Monday, December 22, 2003

Tokyo Station - 東京駅

Tokyo Station, seen from from the west (Marunouchi) side. It is the original 1914 red-brick station building, modeled on the central station in Amsterdam at that time.
Tokyo Station may not look especially big, especially when viewed from the Marunouchi side, but inside you can find twenty platforms above ground and eight more below. Underground passages extend like tentacles to subway line stations; you could spend hours walking around this part of Tokyo and never rise to street level once.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Shibuya (渋谷区; -ku)

Shibuya (渋谷区; -ku) is a special ward located in Tokyo, Japan.

The ward was founded on March 15, 1947. As of 2003, the ward has an estimated population of 201,524 and a density of 13,337.13 persons per km?. The total area is 15.11 km2.

Largely a commercial and entertainment district, Shibuya has achieved great popularity among young people in the last 30 years. There are several famous fashion department stores in Shibuya, but the most famous one is called "Shibuya 109" (ichimarukyu).
This department store is very popular among young people, especially teens, and it is famous as the origin of the kogal subculture. The fashion scene extends northwards to Harajuku, and Shibuya is increasingly becoming a fashion trendsetter for all Asia.

Shibuya is also famous for its intersection crossing, reportedly the world's busiest, which is located in front of Shibuya Station and uses a four-way stop to allow pedestrians to inundate the entire intersection (this is called a "pedestrian scramble", スクランブル交差点 sukuranburu kousaten, or the Barnes Dance after traffic engineer Henry Barnes). Furthermore, the crossing is famous for three large TV screens, which are on the buildings facing the crossing. The 2003 movie Lost in Translation featured a scene at the crossing. The plaza in front of the station is known as Hachiko (ハチ公) Square, after a loyal dog who waited here for its master for years on end and is now commemorated with a diminutive statue.

To the north of Shibuya station is Dogenzaka (道玄坂), offering entertainment for a more mature audience with many nightclubs and love hotels.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Great Buddha of Kamakura

The Great Buddha (大仏) of Kamakura is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha that is located on the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 13.35 meters, it is the second largest Buddha statue in Japan (the largest is located in the Todaiji Temple in Nara).

The statue was cast in 1252 and originally located inside a large temple hall. However, the temple buildings were washed away by a tsunami tidal wave in the end of the 15th century, and since then the Buddha stands in the open air.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Interesting bug in my PowerShot G1

This is the first sign that my glorious, old PowerShot G1 is getting crazy. I shoot the picture you can see in the upper half of this image (it's a strange signboard for a dentist), but for some strange and unknown reason the lower half became a picture I took more about one month ago. Strange, isn't it?

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Omatsuri - お祭

There are countless local festivals in Japan because almost every shrine has its own one. Most festivals are held on an annual basis and celebrate events like the coming of the farming season, the harvest, or they commemorate historical events. A festival may be held over several days.

There are countless local festivals in Japan because almost every shrine has its own one. Most festivals are held on an annual basis and celebrate events like the coming of the farming season, the harvest, or they commemorate historical events. A festival may be held over several days.

An important element of Shinto festivals are processions. The kami (Shinto "gods") are carried through the streets in mikoshi (palanquins) by people in special dresses. They are accompanied by decorated floats (kasahoko). On these floats, other people may play the drum, flute and other traditional Japanese instruments. Other floats may carry dolls. Every festival has its own characteristics.

Another element of the festivals are street stalls featuring food, toys and games.

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Clocks in Tokyo

In Tokyo there are a lot of strange clocks, all around the city. This one, for example, was near Yoyogi park, in the front of a building.
The picture doesn't give the idea of the size, this one is more than 3 meters tall.

Saturday, August 2, 2003

おじさん vs おぢさん

Near Sendagi (千駄木) there is a famous pawn shop called Ojisan (おぢさん).

There is an interesting story about this shop. In fact, usually the word oji-san (meaning father, uncle, or simply mister) is written おじさん, but in this case it is written おぢさん. The pronunciation - at least as far as I am concerned - is exactly the same, so all the children in that area learned that oji-san is written おぢさん (odi-san). Well, long time ago there was a new teacher coming to an elementary school in this area. S/he was so surprised and so upsed that all the students couldn't write おじさん correctly! At least until someone explained her/him the reason.
Interesting, isn't it?

