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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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Niigata-Manga-and-Animation-Museum

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Evangelion exhibit at Niigata Manga & Animation Museum

My love for Japanese culture started with watching endless hours of anime. While in Niigata I had to checkout the Manga & Animation Museum which houses the works of some of the popular manga and anime artists born in this prefecture. It was no co-incidence that my very favorite Rumiko Takahasi, creator of Inuyasha, also hails from Niigata. I got lucky as they were also holding an exhibit of the swords of Evangelion!
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Bandai-Bridge

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An evening along Bandai Bridge

Bandai Bridge is considered as the symbol of Niigata and is one of the city's most scenic spots, especially at night. After dropping our luggage at the hotel, we walked down to the bridge from the Showa period, lit up like a Christmas tree over the Shinano River. The 1964 quake shattered Niigata, but the arch shaped, stone bridge stood strong among the rubble even as everything around it crumbled.
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Nangaku-ji

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The mummy of Tetsuryou-kai at Nangaku-ji

Scattered throughout Yamagata Prefecture, there are over two dozen mummified Japanese monks known as Sokushinbutsu. The process of self-mummification was mainly practiced by monks in Northern Japan between the 11th and 19th century. Today we walk down to the Buddhist mummy of Nangakuji Temple in Tsuruoka that holds the remains of Tetsuryou-kai, mummified at the age of 44, in a meditating pose, to understand what drove these monks towards this self inflicted, painful death.
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Yamadera-Temple

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Hike to Yamadera Temple

What better to do on the Mountain Day than to hike up the steep mountainside up to the Yamadera temple in Yamagata. The temple was founded over a thousand years ago in 860 AD under the official name Risshakuji but people generally know it by its more popular name "Yamadera" which means mountain temple. Whoa! a thousand steps, a bit more than I bargained for..
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Hirosaki-Castle

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An evening in Hirosaki

We dropped by Hirosaki Castle today, the only remaining castle from the Edo period in the Tohoku area of Japan. Built in 1611, the castle is renowned for the weeping Sakura blossoms in its surrounding park. Interestingly while I was there, I found the whole castle has been moved from its original location for repairs.
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