JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.

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The 25th Asakusa Yabusame horseback archery was held on April 21, 2007 at Sumida Park.
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Bus to Taba. The bus runs from Okutama Station in Tokyo. It is the only public transportation link with the village.
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Parallel to Sumida River, the archery course is straight and narrow, stretching from the Tobu Line bridge to Kototoi Bridge.
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On the weekends, free shuttle bus to the tulip festival from Hamura Station West Exit. It's short bus ride.
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The course has three targets which the archers will shoot arrows at.
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Raised dirt along the archery course.
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First, the horses, archers, and attendants parade along the entire course.
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Wooden targets
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Archer
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Yabusame archer
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Hi-color town bus, very convenient and cheap (500 yen for a day pass) to reach the city's major sights. It runs every 30 min. or so. ハイカラさん
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Bus terminal for Nohi Bus
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Hi-color town bus stop
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"Akabei" town bus which goes in the opposite direction of the Hi-color town bus. The same day pass can be used for both buses. あかべぇ
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The cute little Kiyo Bus takes you to the katakuri (dog's tooth violet) site. It leaves every half hour from Kiyose Station's North Exit. About a 5-min. ride. This was at 8:30 am. 清瀬駅北口 きよバス(called katakuri in Japanese or Erythronium japonicum) grow in early spring (late March). While they are in bloom, they hold the Katakuri Matsuri festival
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Inside the Akabei town bus.
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Deer skin
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In front of Chofu Station
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Bus stop
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Setting up the wooden target.
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Bull's eye. This is the third and last target along the course. It is quite difficult to hit all three targets, especially the last one.
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The horseback archer raises his bow and arrow high in the air as he nears the target.
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Arrow in mid-air. Asakusa Yabusame.
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Dead on!
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The archers return to the starting point.
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This is the second target at the center of the archery course. This is where the biggest crowd was.
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Woman archer misses her target.
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The crowd favorite was this high school girl. See the arrow pierce the wooden target.
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Local high school girl proudly rides back to the starting point amid applause.
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Woman archer
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This is the first target which is near the starting point. Love it when the target shatters like that.
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The wooden target boards have an envelope of confetti stuck on the back so it explodes when the target breaks apart.
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Bingo! Also see my YouTube video here.
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Right after hitting the first target, the archer starts to pull out another arrow for the next target.
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Don't climb up any trees or step into the azalea bushes please. この叔父、つつじに入っちゃダメですよ。
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Inside the Kiyo Bus
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Another Kuri-chan bus.
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Verse 4 Lyrics (Chikubushima) 四番の英訳(竹生島)Azure blue flower garden, revered coral shrine.
Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima.
In the hands of Buddha, one young maiden lies.
She's sleeping in compassion, resting peacefully.

瑠璃の花園 珊瑚の宮
古い伝えの 竹生島
仏の御手に いだかれて
ねむれ乙女子 やすらけく

Ruri no hanazono, sango no miya
Furui tsutae no, Chikubujima
Hotoke no mite ni, idakarete
Nemure otomego, yasurakeku

Lake Biwa's most famous and sacred island is accessible by boat from Hikone, Nagahama, and Imazu.

Digitally altered image, this is not the real color of the water...
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"Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima."The island has a complex of temples named Hogonji. It belongs to the Shingon Buddhist Sect (Buzan School). It is said that it was first built in 724. It is also the 30th temple in the 33 Temple Pilgrimage of Saigoku (Western Japan).

