Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Akama Shrine: Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Honshu

More and more, as I fully cover most of the attractions of my hometown here in Nagasaki and Fukuoka Prefectures in the southern island of Kyushu, I continue to expand my range and areas of expertise.  Luckily with my new area of residence being Fukuoka, many places of interest in the north east region of Kyushu and just across the Kanmon Strait into Yamaguchi Prefecture on the main island of Honshu, have become accessible to me. Over time, I will get to many of them and document exactly the areas that are worth visiting on our private tours.

One of these attractions is called Akama Shrine.  Indeed a beautiful shrine in a fabulous location, facing the Kanmon Bridge and Strait as well as Fukuoka Prefecture from which I just came from.  The shrine is striking in its colors with the bright red gates and certainly has a great feel and vibe about it even though its history is quite perverse.

Akama Shrine is dedicated to the child emperor Antoku who committed suicide by drowning after the defeat of the Heike at the final battle of the Genpei War (1180- 1185) at Dan-no-ura. It is also dedicated to Taira-no-Tokiko, the grandmother of Antoku who died before the war but helped lead the Heike.

In May of every year there is a festival held in memory of Antoku, in which women come to the shrine in beautiful kimonos to mourn the memory of the emperor who cut his life short at a young age.  It`s a scene that looks straight out of a traditional Japanese picture book.

I visited the Shrine in late December just as the preparations for the New Years were coming into play.  There was quite a bit of activity at the time but that didn`t stop me from getting some great pictures and generally really enjoying the experience of a place that has a rich and powerful history.  I am sure I will return again soon and do some more investigation of the area.

Please click here to see the Akama Shrine on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Striking colors

How to pray at a Shrine

A place to make a New Years wish

Perfect views!

Also please click on the videos below to see more about the Akama Shrine:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Autumn Viewing: Nagasaki Prefecture

Autumn Viewing Pleasures are one of the best things to do in November just before the change of season into winter.  I am blessed here in Nagasaki to have an abundance of places right on my back doorstep to indulge in a little bit of Autumn viewing pleasures especially since I don`t have to travel too far.

In fact, the road from my place goes straight up the mountain to Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsular and half way up a private residence has turned his home and its wide open spaces into a public viewing of all things amazing in Autumn.  Here people come from near and far to participate in some Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures and for a nominal fee of around $3 US for adults and free for kids, anyone can wander around the beautiful landscape and basically get lost in their own little world whilst taking in all the splendor that there is to offer.

Although I had missed the peak of the Autumn Leaf changing season by a few days, I was still able to see many exquisite sites and revel in the nature that was abundant and never ending.  The Japanese Momiji (Maple Leaf) is absolutely entwined in the Japanese psyche and has a strong connection cultural as well as being entrenched in their culinary habits.  It is common to see the Momiji used as food displays during the Autumn period so it is normal for the average Japanese person to feel the need to connect with the Momiji through nature as well.  Hence you are never alone during the Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures as there is always one or 20 people around you.

On this day, I was fortunate to have my family with me and my kids absolutely relished in the environment.  I plan to come back a few days earlier next year to arrive at the peak of the Momiji powers.  Come join me if you like?

Check outAutumn Viewing in Nagasaki here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Orange colors everywhere

My children enjoyed the leaves

Picture perfect

Please click on the videos below to see more Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Izumiyama Quarry: Arita Town, Saga Prefecture, Kyushu

Approx. 400 years ago, in 1616, a group of Korean potters, led by Yi Sam Pyeong, discovered porcelain stone at this location in Arita Town and became the first in Japan to successfully fire porcelain. 

The porcelain production, which began around the beginning of the 17th century and grew exponentially, consisted of Koimari wares which fans of early Imari wares just had to have, that also enchanted the royals and aristocrats of Europe. It all began here, at the porcelain stone deposit discovered at Izumiyama. For that reason, Izumiyama can certainly be considered a treasure trove. 

Nowadays the quarry is not in operation and has been partitioned off with a fence but tours are still held here. This is a spot which shouldn't be missed by pottery enthusiasts, as you are sure to capture a sense of being in the cradle of Arita-yaki. 

At the quarry today hardly any productive operation is done but the appearance of the mountain and its breathtaking scenery coupled with its long and productive history really is an awe inspiring place that even non pottery fans will agree is very special indeed.

I arrived at Izumiyama late in the evening on a cool early autumn day, the weather and the backdrop of the extensive quarry definitely had a strong and powerful effect on me.  I am sure anyone who actually has a pottery background will be able to feel this vibe and have a long and lasting memory of this place.

A great location for everyone to enjoy.

Please click here to see the Izumiyama Quarry on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Please click on the videos below to see more about the Izumiyama Quarry in Arita, Saga Prefecture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fukuoka Day Tours: Fukuoka Prefecture

It is my pleasure to inform past, present and future customers that I am starting up a new tour company in Fukuoka.

Fukuoka Day Tours will be providing private, specialized and customized tours for international visitors who wish to see the best and most exciting destinations in Fukuoka that are difficult and in some cases impossible to get to using public transportation.

Pick up`s and drop off`s at Hotels, Airports and International Cruise Terminals are all complimentary and part of the service.  In the next weeks and months I will be introducing a new website but in the meantime information about the new company can be accessed here and also from the Instagram Page:  fukuoka_day_tours

I am very excited and looking forward to this opportunity to expand my travel services to the inbound market in Japan and especially to the Gateway of Kyushu, Fukuoka.

The longest reclining Buddha in Japan is in Fukuoka

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hinoe Castle Ruins: Nagasaki Prefecture

One of the more spectacular sites on the Shimabara Peninsular is the leftover ruins of the Hinoe Castle.  It is located in Minamishimabara City on the Shimabara Peninsular. The castle was originally built in the 13th century.  It belonged to the Arima Clan and was the residence of the Christian Diamyo.  

In 1637, during the Shimabara Rebellion, it was burned down by the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate because the Arima Clan protected the Christians and encouraged their vassals to adopt Christianity thus actively promoting international exchange which ran counter to the Shogunate`s isolation policy of that time.

The castle's ruins can still be seen today as a reminder of the religious turmoil that Japan was going thru during the 15th and 16th centuries.

To see Hinoe Castle Ruins Nagasaki on a map click here

Here are a few photos that I found around town which depicts the times and lives of the people at that time.  Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Tensho Embassy

Street view

Feudal Japan

                                             Here are some photos of Hinoe Castle Ruins:

                                                   Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Not much English


This one has English

Retaining Walls

Ruins located in Minamishimabara City in Nagasaki:

Please check out these videos below of the Hinoe Castle: