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Journal entries by thomas

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Initially, a few islets in Tokyo Bay that housed artillery batteries to defend Edo, Odaiba (お台場) is an artificial island shared by the Tōkyō wards of Kōtō, Minato, and Shinagawa. It was expanded in the 1990s and was devised as a seaport district with industrial facilities, residential and...
Akishima is one of the bedroom towns of western Tōkyō you pass when moving along the Tama River. It's astounding to discover how some inconspicuous places you have rolled by dozens of times are so fraught with history—either dating back millions of years or touching upon tragic events that took...
thomas
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Local sights and landmarks: Sakunobe Castle. Sakunobe Castle (作延城 Sakunobe-jō) was a flat mountain castle (平山城 hirayamajō) in present-day Shimosakunobe, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki, allegedly constructed by Inage Saburō Shigenari (稲毛三郎重成), a member of the Oyamada clan in the early Kamakura period...
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Local sights and landmarks: Kuji Entōbunsui (久地円筒分水, "Kuji Cylindrical Water Diversion") The Kuji Entōbunsui is located in Takatsu Ward, Kawasaki. It is a diversion trough constructed to divide the water of Nigaryō Canal (二ヶ領用水) to several formerly agricultural areas further downstream. It is...
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The City of Hino (日野市) in western Tōkyō is famous for two things: the ancient Takahata Fudō temple and for being the birthplace of Hijikata Toshizō, the vice-commander of the infamous Shinsengumi brigade. It also houses the headquarters of Hino Motors and Orient Watch. To learn more about...
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Two weeks ago, Asahi Shinbun ran an article in their "Retro Japan" series featuring the Mito Water Tower (水戸市水道低区配水塔 Mitoshi Suidōteiku Haisuitō), or lit. "Mito City Water Supply Low District Water Tower," a structure I remember from previous visits to the town. I found the unusual architecture...
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Kure, known for its port, shipbuilding industry, and naval base, is particularly famous for its association with Japan's mightiest battleship, the Yamato. Located in southwestern Hiroshima Prefecture, the city has an excellent natural harbour serving as Japan's second-largest naval port to this...
thomas
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Again, veering off bicycle tracks taken dozens of times made me discover this gem of a temple on the steep slopes of the Akigawa valley. It was well worth the climb! Kōtokuji (広徳寺), formally known as Ryūkakuzan Kōtokuji (龍角山l広徳寺), is located in Akiruno, Tōkyō, is a Buddhist temple that belongs...
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Exploring the right banks of the Tama River upstream of Hamura, I happened to pass Entakuzan Hōkōji, a temple of the Sōtō School of Buddhism dating to the 15th century, famous for one of Japan's recent Great Buddha statues, that of Rokiya Daibutsu (鹿野大仏), an 18-metre tall bronze cast in Yamagata...
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Kanazawa Hakkei (金沢八景) is an area in Kanazawa-ku (southern Yokohama) that attained fame through its woodblock print depictions by Hiroshige and other ukiyo-e artists. Kanazawa Hakkei refers to a series of eight scenic views that immortalise the breathtaking landscape and picturesque coast around...
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Buddhism arrived in Japan in the 6th century, in either 538 or 552 CE, on a journey from India that took several centuries. The king of Paekche, one of three Korean kingdoms, sent one of his sons to the Emperor of Japan. The mission presented an image of Buddha, several sutras, and other...
thomas
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Uehara-san's fascinating article on Yamanaka Castle (山中城) reminded me of sorting through the photos I had taken there years ago. It also reminded me how much material still awaits publication here on JREF. 😅 And while practically no castle structures other than moats remain, it is a prime...
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thomas
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Ippoin Temple is another gem I found while cycling around Hamura. It was founded in 1424 by Mita Utanosuke Taira no Masasada (三田雅楽之助平将定等), whose grave lies nearby, in the vicinity of Aso Bicycle Shrine. Ippoin Temple (一峰院), officially known as Ryūshuzan Ippoin (龍珠山一峰院), belongs to the...
thomas
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We spotted this little fellow the other day while hiking. "Spotted" isn't actually quite correct, we noticed his most amazing song. It's a gabicho (ガビチョウ, Garrulax canorus) or a Chinese hwamei. "Hwamei" comes from the Chinese 画眉 (huà-méi), meaning "painted eyebrow". In Japan, gabicho are...
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Inspired by Uehara-san's excellent article on Tsukui Castle, we decided to explore Tsukuiko Shiroyama Park (津久井湖城山公園) in Sagamihara. The hill on which the scarce remnants of Tsukui Castle rest lies in a scenic valley bordering Tsukuiko (津久井湖), an artificial lake created by Shiroyama Dam on the...
thomas
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Culture
Kanazawa Hakkei (金沢八景) is a series of eight scenic ukiyo-e depictions of two villages in former Musashi Province, Mutsuurashō (六浦荘村) and Kanazawa (金沢村) Village located in modern-day Kanazawa Ward of Yokohama. It is also a common name for the area around Kanazawa-Hakkei Station on Keikyū Line...
thomas
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Aso Shrine (阿蘇神社 Aso-jinja), also known as the Bicycle Shrine, is located a few hundred metres north of Hamura Weir, in Hamura (羽村), western Tōkyō. As old as the venerable Aso Shrine is (founded over 1,400 years ago), it is also well-hidden and difficult to access. Unless you came on your...
thomas
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Highway archaeology at its finest: Nagashino Shitaragahara Parking Area along Shin Tomei Highway cuts across a historic battlefield scattered with countless sites commemorating one of the most momentous Sengoku-era battles, the Battle of Nagashino (1575). View of the location where the final...
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