Monday, July 3, 2017

Itsukushima Shrine


Itsukushima Jinja  Was The Chief Shinto Shrine ( Ichinomiya ) Of  Aki Province[3]
The shrine has been destroyed several times, but the first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, and is believed to follow an earlier design from the 12th century.[4][5] That design was established in 1168, when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori.
The shrine was "devoted to the worship of goddesses to whom Kiyomori owed thanks, he felt, for his success in life." Originally it was a pure Shinto shrine "where no births or deaths were allowed to cause pollution. Its treasures include the celebrated Heike Nōkyō, or 'Sutras dedicated by the Taira House of Taira'. These consist of thirty-two scrolls, on which the Lotus and other sutras have been copied by Kiyomori, his sons, and other members of the family, each completing the writing of one scroll. Kiyomori lavished great wealth upon Itsukushima, and he liked to show the place to his friends and colleagues, or even to royal personages..."[6]

The shrine was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay so that it would appear to be floating on the water, separate from the sacred island, which could be approached by the devout.
Near the main shrine is a noh stage which dates from 1590.[2] Noh theater performances have long been used to pay homage to the gods through the ritual acting out of key events in Shinto myth.
The dramatic gate, or torii, of Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan's most popular tourist attractions, and the most recognizable and celebrated feature of the Itsukushima shrine,[7] and the view of the gate in front of the island's Mount Misen is classified as one of the Three Views of Japan (along with the sand bar Amanohashidate, and Matsushima Bay). Although a gate has been in place since 1168, the current gate dates back only to 1875.[2] The gate, built of decay-resistant camphor wood, is about 16 metres high. The placement of an additional leg in front of and behind each main pillar identifies the torii as reflecting the style of Ryōbu Shintō (dual Shinto), a medieval school of esoteric Japanese Buddhism associated with the Shingon Sect.
The torii appears to be floating only at high tide. When the tide is low, it is approachable by foot from the island. Gathering shellfish near the gate is also popular at low tide. At night, powerful lights on the shore illuminate the torii.

On September 5, 2004, the shrine was severely damaged by Typhoon Songda. The boardwalks and roof were partially destroyed, and the shrine was temporarily closed for repairs.

Torri Gate

ceremonial washing
Worship Area
Deer wander everywhere and are thought to bring messages from spirits

Hiroshima Carp

Baseball is big here and the pro teams take on the look of US pro teams.  The Hiroshima Carps have taken on the Cincinnati Reds look.  Having the Reds rookie team in Billings and hosting their players I took to the streets to find some souvenirs.

Hiroshima Peace Park

The visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park was striking.  Having learned of and see pictures of the area did not prepare me for what took place.  The bomb was detonated at 300 meters above the city which led to the deaths of about 200,000 people directly from the blast or indirectly from the radiation.  The Peace Park was established to prevent such devastation from happening again.

July 3 Recap

We traveled to Hiroshima via a bullet train (200 plus miles per hour) to check out the Atomic Bomb Peace Park.  Along the way I caught some pictures of the country side.  The land that we could see from the rail was very populated for the most part and the small open spaces were used for farming.  We saw a lot of rice paddies and what looked like lily pads.  Below are some pictures from along the way.

Temple along the street Hiroshima


Rice Fields
View from the Train
Bullet Train

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Harukus Building

300 meters in height, the tallest in Osaka and 3rd tallest in Japan. 

Fish Market

Spending Sunday morning at the market

Train Fashion

Fashion is imprtant aspect of life here

Osaka Castle

saka Castle is a Japanese castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period

Hashin Tigers Baseball

The baseball cheerleaders

Pro baseball in Japan is the same and yet different to the US.  The infield is all dirt.  The 7th inning stretch is a balloon launch and the fans chant non stop when the home team is batting.  Oh, did I mention the cheerleaders?

The entrance gate to the stadium

The beer salespeople were all girls carrying a draft beer backpack; what a great idea

The field crew preparing the field

7 inning stretch is the launch of balloons
View of the stadium


Dotonbori is famous for its food and shopping.  We made the trip over in the morning and later at night to see the differences.  Plenty of food varieties including the famous Puffer Fish; fatal if you do not know how to prepare it.  I settled for Octopus and Japanese hamburger for dinner and sushi for lunch.

Takoyki is an octopus ball that is famous here.  It was interesting to eat but lacked any real flavor.  Watching them prepare it was a wonder

The following are some pictures of our wandering in Dotonbori

The Angry Chef

Dotonbori in the daylight

Mayott at Dotonbori at night

The River Canal

Osaka July 1st, 2017

This arrived in Osaka without any issues and met up with Les at the airport.  The train system here is amazing and easy to get around.  I had been forewarned that outside of the airport nothing was in English; however, what a nice surprise to find out that is not the case.

The trains are high tech and the Japanese want one to feel comfortable at all times so they designed the trains to have the seats automatically turn 180 degrees in direction at the end of the line so you are always facing forward.  The next two pictures are of the train platform and the seats changing directions.

We are staying at the Courtyard by Marriott in Osaka directly next to the train station which is making life easy to get around.  The hotel has great views from the 19th floor lounge

The second surprise was the paperless toilet system.  Push a button and you are cleaned up.

First meal was Curry Undo with Rice.