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I bought the cheapest flight from Shanghai to Tokyo, which in fact did not fly to Tokyo at all, but to Ibaraki, a prefecture to the northeast of Tokyo. I decided to stop on the way to Tokyo in Tsuchiura and see the lake Kasumi-ga-ura. In Japanese, the name means something like “Spring Fog Sound.” I rode the loop bus from downtown to the shore by the Dutch Windmill. The cattails waved in the breeze and the shallows were frozen. The pictures speak for themselves.
On the road to Tsuchiura I caught a ride with an avid surfer who had camped many a beach in New Zealand. I spent about a day in and around the city, mostly to see the lake Kasumi-ga-ura. Below are some pictures from the city.
I am in Japan again. I crossed from Shanghai to Ibaraki by plane and rode the bus from Ibaraki Airport to Ishioka, a small town to the west. I hitchhiked from Ishioka south to Tsuchiura one day, and the next hitched the rest of the way to Tokyo. I would like to share some photos of Ishioka, where my journey began.
“A robin cries”
A robin cries,
Blue peaks flash
In the rain
Akimoto Fujio (1901-1977)
Showa-period haiku poet
Born in Yokohama, Japan.
Pen name “Fujio” means “Undying man,” using different Chinese characters for his real name in a play on words.
Photo credit: Robert Cameron.
Take it for me!”
cries the child.
Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)
Important Edo-period haiku poet
Born in Kashiwabara, Nagano, Japan
In July I traveled to Japan and spent a month going south along the coast, on what was once the Tokaido Road, today the Tokaido Railway. When I reached Osaka, I made a detour to go north to see Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. I had heard of the imperial palace in Kyoto, and I imagined the palace would be something like the Ottoman palace in Istanbul, or the Forbidden City in Beijing. That is, I imagined a tour through myriad rooms with splendid objects. When I arrived at the palace, I found this preconception was much mistaken.
First of all, the imperial palace today remains an imperial palace. The Emperor of Japan resides in the palace on his visits to Kyoto, and the palace remains a place for receiving important visitors. Therefore, you can’t just walk up to the imperial palace and buy tickets. Entrance is free, but you must sign up in advance for a tour at a specified time and place.
In Heian times, the emperor resided in a true palace built at a location determined by Chinese astrology and rebuilt after every fire. However, a custom developed in which the emperor would live in the houses of great nobles, and over time the palace fell into disuse, and after it burned down some 800 years ago was never rebuilt. The current Kyoto imperial palace was thus once the home of a great noble. The palace burned down in the late Edo period and was immediately rebuilt in the same historicizing style. After the capital and the emperor moved to Edo (Tokyo) in the late 1800s, the palace fell into disrepair for a spell before the emperor ordered it restored. The large complex is today mostly gardens. The heart of the complex, where the emperor lived, is the palace I visited.
I took the Japanese tour. Unfortunately, we were not able to enter any of the buildings or approach the main hall, but I enjoyed a walk through the grounds where the imperial court made history.
Below are my photos of the palace.