Chasing Japan visits Anime Expo 2017!

Anime Expo

anime expo

Welcome to Anime Expo, the biggest J-subculture convention in the United States!

Greetings Netizens of the world and welcome to Anime Expo 2017! Every year seems to get more and more packed with goodness; but with it, more and more crowded! This year had an overall unique attendance of 115,726 people including the Pre-Show night! Going up 17% from 2016, the total turnstile attendance was 357,178!

anime expo

The Highlights

Anime Expo shows no sign of slowing down. With the expansion into the JW Marriott, the pre-show night, and 800+ hours of programming, you would have to create Shadow Jutsu clones of yourself to be able to see everything! Anisong World Matsuri made a strong return with popular idol groups from Japan and various other artists performing on stage for over two nights! AX also hosted an EDM concert, Neon District, where famous DJs in the J-subculture world spun the tables til the wee hours of the morning. World premieres and U.S. premieres of highly anticipated anime were also on the books. Parties, celebrations, & anniversaries among the anime world – such as Hatsune Miku’s 10th-anniversary dance celebration – were in full effect during the long weekend! My point is this: this convention was a haven of J-culture sensory overload!

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Day Zero

So with the insane legions of crowds, Anime Expo took the initiative to distribute passes on-site two days before the official day. Technically, that means there was a Day -1. I decided to pick up my press badge on Day Zero in order to catch the first Anisong Concert and the pre-show nights at the 21 & Up lounge – featuring a live DJ, drinks, & dance! Welcome to the place where J-culture enthusiasts can geek out in their cosplays & let loose on the dance floor!

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 Voice of the Cosplayers

My final two days at the convention were filled with panels & cosplay interviews. I cannot stress enough that it is no longer the convention that keeps me coming back. Instead, it’s the community. The Industry panels are intriguing, the endless events and programming are fun to attend, but they are so overcrowded with apocalyptic lines that it’s hard to enjoy.

So what keeps people coming back to this chaotic battlefield of a convention? The community, of course! This isn’t my opinion, entirely – view the videos below to hear the voice of the cosplayers!


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Until next time!

It was quite the enjoyable ride seeing the anime industry show off its latest works and hearing straight from the production studio presidents, animators, writers, producers, etc.! Being here, without a doubt, creates the sense of belonging for fans of the J-subculture. Even if social norm don’t, there is a social norm among AX that says “we get it” and “we are here because of it”! If you haven’t been to Anime Expo but plan on doing so, it is like taking a full fledged vacation. Be sure to plan out your budget and choose your events among the programming schedule wisely. The phrase, “So much to do, so little time” fits this event perfectly.

A big shoutout to all the amazing people I met that made my visit a memorable one. And to the event staff for keeping things in order (relatively ;P ) despite the raucous crowds. I hope to meet you all again, soon!

Full event pictures link below!

 

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Click the image below for full event photos on Flickr!

Anime Expo 2017

Things to Look Forward to At Anime Expo 2017

ANIME EXPO

With Anime Expo around the corner, an endless barrage of announcements on events & special guests have been flooding my inbox. So I thought it would be befitting to help shed some light on a few key highlights that we’re looking forward to!

For those of you that are attending, pay close attention to the schedule. There are so many events that a lot of really cool stuff will have to be overlapped to fit everybody. What does that mean? There is a high chance that you will have to make some sacrifices and pick & choose what events you want to see. If you are unable to attend but don’t want to be left out, you’re in luck: Anime Expo is teaming up with Twitch to stream the whole event!

Chasing Japan wants to meet you!

Do look out for me in the midst of the crowds! Would love to have a quick chat and gossip about all the latest and greatest happening at AX! Will also be making videos on the cosplay & AX in general if you would like to participate!

Until then, please enjoy the official press release information below!

Fate/Grand Order Summons Fans to Anime Expo 2017

anime expo

 

This is quite the big one. Aniplex of America announced that it would host the Launch celebration for the English version of Fate/Grand Order on July 1st at 3:00 pm local time in Petree Hall.

Attending gets you a first look at the game. There will also be special guest appearances by the President, Atsuhiro Iwakami, DELiGHTWORKS Creative Director, Yosuke Shiokawa, & Fate Series voice actor, Ayako Kawasumi (Saber).  Check out demos, try your luck on the Summoning Stand to win special prizes, and meet famous cosplayers Lisa Lou Who, Linda Le…You know what – It’s going to be a big party you cannot miss!

