Most viewed
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Oiran Dochu Procession. Her clogs. 花の吉原おいらん道中708 views
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Explanatory map of the Battle of Sekigahara708 views
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A woman waves an American flag to greet a family member assigned to the Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) as it pulls into its new operating base Fleet Activities Yokosuka.708 viewsYOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 25 2008) A woman waves an American flag to greet a family member assigned to the Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) as it pulls into its new operating base Fleet Activities Yokosuka. George Washington's arrival from its former homeport of Norfolk, Va., marks the beginning of its role as the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)
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Geisha and Maiko in Kyoto707 viewsThis is in Pontocho, one of Kyoto's geisha districts. The woman on the left is a geisha (called "geiko" in Kyoto), the woman in the middle is a helper, and the woman on the right is a maiko or apprentice geisha. They are on their way to see the Kamogawa Odori dance performed by the Pontocho geisha in May.
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The Kanamara boat mikoshi is the first to leave.707 views
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Oiran Dochu procession, Tokyo707 views
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Shinsengumi705 views新撰組
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Roof ridge emblem705 views
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Whoa, almost fell into the water!705 views
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Even a rock band played...704 viewsThey played '70s rock.
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Azuchi Castle tower replica at House of Nobunaga. Very ornate and beautiful. both outside and inside.703 views
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Sake flows freely.703 views
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1. Kagurazakari 神楽ざかり701 views
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701 views
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Then there was this group of sexy Yamagata hanagasa dancers. Holy smoke, look at that cleavage, something you never see with a yukata.701 views
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1. Fuji Murasaki (Purple Wisteria)700 views
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Hula and cherry blossoms699 views
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Good location698 views
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Musashimaru throws setsubun beans at Narita-san698 views
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Beware of Habu Snakes697 viewsハブに注意 - "Habu ni chūi." Finally we see the third most common word on warning signs: Chui, meaning "beware of" or "watch out for." Habu is a species of poisonous snake common in Okinawa where this picture was taken.

Place: Okinawa
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Handmade male/female lollipops for 600 yen each697 views
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Lock picks695 views
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Peace Statue694 viewsSculptor was Seibo Kitamura.
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Sumo ring (dohyo). A new sumo ring is constructed for every tournament. See sumo tournament photos here.692 views
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Another swinging wall door.692 views
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Musashigawa Stable wrestler wearing Aloha-print yukata690 viewsFlowery pattern (plumeria) with "Musashimaru" imprinted.
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Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum entrance689 views
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689 views
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Items for the auction's climax...688 views
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No Photography687 views撮影禁止 - The sign reads "Satsuei kinshi." "Satsuei" means to take photos, and "kinshi" means "prohibited." The "No photo" symbol also makes it clear.

On Japanese warning signs, the three most common words you will see are "kinshi" (禁止), "kiken" (危険), and "chui" (or "go-chui") (注意). They respectively mean "prohibited," "danger," and "beware of."

