October 20, 2013

1,000 Samurai Warriors

Last Thursday the girls and I headed to Nikko, a town about 3 hours away, for the Nikko Autumn Festival, or, Shuki Taisai. The highlight of this festival is the grand procession of 1,000 Samurai Warriors, wearing over 100 different costumes. This procession is a reenactment of the funeral for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Shogunate (in the 17th century), and the backdrop is the beautiful Toshogu Shrine, his final resting place.

 We were joined by my good friend Merri Kever and her cute kids, Tommy, Stanley, Molly and little Audrey.

A quick pic with some of the Samurai.

The famous "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil" monkeys originated here at the Toshogu Shrine. This is the original carving.

The beauty, and intricate detail of these buildings cannot even be described. The pictures definitely don't do them justice!

Another friendly participant.

This is the main building of the shrine. They were not allowing anyone inside for some reason, we will have to do that next time.

We hiked up this VERY long staircase to see the actual tomb of the shogun.

The burial place seemed kind of plain compared to everything else!

Waiting for the parade to begin.

Shoes of a samurai warrior. Matt can never again accuse ME of improper footwear!

 This procession has happened twice a year, every year, for over 300 years.

The samurai warriors.

Cute little boys.

This group had strange masks on their heads.

The drum.

The gong.

 You can see how varied the costumes were. Each group represented something different in the procession.

And finally, the shrine. People were throwing coins and folded up prayer papers at the shrine.

Some little boys followed behind to pick up the money, I guess as a sort of offering.
This picture was taken at neighboring shrine.

Similar to gargoyles, these statues guard the shrine from evil. There were several different styles, in all shapes and colors. They were fascinating.

 Lots and lots of "solid gold things".

The whole gang.

Japan has such a rich culture and heritage that goes back thousands of years. I have really enjoyed learning about and experiencing these customs. Some of the parade costumes alone were older than the entire USA, (over 300 years)! This was one of the best adventures I have ever had. Such a fun day!
**A quick side note** One of the best parts of the day was when we ordered six ice cream cones at a small café, and received four ice cream cones and two bowls of noodles. Lol! Lost in translation?

October 17, 2013

The Shibuya Scramble!

We went to Shibuya a few nights ago to see the famous Shibuya Scramble, which is said to be the worlds busiest intersection. At peak times, nearly 1,000 people cross the street on any given light. We wanted to go in the evening to get the full effect of the lights and "Times Square" atmosphere. (The movie "Lost in Translation", was also filmed here.)

The famous Shibuya 109 department store. This is a very trendy and hip area with the younger crowd.

We enjoyed wandering the surrounding neighborhoods.

The girls and I in the center of the crossing.

This is a monument to the dog, Hachiko, a famous Japanese legend. This dog faithfully waited at the Shibuya station everyday for his owner to return from work. When his owner died, Hachiko kept returning to the station everyday for 10 years, until his own death. It is now a very popular meeting and picture taking spot.

A cool view at dusk.

We headed up to a big Starbucks for a better view.

Guess who?! (If you don't get this reference, read about our day at Disney Sea!) :)

Shibuya was exactly how I always pictured Tokyo. Lights, crowds and flash. But, that really is just a small part of what Tokyo has to offer!

October 5, 2013

Takao Trick Art Museum

We visited Takao Trick Art Museum today, a great outing for a rainy day! All of the art was entirely one dimensional, but through the camera lens, really comes to life as 3D. There were also cards to use, while in the museum, to cover one eye with and get the same 3D effect.

This just looked like rocks to me, until I looked through my camera, then the face appeared.

Saying hello to the elephant.

This was a mural painted on the wall, no steps at all!

This was a fun one. Eva is laying down on the floor, and the picture taking spot is on a platform. They actually have footprints on the ground indicating where to stand for the best shot.

Once again, this is just painted on the wall.

Eva feeding the giraffe. Doesn't that tongue look real?!

Hungry, hungry hippos.

I love how these turned out! The girls  were laying on the floor.

Hold on, Ella!

Ella on a platter.

Who shrunk daddy?

Ella's new friend.


Eva's new trick.

Don't get too close ladies!

Heave, ho.

This money had us ALL fooled! I thought of my Grandpa Springer with this one!

Afterwards we enjoyed a drink on this lovely patio. In Japan there are vending machines EVERYWHERE! (I will blog on that at a later date!)

There was such a beautiful view.


The Trick Art Museum is located at the base of Mt. Takao. There are many hiking trails in this area, so we walked around for a while. I hear this area is especially beautiful (and popular) when the leaves change color in mid-November. We will have to return!

You always run into a temple, it seems!

It was a great day!