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Where am I, Where Did I go?

In case you missed my previous post on this blog spot, below is the explanation for my relocation to another site.

The media storage space on this blog spot is now at capacity and this will be the last post here, as well as the conclusion of my 1985 Japan posts. If you wish to join me on my new site….please click here. This link will take you back to my Picture This site which will have a link to the new site. As always thanks for coming along on my journeys.

Click here for my latest post on my original site where I post my excerpt posts.

Click here for my latest post on the full post site.

Sorry for any confusion or hassle.

The photos below are a couple I recently chose to display on metal in my home. Like me, the patterns in these shots seem to be elusive.


Analogue Adventures – Yamanaka to Tokyo to Home – Day 22

All photos taken on June 1, 1985.

The media storage space on this blog spot is now at capacity and this will be the last post here, as well as the conclusion of my 1985 Japan posts. If you wish to join me on my new site….please click here. This link will take you back to my Picture This site which will have a link to the new site. As always thanks for coming along on my journeys.

Last morning in our “castle on the hill” and the view was hazy.

Fujiyoshida from Hotel Mt. Fuji

We walked down into Yamanaka for a nice leisurely breakfast and then back to the hotel. Stretching our legs was good. We would have plenty of time to sit on the train and flight home.

As we climbed into our taxi to Fujiyoshida station, the entire hotel staff were out to bow their farewell. What a great send off.

We were on the train from Fujiyoshida by Noon…

and the countryside rolls by our train window
Uenohara from train window
Uenohara from train window
homes on the outskirts of Tokyo

…back at Shinjuku by 2:30….

The towers at Shinjuku – our Tokyo stay seems so long ago

…onto the bus to the airport. Shinjuku really does have all the transportation connections.

it must be laundry day in Tokyo
Tokyo outskirts – the cage area is a golf driving range

…in the departure lounge at Narita by 6:00 PM…

at Narita
Our plane awaits

…and we were soon winging our way home, sad to leave our Japan.

What a fabulous trip! Look at all that booty. So much, it would not fit all in one shot.

Pat’s kimono (cream, rust and grey) is center left in the shot below

One of my loyal readers, Leighton, asked a very good question…”Are these bits and bobs still on display in your home?” Well, as it turns out, some of them are, thanks for asking Leighton. I do hope my other readers will check out Leighton’s site at the link here He tells a great story and has been to some fabulous places.

Cloisonné candy dish – (Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects with colored material held in place or separated by metal strips or wire, normally of gold. In recent centuries, vitreous enamel has been used, but inlays of cut gemstones, glass and other materials were also used during older periods; indeed cloisonné enamel very probably began as an easier imitation of cloisonné work using gems.)

Damascene plate, which we had mounted and framed (Damascening is the art of inlaying different metals into one another—typically, gold or silver into a darkly oxidized steel background—to produce intricate patterns similar to niello.)

Cloisonné vase – our extravagant purchase in the day and still a prized possession

Inlaid wood Japanese puzzle box (Himitsu-Bako) – Access to this puzzle box is by a sequence of sliding motions to unlock the top.

Pat’s kimono

Framed woodblock print – actually from our 1982 visit to Japan

Now all Patty had to do was find a new job………..


Analogue Adventures – Yamanaka – Cycling around Yamanaka-ko 1985- Day 21

All photos taken on May 31, 1985.

Another stellar morning view from our hotel room. We could see helicopters spinning around in the foreground, with troops rappelling down lines into the trees. It turns out that there were military training grounds nearby. Today, we were going to spend time in and around Yamanaka.

We walked down into Yamanaka for breakfast at the nearby Denny’s. Denny’s is rated #3 out of 45 restaurants in Yamanakao and is still there. Those of you who are curious can check out the Denny’s Japan menu here. Here is a photo I managed to find on the internet. I don’t think the King Kong casual restaurant is still in business.

Coming back from breakfast, we could see the hotel was setting up a row of brand new…(for 1985) Subaru Alcyone 4WD Turbo 2 door coupes. They had invited automotive writers from around the country to come and test drive this new car. I asked if I could just sit in one and I was politely declined by a bowing staff member. His head was saying yes, but his mouth was saying “iie” (No). Sumimasen (Sorry).

Somewhat disappointed, we walked down to the lake shore to explore. Fujisan was again visible.

Along the route, we spotted this plexi policeman display meant to deter speeders. From time to time, the local authorities will post a real live policeman here, just to keep drivers on their toes. Compliance on speeding laws is fairly good in Japan.

In those days, commercial transport trucks had a series of three green lights on top of the cab that lit up as truck speeds increase. No lights lit – under 20 k/h, 1 light lit – 20-40 k/h, 2 lights lit – 40-60 k/h, 3 lights lit – more than 60 k/h. The law requiring these lights on big trucks was dropped in 1999 and trucks newer than 2001 no longer include them.

(Source of photo:

Japanese cottage

Now down by the lakeshore, we found a bike rental kiosk and rented a pair of bicycles to take a spin around the lake. We were avid cyclists, even in those days.

Mount Avenue Pension – a new hotel was being built

A nearby riding stable

A fairly typical modest Japanese house

Not so modest Japanese homes/cottages in the area

Fish kites were still flying for Boy’s Day (now Children’s Day) celebrations during Golden Week (April 29 to early May).

We had enjoyed our time in Yamanaka and Japan. We were headed home tomorrow and were sad to be leaving. Tonight, we would splurge and enjoy a fine meal in the hotel dining room.

O Yasumi nasai. (good night).


Analogue Adventures – Yamanaka – Mt. Fuji Excursion 1985 – Day 20

All photos taken May 30, 1985.

Opening our curtains early the next morning brought an unexpected pleasure. Below us Lake Yamanaka (Yamanaka-ko) shimmered in the hazy morning sunlight, while the top of Mount Fuji gleamed snow white before us.

view from our hotel room window

We again walked into town for breakfast and then explored our options to travel up Mount Fuji. There was only one option, the local bus service to 5th station at 2,286 m.

looking back up at our hotel atop the hill from the shore of Yamanakako
summer home in Yamanaka

Walking by the vending machine below, I had a brilliant idea. I would buy a beer and drink it on Mount Fuji. How cool is that?

who needs a liquor store?
when a vending machine will do

The bus ride up to 5th Station on Mt. Fuji was full of animated chatter, not much of which we could understand, but a group of older Japanese women tried to strike up a conversation with us and in a halting mixture of Japanese and English we explained where we were from and why we were at Fuji-san. They presented Patty with a small medal on a coloured string, which she still has in her car to this day. People are the same everywhere. They are curious, they are friendly, they are kind, you only have to be interested in them to avoid feeling like you are all alone.

View of Mt. Fuji from bus stop at 3rd station

Mount Fuji (富士山, FujisanJapanese: [ɸɯꜜ(d)ʑisaɴ], located on the island of Honshū, is the highest mountain in Japan, standing 3,776.24 m (12,389.2 ft). It is the second highest volcano located on an island in Asia (after Mount Kerinci on the island of Sumatra), and seventh-highest peak of an island on Earth. Mount Fuji is an active stratovolcano that last erupted from 1707 to 1708. The mountain is located about 100 km (62 mi) southwest of Tokyo and is visible from there on clear days. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is covered in snow for about five months of the year, is commonly used as a cultural icon of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photography, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” (三霊山, Sanreizan) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. It is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and one of Japan’s Historic Sites. It was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013. According to UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”. UNESCO recognizes 25 sites of cultural interest within the Mount Fuji locality. These 25 locations include the mountain and the Shinto shrine, Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We had a friend greet us at 5th station 2,286 meters (7,500 feet) ASL

Up at our 5th station bus stop, we got out in the midst of a few shops and food stalls (and more vending machines – hmmm, I could have bought my beer here). We wandered around and started hiking up the long inclined gravel path. It was not long before we were gasping for breath. What the heck was happening? Then it dawned on us, we had been at sea level for 3 weeks and we were now at the same height (2286 meters/7,500 feet ASL) as the top of the Jasper Tramway back in Canada. No wonder. Well, nothing was going to deter me from drinking that beer on Fuji. Hmmmmm, now I am out of breath AND I have a headache. Oh well, the scenery was beautiful up there. We were above the clouds, looking at the flag trees valiantly struggling to leaf out. Local students were having snowball fights with the lingering remnants of winter snow and all was right in the world.

the trees up here grow in the direction the winds blow and are call flag trees
looking up to the summit from 5th station
twisted pine tree and flag trees – it is tough growing here
another look up to the summit, as the mists start to clear
Patty on the lava in front of flag trees
Vegetation has only a short growing season up here
and just like that – the mists descend
up above the undercast on Mt. Fuji
gift shop at 5th station looking up to the summit
plenty of snow remains in the shade
Patty and the undercast

Back on the bus and into town we went and on down to Kawaguchiko.

view of Mt. Fuji from bus to Kawaguchiko
a new ryokan (Japanese Inn) under construction in Yamanaka
fish kites flying for Boy’s Day (now Children’s Day) – the holiday is May 5 and a part of Golden Week, when just about everyone in Japan goes on vacation. The fish kites typically fly for the whole month.

Supper at Denny’s in Yamanaka, where we saw the locals order and eat huge bowls of ice cream, before their main meal of Tempura. Hey, we gotta try that. Listen here, young man! No vegetables for you, if you don’t finish your dessert!

Thatched roof house in Yamanaka

After supper, it was a 37 minute, 2.6 km (1 2/3 mile) walk back up the switchback driveway to the Hotel Mt. Fuji.

When I had booked our stay at the Mt. Fuji Hotel, they offered both Western and Japanese style rooms. I figured, When in Japan… and booked Japanese style. Not bad in the day, but some 37 years later, we may be able to get down to sleep on the floor, but not sure we would be able to get back up in the morning.

Having tea, wearing our yukatas, before turning in for a good night’s sleep in our futon (oh to be that young again)
Beautiful futon bedding

O Yasumi nasai!


Analogue Adventures – Nikko to Yamanaka 1985 – Day 19

All photos taken on May 29, 1985.

We awoke the next morning, ready for breakfast and all packed for our trip to the Fuji Five Lakes District. Looking out the window, we could see that it was raining lightly.

The host of Minshuku Rindo-no-ie eagerly awaited our arrival for breakfast at 7:30 AM. We had an early-ish train to catch.

Getting to Yamanako was going the be a challenge and take most of a day. Local train to Utsunomiya, bullet trail to Tokyo (Shinjuku station) and then a series of local trains into the mountains to Fujiyoshida station, all told, a trip of some 5 hours. Sorry, not many photos this day.

