A Season in Kyoto

Koto-in Garden at Daitokuji is the head temple of the Rinzai sect's school within Japanese Zen Buddhism and is considered one of the best places to experience Zen in Japan. Daitokuji is surrounded by many subtemples, which together form a kind of temple village. The main temple and some of the subtemples are open to the public and display Zen architecture and design, including gardens and tea ceremony rooms. Among the most interesting subtemples are Koto-in which is famous for its maple trees, particularly spectacular when their leaves turn red and gold, usually in mid November.
Ryoanji Zen Garden - Ryoanji Temple's famous zen garden is one of the world's best known gardens after Versailles. The temple's main attraction is its rock garden, the most famous of its kind in Japan. The simple Zen garden consist of nothing but rocks, moss and neatly raked gravel. Though the meaning of the garden's arrangement is unknown and up to each visitor's interpretation, it is said that if you can see all of the 15 stones at one time, you will have reached enlightenment.

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.

 

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  • Nishi Shinjuku or West Shinjuku is a district west of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.  The district is best known for its skyscrapers.  The most recent building to be completed is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.  Nishi-shinjuku has grown since the 1970s and continues to spread west, away from the city center. Plans are underway which will lead to three of the four tallest buildings of Japan being added to the area.  To non Japanese, West Shinjuku is well known for many of the scenes in the movie "Lost in Translation" where the two main characters stay at the Park Hyatt Hotel in the area. Nishi Shinjuku or West Shinjuku is a district west of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.  The district is best known for its skyscrapers.  The most recent building to be completed is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.  Nishi-shinjuku has grown since the 1970s and continues to spread west, away from the city center. Plans are underway which will lead to three of the four tallest buildings of Japan being added to the area.  To non Japanese, West Shinjuku is well known for many of the scenes in the movie "Lost in Translation" where the two main characters stay at the Park Hyatt Hotel in the area.

    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.

  • Koto-in Garden at Daitokuji is the head temple of the Rinzai sect's school within Japanese Zen Buddhism and is considered one of the best places to experience Zen in Japan. Daitokuji is surrounded by many subtemples, which together form a kind of temple village. The main temple and some of the subtemples are open to the public and display Zen architecture and design, including gardens and tea ceremony rooms. Among the most interesting subtemples are Koto-in which is famous for its maple trees, particularly spectacular when their leaves turn red and gold, usually in mid November.Koto-in Garden at Daitokuji is the head temple of the Rinzai sect's school within Japanese Zen Buddhism and is considered one of the best places to experience Zen in Japan. Daitokuji is surrounded by many subtemples, which together form a kind of temple village. The main temple and some of the subtemples are open to the public and display Zen architecture and design, including gardens and tea ceremony rooms. Among the most interesting subtemples are Koto-in which is famous for its maple trees, particularly spectacular when their leaves turn red and gold, usually in mid November.

    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 Glassware Store - Kappabashi is a street in Tokyo which is almost entirely populated with shops supplying the restaurant trade. These shops sell everything from knives, restaurant decorations, plastic display food samples found in Japanese restaurants to display their menus. The street has also become an offbeat tourist destination thanks to the wacky displays and unique souvenir items found only in Japan.  The street's name is believed to come from the popular mythical creature, the Kappa, a Japanese water demon.Kappabashi Glassware Store - Kappabashi is a street in Tokyo which is almost entirely populated with shops supplying the restaurant trade. These shops sell everything from knives, restaurant decorations, plastic display food samples found in Japanese restaurants to display their menus. The street has also become an offbeat tourist destination thanks to the wacky displays and unique souvenir items found only in Japan.  The street's name is believed to come from the popular mythical creature, the Kappa, a Japanese water demon.

    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

  • Kimono are made of silk and normally very expensive, though there is now a thriving market in second-hand kimono. Nowadays, they are worn at formal or traditional occasions such as funerals, weddings or tea ceremonies. Kimono differ in style and color depending on the occasion on which it is worn and the age and marital status of the person wearing it. To put on a kimono needs some practice. Especially tying the belt (obi) alone is difficult so that many people require assistance. Wearing a kimono properly includes proper hair style, traditional shoes, socks, underwear, and a small handbag for women.Kimono are made of silk and normally very expensive, though there is now a thriving market in second-hand kimono. Nowadays, they are worn at formal or traditional occasions such as funerals, weddings or tea ceremonies. Kimono differ in style and color depending on the occasion on which it is worn and the age and marital status of the person wearing it. To put on a kimono needs some practice. Especially tying the belt (obi) alone is difficult so that many people require assistance. Wearing a kimono properly includes proper hair style, traditional shoes, socks, underwear, and a small handbag for women.

    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.

  • Lighthouse at the ferry boat at Yokohama's Yamashita Park.Lighthouse at the ferry boat at Yokohama's Yamashita Park.

    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.

  • The magnificent statue of Hase Kannon at Hase-Dera Temple in Kamakura. It  is 9 meters or 30 feet tall and has eleven heads in addition to its main one - three in front, three to the left and three to the right, plus one at the top and another on the back. Each face has a different expression, signifying that the deity listens to the wishes of all types of people. Gold leaf was applied to the statue in 1342 and in 1392 the halo was added. Although Kannon is usually described in English as "the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy" strictly speaking it is neither masculine nor feminine and represents compassion, mercy, and love.The magnificent statue of Hase Kannon at Hase-Dera Temple in Kamakura. It  is 9 meters or 30 feet tall and has eleven heads in addition to its main one - three in front, three to the left and three to the right, plus one at the top and another on the back. Each face has a different expression, signifying that the deity listens to the wishes of all types of people. Gold leaf was applied to the statue in 1342 and in 1392 the halo was added. Although Kannon is usually described in English as "the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy" strictly speaking it is neither masculine nor feminine and represents compassion, mercy, and love.

    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.


 

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