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23 days in Japan
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10th May 2023
Park Hotel Tokyo
Hirosaki Castle
Hirosaki Castle (弘前城, Hirosaki-jō) is a hirayama-style Japanese castle constructed in 1611. It was the seat of the Tsugaru clan, a 47,000 koku tozama daimyō clan who ruled over Hirosaki Domain, Mutsu Province, in what is now central Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. It was also referred to as Takaoka Castle (鷹岡城 or 高岡城, Takaoka-jō).
Saishōin Temple
Extra Exploration
Former Ito Family Residence
Iwakiyama-jinja Shrine
Hirosaki Neputa Festival
Aomori Prefecture Tourism Information Center ASPAM
Seiryū-ji Temple
Shinkyo Bridge
Futarasan jinja (二荒山神社) is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is also known as Nikkō Futarasan Shrine, to distinguish it from the Utsunomiya Futarayama Jinja, which shares the same kanji in its name. Both shrines claim the title of ichinomiya of the former Shimotsuke Province. The main festival of the shrine is held annually from April 13 to April 17.The shrine consists of three geographically separate sections. The main shrine is located between Nikkō Tōshō-gū and the Taiyū-in Mausoleum. Many visitors go to all three, as well as to Rinnō-ji, which are part of the Shrines and Temples of Nikkō UNESCO World Heritage Site. The "middle shrine" is located of the shore of Lake Chuzenji. The "inner shrine" is located at the summit of Mount Nantai, the volcano overlooking the lake.The shrine possesses two swords that are National treasures of Japan. Dozens of buildings and cultural artifacts are listed as National Important Cultural Properties. The precincts have been designated a National Historic Site.
Toshogu Grand Shrine
Nikko Futarasan jinja
Explore Nikko Town
Kanmangafuchi Abyss
Zenkōji Temple
Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle (松本城, Matsumoto-jō) is one of Japan's premier historic castles, along with Himeji Castle and Kumamoto Castle. The building is also known as the "Crow Castle" (烏城, Karasu-jō) due to its black exterior. It was the seat of the Matsumoto domain. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail. The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late sixteenth century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle (hirajiro) because it is not built on a hilltop or amid rivers, but on a plain. Its complete defences would have included an extensive system of inter-connecting walls, moats, and gatehouses.
Nawate Street and Nakamachi Street
Fukashi-jinja Shrine
Naga-machi District
Higashi Chaya District
Extra Exploration
Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenrokuen Garden Management Office (Former Residence of Genba Tsuda)
Kenroku-en (兼六園, Six Attributes Garden), located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan, is an old private garden. Along with Kairaku-en and Kōraku-en, Kenroku-en is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. The grounds are open year-round except for December 29th through January 3rd during daylight hours and famous for its beauty in all seasons; an admission fee is charged. Kenroku-en was developed from the 1620s to the 1840s by the Maeda clan, the daimyōs who ruled the former Kaga Domain. While the date of initial development of the garden that would be become known as Kenrokuen is rather unclear, one version of the garden's origins can perhaps be marked by the completion of the Tatsumi water channel in 1632 by Maeda Toshitsune, the third daimyō of the powerful Maeda clan and ruler of the Kaga Domain from 1605 to 1639, as this feature would be later incorporated into creating the garden's twisting waterways in 1822. Conversely, other versions of the garden's inception "is said to have originated when the 5th daimyō Tsunanori built [in 1676] the Renchiochin house on the slope facing the [Kanazawa] castle, and gave its garden the name Renchitei", also spelled Renchi-tei, which means "lotus pond". Not much is known about Renchitei in the years after it was named, principally as about eighty years after its creation, nearly the entire garden was destroyed by a massive fire in 1759. However, it is known from documents of the period that before the fire, the garden was often used and enjoyed by successive lords and retainers for "different banquet occasions such as viewing the moon ... enjoying colorful maples",[5] and for admiring horses. Furthermore, local legend suggests that the Sacred Well of Kenrokuen – arguably the oldest object in the garden if the legend is true – suggests that: 1,200 years ago a peasant named Togoro stopped to wash his potatoes at the well. Suddenly, flakes of gold began to bubble up from the well, giving Kanazawa – meaning 'Marsh of Gold' – its name. Water from the well runs to the purification basin at the nearby Shinto shrine, and many people come to the Sacred Well for water for the tea ceremony.
