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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Japan News This Week 28 February 2016


Japan News.
Sharp's Messy Milestone
New York Times

Japan's Shinzo Abe rebukes MPs after Obama 'slave' remark

Japan's population declines for first time since 1920s – official census

Japan restarts fourth atomic reactor since 2012 moratorium
Japan Times

The South Korean Controversy Over the Comfort Women, Justice and Academic Freedom: The Case of Park Yuha
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


According to a 2015 Japanese census, the population declined by 947,000 persons, or 0.7%, from the previous survey in 2010.

The hardest hit prefecture was Fukushima, home to the nuclear reactor that suffered a meltdown, which lost 5.7% of its population.

Source: NHK Radio News

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ishigaki Island: Flowers and Butterflies

石垣 蝶々 お花

Butterfly on Ishigaki Island, Japan.

Ishigaki Island is, like most of Okinawa, a nature paradise. One notable presence on the island is that of its multifarious and multitudinous butterflies. Not a few times while driving we would spot tourists with big butterfly nets looking to scoop another delicate beauty for their collection.

Butterfly on Ishigaki Island, Yaeyama, Japan.

And you need a big net, because butterflies are pretty difficult to capture, whether physically or photographically. A little patience and some wild, indiscriminate shutter button pushing got me a few pictures of this Papilio bianor okinawensis flitting around the garden of the little bakery where we had breakfast every morning.

Butterfly on yellow flower, Ishigaki Island, Japan.

By the way, the bakery, called Pinacolada, in beautiful Kabira Bay, deserves a blog entry of its own for producing some of best bread, pie and tarts we've eaten anywhere. In the meantime, enjoy a few snaps of the butterflies, and one of the stunning hibiscus that also adorn this sightseeing gem of a Japanese island.

Hibiscus, Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1 Afternoon

A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 1, Afternoon
Thursday December 24th

After my early lunch I head off up the coast road back towards my starting point earlier this morning. I pass numerous empty, modern houses built on concrete supports in the cliff side.

Maybe they are abandoned or maybe they are summer homes as many of them have gangplank type structures that can be lowered to the water below. As I walk past my guesthouse the landlady is out in front sweeping up.

Having completed a circle I now continue on in a figure eight path and cross over the small rise into Sakate Port. On the hill is a large abandoned hotel. White concrete, it doesn't look all that old. Maybe it was built with the misplaced optimism that accompanied the economic boom that ended with a bang more than two decades ago.

The front door is slightly ajar and I'm tempted to go in and explore but decide I can't spare the time. Away from the main road along the sea front the village is a maze of narrow roads and alleys and it takes a few attempts to find the next temple, number 3 Kannonji. Compared to the other temples I've been to today this one is grand, though really just a small village temple. The main hall has been fairly recently reconstructed so obviously there is money here. Just as I'm leaving an old priest comes out dressed in samue, the work clothes favored by priests and craftsmen. I ask him the way to the next temple and he points up the road in front of the temple which winds up the slope.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1 Afternoon.

At the top end of the village is a curious new structure containing a gleaming, stainless steel sculpture. I guess this is part of the ongoing art festival the Setouchi Trienniale, which takes place across various islands in the area as well as Takamatsu on Shikoku. The figure is some kind of cute mascot/cartoon type character that the Japanese seem so obsessed with, but it has an axe embedded in the top of its head!

I am somehow not surprised to learn that the piece is attributed to Beat Takeshi. The road now leaves the village behind and switchbacks up the mountainside, sometimes quite steeply. There is nothing along the road but trees and no traffic. I reach Hayabusasan, the okunoin, or inner hall, of Kannon-ji the temple I left down in the village.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1 Afternoon.

From the temple there are fantastic views to the south across the water to Shikoku and Awajima. The temple itself is a small cave with a concrete temple facade. From here, a trail skirts around the mountain up towards what is technically the first temple of the pilgrimage, Dounzan. Set against the cliff and among tall cedars, it is a great place to explore, but as I enter I bump into the old priest I had met down below at the temple. With a younger gentleman they are cleaning the paths, probably in readiness for the approaching New Year.

Dounzan was fascinating - a temple in a cave, and lots more. As I was leaving the old priest chats with me some more, and he asks where I am staying tonight as he wants to give me something. A few hundred meters along the road I start up the driveway to the next temple, Goishizan, named after the mountain it is on. A long line of statues line the road and a woman who I presume is the priest's wife is busy cleaning them

At the temple itself there is a huge statue of Kobo Daishi with an altar in the building beneath it. The young priest is sitting in the rest area trimming pine branches, again I suspect in readiness for the coming New Year

Over on the left is a set of steps going up the hillside, and the map shows a Konpira Shrine up there but I am so tired I don't really want to do any more climbing, but the young priest says there is a statue up there that I really should see. And he was right. The small statue is at the end of a narrow promontory with expansive views over the island. I have seen photos of this before, it is one of the common images connected to the pilgrimage

Down below the statue is another cave temple, actually the main hall, not as I thought the hall under the Kobo Daishi statue. From here the road now slowly descends to the town below. It's been a long day, I've been walking and climbing for about 10 hours, so my visits to three temples in the town are perfunctory. There is a smell in the air, somewhat like a bakery, then I realize its the smell of soy sauce being made. This town is one of the biggest soy sauce producing areas in Japan.

‎Bodhidharma or Daruma who brought Buddhism to Japan.

Walking along the main road past the soy factories on my way back to my guesthouse the sun goes down and it darkens quickly. By the side of the road is one last temple, and then its back to my room for a hot bath. It's been an exhilarating day, and I'm excited about the rest of the pilgrimage. It's been far more interesting than I had expected. After my bath there is a knock at the door. It's the old priest with his wife and sister. He gives me a lovely print of Daruma (‎Bodhidharma), the man who legend has it brought Buddhism to China from India, and who portrait is fairly common at Zen temples. By way of explaining why he had chosen to give it to me he says that I remind him of his grandfather.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1 Morning

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 2

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nabari Wine Case


Walking down the steps at Ueda subway station in Nagoya one day last week, a man thrust a packet of paper handkerchiefs at me at the top of the stairs. The insert wasn't advertising the usual soapland or other new fuzoku (風俗) establishment so I tried my luck at deciphering the yellow piece of paper.

Nabari Wine Case.

I could understand the basics of the story but not the finer details: a mass murder in the town of Nabari in Mie Prefecture involving poisoned wine in 1961, a man called Masaru Okunishi had confessed and later retracted his confession, he was a initially found innocent at his first trail at the District Court in Tsu in 1964, but this verdict was overturned by the Nagoya High Court in 1969 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1972. Furthermore Okunishi was sentenced to death.

Intrigued by a case I had never heard of I got off the subway at Hirabari and sat down on a seat on the platform and searched online. The Wikipedia page in Japanese has extensive coverage of the case but in English the most interesting and informative source is at the Japan Innocence & Death Penalty Information Center (jiadep.org).

At the village meeting in rural Nabari on March 28, 1961, 17 women had become ill after drinking wine laced with pesticide. 5 of them died including Okunishi's wife and his lover. The source relates the evidence presented at the various court cases. After the verdict of the Nagoya High Court in 1972 Okunishi spent the rest of his life in solitary confinement on death row finally dying in a hospital in Hachioji, Tokyo in late 2015.

Okunishi's supporters are still trying to clear his name. Just one of the many cases where justice seems not to have been done in Japan's brutal penal justice system and especially cruel on a man who was at first found not guilty.

The case has also been featured in a Japanese TV drama.

The leaflet was distributed by Aichi Kyuenki and more details of the case and their actions is on their website.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Japan News This Week 21 February 2016


Japan News.
Rising Yen Adds to Abe’s Challenges as Japan’s Economy Contracts
New York Times

Anti-whaling activists fail to find Japan fleet

The fall of Singapore

Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra Brought The Club To Concert Halls

It’s the season of love: Won’t someone please grab hold of my chin?
Japan Times

Local Responses to Prime Minister Abe’s Attack on Article Nine and the Constitution
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Mitsui Sumitomo bank this week lowered its rate of interest for ordinary savings accounts to 0.001%.

At 7% interest, a savings account with no activity - no deposits or withdrawals - will double in value in roughly 10 years. At current rates at Japanese banks, it will take between 200-800 years.

An account with one million yen ($8,747) balance will earn 10 yen (8 cents) after one year.

