S: Ian Japan August 2009 - March 2010
BC: Next stop.... CHINA !!
FC: August 2009 - March 2010
1: Ian Mills 3-4-6-1 Tsushima Higashi Okayama 700-0081 JAPAN
2: The dormitory near Okayama University of Science and Technology where I stayed with my roommate, Mark.
4: Area outside of Okayama train station
5: The Koraku-en Gardens adjacent to Okayama Castle. This traditional-style walking garden once belonged to the powerful Ikeda family in medieval Japan.
6: CROW CASTLE | Okayama Castle, often referred to by the locals as Crow Castle because of its one-of-a-kind black exterior. Originally built in 1597, it was destroyed in the bombing raids of WWII and rebuilt in 1996.
7: Ten Gates of Peace, located outside the front entrance to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The word "peace", translated in 49 languages and 18 alphabets, covers the monument's transparent glass panels
8: The haunting skeletal remains of what was once Hiroshima's Industrial Promotion Hall. It's the closest building to the bomb's hypocenter that was left standing.
9: Near the center of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a concrete, saddle-shaped monument that covers a cenotaph holding the names of all the people killed by the bomb.
10: Ostensibly this is the Children's Peace Monument. In reality, it is a somber dedication to Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died at age 12 from leukemia caused by the blast's radiation. In Japanese tradition, if someone folds 1,000 origami cranes, their deepest wish will come true. Believing it her only chance, Sadako managed to fold 644 cranes before her death. Today children from all over Japan and the whole world send paper cranes to this memorial, praying for Sadako's soul and for peace.
12: Himeji Castle
13: Built to its current dimensions in 1609, it is by far the largest and most complete of Japan's twelve surviving medieval castles. With a 2.5 mile circumference, it cast an intimidating shadow across the land and showcased the power of the new shogun's government. Ironically, it never witnessed any action.
14: The Imperial Gardens in Tokyo outside of the imperial palace where the emperor and his family still reside. Built on the site of Edo (Tokyo) Castle, the grounds used to be home to the shogun until the mid-nineteenth century. | The Diet Building in Tokyo houses Japan's parliament.
16: The glitz, the glamour, the Gucci. Ginza is Japan's premier upscale shopping district where the decadent bourgeois while away their idle hours sipping Matcha Chai Lattes and splurging on Louis Vuitton handbags.
17: My capsule in a chiba capsule hotel. Businessmen travel frequently in Japan. With only the essentials, capsule hotels offer cheap room rates and great camaraderie.
19: TOKYO TOWER 2010
20: Sex, skyscrapers and shopping, Shinjuku, Tokyo is well-known for its status as a red light district. Ironically wedged between two nondescript buildings, Hanazono Shrine is best known today for its geography instead of its iconography. Dedicated to the rice goddess Inari, it stands as a testament to the once-was Tokyo. | This pagoda is part of the larger Sensoji, the largest temple in Tokyo. Famous for its "Thunder Gate", I visited here on New Year's Day 2010. Japanese people make an annual pilgrimage to their nearest shrines in the first few days of the New Year. This temple is very famous and I had to wait in line at least 2 hours.
21: This is a statue of Saigo Takamori in Ueno Park. In the late nineteenth century, this samurai led a doomed rebellion against the newly established constitutional monarchy. It was the last major samurai operation and the inspiration for The Last Samurai.
22: Hisae, Eileen, Boram, Adam | The conversation classroom in Kibi International University. This picture was taken after the last day of class. The last phrase we learned? "Drop me a line," of course!
23: A Korean friend of mine, Mire, petting a baby deer in Miyajima Island. You can see it's chowing down on Mire's map. There was a brief tug-of-war.... the deer won.
24: Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island. When the tide comes in it submerges the bottom posts, creating the famous "floating torii" illusion. | The entrance to Itsukushima Shrine.
26: Coins are shoved into the cracks of the Itsukushima torii's aged posts. The Japanese believe that if the coin stays in, it will bring them good luck.
27: Mirae, Jun, Taiishi, Ayako & Ohno-sensei
28: Kurashiki's old city, very near to Okayama. The architecture of this area hasn't changed since the times of the Shogun.
29: Snowy day in Kurashiki.
30: The students I taught at Junsei Kindergartens
31: Eisugakkan Middle School in Daimon
32: Statue of Momotaro in front of Okayama train station. His folkloric story is well-known throughout Japan which makes him Okayama's most famous fictional resident.
33: OSAKA CASTLE | Osaka Castle was completed in 1597 and was the abode of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the most famous samurai in history and the man who finally unified Japan. The castle has seen more than its fair share of action and was burnt to the ground by | the emperor's forces in the middle of the nineteenth century. Reconstructed in 1997, Osaka Castle has one thing over its medieval forebears: elevators!
34: Ema | are little placards you always see at Shinto Shrines throughout Japan. According to old Japanese tradition, you can write a wish you want to come true on the back. A kami will come down and read what you have written. If your wish comes true you should go back to the shrine and properly thank the gods. The sale of these ema is one of the biggest ways shrines and temples in Japan support themselves financially.