Using the Metro in Tokyo, Japan, can be a bit daunting. I’ve ridden subways in cities all over the world, from Shanghai to Paris to New York City, but none is more complex than the system in Tokyo. Even the official map of the system looks like so much spaghetti.
The single most confusing issue is that not all lines are operated by the same company. Some are owned by private railway companies, while others are operated by the city. Tickets are not interchangeable between the city lines and private companies, so you need to plan ahead. Decide ahead of time which lines you plan to use, in order to purchase the correct ticket. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. Japan’s weather ranges from brutally cold winters to sweltering summer sun and monsoon rains. This Japanese girl with umbrella in Tokyo’s Hama-rikyu Gardens already knows how to use her umbrella against sun and rain. While the practice of carrying umbrellas makes for precious photos, Japanese tend to be much shorter than me. As a result, Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. Zojoji Temple is a mere shadow of the complex that once stood on the present day site in Tokyo, Japan. In past centuries, 3,000 priests lived there, working and praying in more than 48 temples and 150 schools.
Zojoji Temple is, however, still home to the mausoleums of six Tokugawa Shoguns and their family members. It’s 69-foot high entrance gate is the oldest wooden structure in Tokyo and the only remaining part of the original temple. The complex is also famous for its giant Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. The Five-storied Pagoda on Miyajima Island, near Hiroshima, Japan, was built in 1407. It is dedicated to the Buddha of Medicine, and originally held images of the deity and some lesser saints. Unfortunately, the images were removed around the beginning of the 20th century, when Japan was emerging from its feudal society. Although the building overwhelmingly displays features in the Japanese style of construction, it also incorporates some Chinese design elements. The most unique feature is the pagoda’s central pillar, which Read More
“Hey look at that! The taxi driver opened his door while he was driving down the street toward a passenger.” Matt, the 16-year old son of my traveling companions, Leanne and Tony Argyle, pointed out what turned out to be a neat bit of technology. In Japan, taxi drivers push a button to automatically open the rear door as they pull up to a passenger.
Automatic taxi doors were just the tip of the iceberg. There were vending machines that sold almost anything imaginable, even cigarettes! My young friend and his sister, Cailtin, wondered about the potential for minors to purchase smokes. A quick Google search put our minds at ease. A chipped, adult ID card is required to purchase cigarettes from vending machines. The Argyles spent one day at a Japanese auto plant and returned with tales of life-size dancing robots. Even the parking garages are high-tech. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. A waxing tide floods the massive wooden legs of Torii Gate on Miyajima Island. The entire island, located across the bay from Hiroshima, Japan, is a spiritual wonderland. Designated as one of the top three most beautiful sites in Japan, it is covered in shrines, the most famous of which is Itsukushima Shrine. Read More