Place: World PC Expo in Makuhari Messe in Chiba.
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Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit smoking area687 views
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Court lady called myobu. 命婦686 views
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Musical clock685 views
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"Nanohanaya" (Rape blossoms) 菜の花や684 views
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Okinawan kimono called the bingata, perhaps Okinawa's most famous kimono. The design is made by applying dyes through a stencil.684 viewsIt was originally worn by Okinawa's royal family members. It is now the costume of a slow-moving Okinawan dance called "Yotsudake."
Model: Maki Uyeunten
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Edo Geisha683 views江戸芸者
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Weeping cherry tree, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, Tokyo. Called "Shidare-sakura" in Japanese meaning cherry tree with drooping branches.682 views
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Grab the rope and step into the foot rings. Of course, ninja never wore a bright red costume. You can rent a ninja suit in various colors for 600 yen.682 views
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Musashimaru and his flowers681 viewsThis was his last appearance at this retirement ceremony.
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Takeinadane-no-Mikoto680 views1 comments
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Costume Player679 viewsCosplay costumes are sometimes based on Japanese kimono and Japanese elements such as the cherry blossom. She's Sakura Shinguuji from a video game called Sakura Wars (Sakura Taisen).
See more photos of cosplayers here.
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Young boy kabuki actors at Nagahama Hikiyama Festival.678 views
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676 views
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Swimsuit pin-up. Another picture that makes you laugh. Apparently she felt sexy in that suit and knew how to pose like a pin-up swimsuit model.675 views1 comments
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Just when I finally became able to recognize the different faces of the cheerleaders (at first, they looked the same to me), the season ends, and they will be replaced next season.675 views
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These dance photos were taken in April 2002. Note that taking pictures and videos of the dance are no longer allowed.674 views
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Winner's trophy672 views
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Oiran Dochu Procession. The two little girls are called kamuro.672 views
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Hula and cherry blossoms672 views
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Entering Tagata Shrine, dedicated to Tamahime-no-Mikoto (daughter of a local feudal lord) and Mitoshi-no-Kami (deity of harvests).672 views
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Japanese belly dancer.671 views
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Tokyo Jidai Matsuri Banner and Tekomai geisha. From top to bottom, the banner reads, "Tokyo Jidai Matsuri." It marks the official and real start of the festival parade. The first Tokyo Jidai Matsuri was held in 1989. 東京時代祭本旗669 viewsThe first Tokyo Jidai Matsuri was held in 1989. Slight changes in the festival have been made since. Instead of two oiran courtesans, there is only one now. And at the end of the parade, the Asakusa Revue of showgirls used to be the anchor. But they are now gone.