Northern Bullet train at Utsunomiya
Northern Bullet train at Utsunomiya
Bullet train interior – we were the only ones on board at this point

Arriving at the Fujiyoshida train station, we were too tired to even think, so found a taxi to take us to our hotel. As we drove, we looked up at the hill and saw what looked like a castle on top, overlooking the lake. We pointed up there and asked the taxi driver what it was. Turns out it was to be our hotel for 3 nights. Who needs Google? After the requisite bows and greetings from all the staff members assembled on the driveway, we settled into our room, before walking back down into town for supper. In reality, we only had a couple of dining choices…the King Kong Restaurant or the Denny’s. Both were not bad and more affordable than dining in our 5 star hotel. Denny’s in Japan is quite different than in America, in that the food actually tastes good.


Analogue Adventures – Tokyo to Nikko and around Nikko 1985 – Day 18

All photos taken on May 28, 1985.

Arriving at the Tokyo train station early on the morning of May 28, we were directed to our train to Nikko and settled in for the ride. But, looking at the flashing station stop signs in the train car, I began to feel something was not quite right. Our Bullet Train was supposed to be going to Utsunomiya, where we would switch to a local train to Nikko, as the high speed line did not yet go that far. Try as I might, I could  not find Utsunomiya in the scrolling stops listed.

I got off the train to talk to the platform attendant, who became quite animated and insisted that we must quickly change to the train on the other side of the platform. I motioned to Patty and went back to grab our luggage. We got off the train, 2 minutes before it pulled out. It turns out that when I checked in, my poor Japanese pronunciation sounded like Nita, not Nikko. Nita was back near Toba and not at all where we wanted to be. Now, on the right train, we could finally relax. We changed to a local train at Utsunomiya and were in Nikko by 11:00 AM.

We checked into our ryokan (1st and third slide) and headed off to tour this scenic area.

The first local bus we got on took us to Kegon waterfalls…

The almost 100 meter tall Kegon Waterfall (華厳の滝, Kegon no taki) is the most famous of Nikko’s many beautiful waterfalls. In fact, it is even ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful falls, along with Nachi Waterfall in Wakayama Prefecture and Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki Prefecture.


…and Lake Chuzenji, a very pretty resort area beside a tall volcanic cone.

Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖, Chūzenjiko) is a scenic lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko. It is located at the foot of Mount Nantai, Nikko’s sacred volcano, whose eruption blocked the valley below, thereby creating Lake Chuzenji about 20,000 years ago.

Chuzenjiko’s shores are mostly undeveloped and forested except at the lake’s eastern end where the small hot spring town of Chuzenjiko Onsen was built. 


We then travelled back to the Nikko area, down the Irohazaka Driveway, a one-way twisting mountain road with 48 hairpin turns. At some corners, the bus had to back up several times to get around the tight bends.

By 2:30 PM, we had arrived in Nikko and walked to the huge Toshogu Shrine complex, along with thousands of other tourists.

Tōshō-gū is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. It was initially built in 1617, during the Edo period, while Ieyasu’s son Hidetada was shōgun. It was enlarged during the time of the third shōgun, Iemitsu. Ieyasu is enshrined there, where his remains are also entombed.  This shrine was built by Tokugawa retainer Tōdō Takatora.

Five structures at Nikkō Tōshō-gū are categorized as National Treasures of Japan, and three more as Important Cultural Properties. Additionally, two swords in the possession of the shrine are National Treasures, and lots other objects are Important Cultural Properties. 

(Source: Wikipedia)

The shrine was aglow in vermilion and gold. On one building was the carving of Nemuri-Neko, the sleeping cat and on another were the 3 wise monkeys (hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil). Large statues of the Shogun, as well as of the mythical Guardian of the Gate and Wind god Rin-no-ji, tightly grasping his bag of wind over his shoulders were everywhere. The whole place was awash in history and surrounded by tall, green, fragrant cedar trees.

There were giant Cryptomeria trees (a form of cedar), stone lanterns and the Guardian of the Gate. Groups of school children and their teachers gathered around as they learned the history of their country and the area as part of their field trip.

Rinnō-ji (輪王寺) is a Tendai Buddhist temple in the city of Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture.

The site was established in 766 by the Buddhist monk Shōdō Shōnin (735–817). Due to its geographic isolation, deep in the mountains of Japan, the site soon attracted other Buddhist monks in search of solitude, and it still is considered an important base for ascetic training among Tendai monks.

The third slide shows the God of Wind.

As we left the shrine, we passed the sacred Shinkyo bridge over the Daiya River to the Futarasan Jinja Shrine, originally built in 1,636 and rebuilt many times since. It is one of the 3 most beautiful bridges in Japan and leads to the UNESCO World Heritage sites at the temples and shrines above.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Daiya River
Nikko at night from the hills near our Ryokan

Tonight was our only night in Nikko and then we are off tomorrow to another resort area, the Fuji-Five Lakes Region.


Analogue Adventures – Toba to Tokyo 1985 – Day 17

All photos taken on May 27, 1985.

We enjoyed the beautiful morning sunrise over Toba Bay from our hotel room, ate our breakfast and went for one last walk, before heading to the Toba train station.

beautiful sunrise over Toba Bay as seen from our hotel room
this azalea shrub was in full bloom – note the butterfly
analogue selfie – Mirror-ly Us on road up to Toba International Hotel

The train from Toba to Nagoya was a slow local train.

our train from Toba to Nagoya
homes along the way to Nagoya

At Nagoya, we changed to a bullet train (Shinkansen) for the rest of our 4 hour journey to Tokyo. It was late afternoon before we arrived in Tokyo.

Our hotel was in the Asakusa area, but we did not realize exactly where it was, until we went for a walk after supper and found ourselves at the Nakamise Arcade. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Kaminarimon gate of Sensoji Temple at Nakamise Arcade
not very busy at Nakamise Arcade at this time of night
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

We were heading to Nikko early tomorrow morning, so turned in early to get a good rest.


Analogue Adventures – Toba & Ise Peninsula 1985 – Day 16

All photos taken on May 26, 1985.

After a good night’s sleep in our hotel by the sea, we enjoyed a nice breakfast and then walked the short distance to the Toba Bus Centre to check what bus options were available to see the local sights. We purchased a one day Michikusa Hop-on Hop-off Bus Pass for Ise-Shima Area (or the equivalent pass of the day), which gave us unlimited rides to all the attractions.

We climbed on the bus for a 12 minute ride us to see the Meoto Iwa (Wedded Rocks) on Ise Bay near Futamichosho.

Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩), or the Married Couple Rocks, are two rocky stacks in the sea off Ise, Mie. They are joined by a shimenawa (a heavy rope of rice straw) and are considered sacred by worshippers at the neighboring Futami Okitama Shrine (Futami Okitama Jinja (二見興玉神社)). According to Shinto, the rocks represent the union of the creator kami , Izanagi and Izanami. The rocks, therefore, celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman. The shimenawa, composed of five separate strands which each weigh 40 kilograms, must be replaced several times a year in a special ceremony. The larger rock, said to be male, has a small torii at its peak.

At dawn during the summer, the sun appears to rise between the two rocks. Mount Fuji is visible in the distance. At low tide, the rocks are not separated by water.

Okitama Shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko Ōkami and imperial food goddess Ukanomitama. There are numerous statues of frogs around the shrine. The shrine and the two rocks are near the Grand Shrine of Ise, the most important location of purification in Shinto.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Nearby, were several small food and souvenir stands, one serving “Hottos”, which this time turned out to be delicious fresh doughnuts and they were delicious.

We boarded the next bus that came along for the 20 minute trip to the outer shrine of Ise Jingu Grand shrine, which consists of 2 main shrines (outer & Inner) 4 miles apart and a total of 125 shrines. The buildings in the 2 main shrines are rebuilt every 20 years, as per Shinto tradition. 

The Ise Grand Shrine (伊勢神宮, Ise Jingū), located in Ise, Mie Prefecture of Japan, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. Officially known simply as Jingū (神宮), Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of many Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū (内宮) and Gekū (外宮).

The Inner Shrine, Naikū (also officially known as “Kōtai Jingū”), is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise, and is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu, where she is believed to dwell. The shrine buildings are made of solid cypress wood (hinoki) and use no nails, but instead joined wood. The Outer Shrine, Gekū (also officially known as “Toyouke Daijingū”), is located about six kilometers from Naikū and dedicated to Toyouke-Ōmikami, the god of agriculture, rice harvest and industry. Besides Naikū and Gekū, there are an additional 123 Shinto shrines in Ise City and the surrounding areas, 91 of them connected to Naikū and 32 to Gekū.

Purportedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, the shrine is one of Shinto’s holiest and most important sites.[Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the general public not allowed beyond sight of the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences. However, tourists are free to roam the forest, including its ornamental walkways which date back to the Meiji period.

During the Edo period, it is estimated that one out of ten Japanese conducted an Okage Mairi pilgrimage to the shrine. Accordingly, pilgrimages to the shrine flourished in both commercial and religious frequency. According to historical documents, 3.62 million people visited the shrine in 50 days in 1625, and 1.18 million people visited the shrine in three days in 1829 when the grand festival held every 20 years was held. Because the shrine is considered sanctuary, no security checkpoints were conducted, as it was considered sacrilege by the faithful. The two main shrines of Ise are joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi.

The chief priest or priestess of Ise Shrine must come from the Imperial House of Japan and is responsible for watching over the Shrine. The current high priestess of the shrine is Emperor Emeritus Akihito’s daughter, Sayako Kuroda.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Outer Shrine, Gekū 

After our visit to the Outer shrine, it was back on a bus for another 20 minutes to Asuma Mountain viewpoint for the tremendous views of Toba Bay. You can see from my windblown hair, that a cooling breeze was also our reward.

On our way back to Toba, we stopped at the The Inner Ise Grand Shrine, Naikū – here a gentleman pulled Pat together with three other strangers, so I could snap a photo. Maybe he was an out of work wedding photographer.

What a day of exploring, but we were not yet done. We rode the bus all the way back into Toba, where we boarded a boat for a tour of Toba Bay. The tour boat was not designed for tall tourists and I had to scrunch down and constantly watch out for the low door openings and bulkheads. Combine that with the on-board restaurant, continuously cooking nothing but Teriyaki squid and it made for a scenic, but, uncomfortable tour. The first slide shows the Toba International Hotel (now the Toba Kokusai) where we were staying.

