Shino and Ian's Trip to Japan

This October and November we visited Japan for two weeks, here is a selection of
some of the places we visited. Enjoy.....

Eihoji Temple

Eihoji temple was founded in 1313 by Muso Kokushi who was
profoundly effected by the valley in which the temple is located.


One feature which I found curious was that the gravel around the various pathways
was  raked:-something I only expected to see in Rock gardens.

This  shows the  famous  bridge :-

Ryoanji Temple

This is probably the most  famous Rock Garden in Japan, created in the 15th Century...


We were lucky in that we visited Ryoanji first thing in the morning: there were few people and
it was quiet!Also I have read in various guide books that a tape is played which explains the
layout of the garden,thankfully it wasn't when we were there.
Anyway,get there early ,sit down and contemplate....

Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion)

 The orginal was built in 1397 by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, the 3rd Shogun of Ashikaga Government, this building is a reproduction of the orginal which was burnt  to the ground in 1950. It was raining very hard, so the famous refection of the temple in the pond was ruined-hopefully get better weather next time..
I was impressed by the gardens surrounding the Kinkaku-ji,but as it was raining so hard
I did not get much of a chance for anything more than a quick glance here and there.

This is a major attraction so will get very busy.

Founded in the Seventh Century by Prince Shotoku (Shoutoku taishi) and consists of a compound containing various halls and temples. It has survived the Second World War and was one of the first buildings in Japan registered as a part of World Cultural Heritage.

The above view shows the Five Story Pagoda (Gojyu-no-tou)...

And this one shows the Main Hall (Kondo).

The building above is called Yumedomo and is the oldest Octagonal Hall in Japan...
I found it rather humbling to think that  these buildings are over a thousand years old...

The Origins of the Todai-ji date from a temple built in 728 but the present
building dates from around the 1600-1700 with more work occuring in the last
few decades.

It is also the largest wooden building in the world, yet it is only 60% of the original building
(burnt in 1567) in width.

The todai-ji houses the Daibutsu,a huge bronze image of buddha which dates from 749.

This rock garden was created in 1509 by Kogaku Soko,it is much more smaller
and compact than Ryoanji.

Daisen-in is part of Daitokuji, a complex of 24 temples,tea houses-many of historical and
cultural importance.Due to lack of time we only visited the Daisen-in which was a shame.
One temple I hope to visit next time is Juko-in,this is where the grave of the  famous tea master Rikyo is located (Rikyo commited suicide in the tea room in this temple).

Matsumoto Castle

This is the oldest surving Japanese castle built in 1597.This castle replaced an older
castle known as Fukashi,which was captured from Ogasawara Nagatoki by
Takeda Shingen.

Inside the castle is sparse:-more or less as it was,one bad thing is there
is no guide book:-just one rather pathetic sheet of paper.There is also
a rather irrating commentary in English which is played in some rooms,
but frankly I refer a good guide book.This is also very popular because of it being one of the rare Japan's surviving National Treasure and inside it can get rather busy with people trying to climb the small rather rickey ladders inside,which can be rather nerve racking. Nearby is a small Folklore Museum. It would have been execellent save for no English language explanations was provided...

Hida and Takayama Region

There are quite a few old Heritage Houses( Gassho-zukuri or Alpine style thatched houses) which belonged to some families who lived in Shirakara-Go.Some of them are now open as folklore museums with the houses still maintained as they were in the old fashioned country style.About thirty years ago you could have stayed in one of the houses as they were running as traditional Japanaese inns, but not any more.... The houses are  now recognised as National Heritage and protected with a help from cultural organisation such as UNESCO.


 Takayama is a small town deep in the mountains,I really enjoyed walking around this
town.The street shown below is full of small shops and (one sake shop/brewery

which sells some very good sake!)

Toyama Folk Museum
This is a large Alpine style house in which a single extended family used to live,more than
forty people in a space of no more than nine or so rooms.Most of the living space was on
the ground floor,with the upper floors used either for storage or silk worms.

Inside there is the usual hotch-potch of everyday objects used in the early 19 Century (and
even better English Language explanations),good if you like films like "Seven Samuri" and want
to see how ordinary people lived.

Created on 20/11/99 by Ian and Shino