With occupancy allowing only 2,000 people, do hurry to this one if you are a Fate Series fan!

Dragon Ball Super Puzzle Hunt

I find this one exciting! Toei Animation Inc, in partnership with SCRAP Entertainment Inc., has successfully fused! And with it, the interactive Dragon Ball Super experience presents itself at AX2017. It is a story based adventure – where you must hunt dragonballs to summon Shenron to defeat the evil forces! Worth a shot? I say so! If you plan on attending AX and are interested in participating, you can start your journey by checking this link.

Toei Animation Brings the ‘Voice of Vegeta’ – The Beloved Ryō Horikawa

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This will emphatically be the golden egg of panels for Dragonball fans. The Dragonball Super Panel presented by Funimation and Toei Animation Inc. will be celebrating the past, present & future of Dragonball! The best part of the event is the “Voice Off” between the Japanese & English voice actors of Vegeta. You heard that right, Christopher Sabot ( Vegeta’s English Voice Actor) & Ryo Horikawa ( Vegeta’s Japanese Voice Actor) will be having a contest live ripping each other apart on stage!

You can attend this panel at the Petree Hall, Monday, July 3rd at 730 pm.

Anisong World Matsuri

anime expo

Anisong World Matsuri is hosting 2 different concerts featuring various Japanese musical groups – Japan Kawaii Live & Japan Super Live on June 30th & July 1st respectively. Japan Kawaii will have famous all-girl pop idol groups from Japan – AqoursJUNNA and Minori Suzuki from WalküreTHE [email protected] CINDERELLA GIRLS, and Wake Up, Girls! While  Japan Super Live will have the following – ALI PROJECTAngelaGARNiDELiAKonomi SuzukiMashiro Ayano, and Minori Chihara.

Both performances will be held at the Microsoft Theatre both starting at 7 pm. More info here.

Yui Horie Panel

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Saving the best for last! And not because I’m totally fanboying all over Yui Horie. It is because she is a highly revered seiyuu for Japanese anime and games – not to mention her successful music career.   She has quite the impressive vocal range that has carried her impressive track record from 1997 to the present! Any fan of Japanese subculture – anime, games, J-pop – most likely has heard her voice without even realizing it!

You can see Yui Horie, or Hocchan as nicknamed by her fans, at the Live Programming 5 room July 3rd at 600 pm.

Hope to see you soon!

And that is a wrap! Head on over to Anime Expo’s official website for the full schedule with details as there are enough events to fuel at least half a year of conventions (wouldn’t that be lovely??)

Has It Been A Year Already?! Phoenix Comic Con 2017

Phoenix Comiccon 2017

Update (06/02/2017): The Cosplay Video is ready for viewing below! Thanks to those who spent their time and participated in the vid.



We are here at Phoenix Comic Con 2017

 

And it has been a quick year since my last visit. Phoenix Comic Con just keeps on growing in popularity with every year! Last year was a huge jump in attendance, from over 75k to 106k and my visit this time around seemed to be even more crowded! But even amidst the Arizona heat and crowded convention (thankfully well air conditioned), there were many things to check out. Let’s go and see!

Phoenix Comiccon 2017
Sky Bridge connecting North & West Buildings

 

Phoenix Comic Con planted its roots back in 2002.

For those that may not know, Phoenix Comic Con started back in 2002. Every year, vendors gather to provide a multitude of multi-genre entertainment and comic books. There you have it! It’s a triple Phoenix. Phoenix Comic Con at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona!

 

Phoenix Comiccon 2017
FLCL Cosplay

Make it past the crazy registration line to pick up your pass, and you go straight into the convention, where the exhibitor hall, conference/meeting rooms, ballrooms, etc. are open for exploration!

 I decided to take it easy on Day 1 and enjoyed the exhibitor hall.

Phoenix Comiccon 2017

I was happy to get more in depth with the exhibitors this year and discovered booths that are unique. Anime Coast, for example, hand-picks items in shops in Japan that are rare to find and/or out of print.  Original art book prints from animation classics such as Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina, and other sub-culture goods took me straight down memory lane (and down to the ATM)!

Make your way to the upper decks of the convention to see the  Hall of Heroes. Here you can see elaborate displays such as Doctor Who booths, Star Wars movie scene set ups, and Legos built by the Arizona Build team. There is also an artists’ alley, which features many individual artists presenting their workshops on paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

 

Hall of Heroes Star Wars Universe

From Dragons to contemporary art, you can find almost anything here! In the back, you can find media guests such as English dub anime voice actors and pop media culture icons. You can even line up for an interview, selfie, and/or autograph from your favorite stars!

