JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.

Image search results - "matsudo"
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Ozeki Kotoshogiku won the Jan. 2016 sumo tournament at the Kokugikan, the first Japanese sumo wrestler to do so in 10 years.His Sadogatake Sumo Stable is in Matsudo, Chiba. On Feb. 21, 2016, they held a victory parade for Kotoshogiku in central Matsudo near Matsudo Station.
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They passed out free paper flags for Kotoshogiku's victory parade.
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The place was crowded.
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Streets along the parade route were packed four or five-row deep.
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People waited like this for an hour or so for the parade.
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In front of Matsudo Station.
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First they had presentation on stage where Kotoshogiku and his stablemaster appeared and said a few words.
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The sidewalks were so packed you could not move anywhere. Poor crowd control. But they expected only 20,000, when 55,000 showed up.
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Kotoshogiku showed his trademark back bend dubbed "Koto Bauer." Matsudo, Chiba
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The huge turnout is evidence of how much people yearned for a win by a Japanese wrestler. They all wanted him to be promoted to yokozuna.
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Too many people in front to get a good shot of the car with Kotoshogiku.
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Look at that crowd!
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Sitting on the right is the Sadogatake Stablemaster, former Kotonowaka who married the daughter of his late master former Yokozuna Kotozakura.Victory parade in Matsudo, Chiba.
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A video still in front of Matsudo Station.
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After the parade, they take down the banners.
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My short video of Ozeki Kotoshogiku's victory parade in Matsudo.
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One claim to fame in Matsudo is the number of sumo stables in this city. Six of them, all listed on this panel in Matsudo Station.
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Matsudo Shrine
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Matsudo Shrine worships legendary warrior and prince Yamato Takeru.
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Matsudo Shrine is popular for New Year's prayers.
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Matsudo Shrine
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Matsudo Shrine is near Matsudo Station.
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Matsudo Shrine omikuji paper fortunes.
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Ema tablets
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About Matsudo Shrine in Japanese. Worships Yamato Takeru.
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Dragon water fountain
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Matsudo Shrine's bulletin board in 2010.
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Matsudo-juku was also a shukuba post town on the Mito Kaido Road connecting Edo with Mito.
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Mito Kaido has almost no remnants of the shukuba post town.
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Local tourist information office in a traditional building on the Mito Kaido.
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Drawing of Matsudo-juku.
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Site of Matsudo-juku's Honjin lodge for VIPs. Now occupied by a condo/apartment building near the Edogawa River.
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Marker for Matsudo-juku's Honjin lodge.
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About the Matsudo-juku's Honjin.
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Edogawa River bank.
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Public bath
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Condo in Matsudo with a Hawaiian name and marijuana leaf logo. Not a good idea...
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Private residence with a torii in the backyard.
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Manhole in Matsudo, Chiba showing koala bears.
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Manhole in Matsudo, Chiba showing boat crossing.
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Small river in Matsudo lined with early-blooming Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms.
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Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms.
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Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms.
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JR Matsudo Station
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Outside Matsudo Station
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A large banner adorns JR Matsudo Station (Joban Line) to celebrate Matsudo native and astronaut Yamazaki Naoko's return to Earth from her Space Shuttle mission in April 2010.
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Naoko Yamazaki went on her first space flight aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on April 5, 2010 and spent almost 2 weeks on the International Space Station. She returned on April 20, 2010 to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Posters celebrating Naoko's return were all over central Matsudo.
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The Matsudo Tourist Association has a show window in Matsudo Station showing local products and a poster of Naoko.
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On May 22, 2010, the city of Matsudo in Chiba Prefecture held a welcome home ceremony and parade for astronaut Naoko Yamazaki who came to visit during a brief visit to Japan.
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Little flags and banners festooned the 500-meter parade route. 道路上街灯にフラッグ
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The parade route started on this narrow road near Matsudo Station, coming from Isetan Dept. Store.
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The parade route was fenced off.
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They provided free paper flags for spectators.
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Staff passing out free paper flags.
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The paper flag had Naoko Yamazaki's official logo for the STS-131 mission. (See high-quality image below.)
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Isetan Dept. Store in Matsudo had a large vertical banner welcoming Naoko's return.
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The small plaza in front of Isetan served as the venue for Naoko Yamazaki's welcome home ceremony. They had a small, elevated stage. The place was divided into squares for people to stand in.
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Sign for Naoko Yamazaki's welcome home ceremony and parade. They also passed out little flyers written with the day's schedule.
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By 1:30 pm, the place was getting quite full of people. I was standing not too close to the stage. The ceremony was to start at 2:15 pm. First the marching band played.
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When Naoko Yamazaki arrived by car, people started to wave the paper flags as she made her way to the stage. People behind the people in front couldn't see much because of the flags.
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First, Matsudo Mayor Toshihisa Kawai said a few words to welcome Naoko back to Earth and to her hometown of Matsudo. 伊勢丹前広場にてオープニングセレモニー
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Matsudo Mayor Toshihisa Kawai at Naoko Yamazaki's welcome home ceremony in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture. The man on the right is the Matsudo Board of Education Superintendent. Hidden by the mayor is Speaker of the Matsudo City Assembly.
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People wave flags again as Naoko Yamazaki is introduced to speak during her homecoming ceremony in Matsudo, Chiba.
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The plaza in front of Isetan was quite full. We were warned that we wouldn't be able to see the welcome parade afterward because they would block off the street from us. However, it was still possible for us to see the parade.
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Naoko Yamazaki speaks, thanking everyone for their support and encouragement. 山崎直子宇宙飛行士 帰還報告会
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"I'm happy to be from Matsudo..." Also see my video at YouTube to hear her entire speech. 帰還の報告
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Her biography by NASA is here.