The beauty of this coastal area was just stunning from every angle and at any time of day and we took full advantage of our hotel’s location to enjoy our last evening in Toba.

Views from our room (#1) and from the promenade on the hotel grounds (#2).

A path also led down from our hotel grounds to a private sandy beach on Toba Bay, so we walked down for a look just before sunset.

Last rays of the setting sun from Toba International Hotel

O yasumi nasai.


Analogue Adventures – Kyoto to Toba 1985 – Day 15

All photos taken on May 25, 1985.

On May 25, we walked to Kyoto station and from where we set off by train for Toba, the cultured pearl centre of Japan. The trip takes about 34 minutes by bullet train to Nagoya and then another hour and 38 minutes by Kintetsu Limited Express train to Toba.

scenery from the train, along the way

After arriving at Toba station, we took a taxi to the Toba International Hotel (now the Toba Kokusai) and dropped our luggage off. We then walked 20 minutes back into town, where we toured the Mikimoto Pearl Centre and watched the Ama at work.

Ama (海女, “sea women”) are Japanese divers famous for collecting pearls, though traditionally their main catch is seafood. The vast majority of ama are women.

Japanese tradition holds that the practice of ama may be 2,000 years old. Records of female pearl divers, or ama, date back as early as AD 927 in Japan’s Heian period. Early ama were known to dive for seafood and were honored with the task of retrieving abalone for shrines and imperial emperors. Ama traditionally wear white, as the colour represents purity and also to possibly ward off sharks. Traditionally and even as recently as the 1960s, ama dived wearing only a loincloth, but in the 20th century, the divers adopted an all-white sheer diving uniform in order to be more presentable while diving. Even in modern times, ama dive without scuba gear or air tanks, making them a traditional sort of free-diver.

Women began diving as ama as early as 12 and 13 years old, taught by elder ama. Despite their early start, divers are known to be active well into their 70s and are rumored to live longer due to their diving training and discipline. In Japan, women were considered to be superior divers, due to the distribution of their fat and their ability to hold their breath.

(Source: Wikipedia)

sorting pearls on Mikimoto Pearl Island
model of Horyuji Temple 12,760 pearls 750 craftsmen took 6 months to complete
“Pearl Crown I”, a crown styled after the state crown of Queen Mary used at the coronation of King George V in 1911. It was made of 872 pearls and 188 diamonds
A replica of the Miss International Crown with 796 pearls and 17 diamonds
A 1/90 scale miniature reproduction of Himeji Castle, made of 19,000 pearls, 447 diamonds, and several other sapphires, emeralds, and rubies
replica of the 1939 New York World’s Fair’s Liberty Bell, made from 12,250 pearls and 366 diamonds

Mikimoto Pearl Island (ミキモト真珠島, Mikimoto-Shinju-Jima) is a small island in Ise Bay, offshore Toba, Mie Prefecture. The island is known as the birthplace of cultured pearl aquaculture.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Patty beside  a bronze sculpture of Mikimoto Kōkichi – January 25, 1858 – September 21, 1954

By now, it was raining lightly, so we set off back to the hotel for dinner. Tomorrow, we would explore more of the city and area.


Analogue Adventures – Kyoto 1985 – Day 14

All photos taken on May 24, 1985.

We were still not done with our Kyoto visit. There is just so much to see and do here. This was our day to visit the Kyoto Handicraft Centre to find some souvenirs for the folks back home. It was located in a 7 story building crammed full of craftsmen and sales people. There was cloisonné, damascene, wood parquetry, Japanese dolls, woodblock prints, pearls, kimono/yukata, teas and sake.

We did not leave disappointed and our luggage would be heavier on the way home.

But, we still had one more thing to look for before our shopping was complete…a kimono for Pat. I know what you are thinking, a kimono is not something you can wear to the office or a party back home, but we bought some tartan in Edinburgh, some Aran knit sweaters in Ireland, some Thai silk in Thailand and a Greek sailor’s cap in Greece, so we needed a kimono from Japan. Believe it or not, there were several used kimono stores in the immediate area.

Unfortunately, while we had a business card for the store we were looking for, we could not read Japanese characters and we did not know the exact location of the store. Japanese street addresses are not sequential, but are numbered in the order a building was built on the street. The newer the building, the higher the number. Nothing for it, but to hail a taxi. We climbed in and we were off…around the corner…and down the side street about…50 feet. The taxi stopped, the driver opened the door (passenger doors were controlled by the driver) and our cabbie pointed across the street. Sheeesh, we had been so close. I tried to give him some money for the fare, but he bowed and politely refused. We love Japan.

After dropping our precious purchases off at our hotel, we set off for the last day of strolling. Our route first took us through the Pontocho (Geisha district) along the Kamo River, but it was far too early in the day for any respectable Geisha to be out and about.

We stopped at Nishi Hongan-ji (西本願寺), a Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist temple in the Shimogyō ward of Kyoto. It serves as the head temple of the sub-sect Honganji-ha.

It is one of two Jōdo Shinshū temple complexes in Kyoto, the other being Higashi Hongan-ji, which is the head temple of the sub-sect Otani-ha.

Established in its current location in 1591, the origin of the temple goes back to the 14th century. Many of its building have survived from the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo period, making it a great example of the Japanese architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Then, a visit to the nearby Higashi Hongan-ji (東本願寺), or, ″the Eastern Monastery of the Original Vow″, one of two dominant sub-sects of Shin Buddhism in Japan and abroad, the other being Nishi Honganji (or, ‘The Western Temple of the Original Vow’). It is also the name of the head temple of the Ōtani-ha branch of Jōdo Shinshū in Kyoto, which was most recently constructed in 1895 after a fire burned down the previous temple. As with many sites in Kyoto, these two complexes have more casual names and are known affectionately in Kyoto as Onissan (お西さん, Honorable Mr. West) and Ohigashisan (お東さん, Honorable Mr. East).

(Source: Wikipedia)

After supper, we tried our hand at the local pinball style games in the Pachinko halls. At the time, we were unaware that it was also a form of gambling, but we only wasted a few Yen in the process. At the counter, you pay money to purchase the steel balls to play in the machines. Early on, there were some small payouts of extra balls, which we quickly plunked back in, until they were all gone. OK, now what?

Pachinko (パチンコ) is a type of mechanical game originating in Japan that is used as a form of recreational arcade game, and much more frequently as a gambling device, filling a niche in Japanese gambling comparable to that of the slot machine in Western gambling, as a form of low-stakes, low-strategy gambling.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Off to bed, ready for another travel day. We had really enjoyed our stay in Kyoto.


Analogue Adventures – Kyoto 1985 – Day 13

All photos taken on May 23, 1985.

May 23 would be a very busy day for us. We had many stops planned in addition to our evening home visit.

Daitoku-ji (大徳寺, the ‘temple of Great Virtue’)[1] is a Buddhist temple, one of fourteen autonomous branches of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen. It is located in Kita-ku, Kyoto. The “mountain name” (sangō) by which it is known is Ryūhōzan (龍宝山). The Daitoku-ji temple complex today covers more than 23 hectares (57 acres). It was founded in 1315 or 1319 by the monk Shuho Myocho and completed in 1326.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We enjoyed Daitoku-ji with its neatly raked rock Zen Gardens and bamboo thicket. While we were visiting, a proud Grampa was eager to show off his beautiful grandchild.

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺, literally “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, literally “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Kyoto, attracting many visitors annually. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site, a National Special Landscape and is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites. The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai (北山第), belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397 and it has been burned down and replaced numerous times. The current version dates from 1955.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The temple was located in a serene setting in the middle of Mirror Pond. There are gardens, bamboo thickets and other buildings including a teahouse at the site.

Ryōan-ji (Shinjitai: 竜安寺, Kyūjitai: 龍安寺, The Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto. It belongs to the Myōshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. The Ryōan-ji garden is considered one of the finest surviving examples of kare-sansui (“dry landscape”) a refined type of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations arranged amidst a sweep of smooth pebbles (small, carefully selected polished river rocks) raked into linear patterns that facilitate meditation. The temple and its gardens are listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was completed in 1450.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We paused for a while at Ryoanji to contemplate life, gazing at the Zen rock garden and the beautiful ponds and grounds surrounding the temple.

Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社, Yasaka-jinja), once called Gion Shrine (祇園神社, Gion-jinja), is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan. Situated at the east end of Shijō-dōri (Fourth Avenue), the shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage. The Yasaka shrine is dedicated to Susanoo as its chief kami, with his consort Kushinadahime on the east, and eight offspring deities (yahashira no mikogami) on the west. The yahashira no mikogami include Yashimajinumi no kami, Itakeru no kami, Ōyatsuhime no kami, Tsumatsuhime no kami, Ōtoshi no kami, Ukanomitama no kami, Ōyatsuhiko no kami, and Suseribime no mikoto. Construction began in 656.

(Source: Wikipedia)

This was our last stop before we were to take in a Maiko Geisha performance.

Being in the Gion district already, it was a short walk to the Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre to see a cultural performance of the Maiko (apprentice geisha). Theatre construction began in 1925 and was completed in 1927. In addition to the Maiko performances, it is also used for other concerts, lectures and recitals.

Geisha (芸者) (/ˈɡeɪʃə/Japanese: [ɡeːɕa]),[1][2] also known as geiko (芸子)  (in Kyoto and Kanazawa) or geigi (芸妓) are a class of female Japanese performing artists and entertainers trained in traditional Japanese performing arts styles, such as dance, music and singing, as well as being proficient conversationalists and hosts. Their distinct appearance is characterised by long, trailing kimono, traditional hairstyles and oshiroi make-up. Geisha entertain at parties known as ozashiki, often for the entertainment of wealthy clientele, as well as performing on stage and at festivals. Modern geisha are not prostitutes.

Maiko are apprentice geisha, usually aged between 17 to 20 years old, and graduate to geisha status after a period of training, which includes learning to dance traditionally, play the shamisen, sing kouta (lit. “short songs”), and, in Kyoto only, learn the Kyoto dialect. This apprenticeship usually ranges from a period of a few months to a year or two years, though apprentices too old to dress as maiko may instead skip to the stage of geisha, despite still being in training.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We watched a series of traditional singing, dancing and instrumental performances by performers dressed in period costumes. Applause was politely Japanese, but the crowd really came alive with a rousing cheer and standing ovation, when a famous Geisha made an appearance in one of the dance numbers.

