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26Crater Lake (Okama), Mt. Zao – Honshu, Japan by aaron jarradZao volcano is the most active volcano of northern Honshu and consists of a group of stratovolcanoes forming the crest of the divide between the Pacific Ocean and the Japan Sea.The older parts of the complex are Ryuzan volcano in the west and Byobu and Fubo volcanoes forming the southern group. Zao volcano proper (Chuo-Zao) is the youngest edifice and forms the central part of the group. One of its youngest summit lava domes is Goshiki-dake, which contains the active Okama crater, the source of most of the frequent historical eruptions recorded since the 8th century AD.Okama crater contains a colorful, strongly acidic crater lake (pH 1.3).

Photo by Aaron Jarrad.

sapporo_snow_festivalThe Sapporo is a festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan, over seven days in February. Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival. The 2015 Snow Festival dates are 5 to 11 February.
This is one of the largest and most distinctive winter events.In 2007 (58th Festival), about two million people visited Sapporo to see the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures at the Odori Park and Susukino sites, in central Sapporo, and at the Satoland site. An International Snow Sculpture Contest has been held at the Odori Park site since 1974, and 14 teams from various regions of the world participated in 2008.







28Tokyo, JapanTokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. Tokyo is in the Kantō region on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo.

1Takasugi-an literally means “a tea house [built] too high” is a project of academician and architect Terunobu Fujimori. Built atop two chestnut trees it is accessible only by ladders.Following the tradition of tea masters, who maintained total control over the construction of their tea houses, Fujimori designed and built the structure for his own use. He finds that a tea house is “the ultimate personal architecture.” Its extreme compactness feels like an extension of one’s body, “like a piece of clothing.”Once inside, the simple interior evokes the serenity more suited to the purpose of making tea and calming one’s mind.




Matsumoto Castle, JapanMatsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s premier historic castles. The building is also known as the „Crow Castle” due to its black exterior. It was the seat of the Matsumoto domain. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail.The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late sixteenth century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle (hirajiro) because it is not built on a hilltop or amid rivers, but on a plain.Its complete defences would have included an extensive system of inter-connecting walls, moats, and gatehouses.

11Kyoto, JapanKyoto is a city located in the central part of the island of Honshu, Japan. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, it is now the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture located in the Kansai region, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. One historical nickname for the city is the City of Ten Thousand Shrines.

Fushimi_inari_shrineFushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.Since early Japan Inari was seen as the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice.This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines throughout Japan.

Captura de Tela 2013-12-05 às 08.43.17Kiyomizu-dera , officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site.Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.
It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times. However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the „Kitahossō” sect.The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims.The popular expression „to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression „to take the plunge”. This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one’s wish would be granted. Two hundred thirty-four jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited.Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and „good matches”.Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of „love stones” placed 6 meters/20 feet apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love. One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person’s romantic interest can assist them as well.The complex also offers various talismans, incense, and omikuji (paper fortunes). The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially at New Year’s and during obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs and souvenirs to throngs of visitors.
In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera was one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World.However, it was not picked as one of the seven winning sites.


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