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Tokyo Times and Lifestyle in Kichijoji: Fashion and Living Environment

Tokyo Times and Lifestyle in Kichijoji: Fashion and Living Environment

Sarah Deschamps, Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo lifestyle provides a wealth of different options which appeal to different individuals. The district of Kichijoji is one of many lovely places to reside in Tokyo which is blessed with a lovely fashion district and places to relax. Therefore, this part of Tokyo is certainly blessed with huge pulling power and appeals greatly to many Tokyoites.

In many ways the feel to Kichijoji resembles the lifestyle of Shimokitazawa, Nakano and Jiyugaoka. Of course each district is very different with regards to design, layout, options available, and so forth. However, the fashion angle and independent feel certainly shares a similar background.

Likewise, these districts are far from the madding crowds of Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Omotesando, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. Therefore, you have a certain “community spirit” which still survives along with all the trappings of modernity. Also, with these fashionable and trendy areas being smaller in size then people can relax and enjoy the respective environments of Kichijoji, Shimokitazawa, Nakano, and Jiyugaoka.

Indeed, the lovely layout of Kichijoji means that people can relax while enjoying the ample shopping options which are provided. Independent boutiques and the fashion angle appeals greatly. Similarly, you have many nice café bars, restaurants and places to visit in order to enjoy the refined nightlife.

The fashion angle caters for people of all ages but Kichijoji also attracts the younger generation because of the vibrant fashion scene. After all, individuals often find “a hidden gem of a boutique” in the alleyways and shopping streets which may have been missed before. Therefore, the attraction of exquisite fashion, relaxing coffee shops, fancy restaurants and a stunning park are luring people to this stylish district in Tokyo.

Inokashira Koen (park) is a beautiful place to relax and think about the finer things in life. This adorable park appeals to friends, romantic couples, families, individuals, office workers and the whole array of factors which apply to beautiful open spaces. Also, Inokashira Koen works elegantly with the quaint alleyways and independent stores selling unique products.

The nightlife of Kichijoji is also vibrant and attracts the younger generation and people who adore music. Therefore, you have many places to enjoy live house, blues bars, jazz kissa (jazz coffee shops) and so much more. Kichijoji is known for the musical angle and this spark also enhances the lovely vibe about this part of Tokyo.

When everything is considered it is clear that the lifestyle of Kichijoji appeals to people of all age groups. Also, this vibrant district is blessed with a lovely fashion and musical angle which is extremely appealing. The central location area is busy because of department stores and boutiques. However, this soon changes when you walk around the alleyways and explore the many features of Kichijoji whereby people can relax at the pace they desire.

Kichijoji is a fantastic place to reside and likewise it is a great place to visit. Overall, the lifestyle is vibrant in the main central area. However, the quaintness in other parts of this district appeals greatly to people who adore a more tranquil life.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com 

 

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo and anime Bill 156: After more than 1 year and no real impact

Tokyo and anime Bill 156: After more than 1 year and no real impact

James Jono, Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, was adamant that Bill 156 would stem the tide of extreme sexual depictions of children in Japanese anime and manga. Other individuals countered that Bill 156 would infringe on artists and other forms of freedom by enforcing censorship throughout Tokyo. Therefore, both sides were extremely divided by the new measure which was introduced last year on July 1, 2011.

More than one year later in 2012 and it is clear that Bill 156 is either currently ineffective or that individuals with enforcement powers don’t believe that Bill 156 is being violated. Either way, the bullish comments about clamping down on extreme images of minors which can be found in some areas of Japanese anime and manga, appears not to have been materialized.

The Daily Yomiuri, one of the most powerful newspapers in Japan, commented in their article titled “No manga banned by Tokyo as too racy” comments that One year since Tokyo’s youth protection ordinances were revised to prevent the sale of anime and manga containing extreme sexual content to minors, not one publication has been deemed unfit for consumption.”

“Ryokichi Yama, head of the editing ethics committee at the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, which has more than 90 domestic publishers among its members, said the Tokyo government has not applied the new standard to any publications because it is cautious.”

