Traditional and Modern Tools in Japan

Turning Japanese

If it seems like I have Japan on the brain lately it’s because I DO! I am headed to Japan in a few months for the Cherry Blossom season! I have wanted to be in Japan during this time for a long time and only missed it by a few weeks in 2015. Hopefully this year I will get lucky since the time from bloom to fall is VERY short!

This is a collection of tools used by the caretakers of Meiji Jingu. I love how there is a mix of traditional brooms and modern tools as well.

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Traditionally Dressed Japanese Kids at Meiji Shrine

Finding History

There is an old adage in Hollywood traditional ascribed to W.C. Fields, but universally known, “Never work with animals or children”. To those not acting however, they are like gold! What could be more adorable than two small children all dressed up in traditional garb to visit Meiji Jingu in Tokyo.

I am always looking for some elements of time or even timelessness, contrasts between the old and new. Does this work in that sense?

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White Japanese Chrysanthemum

Huge Flowers

My mother is the gardener in the family. I realized very quickly after moving into my own home, some years ago that I prefer to see gardens rather than participate in their cultivation. Visiting the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, something I most always do when visiting Tokyo I found these Chrysanthemums. This particular white was much bigger than a softball or my hand. I imagine it takes a great deal of patience to grow a flower this large and beautiful.

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Tokyo Sunrise

Big, Big City

The sunrise endlessly is interesting to me, it’s just SO incredibly difficult for me to get up for. There are two problems. First, I am not a morning person, though this is frequently aided by jet-lag. Hawaii is a great example…I am usually awake by 3 or 4 am easy. The second problem is breakfast. If you want to eat at the hotel (one of my economizing tips) you have a problem. Generally there is not a pre-dawn buffet and if you get out, it’s often difficult to make it back in time to partake of the (in my case) free food! Sure this gives you a great opportunity to sample cafe’s, but I tend to like to save that for an economical lunch (free breakfast, econimical lunch, then a dinner wow). This sunrise was captured from the hotel breakfast! Since I was on a really high floor, it was the perfect compromise!

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Early Spring Flower at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Japan

Gardens of the Imperial Palace

I had not visited the grounds of the Imperial Palace on my previous trips to Tokyo. The Palace is not a site you can just visit. There are a limited number of tickets and you have to plan in advance which is not exactly my strong suit. I tend to like to go with the flow on trips and when you have an appointment for a site at 10am, you HAVE to be somewhere despite what wonders you find along the way. The East Garden is completely open to the public, but given that I couldn’t see the palace, I never bothered. After my visit, I am sorry this was only my first visit to the gardens. The site is a huge green-space and though I was too early for the cherry blossoms, other flowers were blooming. This flower was perhaps a bee’s paradise!

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Veins of a Dark City

Dark City

I visited Tokyo almost a year ago and I long to return (spoiler I am at least twice in 2015). It is a vibrant place with more energy then one city should be allowed on its own, but I don’t think Tokyo could be any other way. This rendition is from the window of my hotel room, looking over a city that never seems to end. The highway struck me and I was looking for a way to make it stand out more in the photo as it did when I was there.

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Ornate Door at Meiji Jingu


A quick post today…this door caught my eye when first entering Meiji Jingu. It’s a simple door, wonderfully carved but not the one you would go through. There is a much larger entry to the left, but I found this one…I don’t know why, but I was drawn to it’s smallness. I was drawn to it’s simplicity.

Prayers of the World

Writing your Dreams

I knew very little of Meiji Jingu Shrine before I visited. I knew what the guidebook told me about the space to honor the spirit of the Emperor and his wife. The site is full of tourists, but also with regular Japanese people spending time in ceremony. It was a strange cosmic convergences where the practitioners lost in the murmurations of prayer form some harmonious counterpoint with the wandering spirits of overwhelmed travelers. Perhaps we are one in the same, no different as we both seek something we can’t understand or begin to explain.

All Languages Welcome

One of the things people do at the temple is purchase one of these cards (Ema) to write their dreams. I am not certain dream is the correct word. Prayer is likely more accurate, but the former seemed accurate for the few cards that I could decipher. What struck me was the variety of language contained in the Ema. Shinto does not make some of the demands of other religions. You are generally not required to profess your faith, which seems a very open and inviting.

Evening Lanterns at Senso-ji Temple

A Mass of People

Senso-ji Temple is a wonderfully interesting place. You see the Tokyo Sky Tree off in the distance…the most modern of Tokyo. At the same time you are standing at a Temple site older than Tokyo itself. It is an odd reality, but one that fits Tokyo perfectly. There are always a large number of people at the site, even after it closes. I spent my time there eating the best bean buns I have ever had and taking photos up to try and keep the people out of my shots. I really enjoyed these lanterns.

Budding Tree in Japan


I was walking through Shinjuku Garden one cloudy fall day when I found ALL of the photographers in the park. Keep in mind this is a very big and absolutely beautiful park, but everyone with a camera was around this tree. There were literally people runny to hurry up and get to it before me…though I really was never sure why. When I got home, the bokeh reminded me of a Claude Monet painting so, though this photo doesn’t have enough blue to be a water lily, it was most definitely inspired by them.