Monday, February 28, 2022

Kuncho Sake Brewery & Museum

Sake 酒

Just about every town in Japan, large or small, has at least one sake brewery.

In Hita the biggest, Kuncho Shuzo Sake Brewery is located on the edge of Mamedamachi, the historic preservation district of the old town.

To get to the brewery's museum you walk through the front part of the brewery past the huge pots that cook the rice for the sake.

The "museum" is actually just the huge attic space filled with old barrels and assorted , mostly wooden, tools and equipment, some of which is labeled

It's quite a big space, filled with stuff, and would eprhaps be interesting to some.

They have a big shop with a wide range of sakes and masu cups available. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of sake, nor of most alcohol, so I can't comment on its quality.

Wild Japan

Friday, February 25, 2022

ACROS Fukuoka


ACROS stands for Asian CRossroads Over the Sea, and houses an auditorium, conference centre, and numerous offices.

It was opened in 1994 and was designed by Argentinian architect Emilio Ambasz.

It was built on part of Tenjin Central Park, the last remaining green space in the area, and so it was designed to include a green roof that is an etension of the remaining park

The roof is a series of 15 terraces that rise 60 meters , and are planted with about 4,000 plants of about 76 different species.

This rood garden is open to the public during daylight hours. The interior of the building is a cavernous space rising up to the semi-circular atrium.

Wild Japan

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Kumenan Kamo Shrine


Kamo Shrine is the collective name given to the pair of famous shrines in the north of Kyoto, Kamigamo, and Shimogamo.

This branch shrine in Kumenan Town in the north of Okayama was established in 835 by a notable who moved here from Kyoto.

The shrine enshrines ancestral deities of the Kamo family, one male and one female, but the chigi on the roof indicates that the male is given predominance.

I spent the night here in late July, on the night between my 3rd and 4th days walking the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage. I would have liked to sleep but the mosquitoes would not allow it.

Tanjoji Temple, my reason for being here, was just a across the valley. The entry to the shrine had a chinowa. A couple of days previously I had been to a shrine in Okayama City that also had one, and in that post you can find a little more detail of what a chinowa is.

Another Japan

Monday, February 21, 2022

Hina Doll Museum in Hita


This is claimed to be the largest tiered display of Hina Dolls in Japan.

It is part of the Hina Doll Museum in the historic town of Hita in Oita.

Ten rooms display more than 4,000 Hina dolls, that have been collected by a local soy sauce magnate. The museum also sells plenty of his companies wares.

Many of the dolls onj display are from the Edo period, the time that Hina dolls took on the form and function they have nowadays.

Examples of unique styles of Hina dolls from different parts of Japan are also on display.

Entry is only 300 yen, so if you are in the area it is worth a visit. If you have a particular interest in Hina dolls then it would be worth making a trip to Hita.

The Nagashibina Doll Museum in Tottori delves into the origin of the Hina dolls.

Wild Japan

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Il Palazzo Fukuoka

Fukuoka 福岡

Hotel Il Palazzo in Fukuoka was built in 1989 and designed by Italian architect Aldo Rossi.

Palazzo means "palace" but it also refers to an architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries based on renaissance palaces

It is built out of brick and the windowless facade is faced in Iranian travertine with exposed steel beams.

The contrast of the green steel and salmon pink stone works well.

The proportions are also quite pleasing.

However, being windowless it does tend to look like a love hotel, of which there are many nearby.

I must admit to not knowing Rossi's work, although he was the first Italian architect to win the Pritzker Prize.

Wild Japan

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Surreal & Psychedelic Shisa of Ishigaki Island


Just across the road from Yonehara Beach in central Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, is the Yoneko Yaki craft centre where you can see and buy, among other things,  examples of traditional Okinawan shisa.

However, outside you can see a wide variety of large, colorful statues that seem to be based on shisa.

Their shaes seem alien and surreal, and their color schemes are very vibrant and somewhat psychadelic. 

They are sray-painted so also have the feel of graffiti art.

We were there in the off-season and the lace was closed so were unable to find out about the origin and history of them.

However, they were whimsical without being kawaii, the Japanese cultural style that seems to be growing into a dominant format, that also seems to be very popular. I personally find kawaii somewhat offensive, but then I don't enjoy Marvel superhero movies , so what do I know.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum.

Hita, the historic town in the mountains of Oita, is one of many towns throughout Japan with their own Gion Matsuri, the festival that originated in Gion, Kyoto.

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum.

The festival takes place at the end of July, but for those who visit at other times there is a museum that displays the large festival floats throughout the year.


Like many matsuri, the Gion Matsuri involves a series of floats, and they are called Yamaboko because of how tall they are.


Hita has six different yamaboko, each one pulled by a different district of the town, and they are 8 meters tall and very colorfully decorated.

As well as the floats the museum also displays other things from the festival culture,  like masks

I arrived at the museum just after it closed but a gentleman from city hall nagged the old lady in charge to let me in for my own private viewing.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Canal City Hakata

Canal City Hakata, 博多

A couple of months ago I took advantage of a lull in the pandemic and went on a trip to north Kyushu. This involved my first visit to a city in over 2 years.

In my quest to visit ,what were for me, the exotic and unusual, I revisited Canal City in Hakata, a "Cathedral of Consumption".

Japanese shopping malls are for the most part architecturally bland, usually resembling industrial scale warehousing, but a few are not.

The interior of CanalCity is a meandering "canyon" with a water feature running along its base. It is also quite colorful.

Canal City was designed by American architect Jon Jerde, and the architecture is somewhat inspired by the canyon country of the American southwest. He also designed another colorful complex called Riverwalk in Kokura.

Like a methadone clinic or a pachinko parlor, people were lining up to enter before the doors opened.

Japan Shop