Shintaro Ishihara believes differently because according to him individuals who are in the trade related to sexual images, stories, graphics, and so on, are acting more responsible. Therefore, Shintaro Ishihara states that“Writers and publishers have started using common sense when it comes to publishing books.”

This statement appears rather mild given the comments made by Shintaro Ishihara prior to the enactment of Bill 156. More than likely, both sides have responded in a mutually beneficial way which will maintain the vibrancy of Japanese anime and manga. After all, racy anime and manga can easily be bought in Tokyo and given the mass complexities of regulating a vibrant industry then maybe the “economic impact” is also infringing on a clampdown? If so, this begs the question of enacting Bill 156 in the first place.

It must be stated that many artists, individuals who adore the sexual nature of Japanese anime and manga, organizations which support the freedom of speech and a host of other areas voiced their opposition to Bill 156. The reasons are varied but the main central theme is “civil liberties” because artistic freedom is essential in all societies which are modern. Also, it is argued that the extreme nature of parts of Japanese anime and manga are based on “fantasy,” “connecting to a-make-belief-world” and natural escapism. Therefore, the viewers clearly understand that the images they are watching are nothing more than manga, anime and harmless erotica. This implies that it isn’t depicting reality and given this fact it is complex to clampdown against unreality.

The ordinance passed by Shintaro Ishihara was aimed at sexual scenes related which depict rape, child marriage, sexual abuse of minors, incest, and other areas of concern. Supporters of Bill 156 believe that safety measures are needed in order to protect children and society from sexual predators. However, do individual who watch sexual anime and manga scenes go on and abuse children? This once more relates to Japanese anime and mange being based on fantasy characters and not real life images of children. The gap is enormous and clearly children are abused sexually all over the world but to point the finger at Japanese anime and manga would be extreme.

Also, the ordinance only applies to Tokyo and this in itself highlights that if Bill 156 was regulated tightly then local business in this area would just relocated to Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba. It takes roughly 11 minutes by express train or semi-express train to reach Saitama prefecture from Ikebukuro in Tokyo. Likewise, you can reach Kanagawa very quickly from Shinjuku by using the Odakyu Line and so forth. Therefore, even if Bill 156 was effectual it would not be solving anything – if anything, it would be spreading the problem to other areas.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Also, what if you buy animation which depicts rape, incest, and the abuse of minors, from an online company based in another part of Japan?  Will this also become illegal?  If so, then what measures can prevent packages from containing the newly banned material and if individuals download their new purchase online then are they breaking the law? “

International organizations point the finger at Japan but more than likely Japanese crime rates and abuse against children will compare favorably with any nation in the world. Also, in Saudi Arabia it is legal under Islamic Sharia law for old men of 60 years old and even older, to marry young girls of 8 years of age and 10 years of age. This also happens in other nations which abide by Islamic sharia law. Therefore, which is worse?

In Japan it is clear that young children are protected by Japanese law from being forced into marriages which they don’t understand. This is in stark contrast to nations like Saudi Arabia and Yemen where state sanctioned Islam allows children to get married to old men. Therefore, are nations claiming that child marriage in Saudi Arabia is leading to an epidemic of child abuse in this country?

Japanese anime and manga is based on fantasy, escapism, and other aspects, and clearly you have a very creative angle to the characters involved, even if people don’t agree to the context. If you had a firm link between child abuse and rape in the real world then artists would come under great pressure in Japan. Yet, unlike the reality of Saudi Arabia and child marriage, it is clear that Japanese anime and manga is based on “unreality.”

