Gaijin on Getas Blog

Hidden Gems

Iga Ueno

Posted on October 3rd, 2011 by Mike Roberts

Iga Ueno Castle

Located about half-way between Nagoya and Osaka, the city of Iga Ueno is a little hard to get to, but is a perfect day trip from either Osaka or Kyoto. Iga Ueno is most famous for ninja. The Iga school of ninjutsu (art of stealth), based in Ueno City, was at one time one of the two leading ninja schools in Japan during the late 15th and early 16th centuries (the Koga school in the nearby Shiga Prefecture was the other). Today, Iga Ueno attracts visitors with its excellent ninja museum. Iga Ueno is also known as the birthplace of one of Japan’s greatest poets, Basho Matsuo, who lived during the early Edo Period. A memorial museum, his birth home and a former hermitage are some of Ueno’s Basho related attractions. Iga Ueno is also known for the Iga Ueno Castle. Iga Ueno Castle is famous for having the highest stone walls in Japan. These stone walls were selected for use in a scene for the movie “Kagemusha,” directed by the internationally renowned film maker Akira Kurosawa. Read the full post »

Daio Wasabi Farm

Posted on September 22nd, 2011 by Mike Roberts

Daio Wasabi Farm

The Daio Wasabi Farm is located about 32 kilometers north of Matsumoto in the city of Hotaka. The farm, covering 15 hectares, is the largest wasabi farm in Japan. Established in 1915, the natural water springs fed by melting snow from the surrounding mountains enable the farm to produce 150 tons of wasabi annually. Its beautiful watermills alongside the clear river running through the farm and views of the surrounding Japan Alps make it a popular tourist spot with the Japanese. The farm is also famous for its appearance in the 1990 film “Dreams” by the world-famous film director Akira Kurosawa. The watermills and river appear in the segment called “Village of the Watermills”. These watermills still remain today, and can be best viewed by taking one of the special raft tours available during the spring and summer months. Read the full post »

Kamigamo Shrine – Kyoto

Posted on September 7th, 2011 by Mike Roberts

Kamigamo Shrine

Kamigamo Jinja lies up against the northern hills, in a quiet residential area of Kyoto, and is therefore often less-crowded than shrines in the city centre, though no less impressive. The shrine is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, and most of the shrine buildings are classified as Important Cultural Properties. The shrine was established in the 7th Century, a hundred years before Kyoto was founded.

When the Imperial capital moved to Heiankyo (present day Kyoto)

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the Kamigamo Shrine, along with its sister shrine Shimogamo Shrine, enjoyed imperial patronage and support that has continued to the present. Read the full post »

Iwakuni

Posted on August 13th, 2011 by Mike Roberts

Kintaikyo Bridge

Kintaikyo Bridge

Naturally, when people visit Hiroshima, the first item on everyone’s list is the Peace Museum and Park. Then, many people might think about visiting Miyajima Island. But very few people consider visiting Iwakuni. Iwakuni is located just a short 15 minute ride from Hiroshima by Shinkansen to the Shin-Iwakuni train station, or a 40 minute train ride from Hiroshima on the JR Sanyo line to the Iwakuni station. Each station is only a short 15-20 minute bus ride from the major sights in Iwakuni.

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Kappabashi – Tokyo’s Restaurant Supplier or “So That’s Where All those Plastic Food Models Come From”

Posted on August 11th, 2011 by Mike Roberts

Entrance to Kappabashi

Entrance to Kappabashi

Located only a short 15 minute walk from the busy Kaminari-mon gate, one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist destinations, is the sleepy Kappabashi, a concentrated area of wholesale restaurant suppliers. If you are planning to start a restaurant in Tokyo, this is the place to go. Everything you need to start, furnish and operate a restaurant is here in this area. Even if you’re just a frustrated, amateur cook looking to add Japanese cooking utensils to your arsenal, if you are just looking for a different souvenir for someone at home or if you are just looking for inexpensive ceramics and porcelain, then this is the place for you.

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Engyoji Temple – The Last Samurai’s Winter Hideaway

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Mike Roberts

Maniden

Maniden

Even though Engyo-ji is only 45 to 60 minutes by bus and ropeway from the Himeji train station, this quiet, mountain-top Buddhist temple gives the impression of being much more remote. Engyo-ji has managed to avoid the advance of the modern Japan that has grown around the base of the mountain and has maintained a world of its own. Today, Engyo-ji is best known as one of the film locations for the recent movie “The Last Samurai”. Though most of the movie was filmed in New Zealand, a few of the scenes from the winter hideaway for the Samurai were filmed at Engyo-ji. Engyo-ji is also used for Japanese television period dramas. The temple is number 27 of the 33-temple Saikoku pilgrimage. This pilgrimage located in western Japan is dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of Mercy.

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Inuyama Castle

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by pivotpoint

Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle is located on the southern side of the Kiso River in the sleepy town of Inuyama. The site of the castle was initially occupied by the Harigane Shrine, and the shrine was moved to Shirayamadaira so that the castle could be built on the steep hill. Inuyama Castle holds the distinct honor of being the oldest castle in Japan, though the date of its original construction a bit of a debate. The castle as it stands today was constructed in the year 1537 by Oda Nobuyasu, an uncle of the great warlord Oda Nobunaga. Inuyama Castle is only one of four castles in Japan designated as a National Treasure (Hikone, Himeji and Matsumoto Castles are the other three).

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