Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Another model ,replicating the original Yumedono of the Horyu temple in Nara.

This piece was created in 1993 in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of cultured pearls

The Mikimoto Pearl island is just offshore from the city of Toba in the Mie prefecture.

It is reached from Tokyo by a four hour train trip

From Osaka,Kyoto its approximately a two hour train trip,and it costs Y 1,200 to access the island itself.

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Still at Mikimoto Island

The Kokichi Mikimoto staue,built in 1953
,shows the Pearl King of latter years holding the Imperial Award,and wearing his trademark Yamataka hat and cape.

Oh! that's me with one of the women divers.

The sign explains the model castle below.....the Himeji castle (Castle of the White Crane)

The entire model was created from thousands of first grade pearls.The intricacy of his work has to be seen to be appreciated

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Mikimoto island

Mikimoto Island.....(the pearl island ) is situated just off the coast at Toba in the Ise-Shima National Park.

Mikimoto pearls were cultured for the first time in history using a method developed by Kokichi Mikimoto.

The Kokichio Mikimoto Memorial Hall
was built in 1993 in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of cultured pearls.

It introduces through photos,refined pieces and audio visuals the often turbulent life and interests of the "Pearl King".A man deeply devoted to his hometown of Ise_ Shima.As well as the Memorial Hal,there is shopping and dining in the Pearl Plaza,
and the Pearl Museum.

The lower phto shows the women divers preapring to give a demonstration of the techniques used in the 1950s to recover the pearl shell.

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Final stage............"Kampai!"


"Kampai" (Bottoms up /Cheers!)
Sake is no good until you savour it.. ...........the one sample we had,had,in my humble and uneducated opinion,had the kick of a mule!

Whether it was because it was freshly brewed and hadn't matured sufficiently, or because it was refrigerated rather than 'warm",I don't know.............but I wouldn't willingly imbibe it.

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White crane sake

Stirring the small vats
Balancing on the large vats and stirring the mixture

Sealing the drums of sake
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White Crane Sake

The historical museum of the White Crane Sake at Hakutsuru, Kobe.
Thanks to Teruko and her friend Chikako-san we were able to visit the museum and see how sake is traditionally made.
We didnt actually see the modern production......only the tableau of the historical method

And these photos show the life sized figures depicting the stages of brewing sake :

the adding of rice to the vats

washing of the rice

stirring the rice

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Torii

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A Japanese structure that has fascinated me since early 1960 is the TORII

Literally meaning "where the birds reside",torii are gateways at the entrance to Shinto shrines or sanctuaries.
They are typically made of timber,stone or sometimes iron;

Most wooden torii are painted

Some buddhist temples also have torii probably because at one time the two philosophies overlapped and merged to some degree.

The large timber torii with bronze decoration is at the Meiji Shrine close to the
Harajuku district of Tokyo.Dedicated to the Emperor and Empress Meiji it is a particularly fine example of Shinto architecture.
The torii measures some 17 metres in height and 15 metres in width and marks the entrance to the shrine itself.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rinko's Shichi-go-san

On November 15,this adorable little three year old took part in a Shichi-go-san ceremony........literally 7,5,3 when parents celebrate their children with prayers for the child's healthy growth and longevity.

The customs followed today evolved in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and November 15 was chosen for the celebration because it was considered the most auspicious day of the year.
As Shichi-go-san is not a national holiday,many failies choose to celebrate on the weekend prior.

Accompanied by her parents and grandparents, Rinko visited a Shinto shrine dressed in traditional kimono.........(.she actually showed me her gorgeous costume when we met her grand-parents in Himeji in late October.)

Most children carry a bag decorated with cranes and turtles which symbolise longevity,and into these are placed chitose-ame (longevity candy sticks.
The candy and bag indicate the parent's wishes for a long prosperous life for their children.

My sincere wish for a long and happy life dear Rinko
October 29

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Hiroshima: Children's Peace Monument

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War is the work of man
War is the destruction of human life
War is death
To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future

To remember HIROSHIMA is to abhor nuclear war

To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to

(attributed to Pope John 23)

I originally planned to blog my travels in order of visit,but my visit to Hiroshima Peace Park and the Memorial Museum,had such a deep emotional effect that I needed to share with my readers........

At 8.15am on August 6, 1945,the city of Hiroshima (with a population of approximately
350,000 souls)
fell victim to the world's first atomic bombing.
The entire city was virtually levelled and approxim,ately 140,000 lives were lost.

At the instant of detonation,the temperature at the centre exceeded a million degree Celcius,generating an enormous fireball .

At the moment of the explosion,an extremely high pressure of several hundred thousand atmospheres was created.
The surrounding air was thrust violently outwards and produced an intensely strong blast.The blast pressure 500 metres from the hypocentre was an enormous 19 TON per square metre.
Buildings were crushed and people were flung through the air.

To walk through the Memorial Museum and view the exhibits is a most sobering experience:
Tattered scraps of clothing;crockery fused into earth;
the diorama with wax figures of Atomic Bomb Victims..............very graphic and disturbing.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

More temples and Shrines!

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Historic neighbourhood

Just around the corner from Yanaka Ginza we found yet more history!
Old timber houses /shops,retained as a reminder of earlier times.
Then there was the Tsukijibei Fence:A traditional stone fence that followers of Ninja movies will recognise.

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