Panels are among the cream of the crop

Phoenix Comiccon 2017
Cosplay Dance Off

Particularly relevant to the convention itself are the panels – programs that caters to every genre are available. From books and authors, celebrity autographing/panels, photo ops, comic books, etc. There are even generic panels to specific topics panels from anime to pop media tv/movie talks. The options are staggering – to the point to where you can’t attend them all. You will have to pick and choose your battles on this front. But stand tall and brave. The convention has made browsing their storm of a schedule easy with apps available for Android and iOS.

Game Rooms & Escape Rooms for your enjoyment

Phoenix Comiccon 2017
Halo 2 Lan Party

Probably the most engaging next to interactive panelists. The most fun you’ll have are in the game rooms hosted by Game On Expo. It is a free entertainment room to enjoy beloved classics and modern hits. They even featured an original Xbox Halo 2 Lan parties on a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) displays (think of the old box TVs before flat screen HDTVs). If that isn’t a trip down memory lane, I don’t know what is! However, I did find it entertaining to hear kids say, “look at that poor resolution” or complain about the lack of technical features of games that weren’t even available 15 years ago.

Phoenix Comiccon 2017
Halo 2 Lan Party

Dare to Escape AZ Escape Rooms? At entrance fees. You can play scenarios where you are trapped in a room and must explore hints/clues and solve mysteries to escape successfully. However, there are time limits! Tis a thriller to enjoy among the many programs in place!

In conclusion,  Phoenix Comic Con has something for anyone and everyone that walks through its doors.

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Anime Anonymous Presents Karaoke Idol Cafe

If it is your first time going to a convention, definitely check out all the panels you can, explore the massive exhibitor halls, and enjoy the amazing cosplays that all the attendees worked on all year round. In fact, you are encouraged to dress up yourself! The variety of actual programs, panels, exhibitors, etc. and goes beyond the scope of this article. Hence, To see more on what Phoenix Comic Con has to offer, do head over to their website! Til’ Next time!

Click the image below for full event photos on Flickr!

Phoenix Comiccon 2017

A Glance at Arizona Matsuri 2017

Arizona Matsuri
Arizona Matsuri
Arizona Matsuri 2017 Awa Odori lead by Ken Koshio!

 

Today we take a look at Arizona Matsuri 2017!

For those that have no idea what Matsuri (祭=まつり) means, it translates to a festival! The festival was held in Phoenix, the great metro capital of Arizona, and it celebrated everything Japanese – from Awa Odori, to taiko, to endless amounts of entertainment, food, etc. – just as you would see at a festival in Japan!

This festival in particular had a great theme, “Shinkansen”. I thought it was fitting. The Shinkansen connects Japan, making all the far reaches of the country more accessible to everyone. Similarly, Arizona Matsuri has connected this rich and diverse culture (involving many communities, groups, and individuals) to America for everyone to celebrate.

I spent a full two days at the festival and found myself getting lost in all the goodness. It was certainly warm with the coming summer, so a fresh Asahi and snow cones were a must! In between stages and performances, we checked out the booths selling everything from art to books and various sub-culture anime goods. Pokemon seemed to be a big seller because of the recent Pokemon Go update.

Performances that you could see at this festival included dances in kimono, martial arts demonstrations, karaoke, and the almighty Taiko drums! If you have never seen Taiko performances in person, I highly recommend that you do. There is a certain emotion/feeling that is brought out when the thunderous bass reverberates as drums grab your attention. Because Taiko is simple, what truly captures you is the human spirit – the form and emotions evoked by the performers.

Taiko is highly intriguing and full of energy. However, it can also feel daunting and scary at the same time as some songs have histories that tie to natural disasters such as oncoming tsunamis, or music that was used for war.

While Taiko was a huge part of the festival, the blend of Awa Odori, stage performances, festival food, and cold beer set the tone as I watched people gather around to celebrate the things they love. I am happy that I discovered Arizona Matsuri, and can’t wait to see more!

 

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017

Arizona Matsuri 2017

 

 

 

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Arizona Matsuri 2017
Amezaiku (飴細工=あめざいく)Japanese Candy Art

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Takeru Matsushita a Taiko performer from Japan!

