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Imperial Palace inner grounds

10 Dec

If you have ever visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, you most likely have only seen the outer grounds.
That is the area that is normally open to the public. There are only a few days each year that the general public are permitted to enter the inner grounds (and on those days, you must line up and go through a baggage search and pass a metal detector).

Last weekend was one of the rare occasions that the Imperial Palace inner grounds were open to the public.
People were allowed in to view (and photograph) the beautiful autumn colors in the royal gardens.

Last Sunday, my wife and I went there. Here are some of the photographs I took of the inner grounds:

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The staff quarters.

 

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This foundation is the remnants of the original castle from centuries ago. The roof of the famous Nippon-Budokan can be seen in the distance.

 

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The Imperial music hall.

 

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One of the original guards’ quarters

 

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From there, we walked to the 100 year old Tokyo Station for dinner.

 

Autumn leaves in Tokyo

29 Nov

Today my wife and I went to Iidabashi Station in Tokyo.

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From there we walked to Yasukuni Shrine to see the 銀杏 (Ginkgo trees) autumn foliage.

The Budokan can be seen from the entrance to Yasukuni Shrine entrance.

It says 「靖国神社」 (“Yasukuni Shrine”).

“TV Tokyo” was there filming.

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And then we walked to the Budokan:

The world-famous 武道館 (Budokan) in Tokyo.

A beer vending machine at the Budokan.

 

Eric Carr RIP

24 Nov

Eric Carr, the former drummer for KISS, died twenty-two years ago today.

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Here’s Eric Carr with KISS at the Budokan in Tokyo in 1988:

Postponed…or canceled?

6 Mar

As I mentioned in this post, the American hard rock band KISS were scheduled to perform in concert seven nights in a six-city tour around Japan this coming April (2011).

The KISS flyer for the four dates KISS were scheduled to perform in the Tokyo area.

I say that they “were scheduled” to come to Japan because it was announced today that KISS “postponed” their tour of Japan.

The "radio schedule" from the newspaper that the postponement of the KISS tour will be explained tonight.

My friend told me that the famous hard rock / heavy metal music critic / journalist Masa Ito mentioned on his radio show that KISS are now tentatively scheduled to come to Japan this autumn (2011).

Hopefully they won’t just decide to cancel the tour altogether.

A “Sonic Boom” will hit Japan

27 Feb

First of all, as I mentioned in this comment, the “2011 Tokyo International Marathon” was held today.

30,000 people from Japan and other countries ran the 42.195 KM (over 26 miles) course through the streets of Tokyo.
For the past five years now, the Tokyo Marathon has been an annual event held at the end of February.

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Anyways, my friend has just informed me that the American rock band KISS will be coming to Japan this April to play seven shows around Japan to support their “Sonic Boom” album.

(I did an interview with the artist who designed this album cover, by the way.)

The dates of the shows that KISS are scheduled to play in Japan are:

2011 April 13 – Nagoya, Japan at the Aichi Prefecture Gymnasium
2011 April 14 – Yokohama, Japan at the Pacifico Yokohama
2011 April 17 – Saitama, Japan at the Saitama Super Arena
2011 April 18 – Kobe, Japan at the World Hall
2011 April 20 – Tokyo, Japan at the Nippon Budokan
2011 April 21 – Tokyo, Japan at the Nippon Budokan
2011 April 23 – Sapporo, Japan at the Makomanai Indoor Stadium

Tickets for the shows in the Tokyo area (which are Yokohama, Saitama and Tokyo) will go on sale on 2011 March 12th.

I have seen KISS play in Japan in both Yokohama and Tokyo before. In Yokohama, I saw them at the “Yokohama Arena” (not the “Pacifico”, where they’ll being playing this time). In Tokyo, I saw them at both the “Tokyo Dome” and the “Nippon Budokan”.

An interesting thing about this tour is that KISS will play a show in Sapporo, Japan. KISS has played many shows in Japan since their first time here in the 1970’s and they’ve never played northern Japan before. I’m sure that KISS fans in Hokkaido are happy to hear that there will finally be a KISS concert in their area!

The name of the 「日本武道館」 (Nippon Budokan) in Tokyo means “Japan Martial-arts Hall”.
Traditionalists don’t really like the idea of musicians playing pop music in this “sacred” hall. The first pop band to play there were The Beatles when they first came to Japan. The traditionalists protested their concerts. But The Beatles drew huge crowds to the Budokan…and they held the record for the most consecutive sell-out shows there. They played four sold-out shows in a row at the Budokan.
But KISS beat The Beatles‘s record when they played five sold-out shows at the Budokan on their first Japan tour in the late ’70s.

Since then it’s become quite normal for musicians to perform at the Nippon Budokan. Even with the bigger and newer “Tokyo Dome” not far from the Budokan, upcoming Japanese pop stars still consider it a sign of success to play at the Nippon Budokan…not unlike American musicians playing at the “Madison Square Garden”.

