Japan in photos

Here are some pictures from our travels through Japan. We really enjoyed our travels there, and hopefully you can too through our photos.


One of the great things about Japan was its temples. Beyond being a place for prayer and meditation, they had many other roles. Their architecture was beautiful, design precise, and presence imposing. They also functioned as a focal point for Japanese on their days off, and were often found with people milling about on their weekend.

  • Drinking water blessings templeDrinking the water from Kiyomizu-dera temple imbues you with different blessings.
  • Kiyomizu-dera templeKiyomizu-dera temple in the waning light.
  • Ginkaku-ji templeGinkaku-ji temple through the trees.
  • Ginkaku-ji temple sand sculpturesThe zen gardens outside the temples displayed an amazing level of detail and precision.
  • Fushimi-inari tunnelTorii (gates) usually mark shrines. Fushimi-inari, by contrast, had so many they made a tunnel up the mountain.
  • Fushimi-inari familyTemples weren't just for tourists. Many served as focal points for locals on a day out.
  • Yasaka pagoda lit upAt 6 pm every night, many famous sights were lit up. How better to enjoy this marvelous five-story pagoda?
  • Senso-ji temple ringingRinging in prayers at Senso-Ji.
  • Nijo Castle ceremonyA ceremony in the tranquil setting of Nijo Castle.
  • The underside of the main bell at Kaminari-mon gate. The gate itself was flanked by two fierce-looking gods.


The city was sometimes abuzz, but it was just as beautiful on its own. From the crazy streets of Shinjuku to the deceptively quiet tea houses of Gion, each area had its own unique flavor. Many thanks to our old college friend, who took time off from work to share her favorite parts of Tokyo with us.

  • Bike messenger GionA bike messenger expertly balances food and an umbrella on his way to a Gion tea house.
  • A couple in traditional dress strolls through the gardens at Kiyomizu-dera.
  • Kyoto river walkA view of the river in Kyoto, along with one brave soul running through rain and cold.
  • It's a romantic night out at Kyoto's Maruyama Park during the Hanatouro illumination festival
  • A busy morning in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
  • Tea houses with lanternsThe rustic tea houses (ochaya) and geisha boarding houses (okiya), each with their own red lantern, are a jump to an old but still very much alive era. Don't be fooled - behind that facade lies a modern version of luxury.
  • There's nothing like a good morning stretch to begin your day.
  • Flashy and never-ending billboards crowd the senses in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.
  • Tokyo skyline from buildingA (free) bird's eye view of the Tokyo skyline.
  • Tokyo metropolitan buildingWhat would a visit to Tokyo be without a view of the many towering skyscrapers?
  • Asakusa alleywayOne of the many narrow alleyways in Japan. Beware: cars bulldoze down those alleyways.
  • Marriage buildingFrom wedding hall to reception and even realtor, this building has all a couple needs to get hitched and start their new life.
  • Schoolgirls shopping at Kaminari-monA posse of schoolgirls shopping outside Kaminari-mon.


Even though we stayed in cities, we loved our momentary escapes into nature. Japan was only just flourishing into spring when we visited, so greens and grays were giving way to brighter colors.

  • Flowers line the zen walkway at Ginkakuji.
  • Bamboo forest walkThe Arashiyama bamboo forest was a welcome break from the city.
  • Bamboo forest walkOur view on a walk through the same bamboo forest at dusk.


One of the things we liked best about Japan was the food. Here’s but a small selection of what we had.

  • Eel liver yakitori (grilled skewers) anyone?
  • Kyoto style okonomi, dressed and ready.
  • Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth wasabi mochi prepared fresh right by the Yasuka Pagoda.
  • The amazing selection of fresh seafood at a local restaurant in Tokyo.
  • The prettiest latte art at a cafe in Harajuku.

Other cool things

Part of the fun in exploring Japan was seeing things we’d never seen before. Here are a few of the things we saw in our travels.

  • Beautiful selection of furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) at Asakusa Namikase.
  • One of the many innovation ikebana (flower arrangement) displays at Kyoto's Maruyama Park.
  • An urn at the Tokyo National Museum.
  • Beauty in simplicity: Nested bowls at the Tokyo National Museum.
  • Guess what people wish for the most?
  • A color-coordinated display of umbrellas? Yes please! Which just goes to show that you can make almost anything look beautiful.

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