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She spoke for only a few minutes.
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Representatives from the Young Astronaut Club gave her a flag and bouquet of flowers. フラッグ、花束贈呈
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Naoko Yamazaki at her homecoming ceremony in Matsudo, Chiba. She was inspired to become an astronaut when she saw a school teacher fly on the space shuttle when she was growing up in the 1980s.
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The same banner found in Matsudo Station also hung above the stage.
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The ceremony was over by 2:30 pm, and she then hopped in a convertible for the parade. After the ceremony was over, I rushed out and ran to the parade route in front of Matsudo Station.
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People line the parade route. The parade started at about 2:35 pm.
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The parade route went around a few blocks and returned to Isetan. The first stretch of the route was here where they threw confetti. Thanks to my friend Gary for these confetti shots.
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Naoko Yamazaki in a black convertible. Ever since the Challenger disaster in 1986 when Ellison Onizuka from Hawaii died (I never got over it), I always viewed the Space Shuttle as a risky vehicle. Even today, so many things can and do go wrong in space.
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So I really prayed that Discovery would return safely to Earth. Because if there were another tragic accident, it would be too much of a heartbreak. Japanese-Americans lost Ellison, and if the Japanese lost Naoko, I can't even bear to think about it.
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And so I had to see and welcome her home too. Japan-America relations at its finest, on the highest level, literally. This is near Matsudo Station. Her car was escorted by the Guardian Angels and security guards.
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There she is, my first good shot of her. Many people called out to her and she acknowledged with a wave and photogenic smile.
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She's a very attractive and charming-looking lady. Cream of the cream. Yes, she's the first Japanese mom to fly into space, but she's very bright. Graduate of Univ. of Tokyo in aeronautical engineering.
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Whenever someone goes into space, there was always something that's first. She's the first Japanese mom in space. The first time more than one Japanese were in space. The first time four women were in space.
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The parade started with this group of flag twirlers.
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The flag dancers were followed by a marching band from the fire dept. 消防音楽隊
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The marching band was followed by a group of kids belonging to the Young Astronaut Club, an educational club.
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The banner reads, "Welcome home, Yamazaki Naoko" 日本宇宙少年団千葉スペースボイジャー分団員
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Behind the kids was Naoko Yamazaki's convertible from which she tirelessly waved and smiled.
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After the parade, she went to her junior high school and gave a talk to hundreds of elementary and junior high school students. She spent the night at her parents' home in Matsudo.
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Here are a few of my rapid-fire shots of her when she passed by me the second and last time. It was too crowded to chase her any more.
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Naoko Yamazaki in her homecoming parade in Matsudo, Chiba. Also see my video at YouTube.
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It's mind-boggling to see how much training she went through during 11 years or so before she actually went into space. It must've been hard on her husband and daughter, but they stuck it out and must be very proud.
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JAXA Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki at her welcome home parade in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture on May 22, 2010.
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Naoko's car was followed by the mayor's car.
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As soon as Naoko's car passed by, a huge wave of people rolled in to chase her and see her again. I was barely able to get these last two shots of her.
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Luckily she turned my way when I took this shot.
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Along the final stretch of the too-short parade route, the huge crowd followed her. The parade ended at about 3 pm.
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My embedded YouTube video of Naoko Yamazaki's homecoming parade in Matsudo.
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Built in 1884, Tojotei was the residence of Tokugawa Akitake (1853-1910), brother of the last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Tojotei is within the garden-like Tojogaoka History Park that was part of Akitake's estate. It now has the Tojo History Museum displaying Akitake artifacts, plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, lots of azalea, and fall foliage. Short walk from Matsudo Station. Park hours are 9 am to 5 pm, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday) Free admission. Small admission charged by Tojotei and the museum.
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Entrance to Tojogaoka History Park.Akitake was supposed to be the next shogun after Yoshinobu, but the Tokugawa reign and Edo Period ended before his time. Akitake only became the last daimyo of the Mito Clan in Ibaraki. He retired at age 30 and lived the rest of his life at Tojotei, a spacious, Japanese-style residence on a hilltop.
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Early-blooming Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms. I visited in late Feb. 2016.
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Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms
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Tojotei
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Plum blossoms and Tojotei
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Plum blossoms and Tojotei
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Red plum blossoms
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Tojotei. We could enter the residence and step out into the lawn. So when you enter Tojotei, take your shoes with you. Shoe bag provided.
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Built in 1884, Tojotei was the residence of Tokugawa Akitake (1853-1910), brother of the last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Matsudo, Chiba, Prefecture
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View from Tojotei. Tokyo Skytree visible.
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Azalea
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Kura storehouse
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Inside Kura storehouse
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Main room of Tojotei with sweeping views of the lawn outside. Tojotei residence, Matsudo, Chiba.
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They had Hinamatsuri Girls Day dolls decorating the room in late Feb. Tojotei residence, Matsudo, Chiba.
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Hinamatsuri Girls Day dolls
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Hinamatsuri Girls Day dolls
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Transom
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Japanese-style rooms inside Tojotei.
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Sink for the young couple.
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Inner courtyard garden
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Round window at Tojotei
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Bathroom
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Bathroom in Tojotei
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Transom with a butterfly designin Tojotei.
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Urinal and toilet
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A short walk to the plum grove. Plum blossoms were in full bloom in late Feb.
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Plum blossoms at Tojotei in Matsudo, Chiba.
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Tojo History Museum. Small admission charged. Hours: 9:30 am–5 pm, Closed Mon. 戸定歴史館
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Tojo History Museum exhibits Tokugawa Akitake artifacts.
     
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