The famous "Nippon Budokan"; Tokyo, Japan

Have you ever seen a KISS concert? If not, you’re missing out on the best live show by any band. Their shows are quite exciting…fire-breathing, blood, flying guitars, flying musicians, outrageous costumes, kabuki-style face paint.

To get an idea, watch this music promotion video for the single “Modern Day Delilah” from their most recent album “Sonic Boom”:

And, in a more good news for us KISS fans…the band has announced that a new KISS studio album of brand-new songs is due out later this year (2011)!

A number of newspapers in Japan had articles about the upcoming KISS tour here.
I bought today’s copy of 「夕刊フジ」 (“Yuukan-Fuji“) evening paper:

Here’s a close-up of the article about KISS:

 

The headline says: "Hell's group" KISS return for a Japan tour after four-and-a-half years!

靖国神社の桜祭り

8 Apr

Today my wife and I went to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is a beautiful shrine in Tokyo that is dedicated to all who have died defending Japan in battle.

Some of the WW2 veterans enshrined at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) have been classified as war criminals by Allied courts. So, for that reason, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is a controversial place, especially with neighboring Asian countries.

To me, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is Japan’s equivalent to America’s Arlington Veterans Cemetery in Washington D.C..
Nothing wrong with honoring those who sacrificed their lives for their country. (I’ve written a few other posts about 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)…click here to read one.)

Anyways, the reason we went to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) was to see the 桜祭り (Cherry Blossom Festival) there.

The (Cherry Blossoms) in Tokyo are close to the end of their short life. They are beginning to fall to the ground. Soon they’ll be gone until next year…so, as we do every year, we’re appreciating them before they’re gone.

Whenever the wind gently blew today, the 桜の花びら (petals of the Cherry Blossom flowers) would fall to the ground. It was like a beautiful pink snowfall!

Here are some of the photos we took today (in many of them, you can see the falling 桜の花びら (petals of the Cherry Blossom flowers)):

Entrance to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)

Entrance to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)

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Can you see the falling petals in this photo?

Can you see the falling petals in this photo?

You can see the falling petals in this picture too!

You can see the falling petals in this picture too!

Sakura petals are floating in the lake.

Sakura petals are floating in the lake.

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屋台 (Festival food booths)

屋台 (Festival food booth

Entrance to the world-famous 日本武道館 (Nippon-Budokan)

Entrance to the world-famous 日本武道館 (Nippon-Budokan)

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Statue of a 19th century Japanese politician 品川弥二郎 (Shinagawa Yajirou)

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December 8th

8 Dec

Today is 十二月八日 (December 8th). The 67th anniversary of 真珠湾攻撃 (the attack on Pearl Harbor). Actually, America observes it on December 7 because the attack occurred on Sunday, December 7, 1941 Hawaii time…but in Japan, it was already Monday, December 8, 1941 (due to the time difference).

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The anniversary of 真珠湾攻撃 (the attack on Pearl Harbor) is observed more in America than here in Japan, of course. In Japan, the WW2 anniversaries that are observed are the dates of atomic bombings of Japan (on August 6th and 9th) and the war’s end (on August 15th).

(Click here to read my post about the anniversary of the atomic bombing, click here to read my post about the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, and click here to read my interview with an American WW2 pilot.).

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Today is also the 28th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon (of the English band “The Beatles“), who was shot and killed on 千九百八十年十二月八日 月曜日」 (Monday, December 8, 1980) in New York City.

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I remember when I heard the news. I was eleven years old, and I had many classic rock albums (vinyl) that were given to me by my father and my uncle…including Pink Floyd, Cream, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith…and The Beatles. So, I knew who John Lennon was, and I was shocked that he was killed! Especially by a self-proclaimed Beatles fan!

Mark Chapman asked John Lennon to autograph the new (at that time) John Lennon / Yoko Ono album, “Double Fantasy” (which he did)…then he shot John Lennon in the back four times.

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(Mark Chapman’s police mugshot)

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(“Double Fantasy”)

John Lennon’s Japanese widow, オノ・ヨウコ (Yoko Ono) is in Tokyo for a concert to commemorate the 28th anniversary of John Lennon’s passing with a concert at the famous 日本武道館 (Nippon Budokan) called “John Lennon Super Live“.
At the promotion for the concert last week, she distributed pieces of a smashed clay pot that she made…and asked everyone who received a piece to return in ten years so that the pot can be reassembled.

Do you know that the world’s only official “John Lennon Museum” is in Japan?
It’s at the さいたまスーパー・アリーナ (Saitama Super Arena) near さいたま新都心駅 (Saitama Shintoshin Station) not too far from Tokyo.
Admission is ¥1500.