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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.

 

“Water Throwing Festival” 2014

18 Aug

Yesterday was one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals. The 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).

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Were you there? I was there, but not as a spectator. I have been a member of a group in this festival for nine years. I’m one of the people carrying a 神輿 (portable shrine) in this festival.

This festival isn’t held annually like most festivals. It’s held every three years. So the next time will be in August 2017.

It’s often called 「水かけ祭り」 ( the “Water-throwing Festival” ) because spectators throw buckets of water on the participants. And even the Tokyo Fire Department sprays us with firehoses!

I wrote a post the last few times I’ve participated in this festival. The last time, the Emperor and Empress of Japan attended the festival!
Click here to see that post with photos. It was a rare opportunity that we were able to see the royal couple so close!

Here are a few of the excellent photos that my wife took.

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Emperor’s 80th birthday

20 Dec

This is another three-day-weekend in Japan.
Monday, December 23rd is 「天皇誕生日」 (“The Emperor (of Japan)’s birthday”).

The Emperor will turn 80 years old on Monday!

When I participated in the 「深川八幡宮水かけ祭り」 (Fukugawa-Hachiman-gu Water-throwing Festival) in August 2012, I passed in front of the Emperor and Empress who had come to watch the festival.

In Japan, Christmas isn’t a legal holiday. It’s a regular working day.
But the Emperor’s birthday is a holiday…almost everyone has the day off.

The Emperor of Japan greets the public at the palace grounds twice a year. On his birthday and on January 2nd.
These are the only two days a year that the public are permitted into the inner palace grounds.

The Boss meets the Emperor

26 Mar

First of all, today (2013 March 26) is the fifth anniversary of my blog.

I wrote the first post on 2008 March 26.

As of today, my blog has gotten about 1,600,000 hits … that averages to about 895 hits per day over the five years – – but that’s not really accurate because my blog averages 1000 hits a day now, but less than 50 a day when I first started it in 2008.

Thanks to all my site’s visitors … especially you! Please leave a comment!

Anyways, I found out about a new movie about post-WW2 Japan titled “Emperor” starring Tommy Lee Jones as U.S. Army General Douglas McArthur.

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Do you know who Gen. McArthur was?

He is very well-known in Japan.

General McArthur was in charge of the U.S. military  during the war against Japan … and also during the occupation of Japan after the war ended.

Japanese people respect McArthur because he respected the Japanese people.

Tommy Lee Jones is also respected in Japan.
He is known to everyone here as the “face” of Suntory’s Boss Coffee.

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  In the Boss Coffee TV commerials, Tommy Lee Jones acts and sounds like a Japanese man.
He’s an excellent actor.

Have you seen the movie “Emperor” ?

Water-throwing Festival

20 Aug

I am a member of group that carries a two-ton 神輿 (portable shrine) every three years in the 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).

This festival occurs in Tokyo on the third weekend of August. The festival is held every year…but the big, main festival is only every three years.

It was last held in August 2008 and was due again in August 2011 (last year)…but after the 2011 March 11th earthquake in the Tohoku area of Japan, the 2011 festival was postponed a year.

So, it was held eight days ago (on 2012 August 12th) and will be next held in 2015.

In 2008, I wrote a post about the festival with many photos and videos that my wife took. (Click here to read it.)

Anyways, this festival is nicknamed the 「水掛け祭り」 (“Water-tossing Festival”) because all along the 6km (3.8 mile) course, people vigorously throw water on the people carrying the portable shrines.


Also, the Tokyo Volunteer Fire Department sprayed us with fire hoses!

When we “carry” the 神輿(portable shrines), we don’t simply “carry” them…the teams often turns them around and around…and also toss them up and catch them!

From start to finish, it’s a ten-hour day! I was very sore and tired the next day…but it was fun.

One big thing that made this year’s different from previous years was that a team from the earthquake-stricken area of Tohoku joined the festival…and the Emperor and Empress of Japan came to watch!

The 神輿 (portable shrine) from the earthquake stricken area of Tohoku, Japan.

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下) at the festival! 

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下).

Were you one of the estimated 50,000 spectators at this festival? Were you, like me, one of the 3,000 participants?


Does your country have a festival anything like this?

“Christmas Cosplay” Contest

25 Dec

Last Thursday was 「冬至」 (Winter Solstice). I’ve written about it before.
This is a day in Japan that pumpkins and Yuzu fruit are important for one’s health.

Click here to read the post I wrote that explains more.

And last Friday was 「天皇誕生日」 (the Japanese Emperor’s 78th birthday).

Members of the Japanese Royal Family, including the Emperor and Empress, in front of the crowd that came to the Imperial Palace to listen to the Emperor's birthday speech.

And today is 「クリスマス」 (Christmas).
Yahoo! Japan is currently running the 「第4回クリスマスコスプレ・コンテスト」 (4th annual Christmas Cosplay Contest) for pets.

It’s a photo contest of pets dressed up for Christmas that Yahoo! Japan is running on their website.

People can upload a photo of their pet in a Christmas setting and visitors to the site can vote for their favorite photo.

Here are some of the photos:

I like this one a lot...but it's currently only at 390th place!

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#19

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Fifth place

And the top three…

Third place

Second place

First place

Last year, I wrote about another pet photo contest that Yahoo! Japan ran. Click here to see that post.

And I also wrote a post about a popular Japanese parenting magazine’s funny “Crying Baby Video Contest“. Click here to visit that post.

Let me introduce you to…

13 Nov

I have written a number of posts about interesting people. Most of whose stories are related to Japan in some way.
Maybe you haven’t seen many of them…so I decided to put links to all of them on a new page that I titled “Who’s Who?“.

Please check them out and leave comments to let me know what you think.

The new page is here.