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Apr. 21st, 2025

Heroes Bowie

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Nov. 24th, 2010

Heroes Bowie


The following public blog entries are for educational purposes only. The opinions expressed here are purely my own, and the following pictures and video were taken by me. Enjoy!

Nov. 21st, 2010


Itsukushima Shrine

The Itsukushima shrine is located on Miyajima, the "Shrine Island". I was able to visit this gorgeous and famous shrine on a school trip to Hiroshima. This picture shows the hallways of the shrine. I wasn't able to get a frontal view because it was a very rainy day that day. :(

The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of the Shinto deity of seas and storms, Susano-o no Mikoto. I was in awe of this shrine because of the size and complexity of it. This shrine is definitely the biggest shrine I've ever been in and the gorgeous long hallways are definitely a must-see. The wooden floors were beautiful and the red structure was breath taking.

This shrine gets a lot of tourists and is a holy shrine. Therefore, no births or deaths are allowed in this shrine.

There was a low tide when I was visiting the shrine so there was no water surrounding the structure. Usually, when there is water surrounding the structure, it's a beautiful site. There were a lot of tourists on this day and there were especially a lot of school children. The children were not shy to say "Hello!" in English, it was really cute!

Heroes Bowie

A Snapshot at Geisha

This picture was taken in Kyoto along the long, curvy road leading up to the famous Kyomizudera shrine. A good place to see geisha is in the Gion district but we didn't have enough time to go there. There are two Geisha in this photo and it looks like they are entertaining a mother and her young son.

The geisha are trained in the art of conversation and entertainment. Being a Geisha means you present yourself beautifully. A white face, red lips, dark eyes, and dark eyebrows is the normal make-up for a geisha. Their black hair is pulled back in an elaborate up-do with ornaments and the Geisha adorns a beautiful full-length kimono.

Our tour guide told us that the Geisha are dwindling in number. There used to be thousands of Geisha, but now there are only 800 or so. Geisha live in a house with other Geisha or they live independently. They are also paid a full Geisha wage. A common misconception is that Geisha provide sexual services but that is not the case. A high-class Geisha can please their client by just their skills in conversation and entertainment. (Such as dance or playing an instrument.) Being a Geisha is an honor and they are arguably the most powerful women in Japan.

Nov. 7th, 2010

Usagi and Mamoru

Traditional Japanese Wedding

This picture was taken in Itsukushima (or Miyajima, shrine island) at the Itsukushima shrine. A traditional Shinto Japanese wedding was taking place inside. I felt so lucky to have been able to see this in person. The bride is dressed head to toe in white, while the groom is dressed in black attire, much like Western weddings. Western-style weddings are becoming very popular in Japan. Western-style weddings take place in a Christian-style chapel, commonly in hotels. Though they are Christian-style, only a small percentage of Japanese citizens are Christian. The look and style of the Christian wedding is what's popular, not necessarily the religious background. I wonder how the image of Christian-style weddings became so popular in Japan.

I believe the statistics of people who choose Shinto style weddings is only 40% now, while Western weddings are dominant with 60%.

There was what looked like a brief tea ceremony. The bride drank from a cup of tea. There was also an older man playing a flute-like instrument while the ceremony was taking place. It looked like such a beautiful wedding, it's too bad it was pouring rain on that day! :(

The site of the wedding was positioned exactly in view of the famous O-Toori shrine.

Nov. 3rd, 2010

Heroes Bowie

Big Buddha (Nara Daibutsu)

This ginormous Buddha statue located in Nara, Japan, is the largest Buddha statue in Japan, and arguably in the world. The statue is housed in the huge Tōdaiji Temple, surrounded by flowers and well wishes. I visited this statue on October 10th, 2010 after seeing the famous deer park on a school trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima. This was our free day to explore so a few friends and I decided to visit Nara and Osaka. When I first approached the statue, I was in awe at the sheer size of this giant Buddha. This statue also reminded me of the Shinto statue in the Spirit Temple from the classic Nintendo 64 game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but that's just the geek in me talking. This statue is called a Daibutsu, literally meaning, "Big Buddha". As Shintoism and Buddhism are the biggest religions in Japan, there are many Daibutsu scattered around Japan.

I had a certain feeling when I was in front of the statue, it was very strange. I felt like I was in the presence of something truly sacred, it was almost surreal. The gaze of the statue was haunting, and the dong of the bell certainly helped the aura.

