Five Storied Pagoda

Five storied pagoda (五重塔) is located between the big Torii Gate and Nio Mon Front Gate (仁王門) of Toshogu shrine (東照宮), at the World Heritage site in Nikko city, Tochigi prefecture.
Toshogu shrine is a shinto shrine complex at which Ieyasu TOKUGAWA (徳川家康) is enshrined with the name of Tosho Daigongen (東照大権現).

Ieyasu Tokugawa (Image from Wiki)

To fully enjoy what Toshogu shrine has to offer, you, as an individual, got to pay 1300 JPY (around $15), however, taking a look at this 36 meters high pagoda is absolutely free of charge!

This is a That's my world and Ruby Tuesday entry.




Shinto religion is strict and abhorrent of the status called "Kegare (穢れ)". After passing the entrance gate of a shrine, you are supposed to purify yourself at the "water ablution pavilion" named Temizuya (手水舎). With a sacred water running at the Temizuya, you wash your hands and rinse out your mouth. You can find a variety of animal statues "spitting" sacred water. Dragon is one of the common animals you can find at Temizuya since the dragon is regarded as a Suijin - water deity- (水神).

It looks a bit evil, but don't worry, the dragon will not bite your hands!

This is a Black and White Weekend, Shadow Shot Sunday #141.


Have a wonderful weekend.


Festival In Kanuma City

We don't have many matsuri (festivals) during winter and we miss them so much. So I decided to post a matsuri photo taken in Kanuma city, Tochigi Prefecture. When we were there, my wife was wearing a black T-shirt with a big logo saying "I♡Tochigi" (in Japanese). It really worked and everybody was friendly to her and she felt that she was a Celebrity (alternatively they were just laughing at her and it was all her misinterpretation!).

Each district has its own Mikoshi float. The floats in Kanuma city are well-known for their detailed carvings all over the main structure. They have four wooden wheels and are pulled by district members. As you can see in the photo taken by a film camera (Nikon F801S), a float has a small front stage to entertain the audience with live music played by a traditional orchestra hidden behind the stage.

If you want to know it more in detail, we have articles regarding this autumn festival (part 1 and part 2).

If you don't feel like reading, then you can enjoy photos taken during the festival: day 1 part 1, day1 part 2 float, day 2, hair style (recommended), Mikoshi float map night photos (recommended) , locals.

This is an entry for Show Me Japan Vol 1, Issue 11. If you want to see nice photos taken in Japan, don't forget to visit.

This is also an entry for Sky Watch Friday.


A Pair Of Monkeys Part 2

Photographed in Nikko city, Tochigi Prefecture. A poor little baby is clinging to its mom.

If you want to know more about them, please click the image below.

This is a Sepia Scenes #118 and Alphabe-Thursday entry. P is for Pair and Poor.



Jizo Statues

Photographed at Tage Fudoson (多気不動尊) in Utsunomiya city. These statues are called Mizuko Kuyo Jizouson (水子供養地蔵尊). Please click the links if you are curious about these baby-looking statues in red bibs and hats and the corresponding Buddhist ceremony.

This is a That's my world and Ruby Tuesday entry.



Sacred Tree

The trees are called Sakaki () - literally Sacred Tree in Japanese (Kanji/漢字), which are indispensable for Shinto ritual ceremonies. Branches are cut down from trees and decorated with shide (紙垂) strips of washi paper (Japanese paper), silk, or cotton, to serves as Tamagushi (玉串).

Dedicated Tamagushi in front of portable shrine

At any occasion of Shinto ritual ceremonies, Tamagushi is dedicated to a Shinto deity at Shrines and/or mikoshi (portable shrine). The top part of the branch is pointing towards you.

Note the orientation of Tamagushi.
The first B&W photo was taken with a Sigma DP1s and the rest of colors - with a Nikon D200 at Futaarayama shrine (二荒山神社), Utsunomiya city.

This is a Black and White Weekend, Shadow Shot Sunday #140, Scenic Sunday 131, and Photo Friday entry. This week's challenge for Photo Friday is "Tree".


Have a wonderful weekend.