 

 

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I took the chance to step aside from taking photographs to learn some Awa Odori dance!

 

 

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Cheers from the Author!

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Ken Koshio and his group prepare for the morning ceremony!

 

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Nicole of Odaiko Sonora takes uses her break time to join in on the Awa Odori dance!

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Takeru Matsushita putting on a show!

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Kat McDowell – A traveling song writer who heals through music with occasional Japanese lyrics!

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Met with the man behind the drums, Takeru Matsushita!

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Takoyaki

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Fushicho Taiko Performers

 

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Arizona Matsuri 2017
Lani of Odaiko Sonora!

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Awa Odori dancers

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Ken Koshio group prepares for the morning Awa Odori

 

Arizona Matsuri 2017
Ken Koshio Group

Photography, A Quick Glance: Story Telling & The Soul

Photography, A Quick Glance: Story Telling & The Soul

Greetings fellow netizens. Crawlers of the interwebs, the readers, the conquerors of champions! As we settle in for the new year, I have been seriously dwelling on photography as a whole. Within this dwelling, I have decided to start a new series to share my thoughts, ideas, findings what have you on, of course, photography!

Photography, A Quick Glance: Story Telling & The Soul

Quick disclaimer, I am no teacher, no coach, no nothing! I am just a guy with a camera exploring the possibilities in the world of storytelling.

“Photography for me is very enigmatic. It is becoming less of a science/art and more of a window on how one views the world – how they fit into the world, and how their souls reverberate with their surroundings.”

Photography, A Quick Glance: Story Telling & The Soul

Today, the internet on photography is saturated with everything about technical aspects, rules, exposure theory, etc. While these are important cogs, there is something else that should be at the core; to capture the essence of the moment and freeze it in time. To tell the story of what is in front of the camera in a meaningful & powerful way.

“True. Same with guitars. Though the expensive ones I have really DO sound incredible.”

Nick and I had a conversation recently about photography. He mentioned something that resonated with how I have been feeling about photography but couldn’t paraphrase it to anything else. I told him, “I think any camera is a good camera.” He said, ” True. Same with guitars, though the expensive ones I have DO sound incredible.”

Photography, A Quick Glance: Story Telling & The Soul

“You can master all the rules, have all the best equipment, but if your soul does not resonate with the environment you are in, if you are not in pursuit of story telling, you photos won’t ever come as you desire.”

To paraphrase our exchange of words: The camera only translates what the photographer chooses to frame in the viewfinder.  An image from a budget camera can have just as a strong effect as a professional camera. A camera is a creative tool – when in the hands of the artist, it can make compelling visuals as swift and elusive as a skilled guitar player that can bring out powerful emotions in his music. The artists translate their feelings and their story using their choice of creative tool. Some take photos, some play music, and everything else that is considered an art.

That my friends, is Story Telling & The Soul.

Photography, A Quick Glance: Story Telling & The Soul

What do you think about photography as a whole? How do you view “the soul” of photography? Please let us know in the comments!

Sneak Peak to the next Photography, A Quick Glance Series.  During my Journey in Japan, my mission was to document the experience in a way to have the viewers feel as if they were peering through a window. Look forward to the next entry in the series as I uncover my mindset and approach to storytelling!

Places to Visit in Japan – Shinshūhon Temple

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan

Today we take a look at Shinshūhon Temple (真宗本廟), located in Kyoto, Japan. Shinshūhon Temple is a temple complex that contains historical halls, main ones being The Founder’s Hall, Amida Hall, and Founder’s Hall Gate. Founder’s Hall is a place where people can see the enshrinement of the founder, Shinran, as well as practice their faith of Shin Buddhism. The structure was completed in 1895, making it an excellent choice to experience all things quaint about Japan!

When I first arrived in Kyoto via the Shinkansen (aka Bullet Train), my first stop was a check-in at Daiya Ryokan, a travel hotel with a great location and price. From the Ryokan, Kyoto Station and the temple featured in this article is within a 10-minute walk! What I loved most about the Ryokan was the surprise of Shinshūhon Temple being right in the walking path from Kyoto station. I had no knowledge of this temple which had lead me to this impromptu exploration of the area.

I enjoyed being able to walk around the temple and see massive old wooden Japanese architecture that has withstood the test of time as well as being well kept. With only a few steps from Kyoto Station, do give this area a look!

You can read more about the halls here.