東京時代祭本旗、手古舞
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Baby Blessings at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba. Infants are blessed in front of the shrine.668 views
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Peace memorial from China668 viewsThe park also has peace monuments from various countries.
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"Robocop" Takamisakari gets ready668 viewsThe top-division Makunouchi wrestlers went through their matches quickly.
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9:43 am: Almost front and center667 views
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The Kanamara boat mikoshi is the first to leave. 神輿の巡幸667 views
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Kusatsu Shukuba Festival, Shiga Pref.667 views
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Musashimaru gets his setsubun beans at Narita-san.667 views
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Monument next to Peace Statue664 views
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Konishiki also sings. (His company arranged the entertainment.)664 views
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Shrine maiden on horseback called Munanori Onna. 騎女664 views
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The 36th Noge Daidogei Street Performance Festival was held on April 24-25, 2010 in Yokohama, near JR Sakuragicho Station. "Daidogei" means street performance.664 views
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662 views
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Pretty Cure662 viewsKids could have their picture taken with these characters.
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Shack for votive tablets662 views
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The Elizabeth mikoshi pumping up and down as it makes it way to town662 views
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Athens Gold Medalist Keiji Suzuki pyches himself up660 views
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Shinsengumi disbanded when the shogunate collapsed and Emperor Meiji became the head of state. The Shinsegumi wore a distinct costume with a light blue haori. 新撰組659 views
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Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit smoking area cigarette butts659 views
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Laughing Geisha with umbrella. As you may have noticed, the umbrella (and fan) was a commonly used prop in tourist photos. Postmarked 1903 from Yokohama. The actual card is more yellowed and almost brown, but I bleached it with Photoshop.659 views1 comments
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658 views
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Koka Ninja Museum also has showcases with various ninja costumes, documents, weapons, etc. The museum is kind of rundown though.658 views
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Memorial at hypocenter656 viewsErected in July 1995 for the 50th anniversary.
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Amulets, votive tablets, etc., for sale by the shrine.656 views
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Miniskirted yukata655 views
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653 views1 comments
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The procession is headed by tekomai geisha who sing.653 views
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There she goes.653 views
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Edo Geisha652 views江戸芸者
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Bamboo sticks concealing a sword.652 views
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The main Kanamara mikoshi leaves last.651 views
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Pacific Ocean (Jan. 13, 2005) - Crash-and-salvage personnel rig a training skeleton of an F-14 Tomcat to "Tilly," a mobile crane used aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).651 viewsPacific Ocean (Jan. 13, 2005) - Crash-and-salvage personnel rig a training skeleton of an F-14 Tomcat to "Tilly," a mobile crane used aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Tilly is used to move damaged aircraft off the flight line during crash and salvage operations. Kitty Hawk's crash-and-salvage team serves as the ship's flight deck firefighting crew. Currently conducting sea trials in the western Pacific Ocean, Kitty Hawk demonstrates power projection and sea control as the U.S. Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, operating from Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Bo Flannigan (RELEASED)
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Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as balloons are released from the flight deck. Kitty Hawk is returning to the United States for decommissioning after 10 years of service in Fleet Activities Yokosuka.651 viewsYOKOSUKA, Japan (May 28, 2008) Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as balloons are released from the flight deck. Kitty Hawk is returning to the United States for decommissioning after 10 years of service in Fleet Activities Yokosuka and will soon be relieved by the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brendan Morgan (Released)
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651 views
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Real ninja shuriken throwing star knives on display. Made of steel, they come in many different shapes.650 views
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Inside the Iga-ryu Ninja House.650 views
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Dinner at Isaburo: River fish and mountain vegetables. After dinner, the proprietress and her husband and daughter sang and danced for us. 649 viewsThey demonstrated different traditional musical instruments and had us try playing them. It was great. However, I was told that they don't do that anymore.
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Finale: "Hana Utage" (Flower Banquet) 花うたげ647 views
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Inside the Iga-ryu Ninja House647 views
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Ninjas in the kitchen. We could not go up into the attic as we can in Koka's ninja house in Shiga.647 views
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Map of battlefield for Western Forces. Also see Ishida Mitsunari Birthplace in Nagahama, Shiga.646 views
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A bow of thanks645 views
