Wednesday, February 28, 2007

So many colors, so many prices

Kyoto, color
These are powdered mineral pigments and used in Japanese painting, added and mixed with glue, a material for fixing color on papers.

In natural pigments, made from powdered mineral, blue is higher than red. But this shop sells blue at lower price than red, so these colors may be made from artificial materials.

By the way, blue color tend to be also lower than the red in oil painting. Piccaso would use only blue and the time is called "the blue period". Some book say that Picasso only used blue because of his deep sorrow and grief. But other books say that he only used blue partly because he had little money to buy the materials...

Green tea

Green tea is now popular in Japan.

As it was rare when 20 years ago, many 24/7 stores, supermarkets and vending machines sell cold canned and plastic-bottled green tea. When I was a child, we didn't drink cold green tea so often and only drink the hot one.

Now there are many 24/7 stores all over Japan and they sell a variety of boxed lunch, called bento in Japanese. Cold or hot green tea goes well with the lunches. So many people buy green tea, together with the lunch, at 24/7 stores for a lunch.

Plus, green tea is very healthy since it contains Vitamin C, catechin and so on.

By the way, I am surprised to hear that sugar is added to green tea to drink in some countries, but we don't add sugar into it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Round stones, just like oranges in shape and size

Sento Gosho, Kyoto
Sento Gosho, Kyoto
at Sento Gosho, close to Kyoto Imperial Palace.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Nails made in an old way, Horyuji Temple

Horyuji Temple, Nara
Steel nails produced by Japanese traditional way don't tend to rust, unlike the ones today. For example, the nails driven into 1,400 years old structures in Horyuji Temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan, are covered with the layer of black rust and still in use. Today's steel nails of mass production, on the other hand, will rust out only within some decades years.

There are main three reasons why the traditional nails don't rust completely.

1. The old nails contain less sulfur(S), manganese(Mn), silicon(Si) and more titanium(Ti) than today's nails. S, Mn, Si and some Oxygen make steel rust out easily and titanium keep it from rusting.
2. The old contains many layers that can produce the black rust and the rust keep it away from rusting inside the nails.
3. The old nails are used at structure made of cypress with better quality and the material tend to keep water away from going into inside the wood.

The first is that today's nails are added to Mn to improve the workability and Si to get rid of Oxygen in the steel. And coke is used as fuels to get steel out of iron stones in melting furnaces. Coke contains much sulfur. Meantime, raw material, sand iron, of the old steel contained much Mn and Si but the old way of making steel changed into it with less Mn and Si. Wood charcoal, less sulfur than coke, are used to as fuels to make the old steel.

By the way, fired charcoal makes things lower temperature than the fired coke. Fired charcoal make them about 1,200 to 1,300 degrees C and the coke about 1,400 to 1,500 degrees C. The new way of making steel with high temperature of fired coke is more effective than the old way but easy to allow the steel contain much more impurities because of the high temperature.

Plus, the old steel were made of iron sand with richer titanium than iron stone today.

So, the old steel used to be made in less effective way than the new but has better quality.

The second is that many hits are needed to make steel in old way to emit slag from the steel. Many hits make many layers inside the steel that will produce the coat to keep it from rusting.

The third is that quality cypress wood was used in the structure in the major temples. Cypress will not be weakened in a thousand years because the numbers of cellulose, composed of cypress, is almost the same as the thousand years old wood. An old device, called Yari-ganna, would use to give the finishing touches of wooden pillars or beams. The old device is by far more ineffective than the new devices but this never hurt cells on the surface of wood, unlike the new. So the wood finished by the old tool don't tend to take water or oxygen inside the wood, and don't tend to be hurt, protecting the driven nails.

The above three reasons make the old nails last long. But no nails made in the classic way are used in the wooden buildings except the high-ranking temples. This kinds of nails are not needed any more now. Because many buildings last too much shorter than the old nails. Many factors in Japanese society don't need long-life buildings.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Order, Horyuji Temple

Horyuji Temple, Nara
This photo is shot from just outside of an outer gate of Horyuji Temple, Nara. This temple is, first of all, famous for the oldest wooden structure in the world. Over the opening of the gate are seen a five-story pagoda and an inner gate side by side.

This old historic temple is in Nara, where is near Kyoto and the older capital city than Kyoto. Nara is the first capital in Japan and had been the capital from 600 to 800. The second is Kyoto, from 800 to 1600. Tokyo has been the third capital since 1600. (Kamakura, near Tokyo, had been also the capital from 1200 to 1300.)