Therefore, the best solution is for a compromise between both parties and not to force this situation underground because this would be more dangerous. Also, if Tokyo began to take legal action against artists involved in making anime and manga, then this could open up “a can of worms” related to other subjects.

http://www.costume-designer.info/page/4

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120702004395.htm

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

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Tokyo fashion in Shinjuku: Marui One is amazing for Lolita, Kawaii, & other unique styles

Tokyo fashion in Shinjuku: Marui One is amazing for Lolita, Kawaii, & other unique styles

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

In Tokyo the names of Laforet Harajuku, Shibuya 109, and Marui One, stand out for being amazing stores to visit when it comes to fashion. If you adore kawaii fashion, Goth styles, punk, Gothloli, Lolita, Visual Kei, and so forth, then Mauri One in Shinjuku is a must. After all, the choice available is amazing and the environment blends well with the many boutiques which provide fantastic styles.

Famous boutiques which have enhanced the Tokyo fashion vibe can be found in Marui One because clearly they understand the significance of this major department store in the heart of Shinjuku. Indeed, it is thanks to some of these boutiques that the fashion industry in Japan is so famous internationally when it comes to unique styles. After all, many of the boutiques in Marui One have enabled the unique fashion trends of Tokyo to expand internationally.

Of course, the same boutiques can be found in other department stores and are located in many other cities. However, it is the unique fashion angle of Tokyo which attracts the younger generation from all over Japan and internationally. Yes, other major cities like Osaka and Kobe are blessed with stunning fashion districts and often alternative trends have begun in Osaka. Yet internationally it is the streets of Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, which hit the headlines when it comes to youth culture, subcultures, and the latest trends in fashionable Tokyo.

In fairness, it is a little harsh on Kansai because it was this area that was the initial bedrock of Lolita fashion in Japan but internationally Tokyo gets more international attention than Osaka. Early boutiques which began this movement many decades ago applies to Milk and Pretty (known as Angelic Pretty in time), Pink House, The Stars Shine Bright, and Metamorphose temps de fille.

Therefore, turning back to Marui One it is clear that the strong background of some of these boutiques have enhanced the growing reputation of this department store in Tokyo.  Marui One also took a unique approach and collectively it is working like “a dream ticket.” Given this, stunning boutiques including Angelic Pretty; Metamorphose; Baby, The Stars Shines Bright; Alice and The Pirates; h.Naoto; Jesus Diamante; and many others, moved into Marui One because they understood the dynamics of this amazing store.

Angelic Pretty comments on their website that “Angelic Pretty provides adorable clothing covered in lace, frills and ribbons like that of the fairytale princess you dreamed about as a little girl. We want girls to never lose sight of that dream — And this is a brand for girls who want to keep that dream alive.”

Metamorphose comments that Metamorphose is an adorable brand of Lolita fashion made for everyone, best described as EGL or Elegant Gothic Lolita.”

“Almost everyone has the desire to “transform” one’s self, be it into an angel, someone who is more elegant, or even back to the time they were a little girl. With this concept in mind, we created the Metamorphose brand. In order to assist you in your “transformation”, while not being a slave to the current fashion, we continue to conceive cute EGL fashion.”

In truth, the companies highlighted in this article are real treasures because they stand out for being unique and providing a different angle to the diverse Tokyo fashion scene. Therefore, if you want to feel the vibes and unique styles of Tokyo then a visit to Marui One is a must because you have so many different styles to view. Also, the quality of the clothing stands out and the color schemes, creative angle, and unique thought patterns are clear for all to see.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that fashion at Marui One applies to “…fantasy fashion, romantic designs, modern kimono, Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita, dreamy fashion, casual styles, visual kei, and other amazing trends. Therefore, Marui One is like “a mirror” of parts of Harajuku because this store is internationally famous. Marui have many different stores in Shinjuku (and throughout Tokyo) but Marui One stands out because of its individualism.”  