Explore Area and Shopping
Philosopher's Path
Explore Gion at Night
Extra Exploration
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine of the god Inari. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres (764 ft) above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) and take approximately 2 hours to walk up. Along the main path there are around 1,000 torii gates. Inari is the god of rice, but merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshiped Inari as the patron of business. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha has been donated by a Japanese business. This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines (bunsha (分社)) throughout Japan. The shrine is open 24 hours with both the approach to the shrine and the Honden (本殿 main hall) itself illuminated all night. There is no entrance fee.
Kinkaku-ji ("Temple of the Golden Pavilion") is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually. The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku) is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (Buddha's Ashes). The building was an important model for Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Temple) and Shōkoku-ji, which are also located in Kyoto. When these buildings were constructed, Ashikaga Yoshimasa employed the styles used at Kinkaku-ji and even borrowed the names of its second and third floors. The pavilion successfully incorporates three distinct styles of architecture, which are shinden, samurai and zen, specifically on each floor. Each floor of the Kinkaku uses a different architectural style. The first floor, called The Chamber of Dharma Waters (Hou-sui-in), is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the 11th century Heian imperial aristocracy. It is evocative of the Shinden palace style. It is designed as an open space with adjacent verandas and uses natural, unpainted wood and white plaster. This helps to emphasize the surrounding landscape. The walls and fenestration also affect the views from inside the pavilion. Most of the walls are made of shutters that can vary the amount of light and air into the pavilion and change the view by controlling the shutters' heights. The second floor, called The Tower of Sound Waves (Chou-on-dou ), is built in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. On this floor, sliding wood doors and latticed windows create a feeling of impermanence. The second floor also contains a Buddha Hall and a shrine dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kannon. The third floor is built in traditional Chinese chán (zen) style. It is called the Cupola of the Ultimate (Kukkyou-chou). The zen typology depicts a more religious ambiance in the pavilion, as was popular during the Muromachi period. The roof is in a thatched pyramid with shingles. The building is topped with a bronze hōō (phoenix) ornament. From the outside, viewers can see gold plating added to the upper stories of the pavilion. The gold leaf covering the upper stories hints at what is housed inside: the shrines. The outside is a reflection of the inside. The elements of nature, death, religion, are formed together to create this connection between the pavilion and outside intrusions. The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden. The location implements the idea of borrowing of scenery ("shakkei") that integrates the outside and the inside, creating an extension of the views surrounding the pavilion and connecting it with the outside world. The pavilion extends over a pond, called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond), that reflects the building. The pond contains 10 smaller islands. The zen typology is seen through the rock composition; the bridges and plants are arranged in a specific way to represent famous places in Chinese and Japanese literature. Vantage points and focal points were established because of the strategic placement of the pavilion to view the gardens surrounding the pavilion. The pavilion grounds were built according to descriptions of the Western Paradise of the Buddha Amida, intending to illustrate a harmony between heaven and earth. The largest islet in the pond represents the Japanese islands. The four stones forming a straight line in the pond near the pavilion are intended to represent sailboats anchored at night, bound for the Isle of Eternal Life in Chinese mythology.
Wander Town / Kifune-jinja Shrine
Can go here whilst waiting for time slot at Hirobun However, will come here afterwards to hike to Kurama so can also visit this tree place - Kojinomori
Kurama-dera Temple Hike
Extra Exploration
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or Sagano Bamboo Forest, is a natural forest of bamboo in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan. The forest consists mostly of mōsō bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) and has several pathways for tourists and visitors. The Ministry of the Environment considers it a part of the soundscape of Japan.Prior to 2015, there was a charge to access the forest.The forest is not far from Tenryū-ji temple, which is the location of Rinzai School, and the famous Nonomiya Shrine.
Explore Arashiyama
Arashiyama (嵐山, Storm Mountain) is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. It also refers to the mountain across the Ōi River, which forms a backdrop to the district. Arashiyama is a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty.
