JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.

Image search results - "islands"
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Map of Matsushima near Matsushima Kaigan Station. Places of interest include Ojima island, Matsushima boat cruise, Godaido island, Fukuura island, and Zuiganji temple.
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I show you photos of the boat cruise first. There are many boats coming and going in Matsushima Bay. You have to decide which cruise to go on.
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Matsushima Pier. There are boats which go around the Matsushima islands and return to Matsushima. Others go to Shiogama (toward Sendai) or a longer route toward Oku Matsushima.
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Most boat cruises cost 1400 yen, taking about 50 min. Boats leave almost every 30 min. The boat cruise is the main and most popular activity at Matsushima.
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Nio Maru at Matsushima Port.
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As each boat leaves, sea gulls follow.
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The sea gulls follow where there's food, and the tourists are happy to toss junk food at them.
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They even sell bird food on the boat.
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These birds fly very close, within arm's reach.
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Face to face with a bird. "Hey, any food for me??"
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The boat passes by numerous pine-clad islands of Matsushima.
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THis is one of the more famous Matsushima islands, named Kanejima with three holes. 鐘島
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Kanejima
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THe name "Matsushima" of course means "Pine Islands," so you may hear "Matsushima" in other places in Japan wherever there are pine-clad islands.
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Another famous and unique island in Matsushima is Niojima, shaped like a Deva King found at the gate of Buddhist temples. 仁王島
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Matsushima would also be interesting to geologists.
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Famous for centuries, Matsushima has inspired many haiku poets like Matsuo Basho and painters.
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This was my favorite island in Matsushima.
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Back to Matsushima Port.
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Matsushima Rest House is next to the pier, where you can buy cruise tickets or just rest on chairs. Tourist info counter also provided.
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Route 45 running parallel to the shore. Busy road with shops and restaurants.
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Near the boat pier is this a large park called Chuo Hiroba.
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Chuo Hiroba, where tour groups meet.
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Nearby is Godaido temple on a small island close to shore.
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Godaido is another famous and storied icon of Matsushima. In any painting or depiction of Matsushima, Godaido is always there.
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Godaido enshrines five statues representing the Mikkyo teachings of Shingon Buddhism.
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Godaido 五大堂
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Godaido 五大堂
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Way to Godaido.
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way to Godaido
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The first bridge to Godaidojima island.
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Second bridge to Godaido.
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Godaido temple in Matsushima. This building was built in 1604 by Lord Date Masamune.
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Godaido was first erected in 807 called Bishamondo. We cannot go inside. Important Cultural Property.
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About Godaido
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Godaido is also noted for wooden carvings of Eto zodiac animals. Cock.
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Monkey
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Boar
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Another noted building in Matsushima is Kanrantei, perched on a low hill. Now it is a rest place where they serve tea.
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About Kanrantei
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Original buildings and layout of Kanrantei.
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Kanrantei
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Entrance to Kanrantei.
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Kanrantei
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Inside Kanrantei where you can relax and have tea for a fee.
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View of Matsushima from Kanrantei. The boat pier is straight ahead.
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View of Matsushima from Kanrantei.
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Near Godaido is this onument for Japan's Scenic Trio (Nihon Sankei) which are Matsushima, Amanohashidate (northern Kyoto), and Miyajima (Hiroshima). 日本三景
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Matsushima Monument near Godaido
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The second island to visit is Fukuurajima, a short walk from the boat pier. The island with the long red bridge is Fukuura island. You can't miss it. 福浦島
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Fukuura island is larger than the other islands, and can take a good 30 min. to walk around it. If you don't feel like walking anymore, you may want to skip Fukuura. Most tourists don't go there, but I thought it was worth a visit.
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Unless you want to swim to the island, you have to pay 200 yen to cross the bridge to Fukuura. Walk through the gift shop/restaurant and pay the toll to access the bridge.
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Bridge to Fukuura island is named Deai Hashi. 出会い橋
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Fukuura island offers nice walking trails and a few lookout points from where you can see other islands.
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Fukuura island
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Map of Fukuura island. Points 3 and 5 are worth seeing. You have to leave the island by 5 pm or (4:30 pm during winter months).
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View from Fukuura island.
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Bentendo Hall on Fukuura island.
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Bentendo Hall on Fukuura island.
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Lookout point on Fukuura island.
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Bridge from Fukuura island back to mainland.
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Ojima island is the third island worth visiting in Matsushima.
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Ojima island is accessible by a red bridge.
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Ojima island at Matsushima
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Ojima is a small island, but larger than Godaido.
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Ojima is dotted with numerous little caves and stone carvings of Kannon.
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Ojima caves
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Monuments and stones
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This island is actually part of Zuiganji temple.
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Haiku poem by Basho. No doubt that he visited this island too.
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View from Ojima.
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View from Ojima
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Matsushima
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Nice walking path on Ojima
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Lookout point
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Torii to a shrine on Ojima island, Matsushima
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Shrine on Ojima
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Lake Toya is a caldera lake, or crater lake. The mountain blew its top forming a huge crater. Later, volcanos erupted at the center to form smaller mountains which are now islands in the water-filled crater.
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The Nakajima islands in the center of Lake Toya. There are four islands. Most them have a conical shape.
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On this side of the lake, the waters are quite still.
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Nakajima islands as seen from Toyako Onsen.
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Photos of my visit to the Nakajima islands here.