Therefore, if you adore fashion then a visit to Marui One is most rewarding.

http://www.babyssb.co.jp/  Baby, The Stars Shine Bright

http://www.angelicpretty.com/en/ Angelic Pretty

http://www.metamorphose.gr.jp/english/ Metamorphose

http://www.boz.ne.jp/ Atelier Boz

http://www.hnaoto.com/ h.Naoto

http://www.jesusdiamante.com/ Jesus Diamante

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

 
 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan tourism and culture: Hakone Jinja, historical treasure museum and Mount Fuji

Japan tourism and culture: Hakone Jinja, historical treasure museum and Mount Fuji

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Hakone is a very popular tourist destination because you have so many places to visit and the views of Mount Fuji in certain locations are extremely stunning. Throughout Hakone you have many museums and cultural wise the area is very rich in history. This certainly applies to Hakone Jinja (Hakone Shrine) whereby the Shinto faith blends naturally with nature. Also, the historical treasure museum based on the rich history of Hakone Jinja is certainly worth visiting because you have several amazing gems to view.

Hakone Jinja (Hakone Gongen) highlights all the natural beauty of Shinto and how nature and the gods work in unison in this religion. The backdrop of Lake Ashi, the mountain landscape and Mount Fuji breaking out from certain vantage points is absolutely stunning. Therefore, you can feel the strong connection between nature and the mystical charms of the Shinto faith.

The exact date when the foundation of Hakone Shrine was created remains debatable but clearly it dates back to the eighth century. This means that this amazing religious place was built during the Nara Period (710-794) which is fitting for such an important shrine. After all, while Kyoto may hog the limelight for being significant in Japanese culture the truth of the matter is that the Nara Period is where high culture began. This isn’t undermining the exquisite beauty and richness of Kyoto but clearly the majesty of Kyoto built on the firm foundations of the Nara Period.

Mystical holy men in the eighth century called yamabushi believed that gods dwelled in mountains that were extremely steep. Therefore, by dwelling in the same places it was hoped that ascetic practices fused with the dwelling gods would lead to magical powers and greater knowledge. Not surprisingly, Hakone Jinja with its ideal location and mysterious majesty was a place where the dwelling gods may be found according to the traditions of the yamabushi.

During the ninth century new forces were entering the Japanese psyche because Esoteric Buddhism from China was making an impact. This notably applies to Kukai (774-835) and Saicho (767-822) and once more the importance of the mountain landscape is abundantly obvious. Therefore, a fusion began to take place between the Shinto faith and its animistic nature alongside esoteric Buddhism in parts of Japan.

Mountain asceticism under Kukai in Wakayama was also powerful. Meanwhile,  in eastern Japan, and this notably applies to Hakone and Nikko, the same asceticism could be found despite the thought patterns being different. According to history Priest Mangan travelled extensively to spread the Buddhist faith and in 757 he reached Hakone and during his stay very powerful events occurred in his life. This applies to having many encounters with the yamabushi during his three years in Hakone and learning new ascetic ways. However, the real lasting legacy applies to a revelation that Priest Mangan had.

In this revelation which occurred during a dream the fusion of many ideas manifested itself and the outcome was very important. The revelation in his dream stated that “Your heart is pure and clean. Let’s deliver mankind with the grace of Shinto and Buddhist deities.” This revelation impacted greatly on him and he notified the emperor who in turn valued the meaning fully. Therefore, the emperor notified Priest Mangan to build a shrine at once in order to fulfill the revelation and hence this is the origin of this holy Shinto shrine.

Issues related to when the foundations first began or if Priest Mangan incorporated older Shinto shrines remains open. However, major changes did occur during the stay of Priest Mangan and from this date onwards many powerful individuals in Japanese history understood the power of this place.

If you visit the small treasure museum associated with the Hakone Jinja then important individuals in Japanese history like Emperor Hanayama (968-1008); Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199); Toyotomi Hideyoshi who died in 1598; Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616); and many others, will be highlighted. The treasure museum may only be small but you have many gems inside and the images are extremely beautiful.

Indeed, maybe the mysticism of Shintoism is at play because irrespective of language constraints and the size of the treasure museum; providing you stand back and take in what you visualize then the visit will stay with you. This notably applies to the five items which have been ranked with having national Important Cultural Property.

