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Fresh Japanese News

Muza-chan's Gate to Japan
The last Japanese castle

A law enacted by the Tokugawa shogun in 1615, Ikkoku ichijo (meaning “One province one castle") was allowing lords to own only one castle per domain. It remained in force for 256 years, until the abolition of the domains system.

During this period, even for castle repairs it was mandatory to obtain an approval from the Shogunate. The last approval for the reconstruction of a castle tower was granted for the Matsuyama castle, which was struck by lightning and burned in 1784. The construction of the new tower began in 1820 and was finalized in 1852, thus being the last castle tower built in Japan before the feudal system was abolished by the Meiji Restoration.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: VR 28-300mm F/3.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 300mm
Aperture: F/7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/1250s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 2000
Zaru udon with tempura
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Zaru udon with tempura

Zaru udon with tempura

It is believed that udon has been brought to Japan either by the Buddhist monk Kukai, 1200 years ago (as it is believed in the Kagawa Prefecture) or 400 year later by the monk Enni Ben’en, the founder of Tofuku-ji, Kyoto (as it is believed in the Nagasaki Prefecture). Regardless the version, udon is certainly the oldest type of noodle consumed in Japan and it is recognized as one of the national dishes.

Udon is both an every day dish and a festive dish, and it is cooked in a large variety of ways, being served either hot or cold. One of the simplest recipes, zaru udon, serves the noodles cold, on a bamboo sieve. In the dish photographed here, it is presented with a popular topping, prawn tempura.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 70mm
Aperture: F/3.2
Shutter Speed: 1/1500s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 4000
November 15, the Shichi-Go-San celebration
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

November 15, the Shichi-Go-San celebration

November 15, the Shichi-Go-San celebration

The Shichi-Go-San festival (meaning “Seven-Five-Three") is an old Japanese tradition, a rite of passage day celebrating the growth of children for three and seven year old girls and three and five year old boys.

In this day, dressed in formal clothes, the parents go with their kids to Shinto shrines to pray for health and well-being. Of course, some rules related to hair styles and to clothing were updated, but generally the tradition remained the same for hundreds of years.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/250s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 1000
Matsushima Bay Yoroijima island
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Matsushima Bay Yoroijima island

Matsushima Bay Yoroijima island

As I previously wrote, many of the 200 islands scattered through the Matsushima Bay received names because of their beautiful shape. One of the smallest and most interesting is the small one on the left of this photo, named Yoroijima, with a shape resembling so much a wave crest that it seems sculpted by hand…

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 32mm
Aperture: F/7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 500
Hiroshima Castle Yagura-mon
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Hiroshima Castle Yagura-mon

Hiroshima Castle Yagura-mon

The most common type of gate used for the Japanese castles is the Yagura-mon (from yagura “turret” and mon “gate") photographed here at the Hiroshima castle. As the name suggests, the gate has a yagura tower built on top, which improves the gate’s resistance and offers space for defending troops.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon D90
Lens: VR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: F/7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 200
Start of winter illuminations in Japan
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Start of winter illuminations in Japan

Start of winter illuminations in Japan

November is one of the most beautiful months in Japan, by day due to the vivid autumn colors of the trees and by night because of the winter illuminations, lit expecially in the commercial venues…

Photographed here is the wonderful building of the Tokyo International Forum and the nearby street with trees adorned by LED lights.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 36mm
Aperture: F/4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/60s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 5000
Wooden bridges in the Genkyu-en garden
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Wooden bridges in the Genkyu-en garden

Wooden bridges in the Genkyu-en garden

The largest of the two islands of the Genkyu-en garden in Hikone is connected by 3 wooden bridges, each one with a different architecture. Two of them are visible in this photo, the one in the forefront being very simple, designed to look just like a simple path, perfectly blending in with the scenery. The bridge in the background has a more complex structure, made of 2 wooden arches supported by 3 stone piers.

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EXIF Info:

Nikon D300
Lens: VR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: F/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/640s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 200
Fairytale scene at Dogo Onsen
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Fairytale scene at Dogo Onsen

Fairytale scene at Dogo Onsen

Continuing an idea first introduced in 1927 by two newspapers, Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun and Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, who created the list 100 Landscapes of Japan, 8 years ago the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper compiled a list of 100 landscapes of the present. There are two onsen public baths included on the list, the Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma and the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime, photographed here. Indeed, it looks like a fairytale scene…

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EXIF Info:

Nikon Df
Lens: 24-70mm F/2.8G
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: F/3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/60s
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 6400
Simply beautiful Japanese scenes, late autumn at Shiogama Jinja
Yesterday’s Japan Photo:

Simply beautiful Japanese scenes, late autumn at Shiogama Jinja