Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pictures from around town

A picture down one of my favourite streets in all of Japan -- right in my neighborhood!

So, today I went on a field trip with one of my kindergartens to a local shrine!  A friend requested pictures, and I said I'd see what I could do.  Well the rules of Japan go that, privacy with children is a big deal, so getting pictures with kids is generally a big deal unless you have special permission for a special event.
Luckily, my friend just really wanted to see pictures of the shrine!
So, after work today, I did something I've been meaning to do for years now.  I went just bicycling around, taking pictures of things around town that make me happy to be alive / happy to live in this little town.  I did not take a ton of pictures, but I took a few of some little roads, temples, and shrines that I really love.  Unfortunately a photograph (at least one taken by myself) never seems quite as amazing as the real thing.  But anyway, I hope you enjoy these pictures with a few stories:

In the background of this picture, is the kindergarten I work at on Wednesdays,  I love being here.

This is a picture taken from the shrine/temple from the fieldtrip today. The shrine/temple is exactly that, and is pretty rare in Japan for it.  Normally a shrine and a temple are two separate places, but my town of Godo has a little bit of a special history, though I don't know all of it.  I can say that Tokugawa Ieyasu often came through this town, and his crest can be found all over town/the complex of this shrine-temple, and there is likely a connection to how it was decided to be both.
In the far background is the main entrance to the complex, which is a Torii-gate.  Torii gates are a Shinto thing, which means it is a Shrine thing.

This is where you rinse your hands when you go to a shrine or a temple!  Interesting fact:  If you go to Nara -- one of the ancient capitals of Japan, some of the tubs for the waters are actually recycled tombs from the past.

This is the pagoda of the complex.  It is obviously 3 levels high.  A pagoda is a Buddhist thing, so it is a part of the Temple aspect.  For clarification: Shrine = part of Shintoism (Japanese religion devoted to nature)  Temple = part of Buddhism (Asian religion that spread to Japan around 700 AD)

The three monkeys, speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil.

Part of the shrine.

Part of the temple.

A picture of the main street in town.  Every year there is a giant fire festival.  Men in loin clothes carrying burning hemp go running through this street.

Another little shrine around town.  One of my other kindergartens took a fieldtrip passing this one by today.

A beautiful little road in town.

Great herrings are incredibly common in the rice fields here.  I wonder if this is a relative?

A road I pass by on my way to work some days.

This is the essence of my little town^^ looking at this picture makes me feel so lucky to be alive!  I do believe that it is a profound respect for nature that makes life so beautiful in some ways.  Of course that's not everything.. but it's become a big one for me since moving here.

People make these little windmills all over town.

A little shrine I pass by every day.

Well, there is a little bit of where I live.  I've been here in Godo for about two and a half years now, and it feels like a second home in many ways.... in Japan for about five years now, unbelievable.

There are those that rant on about racism in Japan.  Though from my eyes, I think there is just an incredibly strong sense of historical patriotism from most.  What the government does, and what the people do, I think are two different things, and I will say that there are racist procedures from the government, but does acknowledging differences between foreigners and native born people make someone a racist?  I personally don't think it does, though that's not to say that racism doesn't exist at all.

As someone that has studied hard to learn Japanese, I believe that a lot of what foreigners consider racism is actually just language barrier, which in my opinion, is related to the failing English education system here in Japan.  Japanese people are forced to study English for 6 years of education, all through middle/high school.  In that class room, almost 90% of the time, there is a foreigner, but the foreigner's only role is often as just a tape recorder, and the focus of the lessons is not to communicate, but it is simply to understand --intensive grammar.

My opinion of this system is poor.  I believe that what Japanese people come out of the classroom with is a fear of language -- imagine you spend 6 years studying something, and don't feel like you can use anything from it?  I think they are learning that situations where you cannot communicate are awkward, and there is nothing more fearful to most Japanese people, than an awkward situation.  However, if you can prove yourself in language ability, then Japanese people will gladly openly talk with you -- although the opening conversation is often incredibly rehearsed. 

There's a lot more to account for than what I've said here, but I think I'll take this step by step for now!


  1. Beautiful Pictures thank you so very much for sharing the beauty of Japan.

  2. I am glad that you enjoy it! If you have any questions or requests for a post, please let me know!