Tenryuji Temple Lunch
Tenryū-ji (天龍寺) is the head temple of the Tenryū branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. The temple was founded by Ashikaga Takauji in 1339, primarily to venerate Gautama Buddha, and its first chief priest was Musō Soseki. As a temple related to both the Ashikaga family and Emperor Go-Daigo, the temple is held in high esteem, and is ranked number one among Kyoto's so-called Five Mountains. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto". There is a beautiful garden landscape here.
Gion Corner Performance
Nara Park and Todai-ji Temple
Nara Park (奈良公園, Nara Kōen) is a public park located in the city of Nara, Japan, at the foot of Mount Wakakusa. Established in 1880 it is one of the oldest parks in Japan. The park is one of the "Places of Scenic Beauty" designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Over 1,200 wild sika deer (シカ or 鹿 shika) freely roaming around in the park are also under designation of MEXT, classified as natural treasure. Jinrikisha (人力車, or rickshaw) services can be found near the entrances to popular sites as Tōdai-ji or Kōfuku-ji. While Nara Park is usually associated with the broad areas of the temples and the park proper, previously private gardens are now open to public.
Shopping in Nara / Explore
Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle (大坂城 or 大阪城,, Ōsaka-jō) 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.
Nipponbashi Denden Town
Shinsekai (新世界, lit. "New World" in English) is an old neighbourhood located next to south Osaka City's downtown "Minami" area. The neighbourhood was created in 1912 with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half. At this location, a Luna Park amusement park operated from 1912 until it closed in 1923.As a result of minimal redevelopment after World War II, the area has become one of Japan's poorest. Despite its negative image and commonly held reputation as Osaka's most dangerous area, Shinsekai boasts a colourful history and unique identity. At the beginning of the 20th century the neighbourhood flourished as a local tourist attraction showcasing the city's modern image. The centrepiece of the neighbourhood was Tsutenkaku Tower (the "tower reaching to heaven"). Whether the stigma surrounding Shinsekai is deserved is open to debate. Many Osakans claim to be afraid to set foot in the area. The travel guide Lonely Planet Japan, warns visitors to "keep their wits about them" as Shinsekai may be the "closest thing in Japan to a dangerous neighbourhood". Although in the 15th edition of this travel guide, published in 2017, this is not mentioned anymore. However, Shinsekai's status as a dangerous area owes much to criminal activity that flourished in the decades before the 1990s. Continuing the area's chequered fortunes of recent years, in place of rampant criminality, Osaka's large permanent settlement of homeless has taken root in the areas around Shinsekai. Homeless men, often elderly, from all over Japan come to Osaka to escape the stigma of hometown societal shame and wander the streets around the area. The neighbourhood is also home to a large presence of prostitutes and a concentration of Osaka's transvestite community. Though its elements of seediness and destitution are often highlighted, Shinsekai is also home to a large number of legitimate business outlets. It is the scene of low-cost restaurants, cheap clothing stores, cinemas, shogi and mahjong clubs, and pachinko parlours. Shinsekai has several fugu (blowfish) restaurants, but the neighbourhood's real culinary forte is kushi-katsu. The neighbourhood abounds with kushi-katsu restaurants offering various kinds of meat, fish, and vegetables all breaded and deep fried on small sticks for around 150 yen each. The top of Tsutenkaku Tower provides a panoramic and unobstructed view of Osaka.
Dōtonbori (道頓堀) runs along the Dōtonbori canal in the Namba district. Historically a theater district, it is now a popular nightlife and entertainment area characterized by its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards. One of the area's most prominent features, a billboard for confectionery company Glico displaying the image of a runner crossing a finishing line, is seen as an icon of Osaka within Japan.
Namba Yasaka Jinja
Small shrine featuring a ritualistic performance stage in the shape of a lion's head.