See more photos of Chikubushima here.
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"Azure blue flower garden, revered coral shrine."
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Broken dishes near the torii
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"Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima."Karamon Gate, National Treasure
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Buddha statue on Chikubushima
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Buddha statue on Chikubushima
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure), Chikubushima 都久夫須麻神社
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Benzaiten Goddess with her biwa lute
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Incense burner in the Kannon temple on Chikubushima.
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Incense burner
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The Seta are is also accessible by bus.
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Pagoda on Chikubushima. See more photos of Chikubushima here.
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Chuo bus terminal next to Otaru Station.
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Billboard bus
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Sign promoting the shinkansen to be built to Hokkaido.
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Nagahama Port is where you board the boat for Chikubushima. There are several round trips every day from either port. No reservations necessary. Within walking distance from Nagahama Station.Chikubushima can be reached from Nagahama Port, Hikone Port, or Imazu Port on the other side of the lake. There are several round trips every day from either port. Nagahama boat schedule: [url=http://www.biwakokisen.co.jp/[/url] and Hikone boat schedule: http://www.ohmitetudo.co.jp/marine_time-table2017_hikone-chikubushima-hikone_normal/index.html
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View of Mt. Ibuki as we leave Nagahama Port. Map for Nagahama Port
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Nagahama from Lake Biwa
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Nagahama Castle from Lake Biwa
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Mt. Ibuki from Lake Biwa
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Inside boat. Almost empty.
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Chikubushima in the distance
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Top deck of boat going from Nagahama to Chikubushima
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Heading for Chikubushima.
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According to legend, Mt. Ibuki and Mt. Azai-dake (Kanakuso-dake) in northern Shiga argued over who was the highest in Shiga. Mt. Ibuki got so upset by the argument that he drew a sword and sliced off Azai-dake's head...
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The sliced-off peak fell into Lake Biwa and became Chikubushima. Read the full folktale here.
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Chikubushima is Lake Biwa's most famous, historic, and sacred island. National Historic Site MAP
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Chikubushima used to be a lush green island. Now it is turning brown by the thousands of cormorants which nest on the island, beyond the reach of humans.
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Chikubushima is home to Hogonji Temple first built in 724 as ordered by the Emperor to worship the Goddess Benzaiten. It belongs to the Shingon Buddhist Sect (Buzan School) and it is the 30th temple in the 33-Temple Pilgrimage of Saigoku. 宝厳寺
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Chikubushima is also home to Tsukubusuma (Chikubushima) Shrine which is also a National Treasure. Until 1868 when Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines were required to be separate, the shrine was part of Hogonji temple.
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Whenever you see a torii gate, it indicates the grounds of Tsukubusuma Shrine. The shrine is actually integrated with Hogonji temple.
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Boat landing 宝厳寺
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The name of the boat moored at Chikubushima is "Benten."
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Lake Biwa Rowing Song (Biwako Shuko no Uta) monument. Song details here. 琵琶湖就航の歌 歌碑
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Lake Biwa Rowing Song (Biwako Shuko no Uta) monument. One of the verses mentions Chikubushima. This monument commemorates the song and that verse. 琵琶湖就航の歌 歌碑
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Torii gate and bridge to Tsukubusuma Shrine, also called Chikubushima Shrine.
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Small shrine for the White Snake God, a messenger of goddess Benzaiten. 白巳大神
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Statue of the goddess Benzaiten at Hogonji, Chikubushima. Benzaiten is the goddess of everything that flows: Water, rivers, music, etc. 弁才天
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Tsukubusuma Shrine's Haiden Hall
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Altar for the Chikubushima Dragon God.
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The snake is a messenger of the Goddess Benzaiten.
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Inside the Haiden Hall, you can buy these little dishes. Buy two of them. You write your name on one and your wish on the other dish. Then throw it through the torii gate.
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Throw your two dishes at the torii gate. If your dish goes under the torii gate, your wish will come true. Geez, look at all those failed wishes (shattered dishes).This is also one location where the film Idai Naru, Shurararabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) was filmed. The scene where Ryosuke throws his small dish through the torii.
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View of Nagahama from Chikubushima
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure) on Chikubushima island, Nagahama, Shiga. It worships Benzaiten as well as the Dragon God and Azai-hime. 都久夫須麻神社
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure)
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure)
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Funa-roka boat corridor connects Tsukubusuma Shrine and the Kannon-do Hall. Important Cultural Property. From the Momoyama Period. 船廊下
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Funa-roka boat corridor
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Funa-roka boat corridor
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple 観音堂
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Chikubushima Port is always busy with boats coming from Nagahama, Hikone, and Imazu.
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Karamon Gate 唐門 (National Treasure). Entrance to the Kannondo Temple. Said to have come from Toyotomi Hideyoshi's original mausoleum in Kyoto. From the Momoyama Period. Chikubushima, Nagahama, Shiga.This could also have been the gate to the Gokuraku Bridge at Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle in the early 17th century.
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Kannondo Temple and Karamon gate of Hogonji temple on Chikubushima island, Nagahama, Shiga.
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Benzaiten-do Hall, the main worship hall of Hogonji temple. Benzaiten is the goddess of everything that flows: Water, rivers, music, etc. 弁才天堂
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Inside Benzai Tendo. Many famous samurai, such as Oda Nobunaga and the Azai Clan, worshipped at Chikubushima since they believed Benzaiten had the power to destroy their enemies.
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Inside Benzaiten-do Hall which houses one of Japan's three major statues of the Goddess Benzaiten.
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Inside Benzai Tendo
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Inside Benzai Tendo
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Inside Benzai Tendo. The statue of Benzaiten in that corner was donated by the father of Lord Azai Nagamasa. The Nagamasa clan paid their respects to it regularly thereafter.
