Japan is in winter.
So cold, and sky is grey.
We need something warm.
So, our friends David and Ann Maclennan send their warm hearts and friendship from hot Tasmania.
David has written for me many times before, about Japan trips or about Tasmania.
This time also you will enjoy meeting him and his photos of Japan trips.
Two Trips in One Year.
We had always wanted to visit Sapporo for the Yuki Matsuri, after which the trip was mainly to catch up with friends. So in early February we set out on our trip. We picked up our granddaughter, Christine, at Melbourne Airport and flew into Narita Airport. We had a long trip on the Shinkansen as far as Shin Aomori and then by Express to Hakodate and on to Tomakomai where we stayed overnight.
By this time we were well into the snow. Early the next morning we caught the train to Sapporo and started our tour of the snow sculptures in Odori Park. The pavement was covered in snow and ice and not very flat at times. They were scattering gravel on some parts to make it safer. The snow sculptures were very impressive.
One of the snow sculptures. The stage for Shakespeare’s “A winter’s Tale”
The 25.5m high St Paul’s in Macao. Another snow sculpture.
After dinner we went down to Susukino to view the ice carvings, which were also very good.
Ice sculptures in Susukino.
The following day we returned to Odori Park to look at the rest of the sculptures. There was also a ski jump in the park.
The ski jump. Welcome to the Hokkaido Shinkansen.
The next day we were out of the Inn very early to catch the train to Morioka. Here we met up with some friends who drove all the way up from Miyako to meet with us. We ended up in a Karaoke Bar after dinner where we had a great time.
With our friends in the karaoke room.
We said our goodbyes the following morning and set out for Atsugi to meet up with more friends who we had known for many years. One of these was an exchange student that we had hosted about 15 years earlier and was now married. The next day we went to Kawasaki to catch up with the family of another girl we had hosted over 25 years ago.
With Moena-san and her husband. With Asuka-san’s family.
As I said, it was a very rapid trip and the following morning we boarded the train to Kanazawa and it started to snow half way there. We spent a day walking round the sights of Kanazawa which is one of our favourite destinations in Japan.
Holding up the branches in kenrokuen.
We then spent a few days in Kyoto before going to Osaka prior to our departure from Japan. There we met another couple, with whom we had made friends a few years earlier.
The Zen rock garden at Ryoanji.
Then it was on the plane to return to Tasmania.
The October trip was planned several years ago and it was intended to bring our second son and his wife (Christine’s parents) with us. Unfortunately, Helen fell ill with Multiple Sclerosis and they could not make it. Instead we brought another couple, Debbie & Gary, with us.
We fitted in as much as we could over the four weeks so it was a very crowded but enjoyable trip. We spent a number of days in Kyoto and its surrounds visiting the sights before arriving in Nikko for the Parade and a trip to Edo Wonderland.
Ginkakuji from the gardens.
Kinkakuji. Kiyomizu on a busy Saturday.
At the Heian Shrine.
The steps at Uji station. Children ready to join in the parade at Uji.
Part of the bi-annual parade in Nikko.
Some of the renovations being carried out at Toshogu shrine in Nikko.
Two of the different performances at Edo Wonderland near Nikko.
The next stop was Hirosaki where they had moved the castle to a temporary new site to repair the original foundations. The castle had been strengthened with I beams and it was moved in one piece. It will be moved back once the new foundations are considered safe.
Part of the Chrysanthemum Festival. Hirosaki Castle at its temporary home.
From Hirosaki we went down to the Tokyo area to meet up with friends as we had done in February.
In the Edo Museum in Tokyo. An amusing display in a shopping area in Tokyo.
We then went to the old Post town of Tsumago where we did the walk from Magome to Tsumago along the Nakesando.
Shops on the Nakesando.
Once again we enjoyed a couple of days in Kanazawa.
Enjoying raw sea-urchin in Omichio In Kenrokuen.
From here we went to Kagoshima for a bus trip around the volcano Sakurajima. We had hoped to go on the 6 hour bus trip but that was booked up. In the end, it was probably best that we only were able to go on the 2 hour trip as the weather was very poor and very wet.
The volcanic crater of Sukurajima. The river at Kagoshima.
We were original going to go up to Kumomoto but the earthquake earlier in the year put paid to that, as the castle was unable to be visited, so we went to Yamaguchi instead in the hope of seeing the Spanish Festival. That was not being held until the following Sunday but we did see the Halloween Parade as well as the Five Storied Pagoda at the Rurikoji Temple.
The Five Storied Pagoda at night.
Part of the Halloween Parade.
From Yamaguchi we travelled to Imari for the Porcelain Fair at Okawachiyama.
A bridge at Okawachiyama.
The next stop was at Karatsu for the Kunchi Matsuri and the wonderful hospitality of Yoyokaku.
Karatsu Castle. Part of the Kunchi Matsuri.
Dinner at Yoyokaku. Fun after the dinner.
Our final stop was at Takamatsu for a look around Ritsurin Gardens and a day trip to Tokushima to look at the whirlpools. Unfortunately, we mistimed the tide and hardly saw any. We did enjoy the performance of the Awa Odori while we were there.
Scenes at Ritsurin Gardens.
Part of the Awa Odori exhibition.
It was back to Kyoto to prepare to return to Tasmania but we did have time to visit the Inari Shrine.
Toori at the Inari Shrine.
Thank you very much for joining me.
I hope you will visit us again next month.
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