Obi Castle, Otemon Gate

Rebuilt 40 years ago, the main gate of the Obi castle in Miyazaki completes the Edo Period landscape offered by the surrounding streets, many of which are lined by old samurai residences, some of them still in their original form.

The castle was an important fortification at the end of the Sengoku Jidai, when two clans, Shimazu and Ito, fought hard to own it. The castle was dismantled at the beginning of the Meiji Period, like many other Japanese castles.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/250s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400
Ekiben
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Ekiben

Ekiben

Some of my favorite days in Japan are when I make short trips to nearby cities, often by taking the train for several hours. This also means that one of the meals will be an ekiben, a boxed meal bought at railway stations, made to be consumed in train.

It’s not only very convenient, but it is also delicious, because most of these ekiben are made with a large variety… When you’re in Japan, don’t miss the opportunity to taste in train a few ekiben variants. You won;t regret it!

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 40mm
Aperture: F/3.2
Shutter Speed: 1/60s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 2000
Beppu Umi Jigoku, the Sea Hell
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Beppu Umi Jigoku, the Sea Hell

Beppu Umi Jigoku, the Sea Hell

One of the boiling water lakes of Beppu, aptly named Umi Jigoku – the “Sea Hell” – is known to have appeared 1200 years ago after an eruption of Mount Tsurumi. The cobalt blue colored water springs at a temperature of 98°C (209°F), creating an eerie landscape.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/200s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 640
Shimabara Shinozuka samurai house
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Shimabara Shinozuka samurai house

Shimabara Shinozuka samurai house

One of the best preserved samurai houses in Shimabara belonged to the Shinozuka family, a low ranking samurai with an income of just 8-13 koku (1 koku was the quantity of rice enough to feed one person for one year).

It’s a typical samurai house, simple and without embellishments, and today it is opened to visitors decorated with life-size dolls representing the people living here during the Edo Period.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/60s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 1600
The less known and oldest geisha district in Kyoto
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

The less known and oldest geisha district in Kyoto

The less known and oldest geisha district in Kyoto

The geisha district in Nishijin, Kyoto, is a lot less known than the famous Gion, but it is the oldest of the remaining geisha venues.

Located close to the Kitano Tenmangū Shrine, it is called Kamishichiken, meaning “Seven Upper Houses”, a name referring to how the district was originally built, with seven tea houses made from material left over after the construction of the Kitano Shrine. Today, there are 11 tea houses and a few dozen geisha and maiko, maintaining the charm of the old times.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 44mm
Aperture: F/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/2000s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 1000
Higashi Hongan-ji
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Higashi Hongan-ji

Higashi Hongan-ji

The two large halls of the Higashi Honganji, the Amida Hall (on the left in the photo) and the Founders Hall (on the right) were reconstructed at the end of the 19 century after they burned during the “Forbidden Gate Incident” (Kinmon no Hen).

Both are constructions representative for the Japanese Buddhist architecture, and the materials for the reconstruction were donated from various areas of Japan: the wood was brought from the Hokuriku region, the roof tiles from the Aichi Prefecture, and the tatami mats from Osaka and Owari.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/250s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400
The Osaka Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel will reopen
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

The Osaka Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel will reopen

The Osaka Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel will reopen

The once famous Ferris Wheel of the Ebisu Tower in Dotonbori, Osaka, well known to visitors as the building housing the Don Quijote store, will reopen on January 19, after major renovation work that took 10 years.

With a maximum height of 77 meters, it offers a wonderful image over the vivid colored neighborhood, and will add another attraction to this fascinating area.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon D90
Lens: 8-16mm F/4.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 8mm
Aperture: F/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/80s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400
Local delicacies in Japan, Tama Konnyaku
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Local delicacies in Japan, Tama Konnyaku

Local delicacies in Japan, Tama Konnyaku

Products made of konjac (konnyaku in Japanese) were consumed in Japan since the oldest times, both as food and as medicinal plant. Either prepared simple or combined with other plants (such as hijiki, a type of algae) konnyaku is an ingredient used for oden, and it is also made into noodles for sukiyaki and gyūdon.

Photographed here is a product specific to the Yamagata Prefecture called tama konnyaku (“konnyaku ball”). Boiled in soy broth, it is served with Japanese mustard, and since it is high in fiber but low on calories, it makes for a healthy snack.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: VR 28-300mm F/3.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 65mm
Aperture: F/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/400s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 800
Samurai strategy meeting in Kokura castle
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Samurai strategy meeting in Kokura castle

Samurai strategy meeting in Kokura castle

Although it is a reconstructed castle and its architecture is not very attractive compared to the original Japanese castles, for fun or learning the Kokura castle is one of the best in Japan.

Photographed here is one of its attractions, a small theatrical play about a samurai strategy meeting in Kokura castle, played by life-sized mechanical dolls.

Inspired by a painting, it presents the meeting between the lord of the Kokura castle, Ogasawara Tadazane (middle) and his main vassals (among which we can see front-left Miyamoto Yori, the adopted son of Miyamoto Musashi) before joining the armies gathered to suppress the Shimabara Rebellion.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/3.2
Shutter Speed: 1/60s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 2000
Japanese trains, Ibusuki no Tamatebako
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Japanese trains, Ibusuki no Tamatebako

Japanese trains, Ibusuki no Tamatebako

One of the amazing trains of JR Kyushu is the limited express Ibusuki no Tamatebako, running 3 times a day between Kagoshima-Chūō and Ibusuki.

Originally a regular KiHa 47 type, the train has the interior modified by the industrial designer Eiji Mitooka. Photographed here is the car nr.1, featuring swivel chairs on the side facing the ocean and a small library, all made of teak wood.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 34mm
Aperture: F/8
Shutter Speed: 1/60s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 2000
Yamadera stairs
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Yamadera stairs