Hard is the life of a motard ^_^

another example of ItaRian

The text in the picture is not clear, unfortunately, but the ItaRian part says:

Antipasto misuto alla Festival

"Primo piatto"
Linguine al ragu di pesce con lucola
Penne arabiatta con achilleo e trippa

"Secondo piatto"
Scampi e pesce spada all gligrigla
Angello al sale

Funny, isn't it?

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Going out for a drink...

Ginza is a nice place to go out for a drink. Lots of nice 居酒屋 (Izakaya, Japanese-style pubs) in which you can enjoy some food but - more important of all - some 酒 (sake).

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Yukata -浴衣 ゆかた

The yukata is a japanese summer kimono worn by both men and women. The name yukata comes from the word "yu" (bath, 浴) and "katabira" (under clothing).
Thousands of years ago, Court Nobles wore linen "yukatabira" which were draped loosely after taking a bath. It gradually became worn by japanese warriors and then by the general public when the sophisticated japanese public bath became popular.
Today, the traditional japanese yukata is widely used for everything from festivals, ryokan, summer daily wear to simple night attire.
The girl here, for example, was going to see the 隅田川花火大会.

Sumida river fireworks festival - 隅田川花火大会

Sumidagawa Hanabi taikai (隅田川花火大会) is th most traditinal Hanabi taikai in Tokyo. But it use under 5 inches shell only for safety.

In this case, I took the picture from the terrace of the parents of a friend of a friend of mine, in Kanda. Not the best place to see the fireworks, but for sure one a good dinner ^_^

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Himeji Castle - 姫路城

This Himeji Castle (姫路城), otherwise called 白鷺城 (Shirasagijou, i.e. White Heron Castle), is situated in Himeji City of Hyogo prefecture about 50 km west of Osaka. It is about 370 years since Himeji Castle was constructed in its present shape. This is the only excellent castle which architecturally represents Japanese culture and, at the same time, has handed down its original design at the time of construction.

Looking up at Himeji Castle, not a few people might think about this unique Japanese architectural beauty that was not influenced either by Chinese or Western culture, despite the remains of the age of civil wars.

This is a panoramic view from the top of the castle:

Himeji Castle is also known because Miyamoto Musashi, probably the most famous swordsman in Japan, was confined in by the famous Zen prelate Takuan in order to cure Musashi's violent temper, for three years, with appropriate books to train his mind.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


The entrance of a temple in Kobe.

January 17th, 1995, at 5:46

The picture here is a statue with a clock who stopped to run during the big kansay earthquake of 1995

January 17th, 1995, at 5:46 in the morning when everybody was still in bed, from this moment, Kansai area turned into a burning hell. In just half a minute, the monster had broken down everything in the city. Houses, buildings, factories, schools, shops, roads, and railroads, everything in the city was gone. All you could see was a red sky filled with fire, and smoke coming out from the buildings. The monster's name was an M 7.2 earthquake. This tragedy had happened so quickly and unconsciously that no one could realize what had happened and thought this must be a dream at first. But this was not any dream. This reality made more than 6,000 dead people and 300,000 homeless people. People were crying and did not know what to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Shibuya - unusual view

This is Shibuya, an area mostly known as a place for young people to meet and hang out. See also these pages for more information about this area and about its most famous gathering point, hachiko.
Anyhow, this evening we climbed up to the top floor of a hotel nearby the station, and... surprise! On the top of the railway station there is a small soccer field!

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Fashion in Harajuku

Military outfit for these 2 girls...


Today I went to Kawaguchi-city, in Saitama-prefecture, to help my friend Naoko to teach go to a group of children (6-10 yo more or less). It was really funny to be called マックス先生 (max-sensei)!.
It was difficult, my Japanese is still too poor to have any useful conversation, but it was a nice experience.

Monday, July 7, 2003

Tokyo from the boat

Tokyo from the boat in the Sumidagawa-river.

