A Season in Kyoto
A Season in Kyoto
Inspiration to poets and artists for centuries, autumn’s vermilion leaves have a certain resonance for us all. There is no better place to experience the changing of the seasons than in Kyoto. Over the centuries, certain temples and gardens have become known for their array of trees, maple for autumn reds and sakura for pink in springtime. As the former capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, Kyoto has always been considered the cultural center of Japan. As a living, breathing modern city Kyoto still preserves its identity with its own style of cuisine, pottery, geisha and painters. Photographer John Lander, a long time resident of Japan has spent many visits in both autumn and springtime to this picturesque city.
Cities Within the City of Tokyo
Just beyond Tokyo's chrome skyscrapers there are almost certainly mom-and-pop noodle shops - unchanged from centuries ago. Never mind those costume play goths, just down the street there will almost certainly be people who still take the time and trouble to dress in kimono. Various neighborhoods and towns make up the city of Tokyo, divided into wards that were formerly independent villages: Ginza, Shinjuku, Marunouchi. Today they make up what is one of the world's most fascinating city.
In a Japanese Garden
Japanese gardens, sometimes confused with Zen gardens, are one of Japan's most illustrious and ancient creations. Although the origins are from China, in Japan gardening was perfected into an art form. Originally gardening was the domain of Zen Buddhist monks, and garden design and maintenance was a form of meditation. Today, Japanese gardens may still be mostly located at Zen Buddhist temples, though it is rare for the monks to participate in their maintenance.
Kappabashi - Tokyo's Kitchen Paradise
Tsukiji fish market might be the primo destination for foodies in Tokyo, but second on the list is usually the restaurant supply district of Kappabashi. Famous for its plastic food models, Kappabashi is the place where restauranteurs go when they set up shop. It is also a mecca for chefs, gourmets and anyone who likes to cook. If something is found in the kitchen, there's likely to be a shop in Kappabashi that specializes in it.
Restaurants in Japan display plastic food models in front of their venue, and these are sold in Kappabashi shops, including renowned Maizuru where the samples look amazingly real. In addition to plastic models for the restaurant trade Maizuru also sells plastic food souvenirs such as food shaped kitchen magnets, fruit shaped keychains and even sushi shaped USB flash memory holders.
One of the best things about Kappabashi is that the place is easy to navigate. The majority of stores are lined up along the main drag, only a few minutes walk from Asakusa and Sensoji Temple. Some shops cater to restaurant professionals only, though the most interesting shops for the rest of us are those selling kitchen gadgets. Think intricate vegetable cutters And of course there's a huge selection of realistic food models such as sushi, yakitori and suspended noodles into bowls of ramen. Kappabashi got on the tourist map because of its uniquely Japanese plastic food models, much to the surprise of the local shopkeepers. Nowadays it is popular with Japanese
Renaissance of the Kimono
The lady in kimono swishes past, geta sandals clip-clopping, off to her destination – most likely a tea ceremony lesson or a formal party. It is hard to resist the allure of someone wearing a kimono. Not only the sheer exotic beauty of the garment stands out but the intricate design, colours and timelessness of the kimono give the observer pause. It’s also heartening to know that in high-tech, urban Japan traditional customs are still valued.
Yokohama - Japan's Port to the World
Looking out over the panorama of Yokohama from Japan's tallest building, you can hardly believe that 150 years ago, Japan's second largest city and largest port was hardly even a village. When Commodore Perry's Black Ships sailed in and demanded that Japan open itself up to the rest of the world after its long insular snooze, Yokohama was opened up as an international port. The city quickly grew around the port and foreign concessions blossomed. Foreigners were allowed to live only in certain areas of the city. Yamate Bluff quickly became a virtual European village. Chinese were soon to follow. Chinatown, just below the Europeans' bluff bustled, as it still does, with the sizzle of noodles being stir-fried and the smell of ginger and sesame.
Kamakura - Japan's Ancient Capital
It's hard to believe that this quiet little town with its many temples was the political capital of Japan during the Kamakura shogunate, from 1185 to 1333. These days Kamakura is a very popular day trip from Tokyo for locals and tourists alike. Its principle draws are Shonan Beach, temples, gardens and nature trails.