Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

January 09 2013

Yokozuna Restaurant Shinsekai - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Yokozuna Restaurant, Shinsekai, Osaka

Japan is renowned for its restaurants… there are many fancy and expensive restaurants, but for the regular traveler they are not very important. What is really important is the great number of regular priced restaurants and the fact that this is one of the few countries where you can eat at any restaurant and you don’t have to worry about the food and the cleanness. Plus, you can be sure that you will be served with the utmost care…

The area of restaurants from Shisekai, near the Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka, is a good example of a neighborhood filled with inexpensive restaurants with good food, like the one from my photo, called Yokozuna. Here you can taste a great variety of kushikatsu (katsu is a deep-fried meat cutlet, and kushi means “skewers"). If you don’t want meat, you can also try kushikatsu variants with mushrooms, seafood or vegetables (potato, onion, pumpkin), served as is or with tonkatsu sauce. Delicious!

Reposted byEpitaph Epitaph

January 08 2013

Japanese Koi and some photo tips - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Japanese Koi

The common carp was domesticated in Japan at the beginning of the 19th century and soon several ornamental varieties were bred. 100 years later, at the beginning of the 20th century, these colored carps, called nishiki-goi - “brocaded carp” - or simply koi ("carp") were already presenting a wide variety of patterns and colors, so after being presented at an expo in Tokyo, the koi became popular all over Japan.

Today, the Japanese koi is popular all over the world, while in Japan it’s almost impossible to find a garden pond without koi. Interestingly, though, koi are still just regular carps: if allowed to breed without control, they will revert to their original, bland color… Even in Japan, I saw some ponds full of koi, where 90% of them where without any interesting color or pattern.

In many gardens there are vending machines selling food for koi and if you want to photograph them, these are good places, because koi are gluttonous, so you can photograph them swarming.

Photo tips:
- In order to capture their beautiful colors, be sure to have with you a polarizing filter. That way you will reduce the water glare and you will be able to see deep into the water (in my photo you can see the coins from the bottom of the pond).
- Use an aperture of at least f/7.1, it will give you sharpness and even better colors and contrast. If you have enough light, it is better to have an even smaller aperture (I usually prefer f/8).
- However, the polarizing filter will severely reduce the amount of light entering the camera, so you will need to increase the exposure. Here’s a trade off: that’s why I took this photo with just f/7.1, the shutter speed was 1/60s, a bit too long for some fast moving koi, and I didn’t want to increase the ISO.

January 05 2013

Chinowa - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Imado Shrine, Asakusa, Tokyo

One of the most common customs after the New Year is to buy omamori, small amulets for protection or good luck that can be bought from Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. In fact, the Japanese tradition places a great deal of emphasis on protection against bad luck and the small omamori are not the only artifacts created especially for this purpose.

Other examples are huge rings, over 2-meters-diameter, like the one in this photo, made from braided reeds called chinowa and decorated with shide (the Shinto strips of zigzag paper). These are raised twice a year at the entrance to the shrines and by passing through them, the visitors receive purification and protection against misfortune.

January 03 2013

Japanese customs and traditions - 7 Lucky Gods Pilgrimage - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Hashiba Fudo-in, Asakusa, Tokyo

As I was writing a few days ago, I attended a couple of times to the New Year’s Japanese traditions, starting with the Joya no Kane and continuing with the Hatsumode. But the most special experience was to follow, like many Japanese people, a 7 Lucky Gods New Year’s pilgrimage.

There are many versions of this pilgrimage in Japan, only in Tokyo I know of 20 such routes: groups of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples from the same neighborhood, each dedicated to at least one of the Lucky Gods, are grouped together in a single route. Visiting all of them can take a couple of hours or more and sometimes it can be quite tricky to find all the locations, even though the area is often marked with especially made maps.
But it is a very rewarding experience if you want to feel the local touch…

Here is a photo taken at one of the temples from the most famous pilgrimage route in Tokyo, the one in Asakusa. The temple is called Hashiba Fudo-in and it is dedicated to Hotei. You can see in front of the temple votive plaques with the 7 Lucky Gods and to the left of the photo you can also see the dedicated map…

December 29 2012

Hagoita - via A Japan Photo per Day -

If you’re watching Jidaigeki “period dramas” or other Japanese historical movies about the Edo period, you may have noticed brief scenes with girls playing a kind of badminton. That is a traditional game called Hanetsuki, played with hagoita, rectangular wooden paddles often decorated with colored paintings.

