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Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year, Folks!

I spent my recent weeks in places where access to the internet was scarce. Forgive me then if I have not greeted you last Christmas.

I surmise I will continue to be generally offline in the next few days. I missed the Philippines so much I am now savouring every minute of my stay here.

So to all of you, have a blissful New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Enjoying So Far

I've been in Manila for a week now.

And while I spend most of the time on-line in Japan, here it's practically a vacation too from the virtual world.

So blogging goes on the back burner for now. I will be back, soon I hope.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yasukuni Shrine

I was just aimlessly exploring the city when I saw this imposing torii (gate). I checked what it was, and I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be the entrance to the Yasukuni Shrine - a shrine I have seen many times on international tv. This is the shrine that always attract a lot of media attention whenever China protests the visits made by local and foreign dignitaries.

Here's the Wikipedia article on the shrine, lifted from the press release for the movie Yasukuni.
Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 Yasukuni Jinja is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is dedicated to the kami (spirits) of soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan.[1] Currently, its Symbolic Registry of Divinities lists the names of over 2,466,000 enshrined men and women whose lives were dedicated to the service of Imperial Japan, particularly to those killed in wartime.[2] It also houses one of the few Japanese War Museums dedicated to World War II. There are also commemorative statues to mothers and animals who sacrificed in the war.
Yasukuni is a shrine to house the actual souls of the dead as kami, or "spirits/souls" as loosely defined in English. It is believed that all negative or evil acts committed are absolved when enshrinement occurs. This activity is strictly a religious matter since the separation of State Shinto and the Japanese Government in 1945.
The priesthood at the shrine has complete religious autonomy to decide to whom and how enshrinement may occur. They believe that enshrinement is permanent and irreversible. According to Shinto beliefs, by enshrining kami, Yasukuni Shrine provides a permanent residence for the spirits of those who have fought on behalf of the emperor. Yasukuni has all enshrined kami occupying the same single seat. The shrine is dedicated to give peace and rest to all those enshrined there. It was the only place to which the Emperor of Japan bowed.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Autumn In the City

It's actually winter here already (it feels like it). And it's been weeks since the declared best days for foliage viewing. But since I've been quite busy attending to some office duties the past weeks, it's just lately that I had time to roam the city.

Good thing I still got a glimpse of the koyo or autumn leaves that colored metro Tokyo. Armed with my trusty point-and-shoot, I walked about 5 miles from Tokyo Central Station to various tree-lined roads sorrounding the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park. I felt disappointed that much of the leaves have actually fallen and dried, but it was good to note that the persistent ones still gave the cold urban backdrop a romantic feel. In the end I was still glad that I now have in my photo collection pictures of autumn in the rural and urban sides of Japan.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tobu World Square: Tour of the World in 3 Hrs

I had visitors I needed to tour. But I don't want to bring them to places I've been to. I too should enjoy the trip just as much, right?

So I decided to check Tobu World Square - the park which houses miniatures replicas of world heritage sites. Built in 1993, the park boasts of 102 reproductions built to 1/25th of the original sizes.

Here are the reconstructions of some of the places I would love to visit for my future travels.

Plus of course those I featured in the previous post. :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Irony Philippines

I am currently handling an international project, the completion of which has long been overdue. Why? Because every time we approach the end, a new bureaucratic requisite sprouts which consequently throws the finish line farther away.

This confounds our foreign partners since the same initiative has been implemented in many other countries and so far, it is the Philippines that has asked for the most number of documents/ requirements.

Actually, there's really nothing wrong with that. It is simply exasperating when one gets to think that while we belabor ourselves with so many formal traps for possible shenanigans, our country is still tops in corruption. Hayz...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Extreme Make-Over at the Trains

Tokyo Metro trains have for some time been running a campaign featuring a series of posters encouraging proper decorum at the trains. With the slogan "Please do it at Home" the subway management admonishes people not to do things that are best done at home like eating, drinking, being rowdy, playing, etc. Using cartoons as medium, some exaggeration is understandably employed.

But the most recent installment I guess, beats all the previous posters in attracting attention. It asks the ladies to refrain from putting on make-up at the trains - something that really is being done (and may I add that it is indeed fascinating to see just how skillful these women are in grooming themselves despite the sudden movements of the trains).

Admittedly, the poster makes me laugh everytime I see just how extreme the make-over was.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hokkaido Pics: Recovered

Allow me to share some of the few good pics recovered from my busted memory card. These were the ones I took during my visit to Hokkaido, an island north of Japan. Regularly, the place is covered in snow, but summertime converts it into one vast grassland (cultured). The place is known as Japan's milkland, where there are more cows than people.

The farmers in the area are rich, living in European-inspired mansions. I was told they are a pampered lot, receiving hefty subsidies just so they would continue farming.

But the place, devoid of human hustle and bustle could become so lonely. One's nearest neighbor is at least a few kilometers away and the people are just so engrossed with work that there really is not much time for fun and bonding. Definitely, not the place for someone like me, who finds busy Tokyo melancholic.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Creatures in the Flower Park

I first saw the fallen angels ... resting beneath the tall trees that seemed to fence the large flower farm. I asked permission to take their picture, but before I could even make a few decent clicks, the other tourists rudely took my frame. I was not in the mood to serve as their official photographer so I decided to wander afar.

Luckily I met other interesting creatures, mostly on their way to wherever home must be. Why they were there (halloween is a goods two weeks ahead), I really had no idea. But since they were good photo subjects, I really didn't care about the why. I just decided to harass some of them.

These amiable characters indulged me ...


The Little Red Prince
Hansel & Gretel's Lost Sisters
Cinderella's Cute Stepsisters
The Kitchen Samurai Guard
Las Tres Musketeras
... finally..

The Green Sisa

He he. My apologies for the corny names. I honestly just don't know who they were mimicking.