Patty and the Geisha

After the performance, we rode back to our hotel, during rush hour in a subway car, trapped by the crush of people. At each station, we thought the train would simply go on through the station. But, no, it always stopped and all of the waiting people got on, making it impossible to move and difficult to breath. Wherever our hands were at the time, we could not move them once the passengers boarded and the doors closed. At our stop, we all moved as one and finally got some breathing space on the platform.

Kyoto Grand Hotel – we also stayed here in 1982 – it is now the Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto.

After an early supper, we capped off the day with a cultural home visit to a home of a local family. We had purchased a gift of candy for the 3 children, but were a little embarrassed to find out that the candy was actually meant to be used as a temple offering. Oops. No worries, we chatted with our host Sayuri, in halting Japanese and English and Patty tried on many beautiful kimono. Sayuri had a tall dresser of low height drawers, all neatly filled with perfectly folded stunning kimono. Sayuri’s husband, a doctor was at work.

We sent letters and cards to Sayuri and family for a few years after our visit, before we lost touch. We often look back to this visit as the start of our hosting experience for Japanese exchange students.

The children did not appear to be amused by our visit or our gift.

Back to the hotel on an empty subway car and climbed out on an empty platform. What a difference from our rush hour experience. What a busy day!

O yasumi nasai!


Analogue Adventures – Kyoto 1985 – Day 12

All photos taken May 22, 1985.

Leaving the hotel in the morning, we were walking down a downtown sidewalk, when someone called out to us. We did not pay much attention, as we had become used to hearing only Japanese in the South. We got about half a block away, before we realized the person calling out was actually speaking English. On retracing our steps, we met a fellow tourist and apologized for being too immersed in our Japanese experience.

Our first stop of the day was at the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

The Kyōto Imperial Palace (京都御所, Kyōto-gosho) is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan. Since the Meiji Restoration in 1869, the Emperors have resided at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, while the preservation of the Kyoto Imperial Palace was ordered in 1877. Today, the grounds are open to the public, and the Imperial Household Agency hosts public tours of the buildings several times a day.

The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the latest of the imperial palaces built at or near its site in the northeastern part of the old capital of Heian-kyō (now known as Kyoto) after the abandonment of the larger original Heian Palace that was located to the west of the current palace during the Heian period. The Palace lost much of its function at the time of the Meiji Restoration, when the capital functions were moved to Tokyo in 1869. However, Emperor Taishō and Shōwa still had their enthronement ceremonies at the palace.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Cherry Blossom Room for low ranking guests
Gekkamon Gate – a smaller gate on the West side of the courtyard
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Shishen-den – Hall for State Ceremonies
bridge near Shishen-den
bridge over fish pond
Shunko-den built for Taisho Emperor
fish pond at Kyoto Imperial Palace
thatched roof of Kyoto Imperial Palace
screens in Ogakumonjo reading hall – for reading rites, a monthly poetry recital and also a place the Emperor received nobles
screen paintings at Otsunegoten – used as Emperor’s residence until capital was transferred to Tokyo in 1869. It is the largest structure of the palace with fifteen rooms. Facing it is the Gonaeitei garden
rails and roofs at Kyoto Imperial Palace
through the gate into the garden
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Kyoto Imperial Palace

Our next stop was the Ginkakuji (silver pavilion) on which the silver leaf had never been installed. While most attractions are close together in the downtown area, this pavilion was about 30 minutes away on foot.

Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺, lit. “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”), officially named Jishō-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto. It is one of the constructions that represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period and was built in 1490. A major restoration was done in 2008, but, still no silver leaf was used.

(Source: Wikipedia)

From Ginkakuji, we made our way by train on the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto line to the Sakamoto Cable Company Eki station. At that station, we boarded a cable railway funicular for the ride to the top of Mt. Hiei to see views of Lake Biwa and Kyoto.

The Sakamoto Cable (坂本ケーブル, Sakamoto Kēburu), officially the Hieizan Railway Line (比叡山鉄道線, Hieizan Tetsudō-sen), is a Japanese funicular line in Ōtsu, Shiga. It is the only line Hieizan Railway (比叡山鉄道, Hieizan Tetsudō) operates. The line opened in 1927, as an eastern route to Enryaku-ji, a famous temple on Mount Hiei. At 2 km (1.2 miles) this is the longest funicular line in Japan . It rises 484 m (1,588 ft) to the top of Mt. Hiei.

(Source: Wikipedia)

going up, looking down
an opening in the trees provides a view downhill
Patty at the top station
Looking down to Lake Biwa and Kyoto and suburbs
cable car on Eizan Ropeway
looking back down
cable funicular car waiting to go back down
interior of cable funicular car
boarding the Keihan line trail

Back in downtown Kyoto, we had one more stop to make, before returning to our hotel. We were trying to arrange for a home visit with a local Kyoto family and needed to put our request in for tomorrow evening.

building near Kyoto Keikan Prefectural Office where we arranged for our home visit

Visit information in hand, we headed back to the area near our hotel for dinner.


Analogue Adventures – Hiroshima to Kyoto 1985 – Day 11

All photos taken on May 21, 1985.

After breakfast on May 21, we made our way to the station to catch the Bullet Train for the 2 hour, 361 km (225 mile) journey to Kyoto, the historical capital and cultural center of Japan. By car, this same trip would have taken almost 5 hours and would have involved paying tolls.

Bullet train (Shinkansen) for Hakata (wrong direction for us) in Hiroshima station

When we arrived at the station in Kyoto, two school girls in uniform approached us, asking us to help them practice their English. They then asked us to sign their exercise books and give them Canadian coins to prove to their teachers that they were practicing their English. I think almost anywhere else at the time, one might be forgiven for thinking “What kind of scam is this?”

School girls at Kyoto Station practicing their English with us

After checking in at the Kyoto Grand Hotel (the same hotel we stayed in on our 1982 tour), we set off to visit Nijo Castle.

Nijō Castle (二条城, Nijō-jō) is a flatland castle. The castle consists of two concentric rings (Kuruwa) of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens. The surface area of the castle is 275,000 square metres (27.5 ha; 68 acres), of which 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft) is occupied by buildings.

It is one of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The castle complex was built by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1679.

(Source: Wikipedia)

There were secret sliding doors and Nightingale floors (designed to squeak when walked on) to allow the Shogun and his family time to escape from late night Ninja attacks.

gate to Hinomaru (Rising Sun) Palace at Nijo Castle
detail shot of gate to Hinomaru (Rising Sun) Palace at Nijo Castle
Hinomaru (Rising Sun) Palace at Nijo Castle
Hinomaru (Rising Sun) Palace at Nijo Castle
gardens at Nijo Castle

In order to protect the interior finishes from deterioration, no interior photos were permitted, but we did manage to buy a postcard set to show the beauty within.

The carved transoms are so skillfully done, they depict a different scene on each side.

roof detail at Nijo Castle
flowering azalea bushes in gardens at Nijo Castle
stone lantern in gardens at Nijo Castle
Allan by gate to Nijo Castle
moat at Nijo Castle
new homes being built near Nijo Castle

We found dinner and then returned to our hotel.

dressed in our yukata, provided by the Kyoto Grand Hotel

Analogue Adventures – Hiroshima & Miyajima 1985 – Day 10

All photos taken on May 20, 1985.

The next morning, we awoke to the sound of steady rain, but we were determined to take the boat tour to Miyajima, a small island of great religious significance, not far from Hiroshima. To maintain the purity of the island, no births or deaths are allowed to occur on its shores. Expectant mothers are taken off the island until the baby is born. The island is known for its floating vermilion shrine and Torii gate.

We took a 27 minute ride on the local JR train to Miyajimaguchi station and walked the short distance to the nearby ferry terminal. Rain continued as we waited for the JR Ferry (included on our rail pass). The crossing time is only 10 minutes.

This little guy welcomed us as we arrived on the island

Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社 (嚴島神社), Itsukushima-jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima), best known for its “floating” torii gate. It is in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as National Treasures.

The Itsukushima shrine is one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions. It is most famous for its dramatic gate, or torii on the outskirts of the shrine, the sacred peaks of Mount Misen, extensive forests, and its ocean view. The shrine complex itself consists of two main buildings: the Honsha shrine and the Sessha Marodo-jinja, as well as 17 other different buildings and structures that help to distinguish it.

It is said to have been erected in 593 supposedly by Saeki Kuramoto during the Suiko period.[2] However, the present shrine has been popularly attributed to Taira no Kiyomori, a prominent warlord (daimyo) who contributed heavily to the building of the shrine during his time as governor of Aki Province in 1168.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The rain actually enhanced the floating illusion, even at low tide. Soon, many groups of school children arrived, making our ears ring as they all tried out their English skills on us.

The tide was low at the time of our visit, so this vermilion bridge almost appears unnecessary.

the famous floating torii gate
these were the cutest students on a field trip, all vying for our attention

We walked up the trail through forested hills to the waterfalls and upper shrine

small pogoda above the lower shrine
Upper Itsukushima Shrine
waterfall and Upper Itsukushima Shrine
waterfall at base of Mount Misen by Upper Itsukushima Shrine
this stone Buddha is dressed in seasonal clothes – this was the winter outfit
Upper Itsukushima Shrine
waterfalls halfway up Mt. Misen. Note the tiny Buddha on the rock

The Upper Shrine – buildings and details

view as we walked back down to the lower shrine – the deer were everywhere on the island
Patty beside a tiny car – maybe it shrunk because somebody left it out in the rain
Allan near the lower shrine – yes that is an umbrella in my left hand
Japanese home on Miyajima
the local emergency services building
one last look at the pagoda at Itsukushima Shrine 

Feeling a bit damp after our island tour, we boarded the ferry for the return trip to Hiroden-Miyajimaguchi Station, where we caught a train back to Hiroshima.

Back in Hiroshima, we toured the restored Hiroshima Castle donjon, with its display of Samurai arms and costumes.

Hiroshima Castle (広島城, Hiroshima-jō), sometimes called Carp Castle (鯉城, Rijō), is a castle in Hiroshima, Japan that was the home of the daimyō (feudal lord) of the Hiroshima han (fief). The castle was originally constructed in the 1590s, but was destroyed by the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945. The castle was rebuilt in 1958, a replica of the original that now serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s history before World War II.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Reminiscent of the Osaka Castle, there were some striking views of Hiroshima from the top of the donjon. Hiroshima had a much more modern appearance, as there were very few buildings left after the atomic bomb was dropped.

After our visit to Hiroshima Castle, we visited the nearby Hiroshima Gokoku shrine.

