JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.


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Shichi-go-san七五三 - "Shichi-go-san" literally means seven-five-three. This is a Shinto-based, coming-of-age day on Nov. 15 for 7-year-old girls, 5-year-old boys, and 3-year-old girls. Although this is not a national holiday (like Coming-of-Age Day for adults in Jan.), many parents dress up their coming-of-age children in kimono and visit Shinto shrines for prayers around Nov. 15 (usually the closest weekend). It is also a busy time for portrait studios because many parents also dress formally and go to have family and child portraits taken before going to the shrine.

Place: A temporary photo studio in a local department store.
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Shūgō shashin集合写真 - "Shūgō shashin" means group photo, typically of a tourist group, school class, family gathering, etc. At famous places like Nikko above, you might see a photographer offering to photograph you in front of a famous view or building.

Place: Nikko, Tochigi Pref.
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Hanami花見 - "Hanami" literally means flower viewing, but it really means "partying under the cherry blossoms." Trash becomes a problem at the end of each day at major cherry blossom parks.

Place: A local park in Tokyo.
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Tenbōdai展望台 - "Tenbōdai" means observation deck or lookout. It could be outdoors like this one, or on the top floor of a skyscraper. It implies a place that is up high where you can look down at the marvelous view.

Place: Hakodate, Hokkaido.
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Nihon Sankei - Amanohashidate日本三景 天橋立 - "Nihon Sankei" means the Scenic Trio of Japan. This is one of them, Amanohashidate in northern Kyoto. It is simply a sand bar with pine trees growing on it. Since it looks like a bridge (and actually serves as a bridge for pedestrians and bicycles), "Amanohashidate" means Bridge of Heaven. It has been the subject of poets and artists for centuries. This popular view can be had from a hilltop park nearby.

The Scenic Trio was thought to have originated in the 17th century when a Confucian scholar named 林春斎 traveled all over Japan and declared in writing that these three places were the best.

Place: Amanohashidate, Kyoto.
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Nihon Sankei - Matsushima日本三景 松島 - Matsushima is another member of the Scenic Trio of Japan (Nihon Sankei). They are pine-clad islands off the coast near Sendai, Miyagi Pref.

Place: Matsushima, Miyagi Pref.
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Nihon Sankei - Miyajima日本三景 宮島 - Miyajima in Hiroshima Pref. is also one of the Scenic Trio of Japan (Nihon Sankei). It is an island in the Seto Inland Sea famous for Itsukushima Shrine which seems to float on the ocean. It is symbolized by a large, orange torii in the sea, Japan's most famous torii.
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Kasetsu studio仮設スタジオ - Makeshift photo studios are set up in department stores, etc., during the prime portrait-taking seasons such as Shichi-go-san.

Place: A local department store.
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Camera-tsuki keitai denwa (or keitai camera)カメラ付き携帯電話 - "Camera-tsuki" means camera-equipped. "Keitai" is portable, and "denwa" is telephone. Ever since the camera phone was introduced in Japan in 2001, it has become hugely popular with the masses using them for snapshots and as you can see, self portraits.

Place: Takayama Festival, Gifu Pref.
     
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