Picking up from yesterday’s post, I thought I would start with a couple of photos from the streets of Takayama, as I walked around enjoying the summer weather.  Coming up into the Japanese Alps this time of year was very refreshing, having come from Tokyo and being exposed to the heat, literally dripping in sweat.  Matsumoto and Takayama were, by contrast, quite refreshing and enjoyable to wander around in.

Heading back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen (my first time, which would be followed by many), I decided to make a stop at the Tokyo National Museum.  On my way, I stopped to snap some photos of the approach, as well as a close up of a flower, one of may in the Shinobazu Pond, the southern part of Ueno Park.

Macro and close up shots are of particular interest for me, and flowers always make good subjects.

Wandering around Ginza, which is where I spent my second set of nights in Tokyo, I found this really great restaurant under the tracks – and it happened to be Korean.  The soft taco’s were surprisingly good (yes, Korean taco’s in Japan), so much in fact that I went there twice on this trip, and managed to find it again on my second trip to Tokyo as well.  Who knows – maybe I’ll head there again this time too!

This little fellow adorned the side of a fire engine that had made it’s way with much noise to a hotel near the aforementioned Korean Restaurant.  Looked like a false alarm, but lots of hotel travellers were wandering the streets and several fire engines happened to be there, so I snapped a photo.  It seems everything in japan has a cute mascot associated with it in some manner, and the fire department is no exception.

A trip to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without heading to Tsukiji for some sushi breakfast.  I’m not much of an early riser at the best of times, so I think this was instead around 9 or 10am – still well worth going for the food and atmosphere, but many of the shops surrounding the inner market area had already closed.

I decided to head to Asakusa and go to the Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) and Sanja-sama (Asakusa-jinja), before heading on over to Kappabashi (Kitchen Town) nearby to pick up some Japanese Kitchen Knives.  The first photo you can see people purifying themselves with the incense smoke before entering the temple.

Inside, you make a donation and by shaking a container of sticks which have numbers written on them corresponding to the many rows of drawers you receive your fortune.  With the number of foreign tourists, fortunes are readily available in english, but you can pretty much tell by the number you get whether it’s lucky or unlucky.  Four’s and Sevens, not so lucky.

From Tokyo I was headed to Kyoto for the last five nights of my visit.  The first night I decided to wander around as I had gotten in late and came upon this scene.  Later the next day, I accidentally found it again.  Now, if I only had my tripod the first night, I might have gotten a better shot – which is why I’m taking it this time.

I found myself in town on the one day per month that the Toji Temple Monthly Market was held, behind and within walking distance of Kyoto JR Station.  It was a flea market of sorts in the outer area, with larger stalls and food immediately surrounding the temple and pagoda.

While my suitcases were already stuffed with all variety of items, I decided that somehow I just had to try and fit in some pottery.  I walked by this particular stall several times before deciding to pick up one of the rectangular plates.  It’s still one of my favorites, and I only wish I had bought more, and gotten the name/flyer of the pottery maker – information about her and her work is displayed.

Further afield, I wandered through many of the temples and walking trails through the forests and found quite a lot of lanterns, some light up, some with paper and openings for candles.  Reviewing the guidebooks, it looked like I had just missed a lantern festival which would have seen all of these lit up at once all throughout the area at night.

And finally, one of the last places I walked through was a garden of particular note for its pond, greenery and bridge.  Which is exactly what the camera captured.

And here ends the photo highlights from my first trip to Japan.  Much more was seen and done, but this seems a reasonable summary.  Hope you enjoyed the trip.