The original shrine was founded in 1869, the first year of the Meiji period, in Futabanosa, Hiroshima. The shrine was established to mourn the Hiroshima-Han victims of the Boshin War.

In 1934, it was dismantled and moved to where Hiroshima Municipal Stadium now stands, and in 1939 its name was changed to the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine.

In 1945, it was destroyed by the atomic bombing, and was rebuilt within the confines of Hiroshima Castle in 1965 with the aid of donations from the citizens of Hiroshima.

The Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine is one of the most popular places for celebrating  Hatsumōde (Japanese New Year) and Shichi-Go-San (literally 7-5-3 – traditional Japanese rite of passage and festival day for three- and seven-year-old girls, five-year-old and sometimes three-year-old boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children) in Hiroshima.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Patty beneath the Shinto rope at Hiroshima Gokoku shrine
looking back to the Hiroshima Gokoku shrine and offices
Walking across a bridge over the Motoyasu River

After walking across the river, we paid our respects with one more visit to the Peace Park, where we both rang the bell for peace.

Then, it was off to find Patty a non-Japanese food supper (doctor’s orders). A local department store with an international food floor fulfilled that need nicely. After supper, we returned to Minshuku Ikedeya to pack up, ready for tomorrow’s departure.

Even with grey skies and rain, we had really enjoyed our visit to Hiroshima.


Analogue Adventures – Kagoshima to Hiroshima 1985 – Day 9

All photos taken on May 19, 1985.

Breakfast was indeed tasty this morning, with ham, eggs, toast and coffee. Breakfast over and all packed up, we were soon being bowed out of our inn and into our taxi by all staff, sending us on our way to the train station.

View of Shiroyama Park from our ryokan
one last look at Sakurajima on this rainy day.

Soon, we were on our train, rolling through the countryside on the way back to Kumamoto and Hiroshima.

coast near Sendai on train to Kumamoto
homes near Fukuro
the tide is out near Hinagu
Hakata suburbs

Arriving in Hiroshima, we checked into our minshuku Ikeydeya. Minshukus are family-operated, Japanese-style bed and breakfasts. After dropping our bags in our room, we went off to see the sights. Our first stop was at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park at Ground Zero, where the Allies dropped the Atom Bomb to end the 2nd World War with Japan.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (広島平和記念公園, Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Kōen) is a memorial park in the center of Hiroshima. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack at the end of World War II, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims (of whom there may have been as many as 140,000). The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is visited by more than one million people each year. The park is there in memory of the victims of the nuclear attack on August 6, 1945, in which the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was planned and designed by the Japanese Architect Kenzō Tange at Tange Lab.

The location of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial and residential district. The park was built on an open field that was created by the explosion. Today there are a number of memorials and monuments, museums, and lecture halls. The annual 6 August Peace Memorial Ceremony, which is sponsored by the city of Hiroshima, is also held in the park. The purpose of the Peace Memorial Park is not only to memorialize the victims of the bombing, but also to perpetuate the memory of nuclear horrors and advocate world peace.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Near the center of the park is a concrete, saddle-shaped monument that covers a cenotaph holding the names of all of the people killed by the bomb. The monument is aligned to frame the Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome. The Memorial Cenotaph was one of the first memorial monuments built on open field on August 6, 1952. The arch shape represents a shelter for the souls of the victims.

The cenotaph carries the epitaph 安らかに眠って下さい 過ちは 繰返しませぬから, which means “please rest in peace, for [we/they] shall not repeat the error.” In Japanese, the sentence’s subject is omitted, thus it could be interpreted as either “[we] shall not repeat the error” or as “[they] shall not repeat the error”. This was intended to memorialize the victims of Hiroshima without politicizing the issue, taking advantage of the fact that polite Japanese speech typically demands lexical ambiguity in the first place. The epitaph was written by Tadayoshi Saika, Professor of English Literature at Hiroshima University. He also provided the English translation, “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.” On November 3, 1983, an explanation plaque in English was added in order to convey Professor Saika’s intent that “we” refers to “all humanity”, not specifically the Japanese or Americans, and that the “error” is the “evil of war”.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Children’s Peace Monument is a statue dedicated to the memory of the children who died as a result of the bombing. The statue is of a girl with outstretched arms with a folded paper crane rising above her. The statue is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki (佐々木禎子, Sasaki Sadako), a young girl who died from radiation from the bomb. She is known for folding over 1,000 paper cranes in response to a Japanese legend. To this day, people (mostly children) from around the world fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue. The statue has a continuously replenished collection of folded cranes nearby.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It was pretty sobering to see the former exposition hall ruins (A-bomb dome) saved as a memorial to all those who died. The metal dome on top vaporized in the blast and everyone inside died instantly. In some places, you could still see the shadows of the poor souls who had been vaporized by the heat flash.

The Peace Bell and Memorial Museum made us want to weep and we hope that this type of event never happens again.

We found non raw fish supper offerings in the nearby KFC. Hopefully eating more like our usual diet will help Patty feel better soon, not that we ever dined at KFC. Home to bed.


Analogue Adventures – Kagoshima & Sakurajima 1985 – Day 8

All photos taken on May 18, 1985.

Awaking to the sunrise over Sakurajima the next morning, we could see what we thought was a bit of morning haze in the air. Little did we know…

Sunrise over Sakurajima from our Ryokan window

This morning, our breakfast was again raw fish. Hmm, perhaps our Japanese experience was a bit too authentic. By now, Patty was in intestinal discomfort from gastroenteritis and we asked for directions to the nearest English speaking doctor. Our hotel made a call to the local hospital for us. On our way to our doctor’s appointment, we realized why all the cars were covered with protective coverings, when we saw the buildup of 3 cm (over 1 inch) of new black ash on sidewalks and everything else that was not moving.

We had to complete documentation at the hospital front desk. The staff members were mystified when Patty wrote down her year of birth (55). We found out later that they measured birthdate from the year of the current Emperor Showa’s reign. Turned out that 1985 was Showa 60, which would have made Patty 5 years old. No wonder they were confused. The doctor had a Japanese-English dictionary and we had an English-Japanese dictionary. We explained what the problem was and he pointed to a translation in his dictionary, which I read phonetically as benpi-no shite. Given how close the spelling was to an English descriptive word for the condition, I joked to Patty that it was actually “benpi-plenty-shite”. Looking in my dictionary today, I see that this actually refers to constipation, so I must have looked at the wrong line. The Japanese word for the other condition is actually 下痢です(Geri desu) in our dictionary. Sounds a lot like Giardiasis, which results in the aforementioned condition. Apparently I’ve been telling that story all wrong for 38 years.

3 hours later, after a check up, intravenous drip and a bill for the equivalent of $14.00 CAN, we headed off with a prescription written in Japannese and FIRM doctor’s orders for 2 days of complete bed rest…

Patty in the hospital. The exam table was made from wood and covered in a sheet.

…and went directly to the ferry to Sakurajima.

Sakurajima (Japanese: 桜島, literally “Cherry Blossom Island”) is an active stratovolcano, formerly an island and now a peninsula, in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan. The lava flows of the 1914 eruption connected it with the Ōsumi Peninsula. It is the most active volcano in Japan. Its summit has three peaks, Kita-dake (northern peak), Naka-dake (central peak) and Minami-dake (southern peak) which is active now.

(Source: Wikipedia)

on the ferry from Kagoshima to Sakurajima
Kagoshima from Sakurajima – our ferry is returning for another load

…where we rented bicycles and rode around the island on paths which were fluffy with layers of volcanic ash.

We were always in sight of the volcano plume and passed several bus shelters designed like pill boxes, all facing away from the volcano. Every so often, Patty needed to find a “wee room” and then we continued on. Fun fact: turns out if you enter a shop in Japan and ask to use their washroom, people will politely take you up to their living quarters and then bow you out and thank you for coming, as you leave.

The lava formations were spectacular and we were not sure how or why anyone would choose to live on such a dangerous island.

Selfie with a volcano – please don’t call the fashion police on me
basalt beach on Sakurajima
despite the look of impending disaster, the soil is rich enough here to grow the smallest mikans (Japanese mandarin oranges) and the largest daikons (radishes) in Japan – the daikons are the size of basketballs
my Patty is smiling again
Almost time to turn the bikes in and head back on the ferry

We were soon back on the ferry to Kagoshima and a few more sightseeing and other stops.

Near Central Park in Kagoshima, we saw the tomb of Saigo Takamori (西郷 隆盛, 1828–1877) and his troops. Saigo Takamori, often called the last samurai, played an important, and later divisive role in the Meiji Restoration. He led a rebellion against the newly established government in 1877 (Meiji 10), known as the Satsuma uprising. When he was defeated, he committed Seppuku (ritual suicide).


tomb of Takomori Saigo
up in Shiroyama (white mountain) Park

Then to our inn…

…where our attendant was quite concerned when we gave her the Doctor’s prescription note, saying “Do not eat Japanese food.” Then she got it, “Ah, hamu, eggsu, kohio, toastu?” We knew tomorrow’s breakfast would be much more to our taste.

To be continued……


Analogue Adventures – Beppu to Kagoshima 1985 – Day 7

All photos taken on May 17, 1985.

Awakening on the morning of the 17th, we headed for the station to board our train for Kumamoto, where we would transfer to another train for Kagoshima.

View from the window of our room in Hotel Kamenoi, Beppu

view of Hotel Kamenoi from the train to Kumamoto
countryside from train between Beppu and Kumamoto
crops from train between Beppu and Kumamoto
flooded rice paddies from train to Kumamoto
farms from window of train to Kumamoto

It was a long journey, but the scenery was enjoyable. We talked with some college track and field students as we passed Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan (circumference of  the caldera is 125 km). We never saw it, but, we passed by it safely. Likely a good thing.

flooded rice paddies near Kumamoto
flooded rice paddies near Kumamoto
agricultural valley near Kumamoto

At long last, we arrived in Kagoshima, our stop for the next 2 nights. We caught a taxi to take us to our hotel.

When we rolled up to Iwasakitani-so Ryokan (our hotel in Kagoshima), we were greeted by no less than 17 staff members, all bowing to welcome us. We were shown to our room and introduced to our personal room attendant who would serve our meals and make up the futons each night.

