Friday, December 12, 2014

Kobe Harborland illuminations and reflections

Kobe Harborland brightens up the long, bleak winter night of Kobe
with illuminations and shadow pictures till March 31st, 2015.

Twilight is my favorite time all the year round when it is not too dark and the world is enveloped in the mellow air tinted with purplish hue.

This is a red brick building on the Harbor-walk in one corner of the Harborland. It was built in 1898 and had been used as a warehouse to store cargoes from around the world. When the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Kobe and northern Awaji Island in 1995, the port facilities were paralyzed mainly by liquefaction but this brick building survived. Now it is renovated into Italian restaurant, Old Spaghetti Factory, and other fancy stores.

At night the brick buildings are illuminated and shadow pictures are displayed on the boardwalk.

The symbol of City of Kobe on the Rokko Mountains
Yatagarasu (mythical raven who aided Emperor Jimmu on his eastern expedition)...

The old Kobe Harbor Signal Tower is at the edge of the Harbor-Walk. The 46.3-meter-high tower had guided ships to and from the harbor from 1921 to March, 1990, as the top signal tower in  Asia.  Two years later, it was moved to the current location from the No. 4 pier. It flies flags representing Kobe and praying for a safe voyage.

Let's cross the traffic road to the more brilliant opposite side where Mosaic is located.

The opposite side of Mosaic over the bay is the Meriken Park.  It is home to the Meriken pier, some of the city's iconic contemporary architectures including red Kobe Port Tower, Kobe Maritime Museum, and Oriental Hotel.  

Meriken Port Oriental Hotel
Meriken Park seen from Takahama Pier

Takahama Pier seen from Meriken Pier
A giant Ferris Wheel is one of the landmarks of the Kobe harbor along with the other impressive architectures.

It welcomes and sees you off when you are at the nearby station.
I turned back before entering the station building.

This post is linked to Friday My Town Shoot Out

Monday, December 1, 2014

A heaven for all the living things


I feel both vitality and tranquility of nature at the Daibutsu-ike Pond all the year round.  
My favorite time is the late afternoon of the last week of November
when reds and yellows aglow in the last blaze of the sun.

Almost bare tree on on shore, matured maple and ginkgo leaves on the other
Chinese Tallow with white seeds

Turtles basking in the sun.

Fiery red Japanese maple over the reflection of golden ginkgo 

Very young Chinese Tallow by the pond
Deer, turtles, ducks, birds, human beings, all enjoy the moment 
in the golden shades of red, orange, yellow, and blue.  
Every living thing including the inanimate shares the joy of living together under one sky.


Right after the burst of the flame of colors, the darkness started falling rapidly.

The passing autumn filled me with a feeling of thankfulness, tenderness, contentment, and joy,
though the colors will get muted soon with the  onslaught of winter just around the corner.

- This post is linked to Our World Tuesday. -

Friday, November 21, 2014

Autumn flowers on the pond

Hase-ike Pond at Rokko Arboretum in the Mount Rokko never fails to fascinate me whenever I go.  Reflections on the water always attract me and there is always something which makes the reflections more attractive. Last year spring, they were tiny pink baby pads of water lilies that float on the pond.  (Pond reflections with floating baby leaves). This autumn, they were fallen colored leaves floating on the pond.

The fallen leaves were like autumn flowers blooming on the stems
which were reflected twigs of trees on the water.

Under the overcast, the water looked dark but it caused good effect to make the colored leaves outstand.

This looks like ink-stained Japanese paper with autumn leaves on it.

 This reminded me of the floral pattern on my Yuzen silk kimono.


Because of the weather, the reflections were not vivid but hazy with subtle glinting. 
But they make still or maybe more fascinating abstract reflections.  

Some water lily pads have completely changed colors.


Water ripples and distorts reflections.
I displayed this photo upside-down intentionally.

Can you imagine how big and radiant this maple tree clad in autumnal foliage from the reflection?

A patch of blue sky appeared when I was about to leave.

This post is linked to Weekend Reflections.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hidden beauty of Japan off the beaten track

Time is fleeting. While I was engaged in this or that and wanted to have a trip but didn’t have enough time to plan ahead, an advertisement of a bus tour provided by a tourist bureau caught my eyes, “Symphony of five hidden superb views with autumn foliage and snow capped Northern Japanese Alps”. I booked with my husband right away and in two weeks I was in a bus heading for the border area of Nagano and Niigata prefectures.

On the second day, we got into a micro bus and explored around Itoigawa. Itoigawa is a small rustic city located on the coast of western Niigata, where the mountains of the Northern Japanese Alps meet the Japanese sea. Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line is a major fault that runs from the city of Itoigawa on Japan Sea through Lake Suwa to the city of Shizuoka on the Pacific Ocean.  Fossa Magna also lies to its east.  On October 23, 2014, ten years ago, a powerful earthquake shook this region.  It was the largest disaster in terms of scale and impact since the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

 Fudotaki Falls
The Fudotaki Falls is a beautiful, three-tiered, 70m tall waterfall surrounded by the forest on three sides. It is very cool during summer and dim even in the daytime.  The environment around the waterfall is home to a variety of wildlife including wild Japanese serow.

Mt. Myojyo

Mt. Myojo, with its massive face of white limestone, was formed from coral reefs which date back at least 300 million years. It contains a wide variety of marine fossils. The mountain was originally located south to this place, but tectonic movement carried it to its current place. The peak located behind the rock wall is 1188 meters high.  (Source: here)

 The rock wall itself is about 450m high and is popular with rock climbers.

We walked to Kotaki-gawa Jade Gorge viewing the surrounding foliage.  The Kotakigawa River winds through this gorge along the foot of Mt. Myojo and, as its name suggests, it is home to large jade deposits. 

Kotaki-gawa Jade Gorge

Until quite recent years, jade artifacts excavated in Japan had been thought to be imported from Burma. However, discovery of the large jade deposits here in 1938, coupled with the discovery of large jade-working villages throughout the Itoigawa region, completely overturned this thought. Now evidence suggests that most if not all of jade artifacts since the ancient times were produced here and distributed across the country.

Because of the minerals dissolved into the water, the water color is beautiful blue. The Kotakigawa Jade Gorge has been designated as a National Natural Monument and removal or damage of any plants, animals, or minerals from the area is strictly prohibited.

Takanami-no-ike Pond

Takanami-no-ike Pond is at the 540 meter-high Hakuba foothills.  A giant fish has been sighted successively.  It is affectionately called “浪太郎 Namitaro (wave boy)” or “翠 Midori (jade green)”.

 I was so charmed by these simple beauties that I forgot myself until I realised time was running out.  The tour conductor told us we could spend (only!) 30 minutes here.

Water is clear and crystal.


Since I spent leisurely, I couldn't reach to the point where Mt. Myojyo is reflected on the water.  I missed the chance on such a rare clear day without fog as the locals said.

But I felt better later when I could photograph Mt. Myojyo soaring by the Takanami-no-ike Pond from the bus window.  (The photo above)

 The mountains were the stage of Nagano Winter Olympics.

Our bus ran through rice paddies after harvest along the JR Ooito Line and entered Hakuba Village, Nagano.

Oide Suspension Bridge on the Hime River in Hakuba Village

Clear stream, small wooden suspension bridge, houses with thatched-roof, Japanese pampus grasses....
I think this is the place dear to the Japanese people's heart.
(Look at the zoomed image on the top, too.)
Ryujin Lake

Let's wind clock back to the first day of our trip.  When the sun was low in the west, we reached Ryujin Lake made by Omachi Dam after driving through Takase Gorge. Because of the crumbled granite and sulfur contained in the water, the water color is emerald green but the color soon changed in the declining sun. It was about 8 hours after the bus left Namba, Osaka, and the travel distance of the day was about 500 kilomieters.  

The brocades of autumn foliage is aglow in the last ray of the sun.

Have you joined a bus tour organized by travel agencies?  My husband and I often travel by car or by train individually, but once in a while we enjoy a bus tour.  As merits, it’ easy because you just come up to the required meeting place and it’s cheaper even when you use optional hotel.  As for disadvantages, there is usually only 20 to 30 minutes for you to stroll around at each destination. Being unable to walk at my own pace is the hardest thing for me. I was either taking photos or running out of the bus and mostly sleeping in the bus.  All in all, I am quite satisfied to be able to see such hidden treasures of Japan in an eventful week.
Five days later after coming back from the travel, I met Jenny and her husband T for the first time in person.  I felt like seeing an old friend of mine like my English teacher long ago. She has such an air to make me feel familiar to her. My Japanese friends who are also Jenny's blog friends and I had a good time to share the places we love with them, leisurely strolling around Nara Park, feeling soft sunlight in the cool and crisp air and talking softly or cheerfully.

At Isui-en Garden, Japanes maple leaves have started turning colors to welcome them.


At Ukigumo Park, heart-shaped Chinese Tallow leaves were still vibrant to please them.

This is not belated Halloween but reflection on the old handmade glass at the Hyoshin-tei, Isui-en Garden

 We are the Friends of the same generation with young and playful heart.

Keep tuned to An English Travel Writer for Jenny's trip to Japan.
She'll be back to England after visiting New Zealand and California.
This post is linked to Our World Tuesday.