By the way, this view, created by the pagoda and the outer and inner gate, is very compositional. These are set out in a well balanced. This temple has an order, unlike Kyoto.

This temple has many must-see's, from a lot of excellent images of Buddha to a series of architecture. The composition, I think, is one of best of all points of view in the temple. The temple is also a place for having made the first Constitution in Japan about 1,400 years ago. In those days, people needed the order, anyway, to make the country united and people's lives better.

This temple doesn't have any sensitivity and ambiguity, created by the nature and featured one of Kyoto's beauties.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

A structure in Nanzenji Temple

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto
This is a brick-made bridge for supplying clean water in the middle of Kyoto city and pass through a site of Nanzenji Temple, one of biggest temples in Kyoto and the highest ranking temple of all Zen temples in Kyoto. The bridge was built about 120 years ago, making the most of the Western technique of civil engineering.

This structure has conveyed supply water from Biwa Lake, the biggest lake in Japan and near Kyoto, to Kyoto.

By the way, what brought the structure in the site of the highest-ranking temple? Some said that the new government in those days built this structure not only to supply water into Kyoto but also to harass the temple. This temple got a lot of benefits from the old government, which was overthrown by the new government. So the new government in those days is said to have disliked the temple.

But now, this old structure adds a fascinating sightseeing spot to the temple, thanks to the harassment.
Location by Google Map

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Three kinds of water fallings, Kiyomizu-dera, Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto
These are small falling waters in a site of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the most popular temple in Kyoto.

People are waiting in line for the water. Only taking a sip, not two, of water makes one's wish come true. The left falling water is for making people get smarter, the middle is for one's lasting love each other and the right is for one's good health.

But don't be greedy! Sipping two or three different falling water fails to make your wish come true. Only one sipping water out of three is allowed for people to grant their wish at a time. In other words, we should go there three times to grant all the wishes. This temple has a good business sense, anyway.

Down to the falling water are put two square stones and one round stone for each.(They are outside the photo.) These are put for performing cold water ablutions for training. Monks are said to stand on the round stone for praying and then they stand on the square stones for the ablutions.

By the way, Kiyomizu(清水) out of Kiyomizu-dera(清水寺) Temple means clean or pure water and the name comes from rich water there.

Location by Google Map

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

a five story pagoda, Daigoji Temple

pagoda, Kyoto
This five-story pagoda is in temple and was made for storing a tiny piece, a drop of swallow's tears in Japanese, of Buddha's bone. This kind of the tower came from China about 1,500 years ago.

This pagoda was made about 1,000 years ago and one of greatest pagodas in Japan, feeling the power of ancient times and the elegance of the medieval times.

By the way, Japan has had many big earthquakes but they have failed to destroy the pagodas. There are many reasons why the pagoda never fall down by the earthquakes. One of them is that no nails is driven into the framework of the structure. The joints of the main parts of the structure are connected just like pieces of three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. As time passes, the wood has shrunk to some degrees and small gaps between the joints come into being. The gaps and the pliability of wood can absorb the shock of earthquakes.

Cut-down wood for building the structure is needed to be left outside or in the warehouse for some years to go off water inside the wood. If wood is used just after cutting down, the wood shrinks very much after the construction.

Round wood will be cracked if they are left outside for a long time. To avoid the crack, surprisingly, it is best for round woods to be stored into the water. After stored into the water for four or five years, the wood will have less cracks, have better quality, and water goes off from it more smooth. Plus, the color of the wood will be nice and the wood will emit a nicely odor.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

a basin in shrine, Kamigamo shrine

a basin, Kyoto
This is a basin installed at the entrance of main buildings in shrine. Before we go and pray in front of main building, we will wash your hands and mouth by this big wooden spoon, full of fresh water. Because gods in shrine dislike the dirty.

By the way, we don't set this spoon to our lips directly to wash our mouth.

Location by Google Map

PS. I was very surprised and honoured that I happen to find that this blog is in final nominees of "Best Japanese Photoblog" in The 2007 Photobloggies. Thanks for enjoying and visiting my blog, members of City Daily Photo family and Raquel in Spain!!

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cypress-shingled roof, Ginkakuji Temple

Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto
This is shot early in the morning in winter and frost elegantly decorate the roof.

The upcoming sun rays, making the earth breathing, will soon melt down the frost.

The natural-made structure goes with the earth softly.

Location by Google Map

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Golden Pavilion, Kingakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto
This is another angle of Golden Pavilion. The surrounding nature, trees behind and the pond in front of it, makes the Pavilion more elegant.