In time, hagoita became a lucky charm and also a decorative collectible item. So today hagoita have been designated as traditional products of Tokyo and they are a lot more sophisticated than the original paddles, adorned with intricate details and textures made from washi Japanese paper and silk, representing kabuki stars or geisha…

December 28 2012

Kumade - via A Japan Photo per Day -

One of the most popular customs of the New Year in Japan is to buy good luck charms for the year to come. At the same time, the old charms and decorations are brought to temples and shrines to be burned in a ceremony called Dondo yaki.

One of these lucky charms is the kumade, a rake said to bring wealth and good fortune, decorated with various auspicious elements. The kumade from today’s photo, photographed at an old Sake store from Yanaka, Tokyo, is one of the richest I have seen. Here are just a few of its elements: the mask, called Otafuku, known as the “Goddess of mirth", is used in the Kyogen theater and signifies happiness and prosperity. The gold coin replicas are considered good luck in business, the crane is a symbol of longevity in Japan (said to live 1000 years), the turtle is also a symbol of good luck and longevity (said to bring 10000 years of happiness), the red koi are representing perseverance and strength and the pine twigs are symbolizing long life…

December 27 2012

Kagamimochi - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Traditional Japanese New Year Decoration, Kagami mochi

After the Kadomatsu and the Shimekazari, another traditional Japanese decoration is usually placed inside the house, in the kamidana, but you will also find it in stores, restaurants and institutions.

This is the Kagamimochi, a simpler decoration, made from two rice cakes (mochi) of different sizes, symbolizing the past year and the year to come. The two mochi have the same shape as the old copper mirrors (kagami) used during the Muromachi period, hence the name: kagami-mochi. A Japanese type of bitter orange (daidai) is placed over the rice cakes, which symbolizes the continuity of the generations and long life, because a kanji writing for daidai 「代々」 can mean “generation to generation". So, the kagamimochi symbolizes the family’s continuity over the years.

Here’s a photo from a traditional Japanese house with a beautiful kagamimochi displayed together with the statues of two of the Seven Gods of Luck (Shichifukujin), Ebisu (God of good fortune, commerce and honest work) and Daikokuten (God of wealth and prosperity).

December 26 2012

Shimekazari - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Traditional Japanese New Year Decoration, Shimakezari

As I wrote yesterday, the Japanese traditional decorations can bear multiple meanings, each element having its own symbolism. More than this, even the place where the decoration is placed has its own role…

Here’s shimekazari, a small rope made from rice straws, a decoration placed on the exterior of the door or gate, with the same role as the shimenawa from the Shinto shrines - to keep the bad spirits away…

The rope is decorated with a large variety of auspicious items, the most popular being the daidai (Japanese bitter orange), the lobster and the pine twigs. The shimekazari from my photo, taken in Takadanobaba, is a bit special, with a twig of Japanese holly, which symbolizes longevity, because it is green throughout the year. There also an origami crane, which symbolizes long life…

December 25 2012

Kadomatsu -  via A Japan Photo per Day -

Traditional Japanese New Year Decoration, Kadomatsu

The New Year (Shogatsu) is the most important celebration in Japan, so the preparations begin immediately after Christmas. For Christmas, the decorations are identical to those used in the Western world, but for the New Year people are enjoying the Japanese traditional decorations.

Every time when I visited Japan during the New Year’s period I was delighted to see them, because these are not simple decorations, each element is a symbol of something: they are protecting against evil spirits or against bad luck, or they are welcoming the Kami bringing prosperity and good luck for the next year.