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Lake Toya sign and the Nakajima islands.
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Swan boat and a real swan.
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Swan boats. You can pedal pretty far out in these things, but not to the Nakajima islands.
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On the shore of Lake Toya is binoculars through which you can see the Summit venue, the Windsor Hotel.
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Lake Toya and cherry blossoms blooming in early May.
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Nakajima islands, Lake Toya
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Nakajima islands, Lake Toya
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Cherry blossoms and the Nakajima islands, Lake Toya. Early May 2008.
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Cherry blossoms (almost in full bloom) and the Nakajima islands, Lake Toya. More photos of cherry blossoms and Lake Toya here in eastern Toyako.
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Quite a few islands in the Seto Inland Sea are scarred by cement makers.
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Secluded beach on an island. So many islands in Seto Island Sea.
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The road is too steep to ride a bicycle, but short enough to walk it. You will be sweating though.
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During early to mid-May, the plum blossoms bloom.
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Sobetsu Park gives great views of Lake Toya and the Nakajima islands.
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When I went in early May, it was a little too soon for the plum blossoms which were just beginning to bloom.
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Plum trees closer to the sun were blooming earlier.
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Sobetsu Park and plum blossoms overlooking Lake Toya, Hokkaido.
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Picture-taking point
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At the top of the park's hill is a lookout deck. However, you can also walk on the slope and see the plum blossoms up close.
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Cherry blossoms at the top of Sobetsu Park.
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Destination: Nakajima islands
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There are four Nakajima islands. Each one has a name. On the far right is the smallest island, named Manjujima island. Also nicknamed Snake Island since they say it has many vipers. 饅頭島
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The island on the left is Kannonjima island which is connected to Bentenjima island on the right via a sandbar. The islands are not accessible during winter.
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Kannon island, so called because there is a Kannon temple. 観音島
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Ezo deer on Benten island.
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Benten temple on Benten island
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Kannon temple on Kannon island.
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Ukimido as seen from Benten island
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Transparent water
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Heading to Oshima island.
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Oshima is the largest Nakajima island.
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Oshima island, Nakajima islands.
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Boat dock at Oshima island. This island has a small nature museum.
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Leaving Oshima.
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Ukimido near Benten island
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Leaving the Nakajima islands.
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Sculpture: 奥山喜生「回峰」 
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Cherry blossoms
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Sculpture: 中井延也「シグナル」  
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Cherry blossoms and sculpture
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It was pretty sunny, but I still used flash for this shot.
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Sculpture: 秋山沙走武「薫風」
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Sculpture: 秋山沙走武「薫風」
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Cherry trees almost in full bloom.
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Cherry blossoms and the Nakajima islands.
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Swan boat too.
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Love this transparent water. Makes you feel like canoeing or kayaking to the Nakajima islands.
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Carp fish
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Sculpture: 峯田敏郎「記念撮影五月のかたち」
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Sculpture: Posing for a Photo in May, by 峯田敏郎「記念撮影五月のかたち」
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One thing I like about photographing human-figure sculptures is that they are very good at keeping still for my camera.
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More cherry blossoms...
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Cherry blossoms and Lake Toya with the Nakajima islands.
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Toyako Enchi Park, a lakeside picnic area.
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Sculpture: Ripple Dance, by 関 正司「漣舞・リップル・ダンス」
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Sculpture in Toyako Enchi Park: Ripple Dance, by 関 正司「漣舞・リップル・ダンス」
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Sculpture: Scene of a Portrait, by 湯川 隆「肖像のある風景」
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Sculpture: Scene of a Portrait, by 湯川 隆「肖像のある風景」
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Aqua-blue water was almost like a tropical ocean...
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Finally, cherry blossoms near the lake water...
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Lake Toya and cherry blossoms. Shikotsu-Toya National Park
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View of Nakajima islands from eastern Lake Toya.
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After pushing my bicycle up the long slope from central Sobetsu, I went back on the lakeside road and again went uphill to Sobetsu Park, famous for ume plum trees.
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View of the Nakajima islands from eastern Lake Toya.
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Nakajima islands
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Nakajima islands as seen from northern Lake Toya.
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How the lake was formed.
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Northern Lake Toya
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Pier
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Reeds barely grow here.
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Nakajima islands as seen from northern Lake Toya. They seem to look the same from whichever direction. Totally conical islands.
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G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Welcome sign on window of Toya Mizunoeki in northern Lake Toya.
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Outside Toya Mizunoeki fronting Lake Toya.
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The sculpture on the right: Wave Play, by Kyuzaemon Orihara 折原 久左ェ門「波遊」
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View of Lake Toya behind Toya Mizunoeki.
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The lake shore behind the Toya Mizunoeki also has swans.
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Nakajima islands and swan, Lake Toya, Hokkaido
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Lake Toya and swan, Hokkaido
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Lake Toya and swans, Hokkaido
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Another major sight in Lake Toya is the Ukimido pagoda in northern Lake Toya.
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Ukimido pagoda juts out into the lake on a narrow islet connected by a stone bridge.
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Ukimido means "floating view temple."
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Cherry blossoms and Ukimido pagoda.
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Well-placed sculpture at Ukimido: Dream Toya, by Mitsuaki Sora, 空 充秋「夢洞爺」
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Ukimido Park
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The Ukimido is the focal point of the lakeside Ukimido Park.
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A path of stones lead to the Ukimido.
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