Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Incredible Journey East

This is probably multiple blog posts rolled into a big one, but with a little bit of jet lag, a lingering cold and problems with my desktop computer, it's time to get it done! Japan was a wonderful experience. We had terrific tour leaders whose first-hand knowledge of the country, customs, and traditions proved to educate us all extremely well. Domo arigato goziamas to Davis, Matt, and Deborah!

Here are some of my favorite images from the 18 days I was in Japan. Please feel free to comment/ask questions, as I will fill in the captions as I have more time. Enjoy!

Food (real and fake)

Our sayings before and after each meal.
Hedgehog? (It's actually the outer layer of a chestnut.)
Recently harvested rice
Drying onions
Drying squid (or cuttlefish?)
Daikon radish
Making fresh tofu for breakfast! One of my new favorites!
Sashimi -- snapper, crab, calamari, Spanish mackerel (@Nishimura in Kinesaki)
Fresh tofu and enoki mushrooms
Vegetables for shabu shabu pot (@Benesse)
Market in Kyoto
Fake omelettes

Examples of platters available thru one of the fancy department stores

Crepes, from the food court of Takeshimaya, one of the big department stores.
Chestnut season (and one persimmon snuck into the picture!)
One of my other new favorites, grilled eggplant with miso....mmmmm
Breakfast at Kinmata Ryokan in Kyoto; a bowl of rice (gohan) is customary, with jako (itty bitty sardines to mix in the rice), as is miso soup. The white square in the middle was sesame tofu (REALLY good -- tasted a lot like tahini), in the top right, a tofu dumpling, grilled salmon, grapefruit, butterbeans, daikon pickles.
The chef at Kinmata, giving us a cooking demo; here's he's chopping a fresh chestnut to be used as a batter for shrimp.
Fresh caught ayu, or river trout
Chirashi, also known as chirashizushi. It's sushi rice, topped with various garnishes, and it can vary regionally. Here we have strips of nori (seaweed), the  pink is pickled ginger, and the yellow is a very fine scrambled egg. Totally loved this!
This is just a portion of this meal (dinner in the mountain onsen); potato chips, kabocha squash, meiji mushrooms, ground chicken (at 3 o'clock.... it was pressed into a loaf form)
"Typical" breakfast -- hot pot with vegetables, egg to be scrambled and put in hot pot, salad with apple slices, trout, pickled veg, beans, plum paste, sauteed greens, rice.
From the Tsukiji fish market
My what nice eyes you have!

Art and Architecture
Part of the futuristic train station/subway/hotel/mall complex in Kyoto
 Our view from the hotel room, with a yummy baguette in the front. (The hotel had a great French bakery!)
Gardens at Heian-jingu shrine

For handwashing at Heian-jingu shrine

Visiting the Moss Garden, also known as Saihoji.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi's red torii gates
Tunnel to the Miho Museum

Looking back at the tunnel from the Miho entrance

Bamboo basket maker
Man we saw on a morning walk
Visiting a silk spinner's workshop
Handpainted kimono

We had a nice gathering with the temple priest.
Even the man hole covers are pretty! We saw tons of beautifully designed ones.
At Benesse, this wonderful Keith Haring original art work was in our hotel room. From his 1985 Apartheid series.
The view from the hotel/museum in Benesse.
One of the pumpkin installations by Yayoi Kurasama.
Exploring on the island of Inujima (day from from Benesse)....a fabulous modern art island, mixing old and new. Here, walking down the steps of an old shrine.
Back at Benesse, another pumpkin.
It may only look like  a concrete bunker, but it was a beautifully designed museum by Tako Ando.
Moonrise over Benesse in the early morning.

Cascading waterfall at the Benesse hotel/museum

The Oval at Benesse, where our rooms were.
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Takayam. The digital installation scrolled through many different sayings, in both English and kanji.... this one said "Stupid people shouldn't reproduce."
The exterior, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi
Visiting a master sword maker
At the ryokan (inn) of a cormorant fisherman's family, a dying art.

Morning view from our room
In Takayama, to the NW of Tokyo. This statue was on a bridge, opposite one with really long arms; they are said to be greeting travelers near and far.
The Zen temple in Takayama.
At the Matsumoto City Museum, which featured works by the pumpkin artist, Yayoi Kusama.
Real flowers! Some of the gorgeous displays we saw.

Textures/Patterns (you can probably figure these out, but if you have a question, just ask!)


  1. Suzanna - your photography is amazing! You're as good at photography as you are at writing!! MJ

  2. Absolutely Fabulous! Your shots just took me away! Thank you so much for that eye candy! Looks like you experienced it all.

  3. What an experience. thanks for sharing all the lovely pics. You have an eye for the interesting!

  4. Thank you all! It was sort of hard to narrow down the photos... :)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful tour! I love all of your photos. I see the eggplant now & it looks delicious. Looking at your photos only makes me want to visit more and I did not think it was at all possible.