Asahi beer

This unusual and striking building designed by interior designer turned architect Philippe Starck, is one of Tokyo's most notable modern landmarks. It has earned itself several unflattering nicknames among those who disdain its flashy self-important style but it is sure to please devotees of Starck's sleek and elegant style. Completed in 1989, it serves as a symbol of the Asahi Beer company at a location where Asahi has been making beer for over a century.


even the production of traditional sweet is automatized. This is the front window of a shop in Asakusa, near the Senso-ji (浅草寺)

Sunday, July 6, 2003


Tanabata is the special night when "Orihime" (織女)and "Hikoboshi" (牽牛) date on the Milky Way once a year (Vega and Altair). Orihime, a daughter of the Lord, was a weaver. The Lord was worrying about his daughter who had devoted herself to weaving threads into cloths all day long. One day, he met a young diligent cowboy whose name was Hikoboshi. Since he was very impressed with Hikoboshi, he introduced Hikoboshi to Orihime as a fiance. 

Hikoboshi and Orihime fell in love each other at a glance and from that day, both of them date every day leaving their job alone. That behavior made the Lord angry and he pull them apart on the each side of the Milky Way. Since then, Orihime had been crying for Hikoboshi every day. The Lord felt sorry for crushed daughter with grief, finally he allowed them to cross the Milky Way to meet each other only once a year on the seventh of July. When it rained, magpies kindly helped them to cross the flooded river.

They say that the origin of Tanabata legend is China and present story had been formed in 6th Century. Then the story had been transferred to Japan Heian era (794-1185), with the customs and spread over common people via aristocrats. After that, Chinese customs had been mixed with Japanese faith and local event and formed present style. Therefore, festival style varies from area to area. For example, some districts do the events in August based on the lunar calendar.
On that night, in general, each house places the bamboo grass under the eaves and decorates it with paper dolls etc. Then each family member writes his/her own wish on a strip of paper in his/her own way.

The pictures above have been taken near Ueno, on the way to Asakusa.


Kappa is a River Imp or Sprite (Shinto), with the body of a boy and the head of a frog, and a dish on its head. Kappa also called Kawatarou 河太郎, Kawako 河伯 or Kawaranbe 河ランベ, Gatarou がたろう or Enkou 猿猴
Kappa is one of many Japanese Suijin (水神 - Water Deity) of Shinto mythology. Suijin are found in lakes, ponds, springs, wells, and irrigation waterways. They are often depicted as a snake, a dragon, an eel, a fish, a turtle, or a kappa.

Saturday, July 5, 2003

Senso-ji (浅草寺)

The Senso-ji (浅草寺) in Asakusa (浅草) is one of the bigget temple of Japan.

Near the Senso-ji (浅草寺 )

The streets near the Senso-ji (浅草寺)in Asakusa (浅草)are full of shops and people.

Friday, July 4, 2003

Giant spider in Roppongi Hills

This giant 10-m bronze sculpture of a spider in front of the Mori Tower, in Roppongi Hills, was made by Louise Bourgeois. It symbolizes the role of Roppongi Hills as a place where people gather from across the globe to weave new webs of information and interaction.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

My first 囲碁会 in Tokyo

The atmosphere is quite different from the one I was used to, back in Pisa, but the sensation of a live game is always the same.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Nihon Ki-in (日本棋院)

The Nihon Ki-in (日本棋院) is the principal Japanese go association. It is based in Tokyo and was formed in July 1924. The main driver was an earthquake in 1923, which caused great financial hardship on the existing go groups. Among the innovations were the organisation of the Oteai promotion system, the introduction of time limits and the introduction of amateur dan diplomas. There is another professional organisation in Japan, based in Osaka: the Kansai Ki-in.
The Nihon Ki-in has a website, the English part of which you'll find [ext] here.

At this time I coulnd't read the name in kanji on the building, so I mistook this place for a restaurant, and I spend half an hour trying to figure out where I was wrong. Luckily, I met a nice and funny おじさん (ojisan) who claimed to be member of I do not remember which confraternity, and who can speak some English. He came with me inside the building and helped me to meet the person I was looking for. I love Japan! ^_^