More than 200 years before the capital of Japan was moved to Kyoto (then called Heian-kyō), Prince Shōtoku built in Higashiyama the first tower in the area, a five-storied pagoda.
The original pagoda was destroyed, but it was reconstructed in 1440 by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori. Considered by many people the symbol of Higashiyama, the Yasaka Pagoda and its surrounding area benefited in the recent years from a beautification project that led to the removal of the modern phone and electricity poles and wires…
After the World War II, many large statues representing Kannon were raised in Japan as prayers for world peace and to honor those who died during the war. In the Buddhist tradition, Kannon is the Bodhisattva of Compassion, also known as “One Who Hears the Prayers of the World".
The 24-meters-tall Ryōzen Kannon was built in 1955 as a Memorial to the Unknown Soldier of World War II and it remained until today the only giant statue in Kyoto.
Although it is one of them most futuristic buildings in Japan, the Kyoto Station has quite a few architectural elements inspired by the Japanese traditional architecture. The traditional Japanese house has folding walls, so that it can be ventilated by fully opening two or three walls.
The Kyoto Station was designed in a similar way, with a large opening on the lower part of the front wall, above the entrance, up to the steel frame. The sides are also completely open up, and on the side opposite to the entrance, the edifice connects to the train platforms (on the right side of the photo), which are also opened. Maybe that’s one of the elements making this building so pleasant and useable…
The chrysanthemum (kiku in Japanese) was brought to Japan from China more than 1000 years ago, as a medicinal herb, because the chrysanthemum tea was used in the traditional Chinese medicine for eye and liver treatments. Much later, during the Edo Period, the chrysanthemum was cultivated in Japan on a large scale as decorative plant, with a large variety of shapes and colors.
Obviously, this success made it one of the most frequently used flowers in the traditional Japanese art. A nice example is this room inside the Kobuntei house in Mito, featuring beautifully painted fusuma panels…
In the rest of the world, there might be a mirror or maybe a poster on one or two of them.
In Japan, they become high art and yet do not dominate the room. Perhaps the rest of us could learn a thing or two from them.
As I previously wrote, the artistic Japanese manhole covers may be a source of interesting information while you’re traveling through the country. If you stumble over an intriguing manhole cover, ask yourself what it represents, they may be presenting some worthwhile local attractions…
The three cute squids (ika in Japanese) pictured on this manhole cover in Hakodate are indicating the dishes for which the city is well known, the fresh squid menus, varying from simple raw squid sashimi to ika somen, a type of raw squid cut into fine strips, called like this because it resembles the somen type noodles.
Nakamura-za was one of the three main kabuki theaters of Edo, first established in 1624 by Nakamura Kanzaburō I. The first theater was located in Nihonbashi, on the place of today’s Maruzen Department Store, but the building and several other reconstructions were all burned by the many fires that ravaged Edo.
A reconstruction of the original theater can be visited inside the Edo Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku, Tokyo, while another reconstruction is in Kyoto, housing a theater inside the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura theme park. Here it is, adorned with modern-day posters, traditional sake barrels and lanterns featuring the ginkgo tree kamon of the Nakamura family.
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