JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - Nara city 奈良市
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Takamikura Throne where the emperor sat when there was an audience.620 views
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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.596 views
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Todaiji Temple504 views
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Japan's largest Buddha statue in Todaiji. National Treasure.359 views
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Ad for Heijo-kyo 1300th anniversary in a train.347 views
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Crawl through a pillar317 views
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Gate god283 views
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Sento-kun at JR Nara Station.277 views
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The torch is positioned at the corners. It is totally dark when the torches are lit.238 views
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Inside JR Nara Station. Ceiling looks like a temple.235 views
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Todaiji Temple218 views
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Burn baby burn...200 viewsThe fire is put out by 9 pm. Unless you're near the fire, it can get very cold, so dress warmly for this festival.
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Great Buddha198 views
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Rear view195 views
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A World Heritage Site and one of Japan's most famous temples, Todaiji houses Japan's largest statue of the Buddha, a National Treasure. Temple was established about 1,200 years ago.189 views
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Path to Todaiji180 views
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The Heijo Palace guard (Ejitai) holds the Gate-closing ceremony at the end of the day at Suzaku Gate.162 views
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The Daigokuden Hall (Former Imperial Audience Hall) is a magnificent reconstruction. This was where the emperor performed his duties during the Nara Period. 大極殿149 views
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There were many of them in Tempyo Procession, Nara Heijo-kyo.147 views
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On the day I went (May 9) during Golden Week, they held the Tempyo Gyoretsu Procession featuring 1,300 people in Tempyo (Tenpyo) Period (729-749) costumes.143 views
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Mountain ascetic priests.143 views
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Former Imperial Audience Hall.133 views
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Aoniyoshi Parade at Heijo-kyo, Nara127 views
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On the Sunday before the second Monday of Jan., 33 hectares of a hill called Wakakusa-yama (seen in the distance here) next to Nara Park is burned at night.125 viewsThe burning hill looks more spectacular from afar, but we went up close.
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Pretty little princess125 views
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Tempyo Procession, Nara Heijo-kyo122 views
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These pictures were taken in early May so the flower motif might change in later seasons.119 views
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The Heijo Palace guard (Ejitai) holds the Gate-closing ceremony at the end of the day at Suzaku Gate at 5:10 pm. 衛士隊119 views
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Kasuga Taisha Shrine is also noted for many bronze hanging lanterns.109 views
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My YouTube video of the Aoniyoshi Parade.108 views
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Bamboo torches and bamboo brooms106 viewsThe bamboo torches is filled with kerosene and plugged with cotton cloth. They are used to set the hill afire. The bamboo brooms are used to spread the fire or extinguish it. The brooms burn up by the end of the festival.
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Every evening during March 1-14, Todaiji temple priests carry torches on the balcony of Nigatsu-do Hall. Sparks falling from the torches bring good health. Todaiji temple 二月堂105 views
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Bon fire burns104 views
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Wakakusa-yama hill in January102 viewsWakakusa-yama hill actually has three hills. We see only the first one here.
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Ceremony at Nogami Shrine98 views
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Sacred torch arrives at the foot of the hill.97 viewsThe sacred torch is lit at Kasuga Taisha Shrine and brought to Nogami Shrine in a torch procession. It is a small shrine at the foot of the hill.
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My YouTube video of Sento-kun.97 views
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The hill behind also starts to burn.95 views
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Only 10 torches are lit. Most photos show a time-lapse shot which lights up the entire hall. Tripod required though, and you need to be a press photographer.95 views
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Dry grass ready to burn...94 views
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Fireworks94 views
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The priest runs while spinning the torch on the balcony. Also see the video at YouTube.94 views
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The deer have no idea what danger they are in...93 views
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Bamboo torches and bamboo brooms91 viewsThe bamboo torches is filled with kerosene and plugged with cotton cloth. They are used to set the hill afire. The bamboo brooms are used to spread the fire or extinguish it. The brooms burn up by the end of the festival.
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Water bags89 viewsThe third item the volunteer firemen carry are water bags. The water bag is filled with water weighing 20 kg or so. A nozzle is also attached. It is used to extinguish the fire.
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The sacred torch lights the bonfire at around 6 pm.89 viewsYou can also see three lanterns for Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and Kofukuji Temple. This is a joint festival between these three temples and shrine.
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Bamboo torches88 viewsThe bamboo torches is filled with kerosene and plugged with cotton cloth. They are used to set the hill afire.
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Bon fire site88 views
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Deer on the hill88 views
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Other torches are thrown in.88 views
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The crowd86 views
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My YouTube video of the Tempyo Procession (Part 1).86 views
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Deer on a bronze lantern atKasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara.86 views
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JR Nara Station85 views
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Volunteer firemen84 viewsThe hill set alight by 300 volunteer firemen and prefectural workers who climb up the hill.