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Honda Sports 4 Concept644 viewsI like this picture.
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Look, this one even has wrinkles (probably flaccid).644 viewsYes, he actually said that.
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Head of the portable shrine procession643 viewsTengu, shrine priest, and a little girl with an offertory tray. I put in 10 yen, and a shrine maiden came up to me and waved the sacred branch over my head as a blessing. She also gave me an amulet made of paper. I guess I'm fertile now...
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Shuriken throwing knives.643 views
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Tsuchiyama-juku in Tsuchiyama-cho was the 49th of the 53 stations of the Tokaido Road, accessible by this "Aikuru" bus from Kibukawa Station (JR Kusatsu Line and Ohmi Railways). It takes 20-30 min, but the bus does not run so often.643 viewsTsuchiyama-juku in Tsuchiyama-cho was the forty-ninth of the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido Road, following Sakanoshita-juku in Mie. It is right after Suzuka Pass on the Suzuka mountains, one of the two most difficult sections of the Tokaido. Travelers thus were happy to see Tsuchiyama. Nicknamed "Ai no Tsuchiyama," the town is working hard to preserve its old buildings. The Tsuchiyama-juku Honjin where Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu and Emperor Meiji lodged is still intact and well maintained. The Tsuchiyama Tokaido Museum is also a major attraction. Special thanks to Uno Yoshinobu who was my guide in Tsuchiyama.
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Tengu (nose is not shaped like a phallus)642 views
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Flipper-like clogs to walk through swamps641 views
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The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri and Haruki Danjiri Matsuri festivals are held during the weekend before Respect for Aged Day (national holiday) which is the third Mon. in Sept. The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is held near Nankai Kishiwada Station (pictured).641 views
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7. Sawagi さわぎ640 views
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Hall entrance and sign639 views
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9:40 am: Inside the Imperial Palace. This is called the Kyudentotei. It is a large plaza in front of the palace.637 views
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Hiroshima Castle tower637 viewsRebuilt after World War II.
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Kameido Tenjin Shrine wisteria and taiko-bashi bridge. Taiko-bashi is an arch bridge.636 views
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Honda636 viewsThis is what she looks like up close.
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Karyobinga 迦陵頻伽636 views
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Oiran Dochu Procession. This picture was taken next to the Sensoji Temple behind which the parade starts. Before, one oiran courtesan rode in a rickshaw. 花の吉原おいらん道中635 views花の吉原おいらん道中
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Other activities.634 views
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Finale: "Hana Utage" (Flower Banquet) 花うたげ633 viewsThis is a maiko.
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Ninja's secret language. A codified system.632 views
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The Word Called Love (恋と云う字)631 views
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Line behind631 views
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Closet with a trap door on the floor.629 views
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Nakayama Emiri, a TV personality, tries to throw shuriken.628 views
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Storefront shutter with ninja drawings.628 views
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Female princess reigning over the Sakitama Fire Festival in Gyoda, Saitama627 viewsShe's 15 years old.
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Sakamoto Ryoma 坂本龍馬627 views
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In the 1960s and 1970s, cars had distinguishing designs. But today, most cars look almost the same.624 views
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Sacred Water (and Mud). On the the left, the water feeding the paddy is enclosed by a sacred rope. This makes the water (and mud) sacred.622 views
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Clarion. The ubiquitous female companions, attendants, or models that we see today started appearing at the show from as early as 1957. They do not only decorate the show, but they also reflect the fashion of the times.622 viewsI approached her and she struck this pose instinctively.
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Close-up of Kintai-kyo Bridge620 views
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Phallus in the Kanamara boat mikoshi619 views
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Commodore Perry Landing Monument. The Perry monument at Kurihama on the Miura Peninsula (Kanagawa Pref.) was built on July 14, 1901. It marks the spot where he first landed in Japan in 1853.619 viewsClick to see what the monument looks like today. I wonder what happened to it during the World War II. Was it destroyed or left untouched? This postcard was made to commemorate the visit of the US Fleet in Oct. 1908.1 comments
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Statue of Hijikata Toshizo from Shinsengumi. 土方歳三像618 views
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The center is filled up first. The center is in front of the balcony where the Imperial family will appear. Thus, the earlier you go, the better chance of you standing in front of the balcony.617 views
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Iron claws617 views
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Shirakawa-go 白川郷616 views
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9:31 am: Crossing the famous Nijubashi Bridge. It turned out to be a completely modern bridge, no sqeaking or anything. 二重橋615 views
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Edo Geisha 江戸芸者615 views江戸芸者
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Canon model615 viewsThis Canon ministage was surrounded by EOS 30D cameras which we could use to shoot these female models on the ministage. They let us print out a picture (A4 size) and take it home.

