In September, 1997 I spent three weeks in Japan. For the first week I rented a car from Osaka and drove around the Osaka area for three days, including a day in Nara, the old capital city, then north to the Japanese Alps to Matsumoto. Traffic conditions in Japan are congested - everywhere, all the time. At least that's what it felt like. In reality, it was not so bad once I was a little north from the coast, away from the major cities. Driving through the Japanese Alps was quite scenic.
Japan is full of history. Some of the buildings I saw were from before 1000 CE. The temples and statues are incredible. Nara has some really exciting historical places. The Historic Monuments of
Ancient Nara are a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are two major religions in Japan, Shintoism and
Buddhism. It is said that 80% of the Japanese are Shinto, and 80% are Buddhists. This means that many worship in both religions.
The temples of the two religions are distinctly different, especially in their settings. Buddhist temples are generally more in open areas, Shinto Shrines are more in wooded areas, hidden among trees. They have a very different atmosphere. The Buddhist temples seem to be more oriented towards architecture, human endeavors, whereas the Shinto shrines are more oriented towards nature, union with the surrounding natural world. It is difficult to describe, you have to see it to understand it.
I found the Japanese generally friendly, but not as outgoing as people in other countries that I have visited. I had many interesting conversations with Japanese, some of them with a dictionary because they didn't speak English. I had learned a little Japanese, so I managed to get around quite well. I even started to understand some of the written language.
The myth that Japan is extremely expensive is not true. I usually had dinners for around $6 - $10 US. Hotel rooms were around $35 - $55 US. Of course, if you want western food and western hotels, you will have to pay a lot. But why would you want that when you are in Japan?
Entrance to Shinto shrine in the middle of Kyoto. Shinto shrines are generally in wooded areas. Even in the city of Kyoto this Shinto shrine is among trees. (1224k) Entrance to a Shinto shrine in the woods. (1040k) Shinto Shrine in the Japanese Alps. (1250k) A Shinto Shrine in Nara, decorated with bronze lamps. (1087k) A Shinto cemetery with thousands of funeral stands. (1350k) Castle in Matsumoto in the Japanese Alps. (1108k) A temple south of Kyoto. It is pictured on one of the Japanese coins. (1085k) The big pagoda in Kyoto. (978k) The oldest pagoda in Japan, Horyu-Ji, from the 9th century, south of Nara, the first imperial city. (843k) Statue in a Shinto shrine in the Japanese Alps near Matsumoto. It is a statue of the Buddhist deity Fudo Myo-oh, meaning "immovable God-king of light". He represents all that is absolute in the universe. The three pronged sword handle is representative of a Buddhist Vajra (Tibetan) or Kongo (Japanese). It is believed that his sword was an inspiration for the style of sword that is incorrectly associated with the Ninja. (1147k) Another impressive statue in the Shinto shrine. (1069k) Statue at the entrance of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. (976k) Many temples have a pair of such statues at the entrance. Usually one of the figures has the mouth open, the other closed. They represent the Taizokai and Kongokai realms. These realms represent humans two views of observing all universal processes. One from the inside out and the other from the outside in or Gods eye point of view. (1171k) This one is a lion with the mouth closed. (924k) Buddha statue with the Vitarka
Mudra in a monastery city southeast of Osaka. (946k) The largest temple bell in Kyoto. Note the head at the bottom of the picture for size comparison. (965k) Votive station for burning incense. (900k) Donation box and bell. After donating you pull on the rope to ring the bell. (899k) Buddha statue in a temple in Kyoto. (923k) Buddha statue with the Abhaya
Mudra in in a temple in Nara. (1027k) Interior room in one of the monasteries. (862k) Wooden, decorated gate in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. (1004k) Roof tiles in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. They bear the 16 leaved Chrysanthemum, the sign of the Imperial Family. (1041k) Buddhist temple in the monastery southeast of Osaka. The orange colors are an influence from
China (782k) The largest
Buddha temple in Japan. It is located in Nara. This is the largest wooden structure in the world. It has one of the largest
Buddha statues in Japan, certainly the largest indoor statue. (915k) Not all temples have to be big. This little one, complete with donation box, was in a temple complex in Kyoto. (1031k) The Golden Temple in Kyoto. It carries quite a load of 24k gold leaf. (1124k) Landscape Scene. There were many beautifully landscaped gardens like this. (1014k) Landscaping. (1135k) Landscaping. (1050k) Landscaping. (1106k)
The total number of pictures online on my website from Japan is 31
Page last updated on Thu Feb 4 17:11:21 2021
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