I Say A Little Prayer

Yeah, I know autumn is long gone and winter is coming already here (sorry couldn’t resist the Game of Thrones reference) but anyway, just wanted to share one last set of autumn photos from my revisit of Kamakura at Hasedera Temple. This was the temple I missed out on during my last trip here but I have to admit visiting during autumn is much more rewarding.

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The entrance gate (sanmon) may not be as majestic as that of other temples around Kamakura but it is definitely the most beautiful. The giant lantern (lit up at dusk) and that bonsai-like tree really complements the scene.

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I came across these cute statues while making my way to the temple hall. They’re quite small and can be easy to miss.

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Entry into the temple will set you back 300 yen. And do grab a copy of the English brochure. One of the best brochure of a temple I’ve seen in Japan so far – informative and I really liked the design.

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So this concludes my series of autumn photos in Japan. To be perfectly honest, I was getting a bit “autumn-ed” out by that point, it was my 4th weekend in a row shooting autumn scenes. And I guess the timing was about right coinciding with the transition into winter.

Ushering in 2014 the Japanese way

I’ve never really been one for celebrating or ushering in the new year. Dec 31 has always been just like any other day for me. But since I’m in Japan I thought it would be good to experience the Japanese way of ushering in the new year – visiting your nearby shrine.

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I arrived around 11pm at the Gokokuji Shrine and already there was a long queue of people waiting to make their first prayer of the new year at the shrine altar. I joined the queue and it was a good 1 hour before it got to my turn.

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After that, I explored the shrine grounds – checking out the food stalls. Octopus on skewer seem to be a particularly popular offering.

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A lady manning a toy stall. Slow business day for her I guess.

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All in all, it was an interesting experience. While the rest of the world celebrate with plenty of booze and fireworks, Japan ushers in the new year in a deeply spiritual and festive mood. Definitely, a great start to 2014 for me!

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Happy New Year 2014!

A few days late but I would still like to wish everyone a Happy New Year 2014!

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2013 has been kind to me. It has been a year of growth and self discovery. Some highlights of the year would include Bali and of course, my time here in Japan. Here’s to 2014! May it be a good year for one and for all.

By the way, the shot was not taken on New Year’s eve – Japan don’t do the whole fireworks thing for Dec 31.  This was taken a few weeks back in Odaiba, Tokyo. They had short fireworks display every weekend in December.

Walk The Plank

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Another one of my personal favorites from autumn, this one taken from the Rikugien Gardens in Tokyo. This is a really beautiful Japanese landscape garden though I didn’t quite like the crowds and narrow walkways. If possible visit on a weekday (or early in the morning on weekends).

And just in case you’re wondering why everyone is moving in such an orderly manner, there are actually park employees coordinating the traffic but they are hidden behind the trees.

Two Worlds

I’ll always be amazed by the pockets of greenery and parks you can find in Tokyo tucked in between all the modern buildings and structures. It is a testament of the Japanese culture of being in harmony with nature.

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This is Koishikawa Korakuen, one of Tokyo’s oldest and best Japanese gardens. It is located next to the Tokyo Dome (a huge baseball stadium) which is the spherical structure you see in the background. It really reminded me of a giant spaceship… like the one from the movie, Independence Day (great movie by the way).

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This shot here is a personal favorite. The sharp reflection in the stream really captured my imagination. It felt like I could jump right through it into another world. Luckily I was still sober enough to stop myself from doing that.

A beautiful landscape garden in the middle of a bustling metropolitan. Only in Japan, folks.

The Golden Duck

It was one of those lazy weekends when I didn’t feel like going all the way to Tokyo so I stayed within Yokohama and visited the Sankeien Garden instead There’s a nice lake here where people feed the ducks or just sit by to enjoy the view. Makes for some really good photography.

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As I sat by the lake doing my fair share of enjoying the view, this duck swam towards me (probably thought I had food). I really wasn’t thinking much at that point of time but I decided to grab my camera and take a shot anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

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This was one of those rare moments when a good photo opportunity literally came looking for me. How I wish that would happen more often.

Towering Above

It was such a nice and beautiful autumn day that Mount Fuji came out to say hi!

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This majestic beauty can be seen all the way from Yokohama on a clear day. I wonder what took UNESCO so long to list it as a World Heritage site.

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