Thursday, June 29, 2017

Arita Porcelain Park: Saga Prefecture

Arita Porcelain Park, although not technically in Nagasaki, borders Nagasaki so closely that one could be forgiven to think that you were still in the same Prefecture.  A mere hop, skip and jump from Nagasaki and you are in Saga and one of the most famous pottery producing areas in all of Japan.

Arita is known for producing Arita Porcelain, one of the traditional handicrafts of Japan.  It also holds the largest ceramic fair in Western Japan, called the Arita Ceramic Fair. This event is held from April 29th to May 5th every year and has thousands of stores and stalls lining the six-kilometer main street.

One of the best well known places is the Arita Porcelain Park Nagasaki, where a replica of Dresden's Zwinger (Baroque Palace) houses a collection of Arita and European porcelain.  A very interesting place to wander around and appreciate real beauty, not only are the buildings wonderful to gaze at but the blue and white porcelain pieces on display are to be seen to be believed.  A MUST for all art lovers!

I spent around 2 hours here just wandering and looking at all things beautiful.  There was so many things that I wanted to buy but alas I was not cashed up sufficiently to buy at my hearts request.  Without a doubt I will be back as the Porcelain pieces keep calling for my return and no doubt a large cash flow will be needed at that time.  There are just too many wonderful things to see and buy here so please come prepared and you won't leave disappointed!

Check out the Arita Porcelain Park on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Picture Perfect Scene

European Styling

Plenty of interesting displays

Some porcelain figurines

Check out the Arita Porcelain Park below in the video:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fukiya Ryokan : Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture

For those that don`t know, a Ryokan is a Traditional Japanese Hotel or Inn that specializes in providing a unique traditional Japanese experience.   It is really an experience that you will remember for a long time to come as Japanese Hospitality in every form really exceeds one`s expectations and provides a memory that will last a lifetime.

When my Mother and Brother decided in pay me a visit, it was without hestitation that we booked a local Ryokan located in the Mountainous areas of Unzen National Park.  Fukiya Ryokan is one of those places that looks like it has stepped back in time, a time warp experience but in the best way possible because the service and greetings aren`t something you would expect these days in the 21st Century.

We decided on a hybrid Japanese and Western room to give the option of sleeping in beds or futons.  Ultimately my Mother decided on the bed and my brother followed suit.  The room was very spacious with a separate sleeping area which allowed for more room to relax in the living space.  Probably the highlight was the private outdoor Onsen (Hot Spring) which my kids throughly enjoyed.  It can be worrisome to many people to bathe naked in a public setting but these private settings can put ones fears to rest and allow one to fully indulge in one of life`s little pleasures!

Another highlight was the 6 or 7 course dinner.  There was so much to choose from that one didn`t know what to eat next!  Don`t worry if you don`t or can`t eat sashimi (raw fish) as they were many other options with my mum mostly choosing various types of Tempura to satisfy her hunger.  We all left the dinner table worse for wear and the night time walk and following Onsen later that night helped us allieviate the excess amount of calories that were enjoyed during dinner.

Please click on the link to see Fukiya Ryokan on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

This is Unzen

Seating Place

Central Room

The Bedroom

Our Outdoor Onsen

Preparing the bath

We love Onsen

Plenty of privacy

Space to relax

The view from the Hotel

Doing some Caligraphy

Let`s make Origami

Lots of fresh fish

Dinner was fantastic

Night time view

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Takachiho Shrine and Gorge: Takachiho Town- Miyazaki Prefecture

I have been traveling around Kyushu and Japan for nearly 20 years now and in that period of time I have come upon 3 or 4 locations that just stops me in my tracks. Takachiho located centrally and in an extremely remote section of Kyushu is just one of those places that stopped me in my tracks and has lured me back again and again with its nature. 

The beauty and impact of this region is phenomenal in every sense of the word. Not only is Takachiho’s natural scene unparalleled but the historical and cultural impact on the specific region and the whole of Japan in general is significant. You see, this is where Japan was supposedly created by the Japanese gods as indicated by its original religion, namely and the Shinto. So, as you can imagine, the Japanese population is obviously enthralled with the concept that they are exploring the original origins of Japan and hence Takachiho has become a place that all Japanese people feel obliged to visit.

The first place to explore is the Takachiho Shrine to get a blessing from the gods. This is indeed a Power Spot and you can feel the warmth and positive energy radiating from the building and especially the trees. It is the trees that is intrinsically linked to the powers above and it isn’t a rare sight to see a group of people hugging and generally connecting with this phenomena. 

Please click on the photos to enlarge:

Popular location

Power Spot

Spiritual place

Looks like a typical Shrine

Feel the power

Special connections

Please click on the video below to see how spiritual this place is to so many Japanese visitors.

However, the majority of people who visit this region are coming here to see the jaw dropping scenic beauty of the area. The Takachiho Gorge although not very large in terms of size and water volume has the right amount of natural attractions to keep you interested and returning again and again to get your nature fix.

Of course the viewing pleasure of Takachiho is linked to the season that you visit. I have been lucky enough to come here at ever seasonal change and without a doubt spring and autumn are heads and shoulders above. It’s not to say that summer and winter don’t have any value to add but the cherry blossoms in March/ April and the Maple colors in Late November are so spectacular that this must be the ultimate visiting period.  

Actually the photos below don’t actually do justice to the remarkable location but please check them out and I hope it gives you the impetus to visit some day on your travels around Central Kyushu.

There are some English signposts

Plenty of bridges to enjoy

The water is so pure

The iconic shot

Nature at its finest!

Can be a busy place

Please check out where Takachiho is in Kyushu on the map below:

Please check out more of the Takachiho Gorge here on the videos below: