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November 08 2012

Unusual Toba Bay Cruise - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Toba Bay Cruise ship, Toba, Mie Prefecture

If you enjoy taking a cruise, Japan offers many places to enjoy pleasant trips in unusual sightseeing ships. I already wrote about the pirate ships from Lake Ashi in Hakone and about the Santa Maria ship replica from Osaka. These are replica ships, inspired after real historical sailing ships, but in Toba, in the Mie Prefecture, I discovered a ship inspired by… a castle.

The castle is called Ryūgū-jō and comes from a classical Japanese folktale, Urashima-Tarō. The fact of having a ship modeled after a castle may seem strange, but considering how the medieval Japanese warships (atakebune) were built, like floating fortresses, the design doesn’t seem so strange… Plus, the castle from the folktale was owned by Ryūjin, the dragon god of the sea, and was located under the sea.

Travel tip: The Toba Bay Cruise departs nearby the Toba Station, close to the Mikomoto Pear Island. The trip takes about 50 minutes and costs 1700 yen.

September 22 2012

Unusual Architecture in Japan - the Dutch gate - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa

The Oyama Shrine from Kanazawa is well known because of its main gate’s unusual architecture. Actually, the gate was originally built for the palace from the Kanazawa castle and was later moved to the shrine.

The gate’s original shape was designed by a Dutch architect, who wanted to mix several European and Asian architectural elements. Thus, the lower part is inspired by a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple gate, Sanmon, while the second level is influenced by a Chinese Ming dynasty style gate. Finally, the top level is actually a lighthouse, with stained glass windows in a typical Dutch style…

August 09 2012

Unusual Japanese architecture - Isshin-ji Gate - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Niomon Gate, Isshin-ji Temple, Osaka

If you are in Osaka and want to see something unusual, in the Tennoji ward, best known for its Shinsekai entertainment district, take a little time to visit the Isshin-ji Temple.

Established 800 years ago, Isshin-ji was destroyed during the WWII and was progressively rebuilt over the following decades. One of the most recent constructions is the Main gate, raised in 1997 after the design of the head priest, who is also an architect. Made of steel, concrete and glass, with bronze statues, the new gate is a truly spectacular structure, unique amongst the Japanese temple gates (technically, this is a Niomon gate) and, as you can see from the photo, a great point of attraction for passersby.

June 20 2012

The unusual guardian of Kurama-dera -  via A Japan Photo per Day -

Visiting the Kurama-dera temple from Kyoto, you will surely notice the statues located in front of the main hall. Usually, this kind of statues can be found in front of the Shinto shrines. They represent guardians, protecting the shrine against evil spirits, can represent various creatures like lions, monkeys or foxes and the rule is that there’s always a male and a female.

What is unusual here is that Kurama-dera is a Buddhist temple - and the animal represented by this statue is also unique, looking like a fantasy version of a tiger or a leopard….

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