Source: NHK Radio News

© JapanVisitor.com

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Aomori Station


Aomori Station is the main point of access for Aomori city in Tohoku, the far north of Japan. Aomori Station is a short train ride from Shin-Aomori Station, the new station serving the shinkansen from Tokyo and from March 2016 the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Hakodate.

Aomori Station, Tohoku, Japan.

Aomori Station is on the Ou Main Line for Shin-Aomori Station, Hirosaki Station, Akita Station, Yamagata, and Niigata as well as the Aoimori Railway Line for Hachinohe and Morioka.

The Tsugaru-Kaikyo Line for Hakodate and Sapporo was replaced by the Hokkaido Shinkansen and now carries freight.

Aomori Station is also a major bus terminus for local buses and long distance highway buses. The helpful Aomori Tourist Information Center is just outside the main exit. Many of Aomori's hotels are also within easy reach of the station including the Toyoko Inn, the Hotel Route Inn Aomori Ekimae and the Iroha Ryokan.

Trains at Aomori Station, Tohoku, Japan.

There's quite a bit to see within easy walking distance of Aomori Station including ASPAM, A-Factory, the Memorial Ship Hakkoda Maru, the AUGA department store, the Aomori Gyosai fresh produce market and the fascinating Wa-Rasse center which celebrates Aomori's Nebuta Festival.

Aoimori Railway, Aomori Station.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ishigaki - Island of Trees

石垣 木々の島


Ishigaki Island in Okinawa prefecture is best known throughout Japan as a resort island of idyllic, white sand beaches.

My partner and I were there last weekend, and were indeed wowed by the island's elegant beaches that, driving around the coast, we would happen on every few minutes.

However, there was another aspect of Ishigaki that captured my imagination even more completely: Ishigaki's trees.

Ishigaki Island is semi-tropical, meaning that besides the pines that grow here as they grow all over Japan, there are numerous other kinds of trees not generally found on the mainland, most notably palms. Another kind of tree that I felt compelled to photograph a lot of was one with a trunk that was wreathed in what looked like thick woody tendrils (I think it's an arakashi, or Quercus glauca).

Ishigaki Island is also very windswept, and the gales that blow sculpt the trees in dramatic ways that beg to be photographed if not painted.

Enjoy the above slideshow of a few of the trees on Ishigaki that I found particularly memorable.

Entrance to Fusaki-kannon-do Temple, Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan.
Fusaki-kannon-do Temple entrance, Ishigaki
© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Onda Matsuri


The fun Onda matsuri takes place annually on the second Sunday in February at the Asukaniimasu Shrine (飛鳥坐神社), close to Asukadera Temple in the Asuka district of Nara Prefecture. Onda matsuri is a fertility festival and is meant to bless the planting and cultivation of rice.

Onda Matsuri, Asuka, Nara.

A large crowd gathers below a stage at the shrine waiting for the festivities to start at around 2.30pm.

Four masked male participants including Tengu and Otafuku act out various, often comic scenes, including a simulated erotic performance between the pair, thought to be a kind of ancient sex education lesson. There is also a kagura sacred song and dance performance by a shrine maiden accompanied by instruments.

Onda Matsuri, Asuka, Nara Prefecture.

Later a cow-masked participant mingles among the crowd lashing out at the backsides of mostly children and young adults to "beat the devil out of them" as he pursues his victims among the dried rice fields along a stream near the bottom of the steps leading up to the shrine.

Onda Matsuri, Asuka, Nara.

Onda matsuri is a particularly ancient rite that is thought to date back at least to the Asuka period of Japanese history.

Kashihara-jingu-mae is the nearest station on the Kintetsu line south from Nara or east from Osaka, from where it is possible to hire a bicycle for the 20 minute cycle to the shrine.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kangoku Inshoku Izakaya


Kangoku Inshoku is a bizarre prison-themed izakaya not far from Yabacho, Shin-Sakae or Tsurumai subway stations in downtown Nagoya.

Kangoku Inshoku, Sakae, Nagoya.

The interior is arranged on two floors with diners eating in their own cells behind iron bars. It's pretty dark inside but the decor is also horror-centered with skeletons and hideous dummies hanging in chains on the red and black painted walls.

Kangoku Inshoku izakaya, Sakae, Nagoya, Aichi.