Compared to the 20D, the 30D has a larger LCD monitor, a higher maximum burst during continuous shooting, and spot metering. The 8 megapixels and sensor size are the same. Canon says that this is the optimum pixel count for the supporting technologies in the camera. And that the image quality does not depend solely on the megapixel count.
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Snip and a hug by Konishiki (Question: Where was Akebono??)615 views
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Popular meeting place at Shibuya Station, south exit.615 views
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Maiko and geisha can often be seen in Gion.614 views
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Main gate613 views
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Keikyu Yokosuka-Chuo Station platform, arrival from Tokyo. 京急横須賀中央駅613 views
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After warming up at the fire, they run back to the mud.612 views
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Kusatsu Shukuba Festival, Shiga Pref.612 views
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At the starting point of the procession, the oiran gets ready to wear her high and heavy wooden clogs.612 views
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Beauty with fan. The white space around her was for writing the correspondence. You could not write the message on the same side as the address. The back of the postcard was for the address only.612 viewsSo it has an undivided back, which means there is no dividing line between the address side and correspondence side, Postcards with an undivided back were made between 1900 and March 28, 1907. That's how we know the approximate age of this card even though it has no postmark.1 comments
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Former yokozuna Taiho, Takanosato, Kotozakura, and Wakanohana watch intently.611 views
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Canon model (wireless photo studio demo)611 viewsCanon also had a photo studio to demonstrate a digital photo shoot with the top-of-the-line EOS D-SLR attached with a remote transmitter which transmitted the images to a computer via wireless. We saw the images appear on the TV monitor as it was transmitted to the computer. You can shoot very quickly, but the images don't transfer or appear as fast. I guess they were RAW. Here the model is showing off one of the photos which was taken and printed on the spot.
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SAN DIEGO (Aug. 7, 2008) The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) moves past the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), in background, as Kitty Hawk prepares to moor at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.611 viewsSAN DIEGO (Aug. 7, 2008) The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) moves past the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), in background, as Kitty Hawk prepares to moor at Naval Air Station North Island upon her return to San Diego Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008. Kitty Hawk will be decommissioned next year in Bremerton, Wash. The 46- year-old carrier is the oldest active-duty warship in the Navy and will be replaced this summer George Washington as the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyle D. Gahlau/Released)
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Maidens who are 36 years old, carry wooden penises for protection during their "unlucky age" (yakudoshi).610 views
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Inside the ninja house. A hearth with a escape hatch at the bottom.610 views
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Takamikura Throne where the emperor sat when there was an audience.609 views
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Aoi Festival, Kyoto607 viewsHeld in May, the Aoi (Hollyhock) Festival is one of Kyoto's Big Three festivals. It is a long parade of people dressed in historical costumes from the Heian Period (794-1185) when Kyoto was Japan's capital. Each participant also wears a small branch of hollyhock.
See more photos of this festival here.
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Fushimi Turret. This view of the turret can only be had when you cross the bridge. I never knew what it really looked like until this day. 伏見櫓606 views
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Geisha and maiko605 viewsNot a good photo, but their names are written in hiragana on the back. They read "Suimatsu" on the left and "Shigezuru" on the right who is a maiko, not geisha. She has more ornaments in her hair than the geisha. Also notice their blackened teeth. If they are in Kyoto, a geisha is called "geiko." In Tokyo, a maiko (apprentice geisha) is called "hangyoku." This is a postcard-size photo and not a postcard.1 comments
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Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) man the rails while the ship arrives in its new home port in Japan.605 viewsYOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 25, 2008) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) man the rails while the ship arrives in its new home port in Japan. George Washington and Carrier Air Wing 5 will now operate from Fleet Activities Yokosuka as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/Released)
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Yokosuka, Japan (Dec. 12, 2005) – Sailors assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Port Operations, stand by as the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) arrives after completing a regularly scheduled underway period.605 viewsYokosuka, Japan (Dec. 12, 2005) – Sailors assigned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Port Operations, stand by as the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) arrives after completing a regularly scheduled underway period. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Yesenia Rosas (RELEASED)
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PR poster, painting by Lynn Matsuoka. Also see my photos of Akebono's Retirement Ceremony.604 views
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Sleek racing row boats and traditional yakata picnic boats on upper right604 views
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The giant phallus by itself weighs about 280 kg (620 lbs.). The total weight of both the phallus and portable shrine housing is 400 kg (885 lbs.).604 views
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Mud Fight. After clashing and crashing to the mud, they throw mud at each other.603 views
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1. Fuji Murasaki (Purple Wisteria)603 views
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Panasonic602 viewsAnother nice one.
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People waiting for the procession along the shrine steps. (Not a good place to watch the procession.)602 views
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Shinobi Shrine is what you first see. Worships all the nameless ninja who died. The ninja never tried to gain fame. They remained unknown. 志能備神社602 views
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Letter of Thanks from Phil600 viewsI really enjoyed my first trip to Finland during September 4-18, 2005 (Sept. 8-17 in Kuusamo) and savored every hour. The people in Kuusamo were all so nice and it was a great pleasure to meet and see the work of many talented and dedicated photographers from Europe.

