Friday, 17 January 2014

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You: Some of my (Many) Pictures from Japan!

So you see, Sayaka wanted to see some more pictures from my trip to Japan, and since Sayaka's wish is my command, I will now treat you all to my holiday photos. Looking at other peoples' holiday photos can be a bit, um, hell-on-earth-ish? I fully realise that. But, I will do my best not to be too boring. And to post pictures that might give you an idea of what it was like to be there at the time - that's how I try to take photos. So that when I look at a picture, I will remember the feeling of looking at the thing I was photographing. 

So, the first thing you notice when you set foot on Miyajima Island, because that's what I'm focusing my little post on today (little? Who am I kidding?) is the deer. Like Nara, Miyajima has tame deer walking around, doing what they please. 

 Now, as someone who's been bitten in the ass by a so-called tame deer before, I was understandably a bit wary. You can probably see the fear on my face right there. But unlike the Nara deer, who will just walk up to you and try to snatch food out of your hands, your bag or even your pockets (that's how I got my, ah, upper thigh munched on) the Miyajima deer were more of the mindset that if we all left each other alone, we'd get along just fine. Whew!

Here is a close-up of one of the legs of the famous torii gate. Victor was picking at the clams and seaweeds growing on it, since the gate stands right in the path of the tide. So you really get an idea of how big it is!

And this is what you saw when you looked up - the enormous arch of the bright orange gate against the blue, blue sky. Victor called me a retard for taking this photo, but like I said, I wanted to remember that moment, of looking up and up and just marveling at how big the gate was, and how endless that sky seemed. 

Miyajima had a pagoda, amongst its many other wonders. I think we actually didn't have time to go in there, that's how much there is to do and see on that island. But it made for some beautiful photos. 

GAAH! We came across this fellow  in one of the shrines on the island, and Victor immediately dubbed it "Satan's own horsie".  It was, if possible, even more unsettling in person. 

This bridge was so beautiful, even if it was being repaired. And I like pictures where the person in them isn't aware they're being photographed. (Yes, including pictures of me.) 

And this is the view from that bridge. Beautiful, isn't it?

We didn't meet the people who lived here, but I was struck with serious house envy. Because come on, isn't this the coolest house ever - especially with that glass veranda, siiigh! I want a house like that! The curved roofs aren't built like that to provide easy footholds for ninja, by the way - but to make snow slide off more easily in the winter. Or so I've been told. Could just be a cover-story the ninjas came up with, I guess.  

There's no humor quite like Japanese humor. The path leading up to the ropeway was dotted with these signs, consistently telling you the distance in "walk" and "run" mode. Sadly, the ropeway was closed because there had been storms the night before, so we had to go back down. 


We decided to walk up to the temple complex on top of another hill instead. There were many, many stone steps, and alongside them you would find statues like this - wrapped up in scarves and knitted hats to protect the stone from eroding in the rain. 

Now this picture, it just kills me. Because every once in a while, I'll take a photo that captures Victor in the sexiest pose ever. And I'll just sit back in amazement that I'm married to such a beautiful man. I mean, just look at this guy! I die, I die! 
(He'd be so embarrassed if he ever saw this, haha!)

Up top, you could buy these dharuma-doll shaped votive tablets and write your wishes on them before hanging them up. And at some point - maybe at the end of the day? - a priest will take them all down and burn them, releasing all the wishes into the heavens.  

This is the view from up there - I think you can just see the big torii gate as a tiny orange speck in the distance there, right in the middle! I like how the trees have been allowed to grow around the buildings and wrap themselves around them, almost. It really makes you feel relaxed when you visit, like you're that one step closer to becoming one with nature. Ah, I can't explain it! But it's a lovely feeling. 

We came across this sleeping Buddha shrine up there, and isn't it just beautiful? The lanterns, the light, the rows of clay statues behind him... And what was really interesting were the sacrifices in front of this shrine - and any other shrine you could leave sacrifices on, for that matter. Because people were being practical about the sacrifices, you see, so they left nothing but tinned goods. Fruit and vegetables, mainly, it was all strictly vegetarian. 

There were so many of these separate shrines up on that mountain, but this one really fascinated me. I wonder what the text on that rock means? As we started our descent, we went right back where we'd come up, past rows and rows of behatted little statues. It made us speculate out loud about who crochets all those hats? The statues seemed to watch us as we went pas them. 

 Next up, we visited this building - or rather, buildings, it was all a huge, inter-connected shrine complex, linked by walkways on poles, and facing the torii gate down on the beach. 

You walk through these corridors, lined with red, ducking and diving past the other tourists and waiting for them to leave so you can get good shots. But you also smell the seawater, and hear the planks creaking gently under your feet. 

I wonder what it would be like to work in a place like this. Would you eventually get used to all the beauty around you, would it become everyday? Or would you always be slightly giddy, walking on those boards? 

They give concerts and traditional dance performances here, I've been told, and you can watch the show while the water slowly creeps up around the torii gate's legs for high tide. However, neither of us had a spare kidney to sell, and besides, we were keen to get back to Hiroshima before it got dark. So no show for us. We didn't mind though - the island itself was the biggest show of all!