There's a horror show nightly at 8pm. The doors are locked and a sound track cranks up. Dry ice starts to filter through the place and the staff don fright masks and attempt to scare you to death. It's loud and fun.

Kangoku Inshoku is popular with the younger generation especially for birthday parties when a cake with candles is brought to your table by the ghoulish staff with a clap-along rendition of "Happy Birthday".

Kangoku Inshoku offers various set courses ranging from 2,000-3,500 yen or order à la carte. Some of the things on the menu are also a bit spooky: silkworm pupa (Korean beondegi), frogs' legs and roast alligator to go along with the more mundane fried potatoes, onion rings and tuna salad.

If truth be told the food was pretty average and it really is too dark to enjoy your dinner and drink properly. But the horror experience and the novelty of eating in a prison cell are the main draws after all.

Kangoku Inshoku izakaya, Sakae, Nagoya, Aichi.

Kangoku Inshoku
Sakae 5-8-6, Naka-ku
Nagoya 460-0008
Tel: 052 264 0273
Hours: Monday-Thursday, Sunday & public holidays 6pm-1am; Friday & Saturday 6pm-3pm

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 15, 2016

Takamatsu Station


Takamatsu Station in Takamatsu city in Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku Island is on both the JR Yosan and Kotoku lines. The Yosan Line runs west from Takamatsu Station to Matsuyama Station (2 hours, 30 minutes) in Ehime Prefecture and then south west to Uwajima. The Kotoku Line connects Tokushima Station with Takamatsu Station in about 70 minutes by limited express train.

Takamatsu Station, Shikoku.

The Uzushio Limited Express train connects Okayama with Takamatsu and Tokushima. The JR Marine Liner connects Okayama with Takamatsu in about 55-60 minutes across the Seto Ohashi Bridge.

Takamatsu Station, Takamatsu, Shikoku.

A short walk from Takamatsu Station is Takamatsuchikko the terminus for the Kotoden Kotohira Line for Kotoden-Kotohira Station.

Hotels near Takamatsu Station include the 4-star Rihga Hotel Zest Takamatsu, the JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu, the 3-star Takamatsu Terminal Hotel and the Hotel Areaone Takamatsu.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Japan News This Week 14 February 2016


Japan News.
Seoul’s Colonial Boomerang
New York Times

Japan 'paternity leave' MP quits amid affair scandal

Japan Is Selling Bonds Guaranteed To Lose You Money

Downfall of Japanese TV’s girl next door highlights wider industry sexism

Japan’s environment minister withdraws radiation remarks
Japan Times

Rethinking Japan's Deflation Trap: On the Failure to Reach Kuroda Haruhiko's 2% Inflation Target -
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


"How happy is your country? A new report used interviews with more than 146,000 people around the world to rank 145 countries by the well being of their residents.

Participants answered questions about five aspects of their well-being: their sense of purpose, social relationships, financial situations, community involvement and physical health. Based on their responses, participants were considered "thriving," "struggling" or "suffering" in each of those five aspects."

We want to know: why are people in Latin America and non-Anglophone northern Europe so damn happy - and Asians much less so?

Here is the list:

1 Panama
2 Costa Rica
3 Puerto Rico
4 Switzerland
5 Belize
6 Chile
7 Denmark
8 Guatemala
9 Austria
10 Mexico
11 Uruguay
12 Argentina
13 Colombia
14 Kyrgyzstan
15 Brazil
16 Norway
17 Netherlands
18 El Salvador
19 Turkmenistan
20 Myanmar

23 USA

92 Japan

117 South Korea

127 China

Source: Live Science

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Museum Archaeological Institute of Kashihara


The rather awkwardly named in English, The Museum Archaeological Institute of Kashihara Nara Prefecture is located just opposite the Emperor Jinmu Mausoleum and the Emperor Suizei Mausoleum and a little way to the north of Kashihara Jingu.

The Museum Archaeological Institute of Kashihara.

This archaeological museum exhibits artifacts unearthed from Yamato sites in Nara Prefecture. The museum's three galleries exhibit artifacts from Japan's early history through to the Muromachi Period which have been excavated in Nara Prefecture.

The Museum Archaeological Institute of Kashihara.

