Posts Tagged ‘ Himeji Castle ’

Kawara & Yane ・瓦と屋根 – (Tiles & Roofs).

I dig traditional Japanese roofs.  Most, not all, are tiled.  The tiles are called “kawara.” Roofs are called “yane.”  Below are several links to sights that will tell you all about the various kinds of karawa and yane.  I just wanted to share some photos of kawara and yane I’ve taken over the years.

Kyoto Kawara. 2009.

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Looking west from Kurodani Temple, Kyoto. 2004.

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Kawara atop wall. Hiean Jingu/Shrine 平安神宮. Marutamachi, Kyoto. 2009.

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Between houses. Yaginishiguchi. 2004.

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To-ji Temple, Kyoto. Great Gate & 5 Story Pagoda. 2008.

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Roofs between Kiyoicho and Washiocho, Kyoto. 2003.

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Kurodani-dera. Kyoto. 2009.

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Kyoto Kawara. 2003.

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Yaginishiguchi. 2004.

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Wall topped with Kawara. Eikan-doh, Kyoto. 2008.

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Part of the Todai-ji temple complex. Nara. 2010.

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Just outside of Kurodani-dera. 2009.

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Himeji Castle. “Sachihoko,” dolphin-like kawara, guard against fire. 2008.

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Chionin Temple Gate, Kyoto. 2003.

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Wall and gate and roofs, while walking in Okazaki (Kyoto). 2008.

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Looking down from the top of Himeji Castle. 1990.

More on Himeji Castle.

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Japanese Roof Types JCastle:  Roofs & Gables.

KawaraTypes and History.

OnigawaraDemon Kawara (which protect the house). A friend’s blog . . .

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Movie Locales, Part 1: Himeji Castle & “You Only Live Twice,” “Shogun”

Himeji Castle (Himeji-jo, or 姫路城)2008.

Himeji Castle, the “White Heron Castle,” dominates the City of Himeji’s skyline and aura.  It’s Japan’s largest and most shockingly beautiful castle from antiquity.  Himeji, the city, lies on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea/Osaka Bay, just down a ways from Kobe.  Kobe’s the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, the only one that spans the full breadth of Honshu Island, the largest in the Japanese archipelago.  I know something of Himeji as it was only a 1-hour and 15-minute train ride, aboard the “Bantan Line,” from the small town I lived in during 1990 and 1991.  I was very fortunate in that my town was situated almost smack in the middle of Hyogo Prefecture; thus I could go either north to the Sea of Japan, to the hot spring town of Kinosaki, which boasts shockingly beautiful views of the sea and the craggy cliffs that overlook it, or go south, about the same distance, to Himeji, and enjoy “city life” in a town with a population topping 500,000 and home to a glorious castle from ages past.

A good 3-minute, introductory video from NHK:

I’ve visited Himeji Castle more times than I can recall.  It never gets “old” to me.  I went there, and around Himeji (the city) countless times in 1990 and ’91, with friends, with my mom (see photo below), a former fiance, and over the years with others, including friends from Tokyo, a former wife, a group of University of Alabama-Birmingham history students and others.  Himeji Castle is a dear place to me.  Note for your “Bucket List”:  coming into or passing through Himeji at night by train and seeing Himeji Castle all lit up.  An amazing, shockingly beautiful site.

Himeji Castle has also been the backdrop for countless films, in and out of Japan.  Here are a couple you may know about . . .

“YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE” (1967)

Summary:  James Bond is “killed,” then goes under cover to Japan, where he saves the world from SPECTRE.

Film Notes:  * In a blooper, British agent Henderson asserts, and Bond agrees, that 007 likes his vodka martinis “stirred, not shaken.”   * Ian Fleming took the title from Japanese poet celebrated 17th Century poet Bashō‘s assertion that one only really lives twice:  right when one is born and right before one dies.  * This is the third Bond film in which his arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavo Blofeld, appears (played here by Donald Pleasence).  * Sean Connery’s Japanese pronunciation is atrocious.  I’m talking utterly cringe-making. 

Himeji Castle: site of “Tiger Tanaka’s” Training Center

While walking around the grounds of Himeji Castle . . .

Bond: “Do you have any commandos here?”

Tiger Tanaka: “I have much, much better.  Ninjas.  Top-secret, Bond-san.  This is my ninja training school”

About 12 seconds into the trailer above, you’ll see a swordsman rushing the camera, at the foot of Himeji Castle.

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Update (February 2011):  Mount Shinmoe (新燃岳) on Kyushu Island, locale of arch criminal Blofeld’s under-volcano spaceport, has erupted.  Here’s a cool satellite image of the eruption:

Satellite Image. Shinmoe Dake (新燃岳) Erupts. February 2011.

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SHOGUN (Miniseries, 1980)

Summary:  James Clavell’s epic novelization of historical figure Will Adams, late 16th & early 17th Century English trader who befriended Japanese daimyo-cum-Shogun, Tokogawa Ieyasu (founder of the Tokogawa Shogunite that would last 250 years).

Notes:  * Himeji Castle is used extensively in scenes . . . as Osaka Castle.  * Full Circle Part I:  in 1600, after the decisive battle of Sekigahara, Shogun Tokugawa (“Toranaga” in the novel and miniseries) gave his Himeji Castle to his son-in-law, Teramasa Ikeda, who embarked on an extensive tear-down and re-construction of the structure, eventually giving it the iconic form it has today, and which it had during the filming of Shogun.  * Connections: Legendary Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune, played “Lord Toranaga” (the Tokugawa character) in Shogun.  Mifune was famed Director Akira Kurosawa’s go-to leading man and/or scene stealer in no less than 16 Kurosawa films, but not in Kagemusha or Ran (see below), which both used Himeji Castle as a set piece.  Besides Shogun, Mifune also starred in English language or Western-produced films Grand Prix, (the incredible, though almost devoid of dialog) Hell in the Pacific, and Midway. (and the forgettable, 1941).

