Category Archives: Japan

Blog Japan 2006.

東京 渋谷

Here are some pictures I took in Shibuya, Tokyo, on August 24. The area might be one of Tokyos most famous spots at night, contributing to the citys image of a futuristic metropolis with its overload of neon signs, but it’s a rather dull place by day in my opinion.

In several wards of Tokyo, smoking on the streets is banned, and Shibuya is one of them. An endless number of signs makes you aware of that, but not everyone obeys. Those who do, however, have to find one of the not-so-numerous smoking areas to get their daily dose of nicotine.

The endless number of people who congest the place is astounding. The best place to witness this is the Shibuya Starbucks franchise, located on the opposite side of the big crossing in front of Shibuya station.


Fushimi-Inari Grand Shrine. On August 16, I went to Kyoto to see a festival during which big fires in the shape of chinese characters are lit on the edges of five mountains surrounding Kyoto. I Have included a picture showing one of characters at the bottom of the post.

Prior to the festival, which begins after sunset, a visit to the quite impressive Fushimi-Inari Grand Shrine was on the schedule. In there is enshrined Inari, the Shinto deity responsible for the protection of rice harvest and sake brewery. The Inari shrine in Kyoto is the head shrine for all other Inari shrines in Japan. Most impressive about it are countless Torii, lined up covering the paths which lead up to the peak of the mountain east of the shrine.

The fox is considered Inaris little helper, and you can find numerous statues depicting this animal everywhere around the shrine.


Kobe. On August 14th I went to see Kobe, which is only about 25 minutes by train from central Osaka. Kobe is mostly known for the big earthquake that destroyed large parts of the city in 1995. Apart from the mandatory shrines and temples, the city features some awkward tourist attractions which are rather boring in my opinion.

In case you should wonder, the barrels in the picture below contain Sake.

What I noticed about Kobe was the unusually high number of churches belonging to various christian confessions.

One of the main attractions is Chinatown, which basically consists of two streets lined with chinese restaurants and lots of chinese decoration. It’s really no match for other chinese influenced districts in cities like New York and was full of tourists, who instantly adopted the chinese habit of forming queues everywhere.

I took the next picture in the harbour area, and it doesn’t fit in anywhere. I like it though, so I decided to include it in the post.

In the northern district of Kobe, close to the Shin-Kobe railway station, is a ropeway which leads to a viewing spot in the mountains. Being another of the city’s attractions it was heavily frequented by tourists, probably due to the easy accessibility. The descent on foot offered some nice views of a lake and a waterfall (apart from being cheaper than taking the ropeway back).

The next picture shows a schedule for arriving and departing flights to and from Kobe Aiport which I found at the viewing platform, for those tourists subject to an airplane fetish.

Vending Machines

The Japanese seem to be very fond of everything convenient, especially vending machines. Probably the most infamous are those which feature used pantys, but I have yet to see one of those – until then, they remain one of the many urban myths about Japan. What you see when you walk the streets though, at most hundred meters apart, are vending machines offering drinks of every imaginable kind, cooled down to only a few degrees Celsius above zero. Even if you climb the highest mountain to reach the most remote shrine on its peak, you can be sure to find a vending machine on the top, ready to make up for the loss of body fluids you experienced during the ascent.