The large collection includes pottery from the Jomon period, dotoku bells, later bronze arrowheads and bronze disks, distinctive canes with jasper end caps, magatama or comma shaped pendants, bronze mirrors as well as gilt bronze crowns and saddles found in tombs in the Asuka area. From the still later Asuka period there are also tea kettles, chess pieces, Buddhist images and various roof tiles.

The Museum Archaeological Institute of Kashihara.

The Museum Archaeological Institute of Kashihara
1 Unebicho
Kashihara, Nara Prefecture 634-0065
Tel: 0744 24 1101
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 400 yen for adults or presently free for foreign visitors with a passport.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Shin Aomori Station


Shin Aomori Station in Aomori in the very north of Honshu will be the beginning on the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Hakodate in Hokkaido when it launches next month, replacing the Hakucho Express services through the Seikan Tunnel.

Shin Aomori Station, Aomori Prefecture, Tohoku, Japan.

Shin Aomori Station is presently the terminus of the Tohoku Shinkansen, at 674km Japan's longest shinkansen line. The modern shinkansen station opened in 2010. Shin Aomori Station is also on the JR Ou Line which connects Fukushima, via Akita Station to Aomori Station in the center of Aomori city.

Shin Aomori Station, Aomori Prefecture, Tohoku, Japan.

There is not much in the way of services around Shin Aomori Station except for a rental car office. Most visitors make the short trip into Aomori to find a hotel.

Shin Aomori Station, Aomori, Tohoku, Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Japan News This Week 7 February 2016


Japan News.
In Industry Shift, Sharp Looks Outside Japan for a Buyer
New York Times

Sakurajima volcano erupts in southern Japan

Japan to spend millions on tiny islands 1,000 miles south of Tokyo

Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step
Japan Times

What Lessons Can Vietnam teach Okinawa about U.S. Military Dioxin?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


2015 Corruption Perception Index:

1 Denmark
2 Finland
3 Sweden
4 New Zealand
5 Netherlands
5 Norway
7 Switzerland
8 Singapore
9 Canada
10 Germany
10 Luxembourg
10 United Kingdom
13 Australia
13 Iceland
15 Belgium
16 Austria
16 United States
18 Hong Kong
18 Ireland
18 Japan

Source: Transparency International

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Hibiya Station in Tokyo


Exit B6 of Hibiya Station, Tokyo, Japan.
Exit B6 of Hibiya Station, at the Babasakimon Gate of the Imperial Palace Tokyo.
Hibiya Station in central Tokyo is operated by both Tokyo subway operators: Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. and the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government ("Toei" or, in English "Tokyo Subway").

Hibiya Station serves three subway lines: the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Chiyoda Line, and the Toei Mita Line.

A notable feature of Hibiya Station is the wide reach of its exits. There are no less than 30 exits in operation (with two currently closed), making access to Hibiya Station possible from all over the Marunouchi and Yurakucho areas of Tokyo. The Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Station, about 350 meters north-east of the Hibiya Line, is directly accessible undergound from Hibiya Station.

Hibiya Station is very near Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace.

The following is a list of Hibiya Station exits and where they lead to (all marked on this Tokyo map
Exit A0 ("A zero") of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Yurakucho Asahi Hall
Yurakucho Mullion (in the Yurakucho Center Building)
Mullion Eigagai (Mullion Movie Theaters)
Yurakucho Hankyu Department Store
Yurakucho Lumine

Exit A1 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Sukiyabashi Park (with its big, distinctive Taro Okamoto sculpture)

Exit A2 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome
Yomiuri Hall
JR Yurakucho Station
JTB Shutoen Yurakucho Branch
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall
JNTO Tourist Information Center (TIC)

Exit A3 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Yurakucho Denki Building
Subaruza Cinema

Exit A4 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome

Exit A5 of Hibiya Station
Toho Twin Tower Building
Teikoku Hotel
Hibiya Chanter ("shan-tay") shopping/dining building
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Toho Cinema and Drama Area

Exit A6 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome
Hibiya Park Building
The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel

Exit A7 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Intersection
Harumi-dori Avenue
Yurakucho 1-chome
The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel

Exit A8 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya-dori Avenue
Yurakucho 1-chome
Yurakucho Sankei Building

Exit A9 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Marine Building

Exit A10 of Hibiya Station
Iwaidabashi Intersection
Hibiya Park
To Sakuradamon Gate of the Imperial Palace
To Courthouse of Tokyo High Court, Tokyo District Court, and Tokyo Summary Court