Related article

Location by Google Map

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Another purpose of sensu, paper fun

sensu, paper fun, Kyoto
Sensu, paper fun, is indispensable to tea ceremony.

Paper fun is functionally used to make wind and the heat mild. But it is used in another purpose in tea ceremony.

It is put in front of users to look up to the others. For example, when we bow, we put a paper fun in front of us in tea ceremony. When we look at tea tools or tokonoma to appreciate it, we put the fun in front of us.

Putting paper fun between us and things makes the border and the other side of the border means sacred space. It is the same as shimenawa in shrine and sacred gate in shrine, Torii.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fusuma, a sliding papered door, Tenryuji Temple

Between pillars inside a wooden house are set sliding papered doors and they divide rooms.

The doors are usually closed and they are open or got off when a large room is needed.

The houses are very flexible.

PS. this is a 200th post. I will continue this blog till it reachs 1000th post.
Location by Google Map

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Off day

I have to say that this blog is needed to be off today to make another blog, "Proverbs with illustraions".

Sorry for that and have a nice day!!

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

An ornamental gate, Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle, Kyoto
This ostentatious gate is inside of Nijo Castle in Kyoto. The Castle was not a fortness but virtually another residence and office of Tokugawa Shogun, living in Tokyo, in Kyoto. It was built in 1600s, when the Capital removed from Kyoto to Tokyo and Tokugawa Shogun started to rule all over Japan.

This gate is ornamental, unlike Kyoto's traditional architecture, partly because Tokugawa Shogun lived in Edo, the old name of Tokyo, and needed to show Kyoto's people his great power by the architecture.

Location by Google Map

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Senja-fuda, Ishiyama-dera Temple

Ishiyama-dera temple, Kyoto
Ishiyama-dera temple, Kyoto
At the upper of gates of some temples are put many seals. Seals read one's names and address.

This seal is called "Senja-fuda(千社札)" and is put on buildings in temple. Visitors put the seals to wish their luck and also to leave their traces behind. The higher they can put the seals, the more they are believed to get happiness.

Location by Google Map

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Sand moulds

Kamigamo shrine, Kyoto
Two cone shape sand moulds are put in front of a building in shrine. These are believed to be points for Japanese domestic gods to descend from the heaven.The gods prefer higher places and are said to move down from the sky to mountains and tall trees. These moulds mean mountains and the place for gods. The moulds are made in shrine because shrine is a place for honoring the domestic gods.

The thin rope is tighten in front of the moulds and the inside means the holy place for gods. And on the top of the moulds are put small pine leaves. Pine is a symbol of long life and one of gods' favorite trees.

Location by Google Map

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

One of the biggest wooden gates in Japan: Todaiji Temple

Todaiji, Temple

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The norms of wood's beauty

Of all the parts in a traditional wooden house, the best wooden is used at the pillar of Tokonoma.

This partly-cut pillar is just the same as the one used at Tokonoma, and the surface is partly cut to show guests how the annual growth ring is and how nice the wood is.

It is said that the more dense the lines are, the better the wood is.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto
This is Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the most sightseeing spot in Kyoto.

I guess the three reasons are why the temple is so popular.

The first is the great vista: The main temple is on the hillside and we can enjoy the large part of Kyoto city from the extended veranda of main temple. The second is the change of the scenery: The site is on the hillside and as we move around the site, we can enjoy the change of the scenery, the rich green in early summer, the maple leaves in autumn and cherry blossoms in spring. The third is the popularity itself: travelers want to go there because it is popular.

By the way, the center of the extended veranda has no roof. This veranda is originally for performing Noh-dancing, one of traditional Japanese dances, toward gods in the sky and the gods could not see the dancing if the veranda had roof.

Location by Google Map

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Monday, February 05, 2007


Coincidence, Kyoto sightseeing
This is a flight of steps in Omote-Sando Hills in Tokyo. Stones in the building differ each other in size and color. The difference don't break the unity, but give the building a comfortable feeling, just like many steps in the below photo, taken at Murouji Temple in Nara.
Coincidence, Kyoto sightseeing

Location by Google Map


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hotyo, kitchen knife

Hocho, Kyoto
I use only a kind of knife in the kitchen but professional chef use many kinds of knife. The square one is for cutting vegetable, and the three long and thin ones in the below is for slicing fish and making sashimi, sliced raw fish. The long and pointed ones in the middle is also for sashimi.