Extra Exploration
Daimon Gate
Danjō-garan Buddhist Temple
Kongōbu-ji (金剛峯寺) is the ecclesiastic head temple of Kōyasan Shingon Buddhism, located on Mount Kōya (高野山, Kōya-san), Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. Its name means Temple of the Diamond Mountain Peak. It is part of the "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple was first constructed as Seigan-ji Temple in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi on the death of his mother, rebuilt in 1861, and given its present name in 1869. It contains many sliding screen doors painted by Kanō Tanyū (1602-1674) and members of the Kyoto Kanō school. The temple's modern Banryūtei (蟠龍庭 rock garden) is Japan's largest (2340 square meters), with 140 granite stones arranged to suggest a pair of dragons emerging from clouds to protect the temple. The 414th abbot of Kongōbu-ji is the Reverend Kogi Kasai, who also acts as the archbishop of the Kōyasan Shingon school. At the temple, visitors can listen to the sermons of the monks and participate in ajikan meditation sessions. The term ajikan refers to a fundamental breathing and meditation method of Shingon Buddhism: "meditating on the letter A" written using the Siddhaṃ alphabet.
Eko-in Temple (Pilgrim's Lodging)
Koyasan Candle Festival
From 7:00 p.m. onwards, candles are lit at the Ichinohashi Bridge, the entrance to the sacred area, and then for the next 2,000 meters. A ceremony is held at Torodo Hall at 8:00 p.m. The latest information may differ, so please check the official website.
Extra Exploration
Park Hotel Tokyo
Extra Exploration
Tokyo (; Japanese: 東京, Tōkyō, [toːkʲoː] (listen)) is the capital and most populous city in Japan. Officially, central Tokyo is included in the Tokyo Metropolis (東京都, Tōkyō-to). Formerly known as Edo, its metropolitan area (including neighboring prefectures, 13,452 square kilometers or 5,194 square miles) is the most populous in the world, with an estimated 37.468 million residents as of 2018; the city proper has a population of 13.99 million people. Located at the head of Tokyo Bay, the prefecture forms part of the Kantō region on the central coast of Honshu, Japan's largest island. Tokyo serves as Japan's economic center and is the seat of both the Japanese government and the Emperor of Japan. Originally a fishing village named Edo, the city became politically prominent in 1603, when it became the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate. By the mid-18th century, Edo was one of the most populous cities in the world with a population of over one million people. Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the imperial capital in Kyoto was moved to Edo, which was renamed "Tokyo" (lit. 'Eastern Capital'). Tokyo was devastated by the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, and again by Allied bombing raids during World War II. Beginning in the 1950s, the city underwent rapid reconstruction and expansion efforts, going on to lead the Japanese economic miracle. Since 1943, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has administered the prefecture's 23 special wards (formerly Tokyo City), various commuter towns and suburbs in its western area, and two outlying island chains known as the Tokyo Islands. Tokyo is the second-largest urban economy worldwide by gross domestic product after New York City, and is categorized as an Alpha+ city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. It is also Japan's leading business hub as part of an industrial region that includes the cities of Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Chiba. As of 2021, Tokyo is home to 37 companies of the Fortune Global 500. In 2020, the city ranked fourth on the Global Financial Centres Index, behind only New York City, London, and Shanghai. Tokyo is home to the world's tallest tower, Tokyo Skytree, and the world's largest underground floodwater diversion facility, the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (located in Kasukabe, Saitama, a suburb of Tokyo). The Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, opened in 1927, is the oldest underground metro line in East Asia. Recognized as one of the most livable cities in the world, Tokyo was tied fourth with Wellington in the 2021 Global Livability Ranking.The city has hosted multiple international events, including the 1964 Summer Olympics and 1964 Summer Paralympics, the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2020 Summer Paralympics (postponed; held in 2021), and three summits of the G7 (in 1979, 1986, and 1993). Tokyo is an international research and development hub and is likewise represented by several major universities, most notably the University of Tokyo. Tokyo Station is the central hub for Japan's high-speed railway network, the Shinkansen; Shinjuku Station in Tokyo is also the world's busiest train station. Notable special wards of Tokyo include: Chiyoda, the site of the National Diet Building and the Tokyo Imperial Palace; Shinjuku, the city's administrative center; and Shibuya, a commercial, cultural, and business hub.
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