Let see a few of them…

On the sides of the entrance to houses, institutions, shrines or temples, you will see kadomatsu 「門松」, “gate pines", decorations made from 3 diagonally cut bamboo pieces and pine or ume twigs, tied together with a straw rope. The bamboo symbolizes strength and growth, while the pine symbolizes long life. Kadomatsu has the role of welcoming toshigami, the God of the New Year. Toshigami brings prosperity and good luck in the next year to the families (or the businesses) protected by kadomatsu.

Here’s a pair of kadomatsu photographed in front of a traditional house from Asakusa, Tokyo.

December 24 2012

From Hotei to Santa Claus - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Hotei statue, Sendai

Christmas celebrations started in Japan after the arrival of Saint Francis Xavier, in 1549. And this was also the beginning of all the Christmas-related celebrations, including Santa Claus (サンタさん Santa-san, or サンタクロース Santa Kurōsu in Japanese).

But the success of the Christmas celebrations in Japan was probably facilitated by the existence of a much older tradition, related to a Buddhist God sharing similar traits: Hotei, also known as Budai (or Putai), is one of the Seven Gods of Luck (Shichifukujin), the God of abundance, satisfaction and happiness and also a patron of children, fortunetellers and… bartenders.

Usually represented as a Buddhist monk with a shaved head, always with a cheerful face and a big belly (which symbolizes the largeness of his soul), Hotei is sometimes represented very similar to Santa Claus, with a large bag of gifts and good luck for those who believe in him. What’s more, there are also other representations, like the statue from my photo, where Hotei is surrounded by happy children.

And there’s another similarity with Santa Claus: Hotei brings gifts about the same time of year, on the New Year, when he arrives together with the Seven Gods of Luck…

Merry Christmas!
Reposted bythisgamehasnoname thisgamehasnoname

December 19 2012

Kyoto Station nighttime view - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Kyoto Station, View from Kyoto Tower, Kyoto

I wrote recently about Kyoto Station, a masterpiece of architecture created by Hiroshi Hara, the same architect who designed my favorite skyscraper, Umeda Sky Building from Osaka. Today, I would like to show you a different view of this magnificent construction, a nighttime photo taken from the Kyoto Tower.

The Kyoto Station is actually a conglomerate of buildings, each with its own architecture, with an inner courtyard. On the inside, the Kyoto Station looks spectacular, but seen from above looks equally amazing. To the left, the block with smaller windows is the Granvia Hotel and to the right you can see the commercial area, while the semi-covered inner courtyard is visible in the middle…

December 14 2012

Omotesando Winter Illumination - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Omotesando Winter Illumination, Tokyo

There are many places in Tokyo where the winter holiday lights are now shining brightly. During the last years, I spent every evening in a different place, each with its own charm… But there are a few places that, in my memory, are the essence of the Japanese winter illuminations. I still remember the magical atmosphere from Omotesando, created by hundreds of thousands yellow LED lights decorating the Zelkova trees…

Travel tip: The illuminations on Omotesando are lit until January 3rd, 2013.

Reposted bypascalmh pascalmh

December 09 2012

Kanda Myojin tethered horse - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Zuishin-mon, Kanda Myojin Shrine, Tokyo

I was writing half a year ago about how to identify Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and about the exceptions from the gate-torii rule. One remarkable exception is the Kanda Myojin Shrine from Tokyo, which although is a Shinto shrine features a gate like in the Buddhist temples.

On the exterior side, the gate has the Zuijin guardians, but inside there are two statues representing… horses. This is because here is enshrined Taira no Masakado, a respected and famous samurai who lived in the Heian period, whose emblem was the tethered horse…

December 08 2012

Japanese thatched roofs - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Farmhouse of Tenmyo Family, Edo Tokyo Open Air Museum, Tokyo

The traditional Japanese house is made from natural materials only: the walls are made of wood and paper, while the tatami mats are made of rice straw. And the roof is no exception, being made of various kinds of grass, reeds and straw.