Shogun 1980.  Mariko prepares for seppuku (ritual suicide), with Himeji Castle standing-in for Osaka Castle.

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Himeji-jo also featured prominently in Akira Kurosawa’s modern masterpieces, Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985).  Here’s a trailer for Ran where, at the 24-26 second mark, you can glimpse the underside of Himeji-jo. 

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A few photos from a visit or two past.  I made a wonderful video of an all-by-myself visit to Himeji Castle during cherry blossom season, 1991, but, alas, it’s lost or destroyed one of my recent moves.

Wedding Couple. Himeji Castle. 2008.

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Looking roughly Southeast from the top of Himeji-jo. 2008.

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Himeji Castle in Black & White. 2008.

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Left-to-Right:  my mom, someone I used to know, me.  Himeji-jo. 1991.

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Next (when I get around to it):  Lost in Translation and Memoirs of a Geisha.  Also, I have to give a shout-out to the wonderful Francophile Blog, Le Stuff, whose wonderful, multi-part To Catch a Thief series inspired this one.

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2012 Update:  I was recently contacted by the owner of an Asia Travel Blog who asked me if I would link his Himeji Castle page to this one.  After taking a look at it, I certainly will.  A great and in-depth history of Himeji Castle here, at —

Best Travel Site — Himeji Castle

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Signs 看板 . . . Updated, January 2013.

Updated:  January 2013. You can find several of these in the Photo Galleries above (“SEE the GALLERIES” tab).  A few more are elsewhere on this site.  Most, though, are presented here on LetsJapan.Wordpress.Com for the first time.  Enjoy ( 楽しんでください )!

Shinkansen ("Bullet Train") Sign. May 2008.

Shinkansen (“Bullet Train”) Sign. May 2008.

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Sign in walking garden, Gingkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion). Kyoto. 2010.

Sign in walking garden, Gingkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion). Kyoto. 2010.

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Ramen Shop. Noren (curtain) & Chochin (lantern) combo. Kyoto. 2002.

Ramen.  Noren (curtain) & Chochin (lantern) combo. Kyoto. 2002.

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Inn. Kyoto. August 2011.

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Open ’til 3:00 a.m. Restaurant, Nihombashi. Tokyo. August 2011.

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Notice at the Three Sisters Inn. Kyoto. August 2011.

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On the train platform, make sure to parallel park granny. Tokyo. August 2011.

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First Pork Pic. Kawaramachi Street. Kyoto. August 2011.

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Tokyo Station. August 2011.

Store Sale. Ni-jo Street. Kyoto. August 2011.

“TAKE CARE”… “Since I can’t take my poo with me home, I’d appreciate your carrying in home (for me).” Pontocho. Kyoto.  August 2011.

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Restaurant. Ginza. July 2011.

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Train Schedule. Osaka. August 2011.

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At a Korean BBQ Restaurant, Yurakucho. Tokyo. August 2011.

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Kyoto. August 2011.

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がんばろ日本 ”Hang in There, Japan!” Taxi Window. Tokyo. July 2011.

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Poster Detail. Tsukiji Subway Station. 2010.

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Self explanatory. Kyoto. 2004.

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Corner of Omotesando & Meiji Streets. Harajuku. 2010.

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Poster Detail.  Entrance to Tokyu Hands Department Store.   Shibuya, Tokyo.   May 23, 2010.

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A Pontocho (Kyoto) Institution. 2004.

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Train Poster Detail (original in color). Kintetsu Line to Osaka. 2010.

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Fuji Electric. Tokyo. 2010.

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“BANJO” Tokyo. 2010.

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(Ra)men Shop. Tokyo. 2010.

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Fourth Friday of Every Month at Rub a Dub Reggae. Kyoto. 2010.

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Okariba BBQ. Kyoto. 2009.

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SapperSuper. Tokyo. 2007.

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TLJ Boss. 自動販売機. Kyoto. 2009.

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Soul Sonic Boogie. Kyoto. 2003.

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Himeji Castle. Himeji. 2008.

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Rice. Back side of Kyoto Station. 2004.

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Heaven. Kyoto. 2009.

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American-style College Football. Kindai University. Osaka. 2008.

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“Deer’s Cooky.”  Nara. 2001.

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Very Big Company. Kyoto. 2008.

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You Forgot Something. Kyoto. 2008.

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Noodles. Tokyo. 2007.

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Daikichi Yakitori. Shirakawa. Kyoto. 2009.

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“Finised. Sold Out. Sorry.” Kyoto. 2009.

Featured Gallery: Shapes & Shadows

One of several Virtual Galleries here at LetsJapan.Wordpress.com (please click on the link): Shapes & Shadows.  Earlier today – 2 May 2010 – I added another photo to it, one I took several years ago in Kyoto.  It’s not quite what it may appear to be at first glance.  Nothing particularly tricky to it; it may require a double-take, though.  Please enjoy the entire Gallery, too.

Gion Festival. Kyoto. 2003.

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2 SPRING ’10 TRIPS: Itineraries Up!

Detailed iteneraries for our “Cherry Blossom” and “Kyoto Sojourn” trips to post this-coming weeked, June 20-21.  Please check back.  We will also announce sign-up and deposit deadlines this weekend.  Please email   letsbengoshi@yahoo.com  for more information on pricing and policies.

Also, if you have a Japan-related link you would like me to include in our Links List (see left side of page), please email me with the link and a little background on your company or organization!

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto. May 2008.

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto. May 2008.

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