The steel one used to be popular but now stainless is more popular than steel one because poor maintenance easily rust the steel. But there is a simple way not to rust the steel knife. It is washed with hot water because the steel soon dry off with the towel.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

One of the best souvenirs in Kyoto

souvenir, Kyoto sightseeing
The red is powdered pepper and the black is roasted pepper mixed with other spices.

A little powdered pepper can spice up Udon or Soba. Plus, the black one goes well with hamburger, steak, Chinese and Asian cuisine.

By the way, the black one is one of the best sourvenirs from Kyoto for me and we cannot get it in Tokyo. I think that the best souvenir for giver is light, small, reasonable and the one that make people happy. This canned pepper is lighter and smaller than a egg, lower than a entrance fee in Kyoto's temple, and very useful in various cuisine.

Unfortunately, little souvenir meet the above four conditions but the pepper meet all of them. For me this is the ideal souvenir in Kyoto.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Udon, a Japanese noodle

Udon, Kyoto sightseeing
This is Udon, a kind of Japanese noodle made from flour, with shrimp Tempura. Shrimp Tempura is the most popular food for Udon. We can eat it at standing bars, attached with stations. Many stations have such standing bar and we can also eat Soba, a kind of noodle made from buckwheat.

By the way, Udon in western Japan, including Kyoto and Osaka, differs from the one in eastern Japan, including Tokyo. The difference of the taste mainly comes from the difference of Dashi, soup stock. The soup stock in eastern Japan is mainly extracted from dried kelp or dried small fish; the one in western Japan is boiled and dried bonito fish. By the way, Ben, Nelson Daily Photo, know much better about Daishi and miso soup.

As is very interesting, people in Tokyo also like Udon in eastern way very much but many people in Osaka or Kyoto don't like the one in western way.

Most people in Japan said that most of foods in western Japan tend to be more delicious than those in eastern. I partly agree with this and prefer Udon in western Japan way.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The theme day, "What really annoys you in your city"

Kyoto sightseeing
This is the inside of Kyoto Station and built in 1990s but like the architecture in post modernism style, in fashion from 1970s to 1980s. Now this kind of architecture is just a dinosaur.

This was decided by design competition and talented architects worldwide joined in the competition. But in fact the design was decided under the table. The competition was merely nominal.

It is the dark side of Kyoto....

1 (Porto (Portugal) ) -2 (Stayton, OR (USA) ) -3 (Albuquerque, NM (USA) ) -4 (Tenerife (Spain) ) -5 (Greenville, SC (USA) ) -6 (Dubai (U.A.E.) ) -7 (Evry (France) ) -8 (Jakarta (Indonesia) ) -9 (London (UK) ) -10 (Sequim, WA (USA) ) -11 (Buenos Aires, (Argentina) ) -12 (Seattle, WA (USA) ) -13 (Minneapolis, MN (USA) ) -14 (Stavanger (Norway) ) -15 (Joplin , MO (USA) ) -16 (Nelson, New Zealand ) -17 (Milano, Italy ) -18 (Singapore (KeropokMan) ) -19 (La Antigua Guatemala (Guatemala) ) -20 (Nottingham UK ) -21 (Singapore by Zannnie (Singapore) ) -22 (Budapest (Hungary) ) -23 (Not Strictly Seattle, ) -24 (Bandung (Indonesia) ) -25 (Vantaa (Finland) ) -26 (Hyde (UK) ) -27 (Madrid by Dsole (Spain) ) -28 (Oulu (Finland) ) -29 (Saarbr?cken (Germany) ) -30 (St. Paul [Carol] ) -31 (Sydney (Australia) ) -32 (Tokyo (Japan) ) -33 (Kyoto (Japan) ) -34 (Trujillo (Peru) ) -35 (Shanghai (China) ) -36 (Rotterdam (NL) ) -37 (Chicago, IL (USA) ) -38 (Nice, (France) ) -39 (Naples, Florida (USA) ) -40 (Hong Kong ) -41 (Santa Clara, CA (USA) ) -42 (Quito, Ecuador (South America) ) -43 (Cottage Grove, MN (USA) ) -44 (Paris, (France) ) -45 (Manila (Philippines) ) -46 (Brussels (Belgium) ) -47 (Auckland (New Zealand) ) -48 (Newcastle upon Tyne(England) ) -49 (Houston, TX (USA) ) -50 (Sydney by Nathalie (Australia) ) -51 (Mumbai (India) ) -52 (Anderson, SC (USA)) -

Location by Google Map

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