Komine Castle

Komine Castle (白河小峰城), in Shirakawa city, Fukushima Prefecture, is one of the 100 famous Japanese castles. It was built in A.D. 1340 by Chikatomo YUKI (結城親朝). In 1868 during the Boshin War (戊辰戦争). the Castle was destroyed in the local battle called Battle of Aizu (会津戦争).

After the battle, this poor castle looked like the photo below...

Ruined Komine Castle (Image from Wiki)
After the war, what was left was the moat and part of the stone walls. The turret and the Gozenmon gate (御前門) were rebuilt in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

This is an entry for Show Me Japan Vol 1, Issue 10. If you want to see nice photos taken in Japan, don't forget to visit.

This is also an entry for Sky Watch Friday.



Mikoshi Carrier

Photographed during Otariya Festival (春渡祭). He is one of the Mikoshi carriers so relieved to be done carrying that damn heavy Mikoshi!

This is a Sepia Scenes #117 entry.


Welcome Home

Photographed during Otariya Festival (春渡祭) at Futaarayama Shrine (二荒山神社) in Utsunomiya city.

Mikoshi is a portable shrine that is occupied by  shinto deity - Toyokiiribiko (豊城入彦命) in this case. After the procession in Utsunomiya downtown in the snow storm, this shinto deity in the mikoshi managed to come home (Main Hall of Futaarayama Shrine) without any delay or troubles.

Below is another photo taken during the festival.

And our video.

This is a That's my world entry.


Mikoshi Procession in the Snow

Murphy's Law!

The first snowfall of this winter strikes on Otariya festival (春渡祭) that took place today. It happened just when we went to photograph the Mikoshi procession in Utsunomiya downtown.

This is an entry for Show Me Japan Vol 1, Issue 9. If you want to see nice photos taken in Japan, don't forget to visit.

 This is also a Sunday In My City entry.

Here is our video.


Currently Under Construction

No No No, the title does not mean the current status of this blog...

Do you remember this photo below?

This is part 2 of this construction that took place in our neighborhood.

This is a Black and White Weekend and Shadow Shot Sunday entry.


Have a wonderful weekend.


Anonymous Tree

Part 5 of the Buddhist Guardian ....

No No No, that Buddha statue series is just over!

This anonymous tree by the Sainoko Lake (西ノ湖) must be a centenarian (or double?). Needless to say, the weather was lovely when I photographed it with my favorite lens, Fisheye (15 mm, F2.8).

If you want to know more details about this lake, please click here.

Other photos taken at this lake are here:

This is an entry for Sky Watch Friday.




I am pleased to announce that, finally, this is the last entry (part 4) of the Buddhist Guardian series. I am sure that all of you guys are relieved to hear that.

He is "The last Statue Standing", named Abatsumara (阿跋摩羅), one of the four Guardians at Yashamon Gate (夜叉門) of Taiyuin (大猷院) at the World Heritage site in Nikko city, Tochigi Prefecture. Taiyuin is a Buddhist temple at which the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu Tokugawa (徳川家光) is worshipped.

Abatsumara is not as explicit as Kendara, but more than Bidara and Umarokya. Like Kendara, his knees are naked, whereas in the case of Bidara and Umarokya, their knees have companion kneepads of catfish and elephant, respectively.

He holds a golden stick in his right hand as a weapon and his left forefinger is pointing upward (toward heaven?). I am not sure of the significance of this pose...

Let's take a closer look at him.

Close-up view of his face
Close-up view of his waist

His orange hair is all standing up. Unlike others, he has no fierce fangs but shining white teeth. Well, his eyebrows need to be trimmed... Note the skin of white tiger around his waist. It's a unique feature of him. He does not have a pair of shoes.

He's a guardian of the "East".

Before ending this series, I would like to mention the background, which is carved with flowers. Can you tell what these flowers are?
Lower one is covered with Goldl!!!
They are all Peonies that appear behind all of the four statues. I am not certain why peony was chosen. Anyway, based on that, Yashamon Gate is also called Botanmon gate (牡丹門; Botan - Peony, Mon - Gate).

Tokugawa Clan's Emblem
Can you see the emblem above? I know it's hard to find but it is the emblem (家紋) of the Tokugawa clan (徳川氏).

All right. That's it!

Thanks for your patience.

This is a Alphabe-Thursday entry. "N" is for Nikko.

If you haven't seen his friends, be prepared to be thrilled!