Category Archives: Photo galleries

Photo gallery: Aoyama Graveyard (January 2nd, 2014)

Posted by in Japan,Photo galleries,Photography | January 9, 2014

The Aoyama Cemetery (青山霊園, Aoyama Reien) is located in central Tokyo, very close to Roppongi. It’s huge (263,000 squared meters according to Wikipedia), and it is completely open to the public at all times. It was founded in 1872 and it is Japan’s first public cemetery.

It has a foreign plot (外人墓地, gaijin bochi) near the center where many foreigners and their descendants are buried,  but the most popular grave is Hidesaburo Ueno’s, owner of Hachiko. I’m sure you’ve heard his story already, but in case you haven’t, here’s a short summary:

Hidesaburo Ueno was a professor in the Tokyo Imperial University in the early 1900s. In 1924 he adopted Hachiko, an Akita dog, as his pet. Every morning on the way to work they walked together to the Shibuya station, and every evening Hachiko went to the station to wait for Professor Ueno’s return from work.

They continued this routine daily until May 1925, when the Professor didn’t return. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. For the next nine years, Hachiko kept coming to the same spot every day to wait for Ueno’s return, until he too died on March 8th, 1935, aged 11.

There’s a bronze statue of Hachiko in the spot where he waited every evening. This is without doubt the most popular meeting spot in Tokyo.

Hachiko is not actually buried in the Aoyama Graveyard (his stuffed remains are exhibited in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno), but there’s a small shrine dedicated to Hachiko inside the plot of Professor Ueno’s grave, and also a commemoratory pylon just outside the plot.

In late December 2013 I moved to a new apartment just a few minutes walking from the graveyard. Having nothing to do during New Year, I took my camera and went for a walk in the afternoon.

Download full resolution photos (144 MB)

Remember that all my photos are released as public domain. You’re welcome to use them for any purpose, whether commercial or not. Attribution is always welcome, but it’s not required.

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Photo gallery: Kanamara Matsuri (April 2013)

Posted by in Culture,Fun,Japan,Photo galleries | May 13, 2013

The Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り, steel phallus festival) is a shinto event organized by the Kanayama shrine (金山神社, Kanayama Jinja) in the Kawasaki province. It takes place the first Sunday of April every year.

This festival has its origins in the Edo period (1603 – 1868), when the town’s prostitutes visited the shrine to pray for protection against syphilis. Currently the festival is dedicated to fertility and it collects funds for HIV research.

The events start at eleven in the morning. There are performances of traditional Japanese music and dance, and also a very fun penis-shaped daikon (Japanese radish) carving contest. Around the shrine grounds there are stalls selling candy and key rings also shaped like penises or vaginas. This year there were also one or two stalls selling adult sex toys.

Around one in the afternoon the visitors go on a procession around the town carrying two mikoshi (神輿, portable shinto shrines) and a wooden cart carrying a huge ping penis.

After the procession many of the visitors head to the Kawasaki Daishi (川崎大師), a very beautiful buddhist shrine around ten minutes walking from there. The avenue to the entrance of the temple grounds has many shops selling souvenirs and food, that reminds me very much of the Nakamise street before the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa.

Enjoy the photos. Feel free to let me know if you’re interested in going next year, because I’ll go again too.

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Photo gallery: Nikko Toshogu (April 2012)

Posted by in Japan,Photo galleries,Photography | May 2, 2013

Nikko is a town, in Tochigi, a few hours by train to the north of Tokyo. It is mainly known for the Nikko National Park (日光国立公園, Nikko kokuritsu koen) and for Toshogu, the mausoleum of shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, first of the Tokugawa shoguns. The shrines and temples of Nikko have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Toshogu itself is a very brightly decorated Shinto shrine deep inside a complex of shrines and temples inside the Nikko National Park. You can enter the shrine, but they don’t allow taking photos inside.

Walking in this area almost makes you feel as if you’re a couple hundred years back in time, if it wasn’t for the hordes of visitors and automatic vending machines. It is in my opinion one of the most beautiful places in Japan and I enjoy going there from time to time.

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Photo gallery: Arakawa river (August 2011)

Posted by in Japan,Photo galleries,Photography | July 20, 2012

I live within walking distance to the Arakawa River in the northern border of Tokyo. The river acts as the border between the Tokyo metropolis and the Saitama prefecture. As in other parks and natural spaces in the city, there are always people jogging, cycling, praticing baseball, and even water skying! The well-known Sumida River branches from the Arakawa not far from where I live. It flows into Tokyo Bay near the Kasai-Rinkai Park next to Tokyo Disneyland.

I took these last year, during a walk a beautiful summer afternoon.

The photos are after the break.

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Photo gallery: Hakone (February 2012)

Posted by in Japan,Photo galleries,Photography | July 16, 2012

Hakone is a mountainous area about 100km south-west of Tokyo. It is a very popular touristic destination because of its many onsen, beautiful scenery and its proximity to Tokyo. You can get there easily by train (JR East or Odakyu).

Hakone is one of my favorite places around Tokyo. I visit there from time to time, but I like it especially in winter. One of the best experiences you can have is being at a rotenburo (an open-air hot spring bath) while it’s raining or even snowing

More after the break.

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Photo gallery: Yokohama (July 2011)

Posted by in Japan,Photo galleries,Photography | July 12, 2012

Yokohama – Japan’s First Port City

In 1859, the Edo period came to a close and Japan opened itself up for foreign trade.  It chose the tiny fishing village of Yokohama to be its main port city.  Yokohama grew from a population of 600 to become what it is today – Japan’s second largest city.  It’s a beautiful city with its mix of architectural styles, spacious feeling, and internationalism.

More after the break.

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