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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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!

Kids’ Cigarettes

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You probably won’t find these cigarettes anywhere else but in Japan these days! Because in most countries it’s completely illegal to sell cigarettes to kids even if they are fake candy cigarettes! You can normally find these amazing cigarette sweets in dagashiya (Japanese sweets shops). The two flavours I’ve seen so far are orange and chocolate, but there might be more out there!

The Makeup Buddha

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This is probably the strangest Buddha I’ve even seen! It is on Ghost Hill (Yurei Zaka) near Shinagawa. There is quite a strange story behind this Buddha. Apparently he was being transported from his old temple to a new one but on the way he was dropped and some of his face was smashed up. When he arrived at the new temple one of the priests there took pity on him and covered up the hole in his face with some white makeup that fashionable ladies and geisha used. Now quite a few people come and use a little powder brush which is sitting in front of the Buddha to make him look attractive and apparently if you make him attractive he will grant your wishes!

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Surprising Snow

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We woke up yesterday to find out it was snowing! Not really heavily but it was enough to cover the roofs of houses and the parks with a thin layer of white. I took these photos in Inokashira Park.
Snow in Tokyo is fairly unusual, and snow in Tokyo in November is super rare. In fact the newspapers reported that this was the first time it had snowed in Tokyo in November since 1962, and the only time that snow has actually built up on the ground in November since weather records began in 1875!

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Dialog In The Dark

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Dialog In The Dark is a special experience that shows you what it’s like to be blind! You join a group of 8-10 other people and go through different rooms with a blind person’s cane trying to find various things, and then find your way to the next room. You’re doing all this in 100% blackness (so if you’re scared of the dark don’t come!). There isn’t any light whatsoever but you do have a guide who is themselves blind. So for them the darkness changes nothing, but for you it’s completely different. There are things like doorways, tables and benches, bushes, different textures on the ground, a low tunnel and a footbridge. There are also a couple of low steps which are a bit scary. One of the most important things is to communicate with the other people in the group, so if you find a step going up or down you need to tell the people behind you that there is a step here so watch out! We also to listened to some sounds (like birds singing and rushing water) to see what kind of scene we imagined. At the end we all went into a café but this was still in the pitch blackness. It was quite an experience! We could order drinks (for a small price) and a blind waiter brought them for us. Then we had to pay and receive change. We could only use our sense of touch to tell what the coins were.
I would have taken a picture of the inside of the rooms for you, but of course we weren’t allowed any items which light up so we didn’t spoil the experience for others. And of course I can’t even really describe it properly because it was always pitch black in there :-). We did build up a kind of map at the end, but I don’t know if it was accurate.
Altogether I thought it was an amazing experience and I would definitely recommend it to you.