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Umikido-Pavilion

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Photowalk to Ukimido Pavilion

While on my evening walk today, I dropped in at Ukimido Pavilion. Umikido is a hexagonal gazebo over the Sagiike Pond in an aloof area of Nara Park. During summer evenings the floating pavilion is illuminated and it feels very relaxing sitting in the center of the pond surrounded by enchanting lights.
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tojinbo-cliffs

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The thrilling Tojinbo Cliffs

Tojinbo Cliffs enjoy the dubious distinction of being the most loved suicide spot in Japan. The enthralling, rugged cliffs eroded by the raging waves of the Sea of Japan combined with the mesmerizing sunset is certainly more than likely to cause skipped heartbeats.
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Kobe-Harbour

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Bon Odori at Kobe Harbour

Mani & I took the train to Kobe to check out the stunning illuminated harbor but we were sucked into the Bon Odori festivities happening on the same day. Food and beer stalls were everywhere. Surrounded by a sea of Kimono clad couples, on a small wooden stage, a group of lovely ladies were dancing to traditional music. It was great fun watching this 500-year-old tradition that is celebrated yearly to honor the spirits of their ancestors.
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Suizen-ji

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Photowalk to Suizen-ji Park

Suizen-ji Jōju-en is a traditional Japanese garden landscaped around a natural spring pond. It was built by the Hosokawa family in the 17th century. The most interesting aspect of the garden is that it reproduces the 53 post stations of the Tokaido, the road, which connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period, in miniature form, including a small Mt. Fuji.
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Osaka-Castle

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The stunning Osaka Castle

I love walking around Osaka Castle in evenings. The castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled Japan in the latter half of the 16th century. The stone walls and moats surround the castle separating it from the bustling city. The sodium lamps light up the pathways surrounding the castle. The weeping sakura leaves along the wide moat briskly sway in the wind and the castle itself looks like a fantasy structure from the mythical age of dragons.
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shorinzan-darumaji-temple

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Daruma Dolls of Shorinzan Darumaji Temple

We head out to the Shorinzan Darumaji Temple in the Takasaki countryside. Constructed in 1697, the Zen temple is the birthplace of "Takasaki Daruma" dolls used as a talisman for good luck. In January, many from all over Japan gather here every year, seeking the divine protection of the temple's deity through its lucky charm, the Daruma.
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matsumoto-castle

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The lovely Matsumoto Castle

Today we visit the Matsumoto Castle, one of four castles designated as 'National Treasures' of Japan with over 400 years of history. With the Japanese Alps in the the background and a red bridge connecting the surrounding moat, it is one of the most picturesque castles in all of Japan.
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temples-of-nikko

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The shrines of Nikko

Today Mani & I visit the temples of Nikko in Tochigi. The vibrant temples at this World Heritage site are strikingly different in appearance from other temples I have witnessed in Japan. The lavishly decorated pillars and other structures are covered in a gold leaves and multitude carvings conveying expressions of religious belief as well as scholarship and philosophy.
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