Exit A11 of Hibiya Station (currently closed)
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome
Toho Cinema and Drama Area

Exit A12 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Mitsui Building
Mitsui Sumitomo Bank Headquarters

Exit A13 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Nissay Theater
Teikoku Hotel

Exit A14 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Kokaido Public Hall
Hibiya Press Center Building
Nishi Shimbashi (West Shinbashi)
Chiyoda City's Hibiya Library & Museum
Tokyo Institute for Municipal Research
The Hibiya City complex

Exit B1 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho Building
Shin-Yurakucho Building
Marunouchi Police Station
Yurakucho Station of Marunouchi Fire Brigade
Togyo Kaikan (Sugar Manufacturers' Association) Building & Nippon Hoso (Nippon Broadcasting System) Headquarters
To JR Yurakucho Station

Exit B2 of Hibiya Station
DN Tower 21 (Daichi Seimei Insurance & Norinchukin Bank headquarters)

Exit B3 of Hibiya Station (in the Teigeki Building, open 7 am - 11 pm)
Teikoku (Imperial Garden) Theater
Shin-kokusai Building
Idemitsu Art Gallery
Shin-Nisseki Building
Kokusai Building
To Tokyo International Forum

Exit B4 of Hibiya Station
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building
To Tokyo International Forum

Exit B5 of Hibiya Station (currently closed)
Tokyo Kaikan Hall
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building

Exit B6 of Hibiya Station (from first train to 11 pm)
Nijubashi Gate of the Imperial Palace
Babasakimon Gate of the Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace Gaien Garden

Exit B7 of Hibiya Station (from first train to 11 pm)
Tokyo International Forum
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building
Tokyo Station on the JR Keiyo Line Line
Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI)
Marunouchi Park Building

Nijubashi-mae Station Connecting Exit (5 am - 11 pm)

Exit D1 of Hibiya Station
Teikoku Theater
Idemitsu Art Gallery
Kokusai Building

Exit D2 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho Building
Shin-Yurakucho Building

Exit D3 of Hibiya Station
Shin-Kokusai Building
Shin-Nisseki Building

Exit D4 of Hibiya Station
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall

Exit D5 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo International Forum

Exit D6 of Hibiya Station
JR Yurakucho Station
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall

Exit D7 of Hibiya Station (with elevator)
JR Yurakucho Station
Yurakucho Mullion

Exit D8 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan

Exit D9 of Hibiya Station
Ginza Inz 3

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Yodobashi Akiba Akihabara


The Yodobashi Akiba store across the road from Akihabara Station is a huge electronics emporium with a huge range of cameras, PCs, tablets and other household electronics. Yodobashi Akiba also retails a vast array of non-electronic goods including clothing, health products, DIY goods, bike and car accessories, books, interior goods and pet supplies.

Yodobashi Akiba Akihabara, Tokyo.

The Yodobashi Camera part of the building is on floors 1-6 and is open daily from 9.30am-10pm. The 7th floor has a range of specialty stores, the 8th floor is the restaurant floor and the 9th floor has a batting center and golf shop.

101-0028, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo Hanaokacho, Tokyo 1-1

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1

A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 1, Morning
Thursday December 24th

I start my walk along the Shodoshima Pilgrimage just after the sun has risen. Only a few days past the winter solstice, the days are very short and I need to take advantage of all the daylight there is.

When I arrived here last night it was pouring with rain, but I am pleasantly surprised to find clear skies and pink clouds of mist collected around the mountaintops this morning. I elect to start the walk at temple number 4, Furue-an, as it is right next door to the minshuku I am staying at for these first few days of my walk.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

Furue-an is a small building right on the water with the ubiquitous meter-high concrete wall separating it from the sea. It's an uninhabited site, really just a wayside chapel and so it's locked up and nobody about. In front a line of 33 statues, each one representing a Kannon on the famous Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. I have a quick look around the small shrine next door and then I follow the small coast road down the peninsula and watch the caps of mist on the mountains across the water lose their pink tinge and shrink and disappear.

