Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vacation 2011 Day 5 Marrakesh


Up with the dawn on the roof of Hotel Ali to watch Marrakesh wake up. The restaurant with arched windows in the left of the photo was blown up by a bomb a week after we left Marrakesh.


Headed off to explore. In the old town you cannot go far without seeing storks and their nests on the high points of the city wall. Must be mating season.


And then to the ruins of the El Badi Palace. Built in the sixteenth Century it was reportedly magnificent with masses of marble and gold. Most of the palace was "recycled" by a later ruler to build his palace in Meknes.


Then we headed off to find the Saadian Tombs.... down the maze of alleys that is Marrakesh


The alleys got narrower....


Marrakesh grows out of the desert, and the color of the desert permeates everything.


The Saadian Tombs were built in the seventeenth century to entomb members of the Saadi family. The entrances to the tombs were sealed off and not discovered until 1917. Thanks to the remarkable decoration, in cedar, stucco, and marble, the tombs are a major attraction for tourists....

Friday, July 29, 2011

Buddhas, Jizo, and other statues of Kunisaki 3


The kunisaki Peninsular in northern Kyushu is home to a huge number of stone buddhist statues.


many are created by craftsmen and many are "folk".


I can usually recognize Jizo, Kannon, Fudo Myoo, and rakan, but others are still beyond my knowledge.


Not all of them are old.... these are Kannon, I believe, and were at a temple known as a "womans" temple.


Not sure who this guy is, but he is my kind of buddha!!


Gradually I am learning more about the huge diversity of gods and buddhas that populate Japanese buddhism.


These are the last I will post for now., next will be magaibutsu... carvings directly into cliffs and rocks. Kunisaki has more of these than any other area of japan.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taikodani Inari Shrine


Its possible to drive up to Taikodani Inari Shrine in Tsuwano, but its better to walk up through the more than 1,000 torii that make a tunnel that switchbacks up the hillside.


The shrine is modelled on the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine near Kyoto, the head shrine of all Inari Shrines in Japan.


It was founded by the local Daimyo Kamei Morisada in 1773 to protect Tsuwano's castle from the NE, the direction of evil. It was a private shrine until the 1870's when the public were first allowed in.


Most of the shrine is of modern concrete construction, but one of the secondary shrines is still made of wood.


There are numerous smaller shrines, all dedicated to different Inaris.


This where we came to the Shunki Taisai Festival earlier this year.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Japanese Skink


Skinks are skittish creatures as well as being fast movers, but this guy got trapped inside a plastic bucket so I was able to photograph him/her.


The latin name is Plestiodon latiscutatus and apparently that is a fairly recent reclassification of the genus. In Japanese its called Nihon Tokage.

Juveniles and females have the distinctive metallic-blue tails...


Friday, July 22, 2011

Colorful Kawara


The original kawara, rooftiles, in Japan were I believe black, as are most of them nowadays. You can find a few bright blue examples which are traditional Chinese I believe.


Most of the tiles in my area are a reddish-brown which seems fairly common in the west of Japan, but nowadays you can get them in just about any color. These were on display outside a local tile factory that has now gone out of business.


There actually seems to be more colors available for rooftiles than there are for housepaint. Houses usually are painted in a very small range of colors.

A drive to Ato 6851



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nagi Moca: Sun

The third and final section of the unique museum in Nagi is called "Sun" and is basically a huge cylinder set on a north south axis.


The artwork contained within is titled "heart" and is by artists Shusuka Arakawa and Madeline Gins. Entry into the cylinder is via a small room underneath. The walls are covered with photographic portraits by local residents of Nagi. A dark, enclosed spiral staircase leads up....


The interior of the cylinder is somewhat disorienting and playful, and at first the bright light from the end makes everything a silhouette and not at all clear. As one walks up to the end and look back it all becomes clearer.

The room contains a model of the famous zen garden from Ryoan-ji in Kyoto but also includes a reflection of it with radial symmetry, not mirror symmetry. 

The Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art in the mountains of Okayama is a unique experience created through a collaboration of the famous architect Arata Isozaki and several artists. The other two sections are called Earth, and Moon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yasaka Shrine, Tsuwano


The Yasaka shrine in Tsuwano is a branch of the Yasaka Shrine in Gion. Originally known as Mototakimoto Gionsha, it was part of the importation of kyoto culture by the lords of Tsuwano.


Its located on the riverbank below the castle and the Taikodani Inari Shrine. For most of the year it seems to be abandoned and not much goes on there. There is a wonderful huge tree in the grounds though.


The shrine is the home of the Sagimai, the heron dance, and that is when the shrine comes alive and is bedecked...... though the dance is now held a few hundred meters from shrine in the main street of the town


The main kami enshrined here is Susano, though many of his family are also enshrined here. the Linkfull list can be found in the post of the original Yasaka Shrine.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The view from the garden at 5am


The sun hits my riverside garden around 6am so I like to get as much work done in it before that.


In the countryside the PA plays its little jingle at 5am and 5pm, and while I see little point in getting up at 5am in the winter, in the summer it makes sense as it allows me to practise siesta.


Across the river gets the sun first.....


and then it hits the garden..... if it were a cloudy day i would work longer, but Im dripping with sweat by 6:30 so its time to head home for breakfast.


Back home in the valley it will be a few hours till the sun reaches over the mountains.... till then the mist slowly burns off....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



Hasumi is a small village up in the mountains south of here towards the border with Hiroshima. There is nothing of note in the area, though the residents obviously feels that fireflies and cherry blossoms are worth putting on their draincovers.


Hasumi has now become part of Onan City, so maybe the draincovers will eventually disappear.

It was up in the area around Hasumi that I began one of my spring bike rides.


The neighboring village of Asuna is home to the kasaboko matsuri that I posted videos of earlier

Friday, July 8, 2011

Island Tower Sky Club


The Island Tower Sky Club is the tallest building in Fukuoka.


145 Meters tall with 42 floors it is an apartment building on island City, the man-made island in Hakata Bay.


It was designed by the Takenaka Corporation and opened in 2008