was when we visited, we could walk out to the shrine. Dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-0 no Mikoto, Shinto god of seas and storms, and brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu. The 5 story pagoda, Gojunoto and the Toyokuni Shrine were also on the island. Births and burial is forbidden on the island.
14: There were about a dozen very tame deer that were on the walk way to the Miyajima shrine. They would nudge people that had food. This picture of Brooke giving the peace sign is a common sign that many Japanese people display when being photographed. | Ice Cream is very popular among the Japanese people. They have unique flavors like green tea and red bean.
16: Kyoto has been called the Flower Capital or Flower City. Though most of the cherry blossom had already bloomed, I was able to find a few trees. The Japanese are said to love this season more than any other. | Sake barrels sit next to an old theater in the Gion District which looks like the "old" days of Japanese culture.
17: We attended the 142nd performance of the Miyako Odori, a play that covers eight scenes depicting summer, fall, winter and fall and only is performed April 1-31. It is a dance celebrating the Cherry Blossom season. The grand finale has 60 dancers.
18: Kinhaku - The Golden Palace This Buddhist hall contains relics of Buddha. Gold foil on lacquer covers the upper two levels.
19: People would through coins trying to hit the metal or stone bowls in hopes of getting good fortune.
20: At Shrines you cleanse yourself with either water or incense, make an offering ($$), ring the bell, silently pray and then clap 2 times. | Lighting a candle for family travel safety.
21: Even a palm reader needed time to rest. | The tea room's thatched roof is growing grass (and bugs). | Statues stood at the entrance of shrines to keep evil spirits from entering.
22: Fushimi Inari-taisha
23: Fushimi Inari-taisha is the head shrine of Inari which is the god of rice. Foxes regarded as the messengers, are often found in Inari shrines.
26: Torri Gates that people have written on asking for special favors . There were hundreds of them. | These are fox shaped wooden pieces that people could write or draw on to request special favors or prayers.
27: Higgashi-Hongau-ji Temple The Founders Hall was rebuilt in 1895 and is the largest wooden structure in the world. It has 175,000 roof tiles, 927 floor tatami mats, & 90 wooden pillars | This dragon offer water for purification to those who come thought the huge doors to the Temple.
30: Senso-ji an ancient Buddhist temple. It is Tokyo's oldest temple founded in 645 C.E. and one of its most significant. Many tourists shops cater to the visiting crowds with shops and eating places.
31: Built in 1692 the Bell of Time played the roll of informing people the time of day.
32: The picture to the right is of Uryu Iwako who was a social worker who was beloved by so many people that she was called "Iwako, the Buddha."
33: The two Buddha's below are mercy and compassion.
34: Rickshaws Japanese Cremation Graves Tanuki-raccoon dog