Mount Shirane is an active volcano of 2160m in the prefecture of Kusatsu. Close access to the crater was restricted, perhaps because of hazardous amounts of sulfur in the air. Despite some cloud cover, the view was quite impressive.
The host city of the 1998 Olympics was Nagano Japan. A short bicycle ride brought us to the stadium of the opening ceremony. Here I am taken in picture with the Olympic torch and the “Snowlets”, the olympics mascots. The Olympics were a profoundly marking event for the people of Nagano. It created an accelerated development of the town with a sudden increase of the infrastructures and also a cultural opening to the world.
As an anecdote ,the people of Nagano,all Japanese they are, and especially the mayor of the time, wanted to greet so well the athletes that they were offering free beverages in vending machines. This led to a lot of abuse from the athletes who took great amounts of unnecessary drinks.
I also heard of some fight between American and Canadian hockey teams after perhaps some abuse of alcohol…
The Nijo-jo castle was constructed as the Shogun’s residence during the Edo period when the supreme power in Japan was held not by the emperor but the the shogun himself (a sort of military commander). The nice feature of Nijo-jo castle is the nightingale floor. As you walk along, the wooden floor emits a squeaking sound. This was a security device at the time whose purpose was to alert guards to the presence of any intruder in the castle.
The Kinkakuji temple was covered in gold by its owner and because of its unique golden look, is one of the most famous temple in Kyoto. The story tells that the grandson of this man also tried cover a temple in precious metal but because of difficult times he could only use silver, the silver temple (Ginkakuji).
Before Tokyo, the Japanese capital used to be the city of Kyoto. The city still showcases the imperial palace where the emperor and its family used to live. Since no member of the imperial household live in Kyoto anymore, the palace is accessible through a guided tour. One has to register at the palace’s early in the morning with passport in hand. Nowadays, the emperor lives in the imperial palace in Tokyo.
The Tsukiji fish market is probably one of the biggest fish markets in the world, where millions of dollars are spent everyday on high quality sushi-grade fish. The major “auctions” are usually done early in the morning and not accessible to the public but visitors can still wander around between rows of fish sellers. There are also some small sushi and sashimi restaurants on site for the freshest raw fish experience!
Ueno is a large park located in the city of Taito. Attractions found in Ueno park include, among others, a zoo and the Tokyo national museum. During our visit, we had the chance to observe the Japanese champion of “Kendama”, a game that consists of catching a ball with a specially crafted wooden stick. A small lake on which you can ride a swan boad seems also to be quite popular among Japanese nationals.
On our way to Ueno Park, we walked on Kappa Bashi (Kappa Street) where many Kappas are usually seen. Kappas are mystical creature of Japanese folklore. They are small reptilian-looking creatures with an humanoid form. They usually inhabit ponds and rivers of Japan, but can sometimes be seen in Tokyo on Kappa Bashi! They usually have a shell or carapace on their back similar to turtles. They have also have what we could name a “plate” on top of their head, which they have to keep wet when they venture out of the river.