They have definitely piqued my interest and opened my eyes to the nature and wildlife in northern Europe and the Arctic region. I've also become much more keenly aware of the seriousness of global warming. People in Finland have told me how the climate has become noticeably warmer over the decades. Such countries near the polar regions are the first to feel and see the detrimental effects of global warming. I really hope we can someday reverse the trend.

I want to thank the people who made my sponsored trip and participation in Kuusamo Nature Photo 2005 possible and very enjoyable. After months of email correspondence with the festival staff, it was great to finally meet all of them face to face. It makes a big difference when you know the face and person behind the name.

I know they worked very hard to pull off a very successful nature photo festival. For all the email correspondence, coordination, and making all the arrangements, I especially want to thank the following:

Lassi Rautiainen, Kuusamo Nature Photo Director
Pekka Pirhonen, Kuusamo Culture Department Manager
Seija Väisänen
Hannele Pappila
Town of Kuusamo
Corporate sponsors

I also want to personally thank the following people:

Pirkko Väätäinen, my interpreter who interpreted my three slide shows into Finnish.
Hannu Hautala and wife Irma, for having us over at his home/office. Despite his fame, Hannu is a very down-to-earth and warm-hearted man. It was a great pleasure to meet him, to see his collection of Japanese photo books, and hearing about his two trips to Japan.
Barbara, for videotaping my slide shows with my video camera and taking some great snapshots of me enjoying myself in Kuusamo. And also for providing transportation to/from the airport.
Tõnu Ling, for taking snapshots of me in Kuusamo and being my first friend in Kuusamo (we met on the plane to Kuusamo).
Koillis sanomat newspaper and reporter Tuomo Pirttimaa for interviewing me in an article they published.

Again, I have to thank Lassi for everything. He was the one who took care of all the details even during our nature trips. Lending sleeping bags, carrying hot drinks in heavy thermos bottles, driving us all over the place, answering all our questions, taking pictures of us, and making sure everyone had an enjoyable time. He turned out to be quite humorous. I can highly recommend him to anyone who needs a very knowledgeable local guide to watch or photograph wildlife in Finland.
See his Web site: Articmedia

Finally, I want to thank all the people and photographers I met at Kuusamo for their pleasant company and friendship. Remember that you have a friend in Japan. If you ever come and visit, let me know.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this permanent online gallery of Finland photos explained in both English and Japanese.

Philbert Ono
Tokyo, Japan

P.S. In case you don't know, "kiitos" means thank you in Finnish.
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Bye-bye Konica-Minolta600 views
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Maker's inscription on Japanese gun 大砲の日本語表示599 viewsIt says the gun was made by Kure Naval Arsenal in the 31st year of the Meiji Period (1898). Kure was a large naval base in Hiroshima Prefecture.

砲尾の上に「呉海軍造兵廠、明治参拾壱年」 が刻まれていた。
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Tools for making medicine (including gunpowder). Many Koka (Koga) ninja were medicine makers. It was a disguise and a means to gather information from people when they went around selling medicines. Koka ninja were always in contact with the local people.598 views
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Camera-tsuki keitai denwa (or keitai camera)597 views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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Babies to Mud at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba. The men carry babies to the mud paddy and use a straw strand to paint a dot on the baby. Sometimes they use a finger to do it.596 views
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Lumix596 views
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Kanayama Shrine's head priest596 views
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Back at the shrine596 views
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Ceiling of Ninja House. Directly below the thatched roof.596 views
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Warm Up595 views
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No Photography595 views撮影禁止 - Another sign that reads (top to bottom) "Satsuei kinshi." "Satsuei" means to take photos, and "kinshi" means prohibited. At this Shinto shrine, you are not allowed to photograph inside the main shrine building housing the altar.