Kagoshima City (鹿児島市), is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture. Located at the southwestern tip of the island of Kyushu, Kagoshima is the largest city in the prefecture by some margin. It has been nicknamed the “Naples of the Eastern world” for its bay location (Aira Caldera), hot climate, and emblematic stratovolcano, Sakurajima. The city was officially founded on April 1, 1889. It merged with Taniyama City on April 29, 1967 and with Yoshida Town, Sakurajima Town, Kiire Town, Matsumoto Town and Kōriyama Town on November 1, 2004.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Kagoshima and Sakurajima Island (active volcano) from window of Iwasakitani-so Ryokan, Kagoshima
our room at Iwasakitani-so Ryokan, Kagoshima – set up for arrival

We wandered the town a bit and noticed that everyone’s car wore a cloth cover. Naively, we wondered why.

Back to our ryokan, we were excited about our ryokan experience, until supper arrived and we saw it was all raw fish. Although we struggled valiantly, we could not finish it. When our room attendant came to clear the dishes, she was dismayed to see so much food remaining. Trying to be polite, we sheepishly explained that we were very full.

our dinner feast at Iwasakitani-so Ryokan, Kagoshima
dining in progress
our room at Iwasakitani-so Ryokan, Kagoshima – futons spread out on tatami mat floors, all set up for sleeping

Looking at the futon/tatami mat bed, we wonder how we would cope at our age now. We can no longer do floor. 😁


Analogue Adventures – Seto Inland Sea & Beppu 1985 – Day 6

All photos taken on May 16, 1985.

When we awoke early in the morning, we were just leaving the port of Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku.

We stayed up on deck watching the Seto Inland Sea scenery floating by and feeling the sea breeze on our faces. From time to time, groups of uniformed school children appeared on deck and seeing us, whispered “Gai-jin” (foreigner) and politely placing a hand over their mouths to cover their giggles. We smiled at them and returned the Peace sign.

harbour tug at Matsuyama, Shikoku
harbour tug pushing us out to sea from Matsuyama
Patty on the Promenade deck
not a huge luxurious cruise ship but a great way to get from Kansai port to Beppu
cruising on the Seto Inland Sea
this is what tatami class looks like – turns out a lot of schools take this cruise as part of a field trip, so this is a great way to keep the classmates together
arriving in Beppu
Sunflower cruise ship from our Queenflower 2 cruise ship in port in Beppu
Beppu from our cruise ship in port

Arriving in Beppu just before Noon, we found our accommodation and then wandered down to the waterfront for lunch. Smelling a delicious smell and thinking people were buying fresh hot doughnut balls, we stepped up to the window and ordered one plate each. The first bite told us we had made a mistake. These were not doughnuts, but takoyaki, teeny little octopi with teeny little legs. Ughhhh. We took no photos and disposed of our food. Sigh!

Still hungry, we booked into a Japanese language tour of the nearby geothermal area. Not many foreigners made it down this far in 1985, so no English tours were on tap today.

The hot spring Hells of Beppu (別府の地獄, Beppu no jigoku) are a nationally designated “Place of Scenic Beauty” in the onsen (hot spring) town of Beppu, Ōita, Japan. The “hells” are for viewing, rather than bathing.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We enjoyed seeing all the sights in the Hells and after a couple of stops, our guide realized we could not understand her “time to return to the coach” instructions, so she came to fetch us at the rest of the stops. In Japan, there is always someone who makes sure you are looked after.

Blood pond Hell – due to red colour

palm trees at Waterspout Hell

It was during this tour that we met Fumi, (pronounced Who-me) a teacher and her English class, also visiting Beppu. Seeing us, she made sure she pushed us forward to the best possible viewing point for the geyser eruption. It did seem odd, as we were taller than those around us and we did not want to block anybody else’s view, but Japanese courtesy triumphed. Afterwards, we posed for the photo below. We exchanged many Christmas cards with Fumi over the following years, but sadly, have recently lost touch.

Sea Hell
giant lily pads at Sea Hell
Allan at Sea Hell

Cooking Stove Hell – we had seen similar pools to this in New Zealand – used to cook eggs and other things

koi (carp) at Onimaya Hell
Patty at Golden Dragon Hell
giant Buddha at Golden Dragon Hell
little Buddhas at Golden Dragon Hell
our cruise ship Queenflower 2 leaves Beppu on its way back to Kansai, Kobe – possibly carrying Fumi and her students back home
Allan back at the waterfront park in Beppu

Time to catch supper and get prepared for another big travel day tomorrow.


Analogue Adventures – Osaka to Kobe 1985 – Day 5

All photos taken on May 15, 1985.

We awoke the next day and continued our Osaka sightseeing before heading to Kobe to board our overnight cruise ship through the Seto Inland Sea.

Our first stop was the Shitenoji Temple complex, which had several components as follows:

Aizendo Shomanin Shrine  – dates back to the Asuka period, about 1400 years ago, in 593 AD (the first year of Empress Suiko), and Prince Shotoku was Keida. Shitennoji was built as Japan’s oldest official temple (national official temple) consisting of a hospital , a drug clinic , a medical treatment hospital, and a Saida temple. The pharmacy was built in the northwest corner of Shitennoji Temple (currently the location of Aizendo) so that all herbs could be planted and given to all people according to the disease. The area at that time was even larger than it is today, and in terms of its construction, it can be said to be the birthplace of Japan’s social welfare business.

The main halls are the Kondo (designated cultural property of the prefecture) rebuilt by Hidetada Tokugawa (second generation) and the Tahoto (important cultural property of the country, former national treasure) rebuilt by Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

(Source: History of Aizendo)

Taihiji Temple and graveyardTaihei-ji is a Buddhist temple in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. It was founded in about 1555, and it is affiliated with Sōtō Buddhism.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Shitenoji Temple – Shitennō-ji (Temple of the Four Heavenly Kings) established in 593, is a Buddhist temple. It is also known as Arahaka-ji, Nanba-ji, or Mitsu-ji. The temple is sometimes regarded as the first Buddhist and oldest officially-administered temple in Japan, although the temple complex and buildings have been rebuilt over the centuries, with the last reconstruction taking place in 1963. It is the head temple of the Wa Sect of Buddhism.

(Source: Wikipedia)

In addition to walking around the buildings and grounds, you are also permitted to go up to a viewing platform in the pagoda.

turtles at Shitenoji

graveyard at Shitenoji

Toyota Soarer near Shitenoji Temple – a personal luxury GT coupe produced from 1981 to 2005 and sold in Japan. It debuted with the Z10 series, replacing the Toyopet store exclusive Mark II coupé and the Toyota store exclusive Crown coupé.

One of our planned stops was Mt. Minō which had a lovely walk down through Meiji no Mori Minō Kokutei Kōen (明治の森箕面国定公園) is a Quasi-National Park in Osaka Prefecture. It was established on 11 December 1967 to commemorate the centennial celebrations of the accession of Emperor Meiji. With an area of just 9.6 km², it is one of the smallest of Japan’s national parks.

Despite its proximity to the Metropolitan Osaka Area, the park is inhabited by 1,300 plant species and 3,500 insect species. The location is also known as a paradise for a large population of birds, animals, fish, and little creatures, as well as monkeys, which are protected by law.

(Source: Wikipedia)

I am a bit sketchy as to how we got to the top of Mt. Minō from downtown Osaka, but I do recall getting out of a taxi at the top, looking around and saying “OK, now what”. After taking in the hazy view of Osaka, we wandered back to the edge of the parking lot and found a trail.

We walked back down Mt. Minō through lush forest, past babbling brooks and streams, finally catching sight of 33m Minō Falls.

Just before the falls, we spied this cute?? pair of monkeys (macaques). Monkeys on Mt. Minō are protected. In fact, we had heard Mt. Minō referred to as Monkey Mountain by the locals. We made the mistake of meeting their gaze and one of them came rushing over, teeth bared and tried to relieve Pat of her handbag.  Cute, my left foot!

The area around the falls is known as a prime viewing area for fall foliage colour. Too bad we were here in May.

We finally reached the bottom of the hike and walked along beside the homes in the area.

It had been a beautiful walk, but now it was time to head to supper, grab our suitcases from the ryokan and then head to Kobe for our cruise.

Patty says goodbye to Ryokan Masumi in Osaka

Arriving in Kobe port early for our overnight cruise on the Inland Sea from Kobe on the main island of Honshu to Beppu on the island of Kyushu, we waited for the cruise line check-in window to open. It was then that a cruise poster caught my eye. Walking over, I wondered what in the heck “tatami class” was. The poster showed 768 futon berths and only 4 cabins. Hmmm, what had I booked? Trying out my best Japanese on the attendant, I was assured my ticket was for the “Ichi-ban” (#1) cabin. Phewww.

At long last, we were ready to board. We found our appropriately numbered 007 cabin, struck a couple of poses and turned in for the night. What would the morning bring?

O yasumi nasai!


Analogue Adventures – Tokyo to Osaka 1985 – Day 4

All photos taken on May 14, 1985.

May 14 was our day to take the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. We took one last look out the window of our hotel and looked at all the white cars in the parking lot. Japanese culture has a saying “The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down.” Literally, anybody who attracts attention in a group is likely to be criticized, reproached and brought into conformity with the others. I think at the time we were there, approximately 70% of all cars sold in Japan were sold in the colour white.

After breakfast, we made our way to Tokyo Station for the 2 hour, 48 minute Shinkansen (bullet train) ride to Osaka Station.

Arriving in Osaka at Osaka station in the early afternoon, we took a taxi to our ryokan (inn) Ryokan Masumi, dropped our luggage, posed for a photo…

…before setting off to explore Osaka. We started at the reconstructed Osaka Castle donjon.

Construction of the castle started in 1583 with the inner donjon being completed in 1585. The current donjon was reconstructed from ferro-concrete in 1931. The main tower of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometre. It is built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using a technique called Burdock piling, each overlooking a moat. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers.

The Main Tower is surrounded by a series of moats and defensive fortifications. The castle has 2 moats (an inner & outer). The inner castle moat lies within the castle grounds, and consists of 2 types: a wet (northern-easterly) and dry (south-westerly). The outer moat meanwhile surrounds the entire castle premise, denotes the castle’s outer limits, and consists of 4 individual water-filled sections, each representing a cardinal direction (North, East, South, West).

(Source: Wikipedia)

Outer photos showing the donjon, moats, bridges and of course, the rain that had begin to fall.

Inner photos showing museum items, samurai armour, swords and saddles, a taiko drum, furnishings tapestries and a model of the original castle complex.