Hakone is an extremely beautiful part of Japan and takes only 90 minutes by a special express train from Shinjuku. Your options and the special Hakone transport pass from the Odakyu train company means that your stay is convenient. Also, you can utilize the many forms of transport which are available when you buy this special transport pass.

Hakone is situated in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and the entire region is a tourist paradise whereby stunning nature is in all directions and you have so many cultural treasures to view. This notably applies to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; volcanically active Owakudani geysers; Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands; Odawara Castle Donjon; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in HakoneHakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History; and you have a wealth of parks and special walks to go on.

In Hakone you have countless options and of course if you stay several days to a week then you won’t be disappointed because the countless amazing views will refresh you throughout your stay. The religious angle of the Shinto faith and cultural importance of the entire area fuses naturally with the stunning landscape.

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/qtours/hakone_course2.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/freepass/hakone_01.html

http://www.hakone.or.jp/english/index.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/rc/index.html

http://www.hokusai-kan.com/treasure01.htm

ALL IMAGES BELONG TO MODERN TOKYO TIMES

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan tourism and Wakayama: Negoro-ji and stunning Buddhist temples

Japan tourism and Wakayama: Negoro-ji and stunning Buddhist temples

Walter Sebastian and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama prefecture is a perfect place to visit for tourists who adore culture, architecture, the richness of Buddhism, the indigenous faith of Shintoism, stunning beaches, an amazing castle, and because of multiple other factors. Also, the closeness of Wakayama to Nara, Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto, means that the entire Kansai region is a wonder to behold. Therefore, Kansai is a perfect location for tourists to enjoy the uniqueness of Japan.

If individuals are fascinated by the richness of Buddhism, Japanese architecture, culture, history, and adore stunning mountains, then the Negoro-ji complex of Buddhist temples is a must place to visit. After all, the pace of life in the modern world for many people is too quick and quality time is needed in order to refresh the mind, soul, and to connect with history, art, and culture.

Negoro-ji also further compliments the religious aspect of Wakayama because Koyasan and the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes in the Kii Peninsula are fantastic places to visit. The marvel of Wakayama is truly amazing because “another heart beats” strongly in special areas where nature, religion, history, culture, art, and other positive aspects of life can be found in abundance.

Negoro-ji in history is also extremely fascinating because the foundations of a major retreat for the Buddhist faith began in 1087. The individuals who laid the foundation stones for this amazing area were En no Gyoja and Hofuku-Choja. Indeed, the original name of the area was Hofuku-ji and given the natural beauty of the Katsuragi Mountains then it is clear why the area was picked.

Kakuban (1095-1143) is a very important person in the rise of the region because this holy Buddhist leader of the Shingon sect left a complex legacy. He revered Kukai (774-835) who was the founder of Shingon Buddhism but the times of Kukai and Kakuban were very different because divisions had emerged within Shingon Buddhism. Therefore, while the importance of Kakuban can’t be denied for increasing the significance of Negoro-ji, it is also factual that schisms increased during his time because of many factors.

Despite this, Kakuban was focused on the future therefore he laid the foundation stone for the construction of Enmyo-ji and Jingu-ji. These two new buildings were built within the Negoro-ji temple grounds. After the death of Kakuban the Negoro-ji area continued to expand and thousands of temples were built in and around this Buddhist complex.

Therefore, for hundreds of years the chants of Buddhism were powerful and many amazing temples were built. Also, Japanese gardens will have enhanced the serenity and the mountain peaks were deemed to be sacred. This period of history also witnessed the growing power of high culture within elite communities and for several hundred years after the death of Kakuban the future of Negoro-ji looked promising.

However, just like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi also clashed with Buddhist sects who had military prowess and political ambitions. In 1585 the forces of Hideyoshi burnt nearly every temple to the ground apart from the odd exception and the main Pagoda surviving the devastation. Therefore, in this period of history in Japan it is clear that the central forces of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi feared the power base of several Buddhist sects.

Under Tokugawa Yorinobu in 1623 the grounds of Negoro-ji once more would witness a more serene period because he allowed the reconstruction of the grounds to take place. The area in time would gradually be transformed throughout the Edo period and in modern times you can see how this reconstruction created a stunning place to visit.