Daiya Ryokan website can be found here.

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Daiya Ryokan (Ryokan is a travel hotel) – My accommodation during my stay in Kyoto!

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
The Founder’s Hall – home to the enshrinement of Shinran

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Founder’s Hall Gate

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Dragon Statue

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Founder’s Hall Gate

 

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Leaving The Founder’s Hall going towards the visitor center via one of the many corridors.

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Buddhist scriptures displayed on a corridor connecting The Founder’s Hall and the visitor center.

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Hallway Entrance at Founder’s Hall – No pics allowed indoors ^^;

 

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Founder’s Hall Gate

 

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Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Pictures instructs guests to remove shoes before entering the sacred temple.

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Front door entrance to Daiya Ryokan.

 

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Fountain at the Temple entrance pictured facing away from the gate.

 

Shinshūhon Temple - Places to Visit in Japan
Meet Kazu! One of the staff at Daiya Ryokan Inn. An excellent character and incredible friend. During the duration of my stay, he had treated me to drinks, snacks, and handed off an umbrella when I checked out during a rainy afternoon.

Capturing The World Through Film

Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love

Okay, by  “the world,” I mean we will be mainly looking at Japan with two cosplay photos from Phoenix Comiccon 2016. On a more serious note, when was the last time you shot film?? I recently picked the film camera back up, before that was probably back in my elementary school days. That’s when I was shooting those cheap Kodak disposable cameras. Nowadays I’m shooting the Canon AE-1 35mm format film camera with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens and a 28mm f/2.8 lens made by Sigma. Both are FE mounts, which means they were made for the oldie Canon film cameras!

I picked up film photography for the sake of improving my composition skills. It’s exactly the opposite of today’s photography. Due to the nature of the film, you don’t get many shots. You are forced to perform with every shutter you click, making sure your settings for exposure are where they should be. Those few shots also mean that the composition in your frame – or rather, what you see through the viewfinder MUST be exactly the shot you’re looking for.

There is also the fact that you don’t get an instant review. With digital, you can see your image the moment you take it, and review with everyone else around you. With a film camera, it is the exact opposite. You have to take note of the settings of your lens aperture, shutter speed, and what type of film you are using. Even after much planning and staging, your photos won’t come out exactly how you would like them to. But that is the beauty of film! You keep experimenting while keeping a log of your settings with each shot and review with surprises and delight that only film can bring! I’ll let my good friend, Jon, cover the rest of the topic in his blog Why Shoot Slower.

Aside from the reasons as mentioned earlier, I also enjoy shooting the film camera for the vintage feel! The smoothing winding lever that advances to film as well as arms the shutter, to pressing the shutter button. The shutter shock produced by the reflex mirror and shutter curtains opening /closing is quite quaint. To top it off, the photos developed from film has character, each and every shot is distinct from one another. Unlike digital, you can clearly see the difference in settings chosen as clear as day and night. Colors produced by a film camera has a feeling that can’t be explained or replicated in a digital camera without using “filters” that you would use in apps like Instagram. In other words, it’s my ideal camera of choice when I’m looking to slow down, meditate during the capturing process, and repeat the same principles when reviewing the negatives/developed prints.

In any case, I hope that you will find some interest in exploring photography with your phone, digital camera, perhaps even film! The film camera is not dead, in fact, the niche for film shooters today are starting to pick back up. If you are interested in shooting film, there are plenty of online retailers including Amazon that has a broad range of film cameras on the cheap, with film to be found in the same neighborhoods.

If you would like to read about our adventures in Japan, you can do so by taking a look at our Places to Visit in Japan series to get a glimpse of the land of the rising sun!

Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love
The Canon AE-1 Film Camera Classic

Enjoy the classy film photos below, and thanks for stopping by!

Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love
Walking down Shinjuku


Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love
Star Fire Cosplay outside of Phoenix Comiccon 2016
Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love
Destiny Cosplay inside the Sheraton Hotel Lobby during Phoenix Comiccon 2016

Capturing The World Through Film Camera LoveCapturing The World Through Film Camera LoveCapturing The World Through Film Camera LoveCapturing The World Through Film Camera Love


Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love

Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love
Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love Capturing The World Through Film Camera Love

Places to Visit in Japan – Tokyo SkyTree

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree

In this entry of Places to Visit in Japan, Let’s turn back the sands of time to my second day in Tokyo where we visit Tokyo SkyTree in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan! I woke up early in the morning, so I started off my Journey from Kinishicho Train Station for a nice morning walk through the Metro. The scenery of parks, people delivering Shimbun (newspaper), shops opening, and the like as the city started to wake is quite peaceful and invigorating.