There was a curved path leading to and from the ferry-station, and this was the perfect place to take photos, framing the gate with pine tree branches and stone lanterns to give your pictures some extra depth. 

Or you could just fool around. 

So here's Victor, Bruce Lee-ing it up. I tell you, you can take the boy out of Hong Kong... I didn't make him do this, by the way, he just kind of started leaping around and going "HI-YAH!" And I have to post this picture in revenge for the one he made me pose for, which was even cheesier. 

Ta-dah! Can you say, "Lonely Planet Catalogue?" What I was actually saying was probably more along the lines of, "Are you sure you want me to do this? This is what you want?" 
But oh well, if I'm going to show you tourist photos, we might as well be acting like tourists in them, right?

By the way, if you have read all the way to the bottom, congratulations. I wish I had a reward to give you, but you will have to content yourself with internet brownie points. And a cute sleeping baby Buddha, with his pet rat. 


  1. Oh! I love all of your photos. We are thinking of taking a family vacation to Japan next year (if these kids can stop racking up emergency room hospital bills and mommy can slow her roll).

    My favorite pictures (besides the awesome ones of you and Victor, of course) were any picture with Buddha wearing a crochet hat. I love it. I love t so much it hurts. Just the story behind that story behind that story. I would love to know everything about those hats. Why did someone make them? How many people make them? Who decides when Buddha gets a new one? Why is there that one bald Buddha? What happened to his hat? Did somebody take it? What did they do with it! Did they put it on their own Buddha at home? Or did they need it for their baby? And then will they die and the baby will grow up having only that one hat as his possession. And he will want to know about it. Where it came from. More about his parents. And then he will track it all the way back to the bald Buddha and place the worn cap gently on his cold bald head and finally say good bye to the past.

    Oh the stories!

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Omigosh, I love that you just created that whole little story out of those two photos! I have LOTS of behatted Buddha pictures saved from that trip, if you want I can send you some in an email, and you can use them for whatever creative endeavour you like - if you decide to work that story into a writing challenge, for instance, feel free to pepper it with my photos.

      On a slightly more boring note, I bet it's just their version of a church group that gets together, lots of little old ladies and the odd grandchild who's learned to crochet, and just sit there and chat, drink tea and make hats. ;)

      I'm crossing my fingers for you that you'll be able to take that trip, because Japan is so wonderful! One place that's nice is Hiroshima - everyone is super friendly to foreigners, most people speak English, have English menus etc. And then you're very close to this island, too! (Miyajima, I mean.) Even if you decide your kids are too young for the atomic bomb museum, there's lots of things to see in Hiroshima.

  2. I love these photos Gwen! I feel like I'm learning about my country from you! You've probably seen more than I have of Japan!
    I love the picture of you on the bridge and the last's so peaceful!

    1. Haha, I'm sure that's not true! Though since we're just travelling and exploring, we do try to visit different cities and areas each time we go - I'm guessing your main reason for going is reconnecting with family, right? You would LOVE Miyajima, though, I bet your whole family would. And the deer are a LOT less scary, promise! ;)

      I need to find more bridges to pose on! ;) There's a nice on in Regent's park, hmm... ;)

  3. So awesome!!! Please post travel photos, all the time. I LOVE looking through them. Sayaka isn't the only one! lol It's travel porn, and I need more of it in my life. Likely I'll never visit these places, so I get to "visit" them in some small way through your photos. Or, your photos will inspire me to visit someplace new. Keep the travel photos coming, lady!

    This place just looks worlds away from where I'm at, you know? I'm a sucker for architecture and historic monuments, too. When I travel someplace new, I just want to wander around and document everything in photos. I don't even need to necessarily "do" anything!

    And those pesky deer? We met some brave ones in the Florida Keys. Apparently they swim from island to island (I know, right? Deer swimming across the channel?) and spend their evenings loitering around the resort's outdoor dining rooms. We watched a deer with a rack jump up on a couple's table for two and snatch bread out of their bread basket. It was hilarious for us because it didn't happen to us. So I understand the sheer terror masked by a nervous smile in your deer photo!

    <3 Liz

    1. You know, Miz Liz, it's funny you should say that because I was actually thinking of making it a weekly thing, posting travel photos on a Friday. We do have a bit of a backlog of photos, and it would actually help me sort through them for our future beautiful scrapbook albums that I'm so definitely planning to create... someday. Victor is full of mockery for this rumored "someday".

      Anyways, I'm glad you enjoyed them! I guess next week I could either post some more pictures from Japan (Hiroshima, probably, or Tokyo), or a few more from San Fran. (So much graffiti art!) Eventually I'd get on to our trip to Paris in November as well... I literally have so. many. photos! I think I'm like you, sometimes just documenting where we walk is awesome in its own right!

      Oh holy Batman, those deer sound hilarious! I would have died laughing... and hidden behind my menu, hoping they wouldn't come to our table next! You just reminded me, there was *one* psycho deer at the island - we saw him trying to eat a poster that had blown down in this really... aggressive way? Haha, eating laminated paper is probably not very good for a herbivore, but nobody was going *near* him!