Therefore, for modern tourists or people who go on pilgrimage to holy places in Wakayama, it is difficult to imagine such past violence in history. After all, today you can hear Buddhist chants in Negoro-ji, view exquisite architecture, enjoy nice walks, and view tranquility in every direction. However, from an historical point of view it is clear that central forces in history in the sixteenth century did fear the power of Buddhism and because of this Negoro-ji paid a heavy price.

Yet time is a great healer and today you can only visualize a period of serenity in history. Also, people can only marvel at the stunning temples, exquisite architecture, and how nature and religion seems at peace with each other.

Negoro-ji is an amazing place to visit because places like this are the “heart of Japan” and with Koyasan and Kumano Kodo being based in the Kii Peninsula, then you have many choices to plan an extremely intriguing holiday. Not only this, the castle in Wakayama and the stunning beaches of Shirahama await and the same applies to other amazing places to visit in this beautiful part of Japan.

http://www.negoroji.org/

http://www.pref.wakayama.lg.jp/english/charm/01.html

http://www.nk-kumano.com/ (Nachi Katsuura)

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng/ (Koyasan)

http://www.kumano-experience.com/01/en/ (Kumano Experience)

http://www.sekaiisan-wakayama.jp/english/index.html (Wakayama)

http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/eng/index.html (Shirahama)

http://farstrider.net/Japan/Castles/Wakayamajo.htm (Wakayama Castle)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Japan

 

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Japan tourism and Wakayama: Koyasan, Shirahama, Kumano Kodo & Kii Peninsula

Japan tourism and Wakayama: Koyasan, Shirahama, Kumano Kodo & Kii Peninsula

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama prefecture in Japan is blessed with many amazing places to visit and the richness of culture and history can be felt throughout this lovely region. This notably applies to Wakayama Castle, Koyasan, Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes, and many other places which are rich in culture and history throughout the Kii Peninsula and the surrounding region. Alternatively, you have many stunning beaches and Shirahama is a very popular destination. Therefore, Wakayama and the Kii Peninsula is a must place to visit for tourists who want to feel and witness the richness of Japanese history and culture.

Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagano, and Nara, are internationally famous and Osaka is an ultra-modern and vibrant city. However, throughout Japan you have natural stunning beauty and in places like Koyasan in Wakayama it becomes abundantly clear that you have many gems in this beautiful country.

Indeed, the Kansai region is extremely diverse and you have so many places which are in easy reach. This notably applies to Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Wakayama. Therefore major cities like Osaka and Kobe are ideal bases for tourists who want to experience the richness of culture throughout the region. .

Also, Buddhism is internationally famous in places like Kyoto and Nara therefore both places attract tourists from all over Japan and internationally. Nara is also very important in Japan because this place is the cradle of Japanese high culture and despite the powerbase moving from Nara to Kyoto, the legacy of Nara can’t be ignored.

Buddhism is also powerful in Koyasan because Kukai (774-835) spread a new message and today Shingon Buddhism remains visible in this stunning place. Indeed, this mountainous region is extremely beautiful and Mount Koya certainly attracted Kukai because of its remoteness and the magnificent scenery which is truly beautiful. Therefore, if individuals want to view “living Buddhism,” stunning Buddhist temples, lovely architecture, and natural beauty which can be viewed in all directions, then Koyasan is a must place to visit.

Another great place to visit in Wakayama is Wakayama Castle because this castle is well maintained and the views from the top of the castle are extremely stunning. Not only this, you can feel the power of this castle because of the size of the grounds and in history this castle was of strategic significance.

Therefore, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa respectively gave the order to family members to create and then strengthen this castle. Hideyoshi Toyotomi ordered the construction of the castle in 1585 and he gave this plan to his brother Hidenaga Toyotomi. Likewise, Ieyasu Tokugawa dispatched Yorinobu, his tenth son, to strengthen the castle and under Yorinobu this castle became extremely important for the Tokugawa bakufu based on geopolitical factors.