With a height of 634 metres/2,080 ft (how did they get cranes way up there and back down??), Tokyo SkyTree is mainly a TV/radio broadcast tower for the Kantou Region, consisting of seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, China, and Kanagawa. The tower also serves as an observation tower with a full 360-degree view of Japan. You can also find restaurants and gift shops at the observation deck! The base of the tower is outfitted with a relatively large shopping center, food court, and a museum of Tokyo SkyTree inspired art.

Taking the elevator from the Tower Yard, you can get up to 600 meters/ 1968.5 ft /minute. The Main viewing deck is at 350 meters / 1148.3 ft. From here you can get a great a spectacular 360-degree view of Tokyo through windows that are over 5 meters/ 16.4 ft tall. There is a second observation deck called, “sorakara point” where you can take another elevator to reach 445meters. To reach the peak point, 451.2 meters, you need to walk up the winding corridor, allowing the viewer to finish the climb on their own!

Some of the best times to visit this Tower is during sunset and nighttime to get a unique perspective of the metro! Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule of running around Japan, I could not stay or visit the tower at a later time ^^; I am planning on another trip to the land of the rising sun around spring 2017, so do look forward to an update on Tokyo SkyTree!

 

 

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
Tokyo SkyTree as seen from Kinshicho Train Station!

 

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
Reflections as seen from the Observation Deck

 

 

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
Tokyo artwork depicting the city as it was during Edo-Era (1603 – 1868)

 

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
Sumida River – During spring you can see lovely fireworks shooting off from the bottom left bridge, you can also see sakura lined up along the river itself!
Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
Pick up some goodies!
Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
If you are feeling adventurous you can look straight down over this window deck.
Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree
Tours in Japanese on the main observation deck!

Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree Places to Visit in Japan - Tokyo SkyTree

Places To Visit In Japan – Enoshima Pt. 2

Mt. Fuji view from Enoshima's southern shore

Today, I’d like to show you the second half of my day at Enoshima. In yesterday’s post, we made it to the top of the summit. But the real beauty of the island comes out at night!

Our legs were incredibly tired from walking up the mountain the whole day. So when we got to the top, we were excited to let gravity do most of the hard work on the way down ^^

This gave me a chance to really let the beauty of the island sink in.


Enoshima - the descent down the south side

It’s a long way down!

Enoshima Daishi - a modern Shingon Buddhist Temple

This is Enoshima Daishi (the actual temple is to the right), a Buddhist temple of the Shingon Sect. In the Meiji Era, Enoshima had 3 different Shinto and Buddhist temples scattered about until the government forcefully separated the religions, causing the shrines to be destroyed. It wasn’t until modern times that the religions were allowed to be mixed again, and so this temple was built to bring back Buddhist influence to the island. I was walking around the temple, trying to get some pictures, when my wife (then fiancee) told me to stop. Apparently, I was being a bit “rude” ^^

I did manage to take more pictures, but when I got back to the states, I dropped my phone and lost a majority of my files! This was the lone survivor of Enoshima Daishi. (I learned a valuable lesson – ALWAYS back up your files!)Enoshima - Dragon Shrine

Here, we have the Dragon’s Shrine, where you can actually pray to the Dragon of Enoshima. The story behind the dragon is really very interesting. According to Enoshima Engi, written by Japanese Monk, Koukei almost 1,000 years ago (thanks Google Sensei!):

The villagers of Fujisawa were plagued for a period of a thousand-some years by a destructive, five-headed dragon that had its lair in a nearby lake. Aware of their suffering, on May 31, 552 A.D., the goddess Benzaiten caused the island of Enoshima to arise from the bottom of the bay to serve as her abode. She then descended onto the island amidst a series of spectacular terrestrial and aerial phenomena. The dragon fell in love with the beautiful goddess and asked her to be his consort. Benzaiten, who was widely known for her persuasive eloquence, rejected the dragon’s proposal and made it understand that it had been doing wrong by plaguing the villagers. Ashamed, the dragon promised to cease its wrong-doing. It then faced south (devotedly facing the island where Benzaiten lived) and changed into a hill. To this day, the hill is known as Dragon’s-Mouth Hill (Japanese: tatsu-no-kuchi yama 龍の口山).

