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Showing posts from March, 2018

Himeji

Sometimes, when I'm looking at old monuments, I try to imagine what sort of impression they might have left on people during their "heyday." Usually that's a somewhat difficult prospect, because the building in question has either been sufficiently integrated into its new (in comparison) surroundings that I can't imagine it out of them or it's in a state of such disrepair that I couldn't imagine it in any former grandeur whatsoever (the one exception to this is, perhaps, the Forum).

Himeji Castle, in Hyogo Prefecture, is so well-preserved and such an imposing structure that, even in the midst of a decently large city, it's easy to imagine the impact it must have had on the surrounding area during the 1600s when it assumed its final, expanded form.


Even before the bullet train finished pulling into the station, you could see Himeji Castle rearing out of the distance and towering above the apartment buildings. Without any mountains immediately surroundin…

Miyajima and Itsukushima

I've realized that I must be a bit of a harsh taskmaster--I just looked at my phone, and apparently over the 10-day trip I made my family walk over 15,000 steps a day.
I maintain that it's good for you.

Our second day in Hiroshima was no exception, when I brought everyone to Miyajima, the "Shrine Island" on the Seto Inland Sea. Not only is it only a short way away from Hiroshima City, it has one of the most beautiful shinto shrines I know of, Itsukushima.

The shrine has likely existed on the island in some form since the 6th century (and, like so many structures in Japan, has been burnt/destroyed and rebuilt several times-- what is "authenticity" anyways?).

The current structure of Itsukushima is similar to the shinden architecture--a main building connected to other smaller structures via corridors--that was often used during the Heian Period (794-1185) for aristocratic mansions.

The island overall was controlled by the Taira, a major samurai clan. Miyaji…

Hiroshima

Hi guys, long time no see. Haven't had much time to write, recently, but I have a slew of (hopefully) new material to show you guys. 
Two weeks ago my family came to visit for my brother's spring break, and I had planned a (pretty epic, if I may say so myself) cross-Japan trip for them. Over the course of 10 days we were going to visit Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji, Kanazawa, and Tokyo. After the fam arrived, we took the bullet train all the way over to Hiroshima (a 5 hour affair) and then worked our way back east towards Tokyo.
Our first stop, Hiroshima, dawned bright and warm. We started the morning at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which is at one end of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The museum is, in a word, heavy. It's one of those museums where you feel like you should read every single bit of text and look at every photo and bear witness, albeit 70 years later, to the utter horrors that the atomic bomb wrecked on this city. 
As I walked through the exhibits, …