Beautiful Window Screens

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These beautiful decorated window screens are in the sleeping room of an inn where we stayed in Shikoku. They make the space private but let in the light. It was really nice to see the sunshine coming through them when we woke up in the morning.

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Rome in Tokyo

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This is a strange find – is it is copy of the famous Capitoline Wolf statue from Rome, but it is in Tokyo, in Hibiya Park! Apparently it was a gift from Italy to Tokyo in the 1930s.
The real Capitoline Wolf statue is quite interesting because it is supposed to be an ancient Roman or even Etruscan statue of the wolf feeding the founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus. But actually the wolf is 11th or 12th century and the twins were only added in the 15th century.

The Brocade Bridge

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This unusual bridge is in Iwakuni, in Yamagushi Prefecture. You can visit it easily from Hiroshima. It has 5 wooden arches, set on stone pillars and it was built in 1673. It is 175m long. It is called the kintaikyo, which means the brocade sash bridge, because people think it looks like the obi sash belt that Japanese women wear with kimono. My brother and I tried to figure out if it would be possible to drive a car over it. We think probably not (it would get stuck at the low bits between the arches) but it would be fun to try 😉
In the cherry blossom season it gets very crowded, but the rest of the time you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself!

Oden Lunch

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This is a lunch of oden, pickles and rice.
Oden is a kind of hot-pot meal, where foods such as boiled eggs, white radish (daikon), fishcakes, tofu, seaweed and a weird rubbery Japanese vegetable food called konnyaku are all cooked up in a light soup. The grey triangular thing in the middle is konnyaku. The tube-like thing is a kind of fish cake. The brown thing tied in a knot is seaweed. The other two brown things are tofu. You eat it with mustard, even though I don’t think that Japanese usually eat much mustard with anything else – it’s not really a Japanese thing.
Oden is not really my taste, but my mum and dad really like it!

Secret Squirrels!

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A famous Japanese animal is the musasabi (Japanese dwarf flying squirrel), but a bit like the Japanese tanuki (raccoon dog) you’d be very lucky indeed to actually see on on your travels in Japan. There are said to be lots of them living in the forests of Mount Takao, not so far from Tokyo. We didn’t see any (they’re nocturnal, so it’s not so surprising) but we did find this nice sculpture of one instead.

Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Festival)

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March 3rd is Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Festival) in Japan. The traditional way to celebrate is for girls to set up these elaborate displays of dolls – the emperor and the empress are at the top, then the ladies in waiting, then the court musicians. Below there are two guards (with bows and arrows), and lots of traditional furnishings and accessories made of lacquer, including a tea ceremony stand with tiny bowls and even a tea whisk! At the bottom in the middle is a cart that would have been pulled by oxen.

If a family is rich then they might buy a set of hina dolls like this when their daughter is born. A set like this costs a fortune! Of course you can also buy smaller sets, or just single dolls.

These hina dolls are on display at the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima. So if you go to Hiroshima, you can go to see them.

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