Saturday, May 26, 2007

One Week's Journey- Nikko, Kyoto & Matsumoto

Sunday, May 20th, we took a bus tour northeast of Tokyo to Nikko- Shogun country. The Toshogu Shrine and Pagoda are set in an old growth cedar forest. We enjoyed the scenary of Lake Chuzenzi.
Monday, I took the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto and stayed in a traditional ryokan with tatami mat flooring and a futon for sleeping. I loved the ryokan's NE neighborhood with the Kamo Rivier walk with its local use for cycling, walking, practicing musical insturments, relaxing, jasmine and bird watching. Bicycles are a major mode of transportation in local communities.

A few sight seeing highlights of Kyoto- Kinkaku-ji or Golden Temple, the Heain Shrine garden and the bamboo forest at Shoren-in. Upon opening the door of Saiun-Do, a traditional Japanese painting supply store, I felt like I walked into Old World Kyoto. The Fujimoto family has owned the store since 1863 and has sold art supplies for Japanese painting to artists all over the world. The selection of brushes, inks, paints, etc. was amazing and a feast for the eyes and imagination.
Saturday, we visited 16th century Matsumoto Castle. On the way, we got our first glimpse of Mt. Fuji and Japan Alps. Today, we're off on the subway to Design Festa at Tokyo Big Sight Convention and Exhibition Center with 6,000 artists displaying their work. Tomorrow, Memorial Day, we go to Hakone and Mt Fuji. It may be another week before you get a travel update. This next week I go to Koyason and Takayama- to the mountains. Sayonara for now.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Harajuku- Mod & Lively Young Japan

Harajuku brings a colorful change to the black suits of Tokyo business districts which claim most areas of the city. On Takeshita-dori, shops sell all kinds of mod clothes and trendy accessories to mostly young Tokyoites. Walking the back allies close by, I found the altered building of Design Festa- a feast for the eyes with all kinds of graffiti and 3-d wall scultptures. Next weekend, we're going to their two-day art exhibit with over 6000 artists at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center. I can't wait to find out what we'll see. Sunday, we go to Shogun country- Nikko and next week I'm off to Kyoto for a week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Zojo-ji Temple

Zojo-ji Temple in Shiba Park stands as one of Tokyo's grandest Buddhist temples. The 1612 red-lacquered Sanmon Gate is original. Omizuko line one side of the temple grounds and represent aborted, miscarried and stillborn babies. Their colorful crocheted caps and pinwheels are donated to console their spirits. The wind made the pinwheels twirl and spin-movement the camera didn't capture.

Jean's cousin, Kasuki, visited us Tuesday night from Osaka. He spoke a little English and we talked some. Thank goodness Jean speaks Japanese. He's a baseball fan and knows all the Japanese players in the Major Leagues. Tokyo has two baseball teams- Giants and Sparrows. He roots for the Sparrows. He text messages with ease and is very computer savvy like most young people here.

I'm alternating days of sight seeing with shopping days. Wednesday, I visited a four-floor fabric store and a seven-floor creative, art supply & hardware store called Tokyu Hands in Shibuya. It's raining today so I'm going to the Bunkamura Art Museum to see the "Modigliani & Hebuterne- a tragic couple" exhibit- Parisian artist,Jeanne Hebuterne, loved and modeled for Italian artist, Amedeo Modigliani.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Two Tokyo Artists

Two Tokyo artists that I discovered are Akira Yamaguchi and Mika Nanagawa. Yamaguchi combines the old and ancient with the new and modern Japan in his drawings and paintings. Mika Nanagawa is a photographer. She captures intense color in her photos and I love her style. You can Google both on the Internet to see their work. Nanagawa has her own web site. Both artists are very popular here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Kamakura and the Great Buddha

Saturday Jean, Jo Ann and I visited Diabutsu, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, an hour train ride southwest of Tokyo. He is the largest Buddha in Japan at 40' tall and weighing 93 tons.
I received another Go shu in (red stamp) with the temple name, date and recognition that I was there. I enjoyed watching an art class draw the Buddha and surrounding temple buildings and wanted to join them for the day.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tokyo City View

Hello from Japan. Please have patience with my blog information and photo uploading. When I sign-in to the Blog the language changes to Japanese Kanji and I have no idea what it says. Fortunately, the blog format is the same. I just need to remember how to do everything. It's beautiful here, warm 75 degree weather, hectic and some times I find myself in sensory overload. The many parks provide respite. This is a short message. We're off to Kamakura today.

The Buddhist Asakusa Kannon Temple founded in AD 628, is also known as the Senso-Ji Temple. This view looks out from the Temple doors toward a market arcade. I had them stamp my journal for 300Y - red stamps with black ink calligraphy to designate that I was there.

Here's a view of the Tokyo from the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower. The 360 degree view from the observation floor showed thelayout of the city, the blocks and blocks of sky scrapers as far as the eye can see and the haze of air pollution. On a clear day, you can see Mt Fuji but not this day.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fairy Festival May 5th

The Third Annual Portland Fairy Festival is this Saturday, May 5th, from 10am to 3pm at Alpenrose Dairy picnic area. Last year I borrowed Chelsea's wings.
This year it was fun to make a couple pair. Come see us and make a fairy flower crown at our playshop.