Thatched roofs are used throughout the world, but in the traditional Japanese house they have a very unique role: as I explained a few months ago, for cooking and heating is used an irori and since there is no chimney, the role of cleaning the air is fulfilled by… the straw roof, which acts as a giant smoke filter.

December 07 2012

The Japanese umbrella - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Ponto-cho, Kyoto

A real work of art, the traditional Japanese umbrella - wagasa 「和傘」 - serves a more complex purpose than the occidental version: besides the protection against rain or sun, wagasa is made as a stylish fashion accessory and sometimes is even a ceremonial object (for tea ceremonies, weddings and funerals). Also, sometimes the color of the umbrella is associated with the user, for example geisha tend to use purple wagasa, while the actors are using black or brown umbrellas. During the tea ceremony and weddings the wagasa used are red, while during funerals the umbrellas are white…

Umbrellas are also used in Japan very creatively during the day-to-day life and one of the most interesting uses I have seen is, as you can see in today’s photo, as decoration in front of a restaurant from Ponto-chō, Kyoto.

December 01 2012

Shinjuku Southern Terrace Winter Illumination - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Shinjuku Southern Terrace Winter Illumination, Tokyo

My favorite time of the year begins today, the season of winter lights. Actually, in Japan this season starts a bit earlier, in mid-November… I have in Tokyo a few favorite places, with lovely winter illuminations, where during the last years I returned, regardless of the chilly weather, armed with a tripod for a session of night time and long exposure photography.

Here is a photo taken on the Shinjuku Southern Terrace, with the trees lining the alley covered by bright blue lights…

Travel tip: The lights are on until January 31, 2013, between 5PM and 10PM…

November 29 2012

Colour Activity House - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Colour Activity House, The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

The works of the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson are well known in the entire world, so I wasn’t surprised to find one in Japan. In front of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, you can enjoy the Colour Activity House, a charming artwork, intriguing and… entertaining.

The “house” will certainly draw you in, especially if there are people inside, because that way you will easily notice the changing of colors according to their position and your point of view. And the moment you step inside, you will be delighted by this beautiful experience…

November 26 2012

The Glico Man - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Glico Man, Dotonbori, Osaka

One of the best known landmarks of Osaka is the “Glico 300 Meter Running Man", a huge neon sign on a building on the Dotonbori channel, representing an athlete (the Glico Man) running on a blue running track. The sign was first installed in 1935 (the one you see in the photo was installed in 1998) and it is the symbol of the Japanese company Ezaki Glico, well known outside Japan for its Pocky sticks.

The name of the sign intrigued me, it is clearly a running man, but why 300 meters? So I learned that, according to Glico, an average height man (165 cm tall and weighting 55 kg), by eating a Glico-Caramel candy, will receive the energy to run 300 meters…

November 25 2012

Japanese mascots - Kasabo - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Japanese Mascots, Kasabo, Amanohashidate

There are so many kawaii mascots in Japan! My favorites are the mascots of the tourist attractions (especially from the high-rise buildings), who can often be found wandering around, always ready to play with the children and to take pictures with the tourists, because the Japanese people love to be photographed with mascots (as I also do).

Today I want to introduce you to Kasabō 「かさぼう」, the mascot of the Kasamatsu Park from Amanohashidate. With his head inspired by a conifer cone, he impressed me by doing a lot of cheerful kawaii gestures, even if outside it was really, really hot…

November 24 2012

Tozai Kairo - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Toshougu Shrine, Nikko

There are 5173 sculptures at the Toshougu Shrine from Nikko, practically all the buildings are lavishly ornate. From all these decorations, my favorites are the panels decorating Tozai Kairo, the wall surrounding the main building. Three of the four sides are still looking exactly as they were 376 years ago (the northern side was destroyed by the earthquake from 1647, after just 11 years since construction).

In today’s photo, I want to show you two of the 25 panels from the southern wall, with sculptures in vivid colors representing exotic flowers and birds…

Reposted byWeks Weks
Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!