The main tourist areas to visit within the foundations of Wakayama Castle include the Honmaru Palace; Ohashi Rokka Bridge; Donjon; Ninomaru; Okaguchimon Gate; Otemon Gate; Minaminomaru; and other places within the castle complex.

Wakayama is not just about history, religion, culture, and amazing mountain ranges because in Shirahama you have lovely beaches to enjoy. From April to October the temperature makes the beach a great place to visit because you have many places to swim and paddle. Also, the landscape is very pleasing on the eye and you have many tourist attractions to visit and enjoy your stay.

Two other lovely places to visit are Nachi-no-taki Falls (Nachi Waterfall) and Nachi-Katsuura (Nachikatsuura). In both places you can feel the natural beauty of Wakayama and you can image old Japan. Therefore, the tranquil aspect enables people to feel refreshed.

Kumano Kodo is another amazing place in the Kii Peninsula because these pilgrimage routes highlight the uniqueness of religion in old Japan. The richness of the area means that modern pilgrims and non-pilgrims still visit in vast numbers in order to connect with the inner-soul and nature.

C. James Dale commented on Time Travel website that Fresh from a long hike through the lush hills and valleys of Japan’s southwestern Kii Peninsula, Shugendo monks stand in their mud-splashed boots in front of the thatched-roof pavilions of the Kumano Hongu Taisha. Some chant and pray, others blow conch shells. The monks, whose spirituality mixes Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism and animism, have arrived to worship after navigating the Kumano Kodo — a network of well-marked and well-maintained trails that winds through forests, fields, towns and villages nearly 600 km from Tokyo. It’s a journey religious figures, royalty and regular folk have been making since the Heian period (794-1192).”

“The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes and the sacred sites they connect have attracted more attention since making the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2004, taking their place alongside Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Way of St. James).”

Overall, the Kii Peninsula is extremely beautiful because you have so many places to visit and enjoy stunning nature. The cultural aspect and religious association with this part of Japan is also a major highlight for all tourists who want to understand the deep roots of this fascinating nation. Therefore, a visit to Wakayama Castle, Koyasan, and all the places highlighted in this article, and many other hidden gems throughout the region, is a must for all people who have the opportunity to visit this part of Japan.

 

http://www.nk-kumano.com/ (Nachi Katsuura)

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng/ (Koyasan)

http://www.kumano-experience.com/01/en/ (Kumano Experience)

http://www.sekaiisan-wakayama.jp/english/index.html (Wakayama)

http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/eng/index.html (Shirahama)

http://farstrider.net/Japan/Castles/Wakayamajo.htm (Wakayama Castle)

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Japan

 

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Tokyo tourism and Odaiba: backwater to fashion, architecture and ultra modernity

Tokyo tourism and Odaiba: backwater to fashion, architecture and ultra modernity

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In Tokyo several places really stand out for being unique in style and this certainly applies to Odaiba. If this is your first visit to Tokyo then Odaiba is a must because of the stunning architecture on show. Also, if you travel by New Transit Yurikamome by connecting at Shimbashi Train Station, then your first view of Odaiba and the entire area will always stay with you because this ultra-modern transport system highlights the creativity of buzzing Tokyo. Therefore, in the modern period Odaiba is clearly on the tourist map and a must place to escape the madding crowds of buzzing Shinjuku, Shibuya, and many other high octane areas like Ikebukuro.

However, not so long ago this part of Tokyo was rundown and the future looked bleak. This is difficult to imagine given the trendy boutiques on show in several elegant shopping malls and the beach which is a welcome escape. Also, at night the stunning Rainbow Bridge is a treat in itself and the same applies to watching boats passing by with people enjoying life.

Yet in the early 1990s this scene was difficult to predict because the bubble economy meant that new hope for Odaiba seemed distant. Indeed the history of Odaiba is fascinating by itself because this part of Tokyo was constructed in 1851 to keep America and others at bay. However, the winds of change meant that this dream couldn’t be maintained because Western encroachment was spilling all over Asia.