Oct. 30th, 2010

Heroes Bowie

Kamakura Daibutsu

This Daibutsu (Literally meaning "Big Buddha") is located in the shore town of Kamakura. It took about 40-50 minutes to get there by train from Jiyugaoka. The town of Kamakura is very endearing, because it's right by the ocean it was common to see surfers coming back from a day of catching waves and there were plenty of trendy boutiques. It reminded me of an ocean town from the states. Even though it's a completely different location, the look and feel of the town was exactly the same as an ocean town in the states. Very relaxed and beautiful.

What made this Big Buddha unique was you could actually go inside it! It only cost 20yen for this experience (which is the cheapest thing I've ever had to pay for being in Japan) and it was so worth it! It was bigger than I thought being inside of the Daibutsu. The front wall of the statue was very warm, which I found peculiar. Perhaps the cast became hot from the sun? There was a platform with a ladder and a window on the back of the statue's head. I was not able to go up it so I wonder what it's for....

Oct. 25th, 2010

Heroes Bowie

Gorgeous Paper Cranes

On a school trip to Hiroshima, we visited the A-Dome. The A-Dome is located at the epicenter of where the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Nearby the A-Dome there are monuments and the Hiroshima Peace Museum. There was a significant monument there that represented the hope for peace and the banishment of nuclear weapons. By this monument there were these gorgeous, vibrant paper cranes. There were so many!

These paper cranes are significant because they represent hope and good luck. Paper cranes have become a symbol of world peace because of Sadako Sasaki, a 13-year old Japanese girl. Sadako suffered from leukemia, as a result of the radiation poisoning caused by the atomic bomb. Optimistic, Sadako aimed to fold 1,000 paper cranes, to help her get better. I learned in the Hiroshima Peace Museum that Sadako stayed in the hospital for a long period of time, so she got creative by folding very small paper cranes. They were so small that she needed a needle to fold them! Sadako died in the hospital surrounded by paper cranes, gifts, and her loved ones. She was buried with her paper cranes. The museum says that she did complete the 1,000 paper cranes but other stories indicate that she did not finish all 1,000.

The story of Sadako has touched many around the world. Many visitors of the Hiroshima peace museum leave paper cranes and local children at schools make them as well for the monument. Hopefully one day, we will live in a world free of nuclear weapons.

At first, I honestly felt a little odd about coming to the epicenter of where the bomb was dropped. I thought, "Would we get stared at? Will they hate us?" But the people there were nothing but friendly and welcoming. I learned that all they want is for a horrific event like this to never happen again. They built the peace museum and the monuments as a reminder of what has happened, and as a hope for peace.

Oct. 22nd, 2010


Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki

I love okonomiyaki. A lot. The first time I ever had okonomiyaki was in a grocery store called H-Mart in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was so delicious. I knew that when I came to Japan, I had to have authentic okonomiyaki. On a school trip to Hiroshima, we had dinner at a restaurant where they taught us to make our own okonomiyaki. What makes it Hiroshima style is it has a strong noodle base, with a thin pancake, bacon, an egg, a cabbage batter, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and other goodies that slip my mind.

Okonomiyaki is a popular dish in Japan. Though not the healthiest, it is undeniably delicious. It's funny because even though this dish is very gluttonous, it is still presented beautifully. The food culture in Japan is very particular about food presentation. It's very evident in the bentos that Japanese housewives make for their children. Bentos are homemade packed lunches, a lot of care and preparation goes into making an exquisite lunch. I learned in the food presentation by my classmates that mothers put a lot of effort and time into making a bento for their child, so in return they expect the child to try their best in school.

Sep. 20th, 2010


Yokohama Bay Stars Baseball Game!

On September 14th, I went to a Japanese baseball game. The game was between the Yokohama Bay Star and the Hiroshima Tigers.

This baseball game was very much different from the baseball games I've been to in the United States. In America, baseball games are held in huge stadiums, and a lot of excited, loud fans attend. At the baseball game in Yokohama, the stadium was much smaller, and the fans were very tame compared to the fans in the states. Instead of loudly cheering and making noise like we do in the states, the fans at the Yokohama game were using quiet and respectful noise makers and rarely verbally cheered.

I noticed that there were mostly attractive young women selling beer and food to people in the stadium. In the states, I noticed that the people selling drinks and food in the stadium are men. An interesting side note is one of my friends gave the girl he bought a beer from a 100 yen tip. The girl got very excited and was very appreciative. This made me think of the tipping customs here, versus the states.

A lot of families were at the game with young children. The children seemed very excited to be there and one young boy even exclaimed to me, "Bay Stars?!" And I replied, "Hai, Bay Stars!" He was very excited.

A lot of elements were the same as in the states. You could buy food, merchandise, there was a bit of a half-time show, and excited fans.

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