Patty and the maple leaves near Osaka Castle

and nearby Hōkoku Shrine (豊國神社, Hōkoku-jinja), a Shinto shrine, one of several Toyokuni shrines, established in 1879 in honor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), a Japanese samurai and daimyo (feudal lord) of the late Sengoku period, regarded as the second “Great Unifier” of Japan. The shrine is part of the Osaka Castle Park.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It was now getting dark and we were getting hungry, so we headed back in the direction of our inn. But what to do, all of the shop and restaurant door banners were in Japanese characters. All of a sudden, a door opened with a burst of sound and light, as a man stepped through to grab a smoke. He saw us Gai-jins (foreigners) and motioned us to come inside with him. Hmmm, was this a set-up where we would be robbed or was it just a friendly invite?

Turns out, this place (Hirano-bar) was the Japanese version of Cheers, with all the regulars (including Norm) in attendance. Before we even sat down, warm sake arrived at our table and soon emboldened, we asked what there was to eat. The bar owner (Kyoko) motioned to the banners on the wall indicating what the choices were. Given we had only learned spoken Japanese and not written, we had no clue what was on the menu. In our best Japanese (sake assisted) we finally managed to order tempura and rice. It was delicious. Gifts, photos and addresses were exchanged and we left, realizing we had just received and given a real cultural experience.

Back in the room at our inn, one more pose……before the sake wears off and sleep arrives.

Oyasumi nasai.


Analogue Adventures – Tokyo, Japan 1985 – Day 3

All photos taken on May 13, 1985.

Our hotel was located in the Shimbashi district, an area full of freeways and unique buildings. This was our last day in Tokyo and we had lots more to see and do. We soon found our subway station and travelled to…

…Shinjuku (literally New City) to see the tall buildings and the world’s busiest transportation hub, Shinjuku Station. Tokyo is prone to earthquakes and areas with tall towers are rare in this city. These towers have all been engineered and built to withstand the forces of an earthquake.

For a different look at the city, we hopped on a boat for the Sumida River cruise, where we met a friendly local family. Between our basic Japanese, their basic English and a few smiles, we managed to communicate.

After our cruise, we visited Nakamise Dori shopping arcade, which dates back to the 17th century. When I look back at our travel route this day, I am confused by just how disjointed it seemed, but we did alright without Google and GPS.

On the other side of the arcade, we visited the Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, first founded in 645. Many of the buildings have been reconstructed over time due to fires and earthquakes.

Our temple visit over, we spotted the impressive Ryōgoku Kokugikan sumo hall and wandered over in time to catch a glimpse and a photo (shashin in Japanese) of the sumo wrestlers (who were less than impressed at being accosted by tourists on their way back to their training facilities).

Our day of exploring now done, we headed back to our hotel. Our morning radio host in Edmonton, not long back from his own tour of Japan had raved about a Tokyo restaurant named Tonki Tonkatsu and we were determined to get their on our last night. Tonki’s only meal was Tonkatsu or deep fried pork cutlet with steamed rice and shredded cabbage. But what tied the whole meal together in deliciousness was the Tonkatsu sauce, a dark, thick, sweet brown fruit and vegetable sauce.

We hopped into a taxi and went a short distance, before being dropped off at the end of a short street, our driver pointed towards a place near the far end. Uncertain of the exact location of the restaurant, due to all signs being in Japanese characters. Nearing where the driver had pointed, we were still not certain, until, that is, a door slid open near us and a wave of light sound and delicious food aromas hit us. We had arrived. We cautiously slid the shop door open to find a large room filled with people. All the staff turned to us as we entered and shouted in unison “Irasshaimase!” (Welcome to our store or Please Come In). We stood along the wall, eagerly awaited seats at the large rectanglular table surrounding the open kitchen in the center. It was a beehive of activity with one chef tenderizing pork cutlets and crumbing them, another chef tending a caldron of boiling oil, inserting and removing the pork cutlets (his right arm was red from the heat and splashing oil), another chef chopping cabbage and and yet another chef tending the rice cookers. We loved every minute of the show and the meal was every bit as good as radio host Bob Bradburn had said. Our meal over, the bill was placed in front of us with a bow. We paid and were serenaded with "Domo Arigato Gozaimashita!" (Thank you very much for what you have done for us!) as we headed out the door. Wow, what a highlight on this trip, which had barely begun.

Oyasumi nasai! (Good night)


Analogue Adventures – Tokyo, Japan 1985 – Day 2

All photos taken on May 12, 1985.

We awoke the next morning, relieved to find that the world was still there and we were then good with our decision to stay put when the earthquake alarms went off. After breakfast, we set off to see the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park.

Tōkyō Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) or TNM is an art museum in Ueno Park in the Taitō-ku, a special ward in Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It is one of the four museums operated by the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, is considered the oldest national museum in Japan, is the largest art museum in Japan, and is one of the largest art museums in the world. The museum collects, preserves, and displays a comprehensive collection of artwork and cultural objects from Asia, with a focus on ancient and medieval Japanese art and Asian art along the Silk Road. There is also a large collection of Greco-Buddhist art. The museum holds over 110,000 Cultural Properties, including 89 National Treasures of Japan, 319 Horuji Treasures, and 644 Important Cultural Properties. In addition, the museum houses over 3000 Cultural Properties deposited by individuals and organizations, including 55 national treasures and 253 important cultural properties (as of March 2019). The museum also conducts research and organizes educational events related to its collection.

(Source: Wikipedia)

I only wish I had gone here with a digital camera. In the days of film, I shot sparingly.

After the museum, we visited the Toshugu Shrine in Ueno Park,

First established in 1627 by Tōdō Takatora and renovated in 1651 by shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, the shrine has remained mostly intact since that time, making it a great example of Shinto architecture in the Edo period. Several of those surviving structures have been designated Important Cultural Properties.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Ueno Park – (Ueno Kōen) is a spacious public park in the Ueno district of Taitō-ku, Tokyo, Japan. The park was established in 1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan’ei-ji. Amongst the country’s first public parks, it was founded following the western example, as part of the borrowing and assimilation of international practices that characterizes the early Meiji period. The home of a number of major museums, Ueno Park is also celebrated in spring for its cherry blossoms and hanami (blossom viewings). In recent times the park and its attractions have drawn over ten million visitors a year, making it Japan’s most popular city park.

)Source: Wikipedia)

pond in Ueno Park
street market in Ueno Park

After exploring Ueno Park, we then headed to Harajuku for the local “kids’ ” Sunday afternoon displays of 1960s dancing, roller skating and greaser fashions. This area is a center for youth culture and fashion and is a weekend gathering place for young people to express themselves and blow off a bit of steam.

From there, it was a short trip to the

Meiji Shrine. (Meiji Jingū), is a Shinto shrine (established November 1, 1920) in Shibuya, Tokyo, that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken. The shrine does not contain the emperor’s grave, which is located at Fushim-momoyama, south of Kyoto.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Feeling hungry and a bit weary, we headed back to the Ginza shopping district to get a bite. On our way there, we encountered a religious festival, with people in costume dancing and carrying portable shrines. I was OK with that delay. Sapporo was passing out free beer samples to all. I’m down with free beer.

Looking for supper

We found a great 2nd floor restaurant with a Ginza street view and enjoyed a curry supper as all the lights slowly came on.

and then a slow stroll back to our hotel. No repeat of the earthquake.


Analogue Adventures – Tokyo, Japan 1985 – Day 1

Photos taken May 11, 1985 (except for the 1st shot over Alaska)

After our first visit to Japan in 1982, we were determined to get back for a longer look. We also wanted to do this trip on our own, rather than be herded about within a tour group. I did a lot of research through tour books and brochures, planned out the route, decided on accommodations and ordered our 3 week Japan Rail passes. With all this in hand, we visited a travel agent to make the bookings for us (there was no Google in the before times, folks).

Ooops, I almost forgot the most important part of the plan. We could only say about 5 words in Japanese and being on our own in rural and remote parts of Japan could be problematic. No worries, the Edmonton Public School Continuing Education brochure was handy and a 12 week Japanese language course was being offered. Mr Soh, from Singapore had learned his Japanese the hard way, under a Japanese occupying force during WW2. While I cannot say we spoke perfect Japanese by the end of the course, his teaching style did lend us a certain bold confidence when we were in our 30s.

One more roadblock was to get 3 weeks + off work, so we could embark on this May adventure. I did not have a problem with the folks at TD, but Patty was not so lucky. Having given in on long vacation periods in 1982 and 1984, her boss was not ready to acquiesce again, so soon. There was only one thing to do and Patty did it. She handed in her resignation. Wow, did not see that coming, did you?

So, it was on May 10, 1985, we boarded our Japan Air Lines flight for a trip into the great unknown. As nervous as we were at the beginning, it ultimately could not have turned out more perfectly.

Somewhere over Alaska on our Japan Air Lines jet – May 10, 1985

Arriving in Tokyo in the evening of May 10, we headed to our hotel (New Takanawa Prince in the day) and bed, only to wake up the next morning at 3:45 AM local time. What do you do when you wake up that early? Why, you go walking, of course. We knew about the famous Tsukiji fish market and were on the subway and headed in that direction by 5 AM. Getting off at the nearest station, we began trying to find our way there. Pat, using her best Japanese, asked all passersby “Oki sakana wa, doku desu ka?” loosely translated to “Where are the big fish?” Although taken aback by this question, they were able to point us in the right direction. After exploring the vast array of seafood and watching the hustle-bustle for a while, we headed to a local food stall for a bowl of ramen and some tempura. A very tasty breakfast indeed.

Tsukiji Fish Market (largest in the world) – Tokyo – May 11, 1985

We walked about 40 km that day (I was cool? and wore a pedometer) to the Kabuki-za Theatre

the Ginza

the Imperial Palace grounds,

the Diet (Dee-ette) (Japanese parliament buildings)

New Otani Hotel (where we stayed in 1982). At that time, we were told it was the largest hotel in the world with 3,000 rooms.

the Mitsukoshi department store – this photo shows the ornate lobby

the Zozo-ji temple near the Tokyo Tower – this photo shows the Garden of Unborn Children

and the Tokyo Tower. Oh boy, were we getting tired. Time to find supper and head for the hotel.

Arriving back at our hotel, we were exhausted and finally ready for sleep. Just before we climbed into bed, the whole building shuddered and the drapes began to sway. Hey, it wasn’t us, it was the included earthquake experience. We could hear the hallway public address system giving directions….in Japanese. Unable to comprehend and too tired to e.vac..u…ate…..zzzzz.

We felt the Earth move this night

Merry Christmas 2022

This is a repost of my 2021 Christmas wishes.

I wondered what photos to use for this seasonally timely post and could think of none better that those we took in Bunchberry Forest on December 13 and 21, 2021 and the Bunchberry photo we used for our 2022 Christmas cards (last one).