After about a kilometer the peninsula narrows to just a few hundred meters and I cross over to the other coast and the little fishing village of Horikoshi. The road along the water's edge, protected of course by a meter high concrete wall, is lined with wooden buildings covered with dark, weathered wood, broken by a few doors of the same wood, but with no windows.

For protection the village turns its back to the sea. I find the next temple, number 5, Horikoshi-an, up some winding lanes where the village climbs the hillside. Like number 4 it is located right next to the small village shrine. The suffix -an on a temple name could be translated as "hermitage", which means that rather than being a full-fledged temple it is somewhere that historically a nun or monk lived.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

There is a honzon, a statue of the deity enshrined here, and often there will be a bronze bell, but usually not much more. The next stop is further down the peninsula, and I have several possible routes. There is a narrow road from here along the south coast. A couple of years ago it was closed by a landslide, and it may or may not have been repaired, or, I can backtrack half a kilometer and take the main road along the north coast.

The decision is made for me, a third way. There are about half a dozen small signs in front of Horikoshi-an pointing along a path that leads up the hillside. The most direct route, over the mountain. The path passes by some tiny vegetable plots before entering the forest. The path is covered with fallen leaves and steep enough to have a handrail.

I am no great fan of climbing hills or of walking uphill in general, but in Japan there is no choice. I climb and climb, thankful that I only have about 150 meters to ascend. When I get to the pass I am delighted to have been directed this way. It's magical.

Thin mist still hovers in the trees and the sunlight floods the forest with golden shafts. Here at the pass is a small Jizo statue in its own shelter. Every pass used to have one. Back in the day, not too long ago, when Japanese walked everywhere, there were hundreds of trails like this with a Jizo at the pass.

I wonder how many are now all alone where a path used to be, long since overgrown. As the trail descends the forest becomes bamboo. A narrow corridor through dense bamboo. Part way down I cross a stream and here are a couple of Fudo Myo statues.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

The bamboo becomes thicker still and curiously there is a an overhead lattice of bamboo that has snapped and fallen horizontal. The corridor has become a tunnel until I emerge into the sunlight at the top of the fishing village of Tanoura.

Tanoura-an, number 6 on the pilgrimage, is at the top of the village, right next to the village shrine and a huge tree trunk, obviously an old Gingko tree that died. A largish Jizo statue wearing multiple bibs and a couple of caps is in front of the small hall. This is a wart-removing Jizo and people will come some distance from outside the village to make an offering in the hope of having warts disappear.

Down at the waterfront I stop in at an old, wooden schoolhouse. It closed in 1971, but is open as a tourist attraction as this is where one of the most popular Japanese movies ever was filmed. 24 Eyes is not as well known outside Japan as other movies of the 50's, but many Japanese tourists will come to Shodoshima because of it.

The pilgrimage route now heads back up the peninsula to where I started but first I take a little one kilometer detour down to the 24 Eyes Movie Village, a major tourist destination built on what was the movie set for a remake of 24 Eyes.

Not being a big fan of the movie, unlike most of the visitors, I'm not all that impressed, so after taking a bunch of photos I leave and stop in at a little eating establishment just outside the entrance. I order a curry rice and it comes topped with three small, green olives. Shodoshima is the olive growing capital of Japan and has become the prime identity of the island, so I suspect I will be finding more meals with added olives. After a coffee I head off up the road past a bus shelter made from an old soy sauce brewing barrel. Soy sauce is the next most famous product of the island.

Shodoshima Pilgrimage Day 1 Afternoon

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 01, 2016

Tokushima Station


JR Tokushima Station in Tokushima, Shikoku, is a major railway station in Shikoku. The large, modern station building houses the Clement Plaza with numerous stores and a restaurant floor. There are a number of business hotels and car rental outlets close to Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

Tokushima Station is on the Tokushima, Kotoku, Mugi and Naruto lines. The Kotoku Line connects Tokushima with Takamatsu Station to the north west. The Mugi Line runs from Tokushima about 80km to Kaifu. The Tokushima Line links Tokushima with Awa-Ikeda. The Naruto Line runs from Ikenotani Station to Naruto Station in Naruto with trains connecting through to Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

Places to stay within easy access of Tokushima Station Station include the four-star Hotel Clement, the three-star Daiwa Roynet Hotel Tokushima Ekimae, the APA Hotel Tokushima Ekimae and the Tokushima Tokyu REI Hotel.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

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