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Inside Benzai Tendo
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Benzai Tendo
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Three-Story Pagoda. Reconstructed in 2000. The original pagoda was destroyed by fire caused by lightning during the early Edo Period. It took six years to complete.
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Chikubushima has some steep steps.
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Interlaken boat to Imazu at Chikubushima.
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Chikubushima
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West view of Chikubushima
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East view of Chikubushima, whose trees are badly ravaged by kawau cormorants. Over 30,000 of these birds live on the island.
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North face of Chikubushima is also badly damaged and going bald. The cormorant bird droppings and nesting activities (breaking off branches) are killing off the trees.
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Keihan Maru boat during the early 1900s. This is a vintage postcard showing a steamer called Keihan Maru moored at Chikubushima. This boat landing is still being used.
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Bus for Toyako Onsen Spa. They don't run that often, but are more convenient than a train if you want to go to Lake Toya.
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Donan Bus company provides bus service in this area. 道南バス
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Yasugi is a rural city most famous for the Yasugi-bushi folk song and dance. It has JR Yasugi Station.
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JR Yasugi Station welcomes visitors to the land of Yasugi-bushi.
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JR Yasugi Station welcomes visitors to the land of Yasugi-bushi.
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JR Yasugi Station welcomes visitors to the land of Yasugi-bushi.
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Yasugi-bushi Engeikan Hall is a Japanese-style theater where they perform Yasugi-bushi, a local folk song and dance.
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The hall includes a gift shop and restaurant. Yasugi-bushi Engeikan is next to Adachi Museum of Art. Easy to see both places.
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Giant loach in front of the hall in Yasugi, Shimane.
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Inside the Yasugi-bushi Engeikan Hall is a Japanese-style theater. They perform four times per day. Admission is ¥600 for adults, ¥300 for kids.
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Hanamichi in the theater.
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Comfortable chairs.
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Playing the tsuzumi shoulder drum.
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The most famous Yasugi-bushi song is "Dojo-sukui" (Loach Scooping) danced by a Hyottoko comical man. The dancer uses a basket scoop to catch the loaches.
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"Dojo-sukui" (Loach Scooping) also danced by women.
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Afterward, they invited members of the audience on stage to try the loach scooping dance.
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Names of the performers from the Yasugi-bushi Preservation Society.
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Display hall for Yasugi-bushi.
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About Yasugi-bushi.
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Tsuzumi shoulder drums used in Yasugi-bushi.
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Gift shop sells dojo loach confections.
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Next to the theater is this restaurant.
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Nice lunch.
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Bus stops on the north side of Sapporo Station.
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I caught a bus from Nishi-Arai Station for Toshi Nogyo Koen Park. Took about 20-30 min.
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G8 Summit sticker in bus
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Shuttle bus to the next temple.
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Visit the next Koto Sanzan Temple at Saimyoji in Kora.
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June 16, 2007 Singing in front of Verse 4 song monument on Chikubushima.
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Jamie and Megan Thompson singing in front of Verse 4 song monument on Chikubushima. This was during a Lake Biwa cruise.
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From Tokyo's Buster Shinjuku bus terminal at Shinjuku Station, it takes about 2 hr. 40 min. to Ikaho, costing about ¥2400.
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If you look closely, you can things that Imazu is famous for, like zazenso Eastern Skunk Cabbage flowers.
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Kichijoji bus
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Chikubushima
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Across the water are more cherry trees along the Oku-Biwako Parkway road.
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Koto-ku residents would easily recognize these sights on the bus. Very well done. Too bad it's only temporary.
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Shiga LakeStars bus.
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The main event was yabusame horseback archery.
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Huge crowd. Need to get here early to get a good viewing spot.
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Yabusame is one of Japan's hallmark traditional arts and commonly staged for visiting heads of state at Meiji Shrine.Former US president Ulysses Grant saw it with Emperor Meiji at Ueno Park in 1879, Ronald Reagan in 1983 at Meiji Shrine, George W. Bush (with PM Koizumi) at Meiji Shrine in 2001, and Obama (with Caroline Kennedy) at Meiji Shrine in 2014.
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At the start of the horse track, the fan bearer (扇方 ogikata) uses a large fan to signal that the track is clear for the next archer to run.
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It takes about 20 sec. for the horse to complete the run. It's very difficult for the archer to hit all three targets in a single run, but someone usually does it.
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These archers belong to the Takeda School of mounted archery. They are based in Miura, Kanagawa where they practice almost weekly. They have about 60 members.
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Delighted to see a few women archers too.
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Delighted to see a few women archers at Meiji Shrine yabusame horseback archery on Nov. 3.
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Yabusame is a centuries-old Shinto ceremony to pray for peace in the land and rich harvests. The mounted archery is preceded by a Shinto prayer ceremony. It originated with samurai who had to be skillful mounted archers in medieval battles before guns were introduced.
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There's a 210-meter straight horse track within the shrine's spacious grounds. The track has three targets and each horseback archer gallops at full speed and tries to hit each target with an arrow.
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After all the archers complete their runs, they trot back to the starting point and receive their shot arrows along the way. Each archer's arrows have a unique arrow tip (shape and/or color) so they know which is theirs.They do a few runs and the event lasts for about 2 hours.
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Besides the costumes, the saddles and stirrups are very different from western ones.
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