The Emperor’s Music Room

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This very unusual building is called the Tokagakudo (peach blossom music hall) and it is the music headquarters for the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Probably most of the music played here is for the Shinto rituals and festivals that the Imperial family have to take part in. You can see it if you visit the Imperial Palace’s East Gardens. It was built in the 1960s for the former Empress and is 8-sided and covered in mosaics which are supposed to show flowers and stars, but look more like Tokyo Sky Tree to me!

Funny Balconies

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I was passing through Tokyo’s Kappabashi kitchenware supply district when suddenly I saw this building with amazing balconies in the shape of colourful tea cups and saucers! Now Japan does have a lot of strange things but this is so weird I had to stop and take a photo. It’s a building belonging to a cookware company so I suppose it makes sense (a bit!). Anyway, it’s a pretty funny idea and certainly eye-catching, but I’m not sure I would want to live there.

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Mega Dog!

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This dog statue is 11 metres high! It’s completely made of wood and has a resting area with benches inside and a viewpoint terrace at the back next to the tail. It’s part of a dog theme park called Wan Wan Land (wan wan in Japanese means ‘woof woof’), which is in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture. There are about 500 dogs there of nearly 100 different breeds (and also some cats too). If you love dogs it might be worth a visit.

Quick Trip to China

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Yesterday I took a quick trip to China! Just kidding – I actually went to Yokohama’s Chinatown, which is said to be the biggest Chinatown in the whole world (outside China, obviously). There are about 10 beautiful Chinese gateways and hundreds of lanterns. The streets are packed with restaurants (although they nearly all sell the same stuff) and you can get a massage or have your fortune told. There’s also a Chinese Daoist Temple that you can visit. It’s absolutely covered with colourful decorations of dragons and flowers and good luck symbols. It’s really impressive!

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A Wacky Building

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This is one of the strangest buildings I’ve ever seen, and believe it or not it’s actually a Buddhist temple! Normally Japanese temples don’t look like this at all. They are usually made of wood and built in a traditional design.
This temple is called Reiyukai Shakaden and it is located near to Tokyo Tower in central Tokyo. It looks completely modern, but surprisingly it was built back in 1975 so it is already more than 40 years old.
This temple is famous among many people abroad because parts of the music video for ‘That Power’ by will.i.am and Justin Bieber were filmed here on the front steps of this amazing building. You can see the video here. The temple appears at about 3 mins and 45 secs until the end. It’s worth watching!

A Special Parking Place

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This is a vertical multi-story truck trailer parking lot in the harbour area of Shinagawa district in Tokyo. It is here because lots of trucks carrying cargo containers come and go constantly in this harbour area. Once the trucks have unloaded the containers they will come to this trailer parking place and leave their trailers here before going on to another job. Once they have parked their trailers the trailers get taken up to a parking space like a fairground ride or Ferris wheel! I think this is an amazing construction which saves a lot of space.

Aaaaah, Akiya!

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This is an abandoned house in Shiga Prefecture. In Japan these houses are called akiya and there are an astounding 8.2 million of these akiya in the Japanese countryside! This house is in a beautiful place but it’s a long way from a town and even a long way from a train station or bus stop. Everyone wants to live in the city, or at least in a town these days so that’s the main reason these houses are now akiya. People just move away and leave the house to fall down and be taken over by nature. But slowly some people are trying to save and buy up some of these houses. Some are really old and have really nice wooden beams inside, so they’re worth saving.