Kanto

Hozomon Gate of Senso ji Temple at Night

The great Senso-ji Temple

Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant, built to honor Kannon, the goddess of mercy.

Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa district of Tokyo, Japan It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant It is a very busy place during daytime so I decided to escape the crowd by visiting early at dawn and then returning back late at night We were staying at APA Hotel Asakusa-Kuramae It is just a couple of minutes walk away from the Kuramae Station on the Toei Oedo Subway Line I had intentionally reserved this hotel as it is at a walk-able distance from the historic temple I left the hotel at around 6:30 am The skies were a saddening, dull gray as I made my
Tower of Utsunomiya Castle Ruins

Utsunomiya Castle Ruins

Today we walked down to Utsunomiya Castle, a flatland castle originally built during the Heian period in 1063. Once counted among the seven major castles of Kanto region, it was totally destroyed in war. The partially restored castle now functions as a park for city residents to relax in.

I cannot forget this day ever Today we went to explore the Utsunomiya Castle 宇都宮城 located in Tochigi Prefecture The castle was okay but that I almost lost my Nikon D810 will stay etched in my memory for years to come We were staying at the APA Hotel Utsunomiya-Ekimae, a five-minute walk from the Utsunomiya Station We try our best to book hotels near to the station Even though they might be a little more expensive than those further away, it actually saves on travel cost and time We had arrived early in the day all the way from Aomori and took some rest at the hotel After
Shorinzan Darumaji Temple

Daruma Dolls of Syorinzan Darumaji Temple

Today we head out to the Syorinzan 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.

On the last leg of our trip to Kanto, I and my wife, Ranita, were lodged at the Toyoko Inn at Takasaki Over the last couple of days, Takasaki proved to be a great base for visiting places we had on our bucket list, around Tokyo in the Kanto region The town is itself famous for the tradition of the Daruma dolls used as a talisman for good luck The Daruma doll is a hollow, rounded traditional Japanese doll with large eyes, modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism These dolls are typically red in color but can also come in different colors We were leaving for Nagano

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.

It was a sudden rush of the moment when I decided to visit the shrines of Nikko The day before I was shuffling through some souvenirs at the Tougyoku Doll museum, when I chanced upon a set of hand painted cards of popular UNESCO sites in Japan The box contained a set of six UNESCO sites, of which I had visited all, barring Nikko So it was decided right then that we were going to Nikko the next day The “Shrines and Temples of Nikko” refer to the Toshogu and Futarasan-jinja shrines, the Rinnoji temple and the surrounding sacred forest located in Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern part of Japan’s Kanto region
Tougyoku Dolls Museum

The cute dolls of Tougyoku Doll Museum

We landed in Iwatsuki today to see the amazing Togyoku dolls. The collection at Tougyoku Dolls Museum is diverse and the exhibits include imperial court dolls and hina dolls among others. The town of Iwatsuki is famous for its cute dolls and is said to have over 300 doll-makers. They’ve been making dolls here since the 1700s when it was discovered that the Paulownia trees here are excellent for woodcarving. Soon the town became a center for the production of hina dolls, and the tradition continues to this day.

Today we go down to the quaint town of Iwatsuki in Saitama Prefecture, to witness the cute Hina Ningyo dolls Just like manga or anime that appeals to the young and old alike, these Japanese dolls from Saitama are loved by people of all generations Interestingly the name of “Saitama” originates from the Sakitama (埼玉郡) district Sakitama has a long history and even finds a place in the famous Man’yōshū (万葉集), the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime after 759 CE The colloquial pronunciation gradually changed from Sakitama to Saitama over the years Train from Takasaki to Iwatsuki We were staying at the Toyoko Inn at
Saitama Railway Museum

History of Japanese Railways

While we were in Kanto, I went down to see the Saitama Railway Museum that recounts the history of railway in japan. Operated by the East Japan Railway Culture Foundation, the museum features about 30 railway cars from different years as they have evolved to the enigmatic Shinkansen of today.

After a beautiful morning among the cute Hina dolls of Iwatsuki, we were on our way to the Saitama Railway Museum While Mani had a wonderful time with the dolls I was very much looking forward to my date with the historical trains I have had a deep crush for trains that goes all the way back to my childhood days It was memorable, those rides to visit my grandma in the countryside during my summer vacations  The Saitama Railway Museum(鉄道博物館) is the largest museum of railways in Japan The museum exhibits real trains ranging from age-old steam locomotives to cutting edge Shinkansen trains The huge exhibit, almost the size of a football field, takes one on a ride through
Chiba Castle

The picturesque Chiba Castle

Today we head up to the picturesque castle on a hilltop in downtown Chiba. The ruins of the Inohana Castle go back to early 1100’s when it was created by Chiba Tsuneshige, however the replica that stands today is from sketches of a late 16th century design that somewhat reduces the authenticity of the castle.

The Chiba Castle was not on my bucket list, but while we were in the Kanto region, we decided to give it a visit From the interesting Saitama Rail Museum, we took the JR train to Chiba Station From Chiba Station, we took the Chiba Urban Monorail, a two-line suspended monorail system It is the world’s longest suspended monorail system travelling along a 15 km route This dual-tracked system was built by the Mitsubishi Company, to connect the suburbs of Chiba Prefecture with main city Chiba Urban Monorail It was fun watching the cars go by below our feet as the Chibatoshi-Monorail passed through the heart of the city The ride is short, all of 6 minutes and
Enoshima Island

An evening at Enoshima

We traveled to Enoshima today, a small offshore island, about 4 km in circumference, at the mouth of the Katase River which flows into the Sagami Bay of Kanagawa. I was there to photograph Mt. Fuji, which I have heard looks stunning from the beach, but unfortunately the foggy weather foiled our attempts to catch the unique scene. However the beach is still an amazing place to spend an evening with your loved one.

From a quick tour of the Niigata Manga Museum, we reached Takasaki in the afternoon After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we hopped on a train to Enoshima I had heard it’s a lovely place to enjoy the evening On clear days one can even see Mt Fuji from the nearby Shonan Beach Enoshima is a small island near Kamakura Samuel Cocking, a British trader who arrived in Japan in 1860s, married a Japanese woman and bought most of Enoshima Island He built a botanical garden and power plant on the island The power plant was one of Japan’s first and grew to become the Yokohama Cooperative Electric Light Company, we
Nagomi Jizo Hasedera Temple

Jizo of Kamakura Hase-Dera

I went down to Kamakura today to take a look at the 1001 Buddhas at Hase Dera. The temple grounds is adorned with hundreds of small statues of the Jizo Bodhisattva, who helps the souls of deceased children to reach paradise.

This is the second part of my day tour of Kamakura I spent the early part of the day basking in the glory of the great Kamakura Daibutsu That concluded my bucket-list of visiting all the three most-revered Buddha Temples in Japan The first one obviously being the Great Buddha of Todai-ji and the other – the Takaoka Daibutsu For those who didn’t read the first part of my story, I traveled for more than 4 hours today, all the way from Nara in Kansai, on train, to visit the Kamakura Daibutsu and then, if time permitted spend some time at the Kamakura Hase-dera Once I had my

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