See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Saturday, December, 10th, 2011 at 8:06 am
There are Japanese towns who take branding very seriously, and if I may say, way before it was considered cool. These towns, whose number I imagine would be quite significant, take their チャーム・ポイント (unique/special feature) and infuse it with every other aspect of the town that they possibly can. Hey, why not?
For some towns it’s bamboo crafts, for others it’s traditional (Japanese) paper, or lanterns, or tea, or any and every other food or craft you could possibly name. For Tanushumaru in Fukuoka Pref, it’s the mischievous Kappa.
Pictured top-right, is Tanushimaru’s train station. Surrounding the station, and indeed all over town, are images and small, stone statues of Kappa. Below, in a place no-one will find, I found a monhole-cover, on a wall.
Article posted on Thursday, November, 3rd, 2011 at 10:04 pm
I had no idea what these were when I took the photo. While at work, so when I shouldn’t have been, I was looking at the pic on my computer and asked the person next to me what they were. Without missing a beat he said they were den-den daiko. He also said this particular manhole cover was unique to Asakura city (Fukuoka Pref), his hometown. It is indeed a small world that we live in.
It turns out I was familiar with them, and they are mesmerizingly fun to play with. They’re quite small and you get them to work by rolling the handle back-and-forth in your palms. This causes the two attached beads to hit the faces of the drums. Hours of fun for the whole family!
For a little more info, check out the Wikipedia entry. I love the last line, “The drum played a central role in the movie The Karate Kid, Part II.”
Article posted on Tuesday, August, 2nd, 2011 at 1:29 pm
The other day I posted an image of a manhole cover in Kurume city. It was decorated with the beautiful nature that surrounds that particular city. The nearby city of Tosu (鳥栖市) on the other hand, has decided to take a very different approach.
The primary symbol decorating Tosu’s manhole covers is the local highway cloverleaf. A cloverleaf being the junction that funnels high-speed traffic straight ahead, or left or right. It should be said that Tosu’s cloverleaf is quite an important one as it is the main junction that links the island of Kyūshū from North to South & East to West. Hurrah for Tosu! \(^O^)/
It seems to me though, that Tosu is promoting itself as a city that is seen by motorists who speed by! Well, it has been said that the journey is more important that the destination. Maybe that’s what they’re getting at.
Oops, almost forgot. There are irises too.
Article posted on Monday, August, 1st, 2011 at 12:15 am
It was almost two weeks ago that I went to the Arima Memorial hall in Kurume City to see their latest exhibition. I was of course happy to see the exhibition, but I was on the lookout for something else that day. I knew that if I kept my eyes cast low, I’d see it. It was right outside the recently refurbished JR Kurume station that I found it. A colour manhole cover!
The city of Kurume has decorated their manhole covers with representations of the beautiful nature that surrounds it. In the background is the stunning Minō mountain range (耳納連山), which lays to the East of the city. Every morning when I drive to work, the towering range fills my windscreen. To my constant surprise, it manages to stay hidden for weeks at a time thanks to the annual rainy season.
In the foreground is the Chikugo River (筑後川). The real-life version of which I’m happy to say, actually looks like a river. And, rounding out the scene are the bright, pink azaleas which cover the Chikugo Gawa’s banks.
Article posted on Tuesday, May, 3rd, 2011 at 10:58 am
Below is a photo of a manhole cover I took from my recent trip to the city of Karasu. Kewl-lookin', it features a stylized depiction of the Niji-no-matsubara.
What the Niji-no-matsubara actually is, is a 4km-long strip of grotesquely-contorted & growth-stunted pines that act as a barrier to the strong winds coming in off the bay; the wind causing the deformations.
The twisted forest
So, back in November, 2007, myself & a couple of workmates headed up to Karatsu to take in the sites. One of our main goals was actually to sample the Karatsu burger.
We found a burger-serving van in a car-park on the side of the road that passes through the forest. The pepper-mayo garnished (run-of-mill) hamburger was phenomenal, the 30-minute wait & small serving less so.
After polishing off our meals (snacks), we walked through the forest in search of weirdness. In amongst the weirdness, we found a dragon. (Not this first picture, and not the last one either. You’ll know it when you see it.)
The final destination for the day was the local castle where, as can be seen, shenanigans ensued. For information about the castle check out its profile page: Karatsu castle.
Article posted on Monday, April, 25th, 2011 at 5:11 pm
Have you heard the expression to laugh like a drain? It’s not a phrase I actually use, but I do like the mental picture that it conjurers. For those interested in this type of thing, I suspect it has its origins in British English.
How about the song Singing in the Drain? Or the movie Drainman? Surely, you’ll not have forgotten Dustin Hoffman’s Academy-award-winning performance.
I don’t see why drains should get all the attention when it’s their covers doing the hard yards, keeping a lid on things best left unobserved.
In an attempt to correct this imbalance, I invite you to consider the life of the drain cover a moment, as you view this fine example from Odawara.
Article posted on Tuesday, August, 31st, 2010 at 3:19 pm
The very first destination of my recent trip was the city of Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture. Did I visit Odawara castle? Of course. On this particular trip I was determined not to miss out on any more of these decorative manhole covers as it would be fair to say, they have gained a certain notoriety in recent times.
There exist more far more colourful & detailed ones than the one below but we have to start somewhere I guess. There is something a little odd about the picture of this one, have a good look at it. What do you think?
Are the people in the foreground trying to escape the Geisha/Dalek? Or perhaps, one was turned into a pillar of salt when they turned and laid there eyes upon what they had left behind?
Nah, it probably just is a Dalek. Exterminate!
edit: The above picture has since received the JapanDave.com polish.
Article posted on Wednesday, April, 21st, 2010 at 9:24 pm
I was going through some of my photos from earlier this year and came across this one. Recognise it? That’s right, it’s from Hitoyoshi castle. I snapped it just outside the train station after having visited the castle grounds. The image is of one of the traditional water craft that are still used on the Kuma river at the castle’s edge
I’ve got a bit of a confession to make. When I finally reached the Honmaru (the central defensive enclosure), I was actually glad there was nothing else to see, I was that exhausted. Yet another confession. I do wish this post was a bit (a lot) meatier, but the drastic reduction in my free-time has lead to less posts, less twittering & less updates in general. Have got some things in the works though (been reading up on Konishi Yukinaga’s exploits in Korea in the 1590′s.)
Hope everyone is keeping well. :)
Article posted on Thursday, March, 4th, 2010 at 10:58 am
Posts about manhole covers seem to be all the rage of late, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon too. Admittedly, a quick google search highlights the fact that the cover below is pretty unremarkable, but this one suits me just fine!
Could you make out the picture? The image is that of the surviving gate of Saiki castle amongst flowers.