Saturday, April 30, 2011

ACROS Fukuoka


From the back and the sides ACROS looks like many other glass and steel buildings, though with an unusual stepped structure.


From the front however it looks as if the park in front of it has spread up over the building.


Designed by Argentinian architect Emilio Ambasz, the Tenjin Central Park, one of the last green spaces in the area, climbs up 15 terraces and in a very real sense doubles the size of the park.


During daylight hours the stairs running up the building are open and from the top good views can be had looking over the city.


ACROS stands for Asian CrossRoads Over the Sea and is the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall.


It opened in 1994

Friday, April 29, 2011



It promises to be a dry day today so I have to get out and whack the weeds around the house and garden.


With the warmer weather and the abundant precipitation, a month away allows the vegetation to prosper.


But I thought I would take a few snaps before...


I'm ashamed (only mildly) to admit I have no idea what any of these flowers are


This one I do know, they are wild rasberries, so I must be careful to leave them.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vacation 2011: day 1, Yahata


For this years vacation I flew out of Fukuoka airport so was able to spend the day exploring a bit of Kitakyushu before my flight. First I headed to an area I had not been to before, Yahata.

I wanted to see the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art as it was designed by Arata Isozaki. Later I will do a complete post on it.


From the hill on which the museum is located there are great views over Yahata!!!


Yahata is dominated by a big amusement park, Spaceworld, built around the theme of space. Most visitors to Yahata will be heading there and it even has its own JR station.


Next to Spaceworld is the small Kitakyushu Environment Museum which focuses on the environmental problems created by the areas industrialization and the steps taken to combat pollution both locally and globally. The building itself utilizes various sustainable technologies and while the displays have no english information its worth a visit at 100yen.


Next door is the Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History which was surprisingly good and large. The main hall has dozens of dinosaur skeletons and there are some quite good historical displays too.


The first steel works in japan were built in Kitakyushu and the first blast furnace, opened in 1901, has been preserved as an open air museum. Its located right next to Spaceworld station.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Osaka Castle


Both of these draincovers are from Osaka, and both feature what is probably the main tourist attraction of the city, Osaka castle.


The current castle is a modern, concrete reproduction complete with elevators. The original tower was destroyed during the Meiji Restoration but was rebuilt in 1928. Subsequently damaged by bombing during WWII it was finally reconstructed in 1997.


Originally built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Following the Siege of Osaka in 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu finally defeated the Toyotomi the following year.


The castle is huge and grand, but more interesting to me visually are the walls constructed in a style known as Burdock Piling which is constructed without mortar and able to withstand earthquakes.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tahara Shrine


Tahara Shrine is a large shrine located at the foot of the hills north of Matsue castle. It is approached up a long flight of steps flanked by dozens of stone lanterns and komainu. Notable are a pair of komainu that are the largest in the San-in region. Most if not all of the komainu and lanterns are made of Kimachi sandstone, quarried not far away on the shore of Lake Shinji.


Another interesting feature is that 12 of the lanterns are topped with small sculptures of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Also known as Tawara Shrine, it includes a branch of the Kasuga Taisha, and the main halls shimenawa is I believe Kasuga style, being braided rather than twisted. The shrine is listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki and has therefore existed for close to a thousand years before Matsue and its castle came into being. The shrine was originally located 500 meters away but was moved here during the war between the Amago and Mori clans.


One of the secondary shrines in the grounds had a polypropylene shimenawa that shows how even plastic can achieve wabi sabi!!


The shrine features a twin pair of hondens. In the east honden are enshrined Futsunushi, Takemikazuchi, and Amenokoyane. The latter two kami are considered ancestors of the Nakatomi-Fujiwara clan, and Futsunushi is the ancestor of the Mononobe. In Izumo records it was Futsunushi who came from the High Plain of Heaven to entreat Okuninushi to give Japan to Amaterasu and her descendants. According to Yamato stories it was Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi, and appears to be a rewriting of the myths to favor the powerful Fujiwara.

The west hinden enshrines Ukanomitama, the child of Susano now mostly identified as Inari.


Behind the hondens a path leads into the forest and a grove of sacred trees with numerous altars scattered around their bases.


Secondary shrines within the grounds include Inari, various aragami, Kojin, Suijin etc

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Japanese Childrens songs

These 3 short clips of traditional Japanese children's songs are from the Warabekan, a toy and childrens song museum in Tottori City.

The childrens song section of the museum I found particularly interesting and thought the way they displayed these songs were good.

Unfortunately I have no information about these particular songs, so if any readers know what they are aor anything about them please post a comment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winding down

My vacation is winding down and I will be back in Japan shortly when I will resume posts on Japan.... till then a couple more pics from Morocco.


Lahcen, Berber, muleteer, patriarch, companion and guide for 10 days across the Jebel Sahro.


Full moon in Essouira .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Things missed while sleeping

6:33am April 6th. Jebel Sahro

6:36am April 7th. Jebel Sahro

6:28am April 8th. Jebel Sahro

6:30am April 11th. Jebel Sahro

6:19am April 16th. Marrakesh

6:27am April 17th. Essouira

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The view from Sanbe


Sanbe San is the name given to the highest point in Shimane, a cluster of 7 peaks.

!,126 meters above sea level, I have only climbed it one time.


Most people go up it on the trail on the north side but I went up a barely used trail on the south side.


As you would expect there are some great views once you get out of the trees.



In the distance the Shimane Hanto with Izumo Taisha at its base.

According to the Kunibiki myth the peninsular was dragged from Sila and held to the land of izumo by a rope that is now the beach you can just see. The other end of the peninsular was tied by a rope to Daisen in Tottori.


A huge caldera.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More zuijin of Kunisaki


Here are a few more zuijin from shrines around the Kunisaki Peninsular.
For an explanation of what zuijin are, see this earlier post.


This is something I had not seen before, paintings of zuijin. Maybe the original zuijin statues had become damaged or destroyed in some way, or maybe the shrine could just not afford to pay for real statues.


Almost all the zuijin in Kunisaki were carved out of stone, the only place I have seen that, but some of them were originally painted.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Kojin of Takeuchi Shrine


I have posted before about the wonderful straw effigies of the land kami Kojin. Not far from the Adakaya Shrine effigies there is another big shrine, Takeuchi, and here I found some unusal ones as they are sculpted in stone, not made of straw.


At first I wasnt sure they were Kojin, I thought they may have been Ryujin, the dragon god, but I checked with the shrine priest and he confirmed they were Kojin.


They were carved directly out of large boulders and seemed to grow out of them.


In the Izumo area Kojin is a very widespread and popular kami, basically being the local kami of land. In my area of Iwami the similar kami goes by the name of Omoto.