May your Christmas be blessed with health, hope and happiness and may you all enjoy quality time with family and friends. Wishing all my readers a blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Season’s Greetings

1st shots in first 5 slide shows taken on May 4, 2022, 2nd shots on May 26, 2022, 3rd shots taken on June 16, 2022, 4th shots taken on July 14, 2022, 5th shots taken on August 10, 2022, 6th shots taken on September 28, 2022, 7th shots taken on October 26, 2022 and 8th shots taken on November 2, 2022, 9th shots taken on December 16, 2022. Single shots taken on December 16 and 22, 2022. Last slide show shots were taken on December 18, 2022

I know I said my November 3, 2022 “seasons post” would be my last, but, it seems I forgot all about the Christmas Season.

To all my readers and those who I read, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wishing you time well spent with family and friends. We were lucky enough to have lifelong friends M & P from NZ join us before the big day. Over the years, M’s Christmas sewing handiwork is all over our house, so our pose in front of the fireplace was apropos.

Metamorphosis 1

Metamorphosis 2

Metamorphosis 3

Metamorphosis 4

Metamorphosis 5

In the bubble

Back Yard Lights

Oh Christmas Tree

Back deck Christmas tree


Today’s Post – Don’t Leave Home Without it

As has frequently happened in the past, the media section of my free Photo Drop WordPress site is too full of photos to add new posts. I still have an Analogue Adventures series in the Photo Drop blog spot, but will delay it while I post about more recent adventures. The link will be updated in my Picture This posts. I will let you know when the next Analogue series starts. Thanks for coming along. Oh, an by the way, WordPress free sites now only come with 1 Gig media storage, rather than 3 Gigs. Wahhhh!!!

In case you can’t find it, here is today’s post on my other site.

For today’s post click here.


Walk Toward the Light

All photos taken August 30, 2022, our last walk in Bunchberry until October 31, as it was closing during migration and ungulate rutting season.

As has frequently happened in the past, the media section of my free Photo Drop WordPress site is too full of photos to add new posts. I still have an Analogue Adventures series in the Photo Drop blog spot, but will delay it while I post about more recent adventures. The link will be updated in my Picture This posts. I will let you know when the next Analogue series starts. Thanks for coming along. Oh, an by the way, WordPress free sites now only come with 1 Gig media storage, rather than 3 Gigs. Wahhhh!!!

Our walks in Bunchberry seem to be getting earlier and earlier. Not a bad thing, as it is amazing what you see as the sun’s rise light the landscape.

Walk Toward the Light ©

Which way should we go,

clockwise or counter clockwise?

Walk toward the light!

Despite knowing better, we headed down one of the lesser used trails in Tucker’s Field to get to Bunchberry Meadows.

We had not walked this path for a few months, when grass and plants were smaller. At one point, it was hinted that perhaps I had taken a wrong turn, you know, zigged when I should have zagged. Nonetheless, we eventually found the good path.

In Bunchberry, the strong sideways light created some spectacular shots.

Pack your trunk.

The trail through the Tamarack grove was dark and a bit foreboding.

At one point, we took a slight jog off the path to look at one sunlit meadow

As the trail turned the corner by another meadow, the sun lit the dew covered cobwebs…

…and Tamarack needles

Patty enters the Tamarack tunnel

These cobwebs are a bit messier

The light and shadow play continued to enthrall

Fall is on the way

The Prairie Asters were still prolific

Just around the corner

A rare summer sighting. These Bohemian Waxwings were gathering, for what purpose, we do not know.

leaf colours like an out of sequence traffic light

at the junction with the Blueberry Connector

golden glow

a moose track indent by the toe of my boot

forest light

at our next deviation, we stumbled upon the Bunchberry motherlode

Aster glow

just about out of the forest

back out in the open

me and my shadow

the thicket by the parking lot – in the parking lot, we spotted a notice telling us Bunchberry would be closed from September 6 to October 31, to safeguard bird migration and for the ungulate rutting season. This will be our last walk here for a while.

rose hips

everywhere on our walk, the chattering of squirrels busy gathering their winter food stash was heard

Colourful display

sunny thicket

Back in the dew zone again

one lone Prairie Blazing Star getting to the end of its life cycle

glowing Canada Thistle

the meadows are no longer spring green

dragon flies were everywhere, but all that light on my bug jacket screen made it difficult to get a bead on them

looking back for one last glance into the light


Relocation Transportation Transformation Exploration – Part 2

All photos taken on August 24, 2022.

…now, where was I? Oh, yeah, bike riding through the Edmonton River Valley. In Part 1, we left our intrepid duo (always wanted to say that) at the James MacDonald Bridge roughly in the center of Edmonton.

At our rest stop, we discussed our options and decided to keep on riding West, eventually looking for a bite of lunch at any handy fast food joint. The day was ours…as long as we were home on the back deck for coffee by 1:30 PM.

The map below roughly shows our route. For some reason Google was no as up to date on Edmonton’s bike routes as it should have been. Our actual distance on this leg was closer to 22.4 km (14 miles), but we did do a bit of meandering, while looking for lunch and a place to eat it.

Now in Rossdale, we rode through Irene Parlby Park…

…past the Rossdale Power Plant and back to the Walterdale Bridge…another stunning view

Ahead, we could see the High Level Bridge (car traffic on lower decks and streetcar and train traffic on the upper, in the day). The bridge was opened in 1913. On the other side of the High Level was the Dudley B. Menzies LRT and pedestrian bridge, opened in 1992.

Between the bridges, so to speak.

Past these bridges, the wide multi use path followed alongside River Road, past Victoria Golf Course. The 2nd slide shows that the locally famous Taber, Alberta sweet corn is now on sale.

Up ahead, we spotted the Groat Bridge (named for Malcom Groat, a former Hudson’s Bay Company employee who settled in the Groat Estates area of Edmonton in the 1880s). A river rafting firm was doing a brisk business on this hot summer day.

Past the Groat Bridge, we entered MacKinnon Ravine Park, which almost became home to a freeway into downtown Edmonton, before a halt was called. After a steady uphill climb…

…we found ourselves on Summit Drive near 148 Street and 101 Avenue. A brief trip to the nearest Subway shop…

…and we set off to find a picnic spot.

This took a bit more time than we thought, as it had been a long time since we had been in this area.

At long last, we arrived at the edge of the river valley, where we enjoyed a hazy downtown Edmonton view and ate our sandwich under the shade of an evergreen tree.

We tootled around on Riverside Drive, before finding our way back out to 142 Street…

…and the bridge across the Mackenzie Ravine.

A series of service roads took us to Buena Vista Road which led back down into the river valley near the Edmonton Valley Zoo. The downhill ride was fast and traffic was busier than we expected, as everyone was looking for some R & R in the river valley.

At bottom of Buena Vista Rd and after badly negotiating the round-about, we found the bike path through Buena Vista Park. This is also an off-leash area, so we had to use caution to avoid the excited dogs. One of them even tried to race me.

We were looking for the Buena Vista/Hawrelak Park footbridge, when all of a sudden it appeared on our right. This was our way back across the river to the South bank.

After dawdling on the bridge for some river views, we rode the shortest route through Hawrelak Park…

…past the Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club (site of our very first date), past one of many abandoned Lime scooters littering Edmonton and back to Groat Road.

As we wanted to ride South back across the Walterdale Bridge to get to our car, we first crossed the river North on Groat Bridge…

…back to River Valley Road, where we turned Eastward. Bike and pedestrian traffic had picked up since our morning transit West

At the Walterdale Bridge, our end goal was in sight. One last look at the river.

Our distance travelled was 32.7 km (20 1/3 miles) and we had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Back home, in time for coffee. And no, I am not naked and drinking coffee from a huge straw. My wife thought this photo would be cute. You can be the judge. Thanks for riding along with us.


Relocation Transportation Transformation Exploration – Part 1

All photos taken on August 24, 2022.

Since our first attempt of transporting our folding E-bikes in the back of our Prius V for a river valley ride on July 29, 2022, we have been trying to get up the nerve to do it all again. Several things had to align to allow this:

  • modification of the load floor and loading procedure
  • a sufficient allotment of time from our obligations
  • the right weather – cooler in the morning with the promise of sunny weather all day

Today, was when all conditions seemed right:

  • Cardboard layer on bottom of cargo area replaced with hardboard and 2 small skates created to allow the bikes to slide in more easily
  • this day was a our last weekday without family obligations
  • the weather was going to be picture perfect, +17 C 62 1/2 F) at 9:00 AM and + 23 C (73 1/2 F) by about 12:00 Noon. The only slight hitch was whether the wildfire smoke in our area would be a problem.

The loading process at 8:00 AM

We had no set route today, except that we would start at the Kinsmen Sports Center where there was abundant parking, then ride East on the South Bank, crossing the river on the Dawson Bridge and then head back West on the North Bank. Depending on how long that all took, we might take a jaunt further West.

Below is that Eastern route and return to City Centre-ish

Unloading at Kinsmen Sports Center on Walterdale Hill Road at 9:45 AM

Heading out

The good thing about the bike paths in the river valley is that you are riding through forested areas, in the shade of the trees. This is why the river valley park network is called the Ribbon of Green.

The park system encompasses over 7,300 hectares (18,000 acres) of parkland, making it the largest contiguous area of urban parkland in the country. The park system is made up of over 30 provincial and municipal parks situated around the river from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, with trails connecting most of the parks together.

(Source: WIkipedia)

our path through Nellie McClung Park

a pause to admire this beautiful reflection of the new 5th Street bridge – our timing was perfect for lighting and calm water on the river

continuing on through Nellie McClung Park

taking in the city view from the Yurinatus Lookout

Pausing between the James MacDonald Bridge and the Low Level Bridge (pictured below)

about to dip down under the Low Level Bridge

a stop at Rafter’s Landing to see the newly refurbished Edmonton Riverboat and the Edmonton Convention Center (low glass front building and sloping glass roof) and Canada Place (pink) buildings) on the North bank – Covid and the river in winter were not kind to this riverboat business venture

riding past the new Tawatinâ Bridge LRT and pedestrian bridge

our E-bikes made short work of the hard climb up to Forest Heights Park

once again, we were presented with stunning city views – the last slide shows a bit of Commonwealth Stadium (home of our CFL Edmonton Elks football club – they are not doing so well this year, as it is a rebuild year (decade?)

an almost 360 degree panorama shot

back in the saddle, we rode across Rowland Road on a pedestrian overpass and again paused for the views