It is somewhat ironic today that you have a Statue of Liberty based in Odaiba with its French roots. This iconic image for Americans and people all over the world is a little out of place in Japan and the same applies to the history of this district which was built to keep international trade at bay.

The next major push to alter Odaiba was a public park which was refurbished in 1928 and the remnants of this venture remains today with further modernizations. However, the real momentum for Odaiba was based on the success of the Expo ’85 which was held in Tsukuba. Therefore, with the economy being in full swing in this period and the success of Tsukuba, major plans were made to turn Odaiba into a futuristic city.

This applied to designing places for exclusive living, modern architecture, important business structures, and other relevant areas. Yet after the bubble economy much of the new planning appeared like one big disaster because by the middle of the 1990s you had many vacant lots, a minor population which couldn’t maintain Odaiba and other areas were still a wasteland.  Therefore, development was very uneven and far from being a showcase it was a remnant of over-spending and grand ideas which seemed out of place.

However, in 1996 fresh thinking emerged which laid the foundation for a buzzing Odaiba and this applies to allowing entertainment districts and commercial ventures. Within a short time trendy shopping malls were entering the scene along with hotels and large companies which would alter the landscape. This can be seen today by the iconic Fuji TV building which was a trendsetter and even today it is a famous landmark. Also, new transportation links opened up the area and the attractiveness of the seaside became a winner which would be connected with the park, trendy shopping malls, new entertainment ventures and other important factors.

In an earlier article about Odaiba by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Odaiba is a major tourist area in Tokyo and the beauty of this place is that you feel that you are visiting a different Tokyo because of the beach, walkways, Statue of Liberty, and the colorful boats which light up the see at night.  Therefore, while Odaiba is full of life during the day it is also true that the atmosphere changes at night because of the stunning views of Rainbow Bridge at night.” 

“Odaiba is also a great place for romance because at night you will see many romantic couples walking hand in hand and you will often see people smooching near the beach area or on the beach.”

“The development of Fuji TV Building, Tokyo Big Sight, Telecom Center, and other futuristic buildings, all helped to create a new Odaiba.  Each new lavish development complimented Odaiba and by the end of the 1990s it was clear that tourism would begin to take off.”

  

In the Odaiba of 2012 you have many lovely boutiques to visit in Decks Tokyo Beach and Aquacity Odaiba. The boutiques are a mixture of Japanese fashion and international fashion and clearly many Tokyoites love to visit these fashionable malls. Also, in Aquacity Odaiba you have a major cinema complex and the wooden decks outside provide stunning views of Rainbow Bridge from various different angles.

Another great place to find elegant boutiques is Venus Fort which is designed like an eighteenth century South European town. The boutiques and restaurants in Venus Fort mix well with the stylish architecture. Therefore, the fashion aspect of Odaiba can’t be ignored and you have many conventions for cosplay and other trendy aspects of Japanese culture.

Tourists are also spoilt for choice because you have many tourist attractions and this notably applies to Telecom Center Area; Odaiba Seaside Park; Daikanransha Ferris Wheel; Museum of Maritime Science; National Museum of Emerging Science; Ariake Colosseum; Palette Town; Leisureland; Toyota Mega Web; Oedo Onsen Monogatari; Panasonic Center; Zepp Tokyo; and Tokyo Big Sight is a huge exhibition and convention center and the architecture is extremely bold.

In 2012 you have more grand designs in the pipeline and clearly Odaiba will continue to flourish. The beach is a welcome place to relax and Rainbow Bridge at night is truly beautiful.  Therefore, if you are new to Tokyo then Odaiba is a must place to visit because you will witness an ultra-modern area which is fused together with modern tourist concepts.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html

http://www.aquacity.jp/en/shop/fashion01_2.html

http://www.venusfort.co.jp/multi/index_e.html 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Japan

 

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