Green tea stop at Enoshima

Stopped off for some genuine Japanese green tea after meeting the dragon.

Enoshima - Love Bell

This is the Love Bell. Couples come here to ring the bell and write their names on the locks on the fence (you may be able to make them out behind us). The significance of the bell is tied into the story of Benten and the dragon. Today, couples see it as professing their love to the world (the sound of the bell echoing across the ocean). Since it was our first day as an engaged couple, we figured why not!

Looks like I was a bit full from the green tea and desserts in this picture, though…

Enoshima's southern coast

Enoshima’s southern coast. A slab of rock that juts out into the ocean. Everyone comes here to watch the sun set.

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This picture will always be my favorite. Whenever I think of Japan, I think of this moment. Right before the sun dipped below the mountains, Mt. Fuji jumped out at us from behind the thick clouds. What a view! What a day! What a memory!

After the sun had set completely, it was time to go home. We felt refreshed after watching the sun set, so we decided to walk back to the train station instead of taking a ferry.


Enoshima Yacht Harbor

Enoshima Yacht Harbor. This is where the 2020 Olympic sailing events will be held.

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Enoshima Tower

Enoshima gardens

These shots are of Enoshima Tower and its surrounding garden. At the top of the tower, you can get a great view of the mainland (especially at night). Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, some of my photos didn’t survive. The ones on top of the tower were in that group… But that aside, the garden really stands out at night. I’m just gonna have to go back and get some more pictures!


I hope I’ve convinced you to take a trip to Enoshima! There’s a whole lot more to do than simply visit temples (but that’s fun, too!). There’s a famous spa, caves on the southern end you can explore, and a number of different restaurants to try out! This is hands down my favorite spot in Japan, and I can’t stress enough how awesome it is! Hopefully, Louis and I can be here for the 2020 Olympics with our camera gear to capture the magic!

And as always, thanks for reading!

Places To Visit In Japan – Enoshima Pt. 1

Today, we’re going to take a ride in the way-back machine to May of last year. I’d like to share my trip to Enoshima with you. This was a very special day. I had just arrived in Japan the night before and proposed to my girlfriend, so the morning started off on an extremely high note!

From our hotel in Shin-Yokohama, we hopped on a train to Kamakura. From there, Enoshima is a very quick train ride to the west.

To get to the island, you come in from the north. Once there, you’ll walk up the north side of the hill (or mountain. It’s pretty tall, after all), and the trail will continue down the south side to the ocean where you can either take a ferry back to the mainland or walk back the way you came (we chose the latter ^^).

Enoshima from the mainland
A shot of Enoshima from the mainland.

From the mainland, you walk across a fairly long bridge to get to the island. It was Golden Week when we went, so it was incredibly crowded!

Enoshima Spa
Enoshima Spa. They’ve got onsen in there! Unfortunately, Japan has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to tattoos, so I’ll have to pass for now.

Bridge to Enoshima


After you cross the bridge, you’ll come to a narrow street lined with a variety of shops and vendors. Did I mention it was crowded that day!?

Enoshima Island - right after you corss the bridge

Walking toward Enoshima Shrine

Walking up to Enoshima Shrine

The red Torii. An incredibly unique feature of Japanese culture. You see them everywhere! Also, be sure to extend the i sound at the end (it sounds just like a long e in English), otherwise you’ll accidentally call this religious structure a bird ^^

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Entering Enoshima Shrine


Once you make it up the first set of stairs, you enter the Enoshima Shrine. What’s unique about this shrine is that it’s actually made up of a number of them scattered around the island.

Enoshima Shrine - Benten and the Dragon

This is a statue of Benten, the patron goddess of Enoshima who is said to have raised the island up from the bottom of the ocean in the 6th century. The island has a large statue of her housed in the main shrine. Since Benten is also the goddess of wealth, many Japanese people will wash their money at the shine’s pond.

Enoshima Shrine

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Those things hanging in the background are called ema. This is a Shinto custom where people write their wishes and prayers on wooden plaques and hang them on the shrine grounds to be blessed by the gods.

Look at that line of people! Glad I'm not in the back of the line! ^^

Look at all those people! Glad I’m not in the back of the line! ^^

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And at this shrine, we finally reached the top of the hill!


Well, that’s all for now. Tomorrow, I’ll give you a tour of what Enoshima is like on the way down the south side of the mountain! ‘Til then!