Place: A shrine in Kyoto.
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Kanamara mikoshi595 views
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Hamura Tulip Festival, Tokyo592 views
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Kenrokuen Garden, Ishikawa Pref., Karasaki Pine Tree whose seedlings originally came from the Karasaki Pine Tree in Shiga Pref.591 views
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Rikugien Garden's famous weeping cherry tree. In Japanese, it is called "shidare-sakura" meaning drooping cherry.591 views
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Ninja house attic showing the thatched roof.591 views1 comments
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Honolulu Advertiser newspaper from Hawaii featuring a photo of a ninja from Koka who performed at Ala Moana Shopping Center in 1990.590 views1 comments
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Female ninja climbing over a wall.590 views
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They are in the mud for only a few minutes. Then they go back up to the shrine nearby and warm up near a fire. They go back and forth between the shrine and mud paddy about 4 or 5 times.589 views
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View from top of bridge in 1997. The shrine has two "taiko-bashi" arch bridges. This is the view from the top of the first one soon after you pass under the torii.589 views
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Crazy sumo fan589 viewsThey also sold the real banzuke for 50 yen.
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Statue of Lord Todo Takatora (in Kora, Shiga Prefecture) who became the 11th lord of Tsu Castle (Mie Pref.) in 1608. Behind it is the Takatora Waterfall.587 views
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Ninja sword, very short.587 views
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Torch runner at Omotesando, for Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay585 viewsMiura Yukari, a high school student from Fukushima Pref.

福島工業高等専門学校に通い、部活動はソフトボールという三浦由香里さん。
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585 viewsKids could have their picture taken with these characters.
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Hula and cherry blossoms585 views
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Map of Japan showing numerous ninja schools which existed during the feudal era. Iga-Ueno and Koga ninja were the most famous.585 views
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They changed their outfit and looked more like cheerleaders now.585 views
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The climax was this small truck dancing via remote control. See my YouTube video here.584 views
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584 views
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Sword demo584 views
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The warrior monk costume is interesting. The collar makes them look bigger and more fearsome. 僧兵行列583 views
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Men in happi coats which read "Honen Matsuri." Honen literally means "year of abundant harvest."583 views
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Ninja looked at a cat's eyes to find out what time it was. If the iris was almost closed, it was noon. If dilated, it was late at night. Must've been troublesome to find and snatch a cat to find out what time it was.583 views1 comments
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Early postcard history: Japan's Postal Service was first established in March 1871. Japan's first postcards, pictured above, were issued in December 1873, a few years after the first postcards were issued in Europe. Click to read more.583 viewsIn 1900, a revision of the postal act allowed private-sector (non-governmental) postcards to be made and used. Picture postcards then became very popular and gave rise to a new postcard culture and a new era in postal history.

The postcards featured a great variety of subjects: Scenics, women, geisha, war, disaster scenes (especially earthquakes), Japanese customs, the Emperor, buildings, animals, etc., etc.

Color printing had not been invented yet so hand-painted postcards became very popular up to around the 1910s when offset printing gradually replaced collotype printing.

In June 1902, the postal service issued its first commemorative picture postcard. It marked the 25th anniversary of Japan's membership in the International Postal Union.

The postal service later issued more commemorative postcards and stamps for other important events and imprinted commemorative postmarks on letters and postcards for the occasion. Especially popular were postcards commemorating triumphs in the Russo-Japanese War during 1904-5 and the enthronement of Emperor Taisho.

During the war with Russia, people lined up all night in front of post offices before new war-related commemorative postcards went on sale. Postcard exchange meetings were held and many collectors had tens of thousands of postcards. However, after the war ended, the postcard boom waned in Japan.

Meanwhile, foreign tourists visiting Japan continued to send souvenir photographs and postcards back home. Because of them, many of the postcards that were published were able to escape and survive the natural (earthquakes) and man-made (World War II) disasters Japan was to experience later on.
Those early postcards became highly collectible overseas and have continued to delight their owners and collectors for over a century.
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Oiran Dochu procession, Ichiyo Sakura Festuval, Tokyo. Her obi sash is tied in the front in a knot called manaita-musubi.582 views
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Ninja well with an escape tunnel which you can almost walk through.582 views
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582 views
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Shot in 2003.581 views
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Weeping cherry tree, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, Tokyo. 枝垂桜581 views
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A pair of floating rings with a platform in the middle.581 views
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Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena as seen from Ryogoku Station580 views
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Soft rubber shuriken (toys). Special thanks to Takayuki Mochizuki (ninja descendant) for taking me to this Koka Ninja House.580 views
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Yubin Hag(k)aki. All postcards were required to bear the words "Yubin Hagaki (or Hakaki)" which means "Post Card." The words appeared on the address side of the card along the right edge of the horizontal card.579 viewsThis string of Japanese kanji characters underwent two changes during Japan's postcard history. (If you don't read Japanese, it might be a little difficult to understand the changes.)

The image above shows a closeup of three postcards. At the top, "Yubin Hakaki" is read from right to left. On February 15, 1933, the word "Hakaki" was changed to read "Hagaki" as shown by the middle card above. Then after World War II ended in 1945, the Japanese reading style from right to left changed to left to right (when written horizontally) similar to English. Japanese captions on the picture side also changed to read from left to right after 1945.

Also note that from July 22, 1905, private postcards were allowed to have a foreign-language designation (i.e. "Carte Postale" or "Post Card") in addition to the Japanese "Yubin hakaki."

On the bottom card, notice the five red boxes. They are for the postal code within Japan. From Feb. 1998, Japan's postal code system was expanded to seven digits. Postcards having seven red boxes were made after Feb 1998. (See next image.)
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I first heard about Nara's 1300th anniversary a few years ago through this mascot named Sento-kun. A boy priest with deer antlers was so absurd that he has become very popular and recognizable.579 views
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Pesto noodles, a specialty of Genova ペスト、ジェノバの名物578 views
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White Heron Dance is one of the highlights of the festival. It is also performed on other occasions in Asakusa. The dance was revived in 1968 in Asakusa to mark the Meiji Period Centennial. It has been performed annually on Nov. 3 ever since. 白鷺の舞578 views
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3. Edo no Nigiwai (Liveliness of Edo)578 views
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3. 梅にも春 Ume ni mo Haru578 viewsDancers: 千丸、史織
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花魁道中577 views
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About the Bonsho temple bell at Chusonji temple. 梵鐘577 views
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Bye-bye Agfa575 views2005 was also the last time for Agfa to have a booth.
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Tying the rope at the back.575 views
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For more info, see miyako-odori.jp in English or call 075-541-3391.575 views
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Inside the trap door is a hole and tunnel leading to a well in the garden outside. Hence the water.575 views
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Kitchen in Iga-ryu Ninja House.575 views
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Himeji Castle tower, a National Treasure. 大天守574 views
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Yohei Takai vs. Tatsuhiro Muramoto (semi-final)573 views
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Minamoto no Yoritomo (Hatakeyama Shigetada). His prayers for victory were answered. 源 頼朝 隅田川陣営 (畠山重忠)573 views
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Asakusa Folk Entertainment. Behind the Asakusa Temple, there was a variety of shows, street performers, plays, and other characters. Asakusa has always been Tokyo's entertainment center. 浅草奥山風景573 views
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If you go early in the morning, there are fewer people.573 views
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Iga-ryu Ninja Museum 573 views
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Hearth with a escape hatch at the bottom. A tour guide shows you the gimmicks of the house.571 views1 comments
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Tokyo Station Yaesu Central Entrance in 2007. 東京駅八重洲中央口570 views
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Seibu Ikebukuro Line train station entrance at Ikebukuro, Tokyo. It takes about 90 min. from Ikebukuro to Yokoze Station via Tokkyu express train. Cheaper trains take 2 hours.569 views
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Juggling sickles. Having a sickle did not arouse suspicion as it was a common farming tool. But for the ninja, it was an effective weapon.568 views
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