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Large crowd behind us. Tripods are not allowed.84 views
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The torch walk ends in 20 min. Police and firemen are present.83 views
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The sacred torch is brought.82 views
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The Palace guard completes its job and I caught the last shuttle bus back to Nara Station at 6 pm.81 views
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My YouTube video of the Tempyo Procession (Part 2).81 views
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Stone lanterns leading to Kasuga Taisha Shrine.79 views
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Volunteer firement gather before going up the hill.78 viewsThe hill set alight by 300 volunteer firemen from all over Nara and prefectural workers who climb up the hill.
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Volunteeer firemen and staff hike up the hills.78 views
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Kasuga Taisha Shrine bright vermillion color contrasts with the dark brown tones of nearby Buddhist temples.78 views
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At the Mahoroba Stage, the Sento-kun show was held to a full house. (Standing room only.)74 views
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I took this Kintetsu Line train at Kyoto Station. You should also bring your passport which will enable you to enter a few Heijo-kyo attractions for free.72 views
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It was 1,300 years ago in 710 when Japan's capital was moved to this place in Nara. Hence, the 1300th anniversary celebration in 2010.71 views
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But now, anyone can enter this reconstruction for free. There was a long line, but it proceeded quickly and it took only 10-min. or so to get in.69 views
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Inside the Former Imperial Audience Hall. In the center was the Emperor's Takamikura Throne.69 views
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On the balcony of the Former Imperial Audience Hall before entering the building through a side entrance.68 views
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A few of the guards were female.68 views
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Azalea and Suzaku Gate.68 views
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About the Former Imperial Audience Hall in English.67 views
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Phoenix atop the Takamikura Throne.67 views
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The Aoniyoshi Parade reflects the Tempyo Period when Japan held exchanges with foreign cultures and when Buddhism was introduced to Japan.66 views
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This thing is so nice that they should get a real emperor's coronation or enthronement here someday.65 views
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Takamikura Throne65 views
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Balcony railing.65 views
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This is the heart of the Heijo Palace site. The focal point is the Daigokuden Hall (Former Imperial Audience Hall) in the distance. 大極殿・前庭64 views
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They had a large stage out front on the day I visited and these ribbons attached to the building.64 views
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I arrived at Yamato Saidaiji Station which is within walking distance to the Heijo-kyo site. You can also go to JR Nara Station and ride a free shuttle bus to the Heijo Palace site.63 views
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Ornament on a balcony railing.63 views
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Panel displays explaining about the Former Imperial Audience Hall.63 views
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About the Takamikura Throne in English.63 views
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Exit of Daigokuden Hall.63 views
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Daigokuden Former Imperial Audience Hall, Heijo-kyo, Nara63 views
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衛士隊の再現(南門広場)63 views
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And here's Sento-kun, the official mascot of the 1300th anniversary of the Heijo-kyo Capital. When he was first introduced a few years ago, some people lambasted the design as insulting to priests.63 views
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The Heijo-kyo History Museum includes a full-scale replica of the ship used to transport Japanese envoys to and from Tang China during the Nara Period. 平城京歴史館/遣唐使船復原展示63 views
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Flowers in spring.63 views
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Deer antlers on the head of a boy priest was funny. But he has proven to be a major hit among the masses and critics are silent now. The deer antlers come from the famous deer of Nara Park where they wander around with tourists.62 views
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I went during Golden Week when they had flowers and various events and entertainment. I recommend visiting here on a weekend or holiday period. That's when they have more events and entertainment. The crowds are not unbearable.61 views
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If there's something you have to see here, it's this building.61 views
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Koreans61 views
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This was the center of the capital and symbol of state authority. Only high-ranked aristocrats were allowed to enter the Daikokuden Hall.60 views
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About the Former Imperial Audience Hall in English.60 views
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Life-size model of the Shibi ornament atop the roof's ridge.60 views
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At 1 pm in front of the South Gate, the Heijo Palace guards (Ejitai) reenact a guard routine. They appear three times a day. 衛士隊60 views
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Sento-kun also danced to his silly-sounding theme song. Also see my video at YouTube.60 views
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Model of the Imperial Domicile.60 views
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Pillar post holes which were excavated here. 遺構展示館60 views
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Also see my video at YouTube.60 views
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Twice a day, the colorful Aoni-yoshi Parade is held for 30 min. in front of the South Gate. 平城遷都1300年祭 あをによしパレー59 views
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Aoni-yoshi Parade is a great photo op.59 views
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This is in front of the South Gate.59 views
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Display of a model of the emperor's residence (Imperial Domicile).59 views
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Overlapping pillar holes. The hole was reused.59 views
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It was an impressive parade even though most of them didn't walk with much style.59 views
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It looks like a portable shrine.58 views
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We could also go outside on the balcony and see a good view.58 views
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Behind the Takamikura Throne.58 views
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The Daigokuden Hall's front gate, called Suzaku Gate, can be seen.58 views
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Roof tile used in the reconstruction.58 views
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Suzaku Gate is the other prominent landmark at the Heijo-kyo site.58 views
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Eastern Palace Garden 東院庭園広場58 views
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Straight ahead is the entrance to the Eastern Palace Garden.58 views
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As you can see, the place is quite spread out. Be prepared to do some walking if you want to see things.58 views
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Hello!58 views
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Path toward the central area. The Daigokuden Imperial Audience Hall is in the distance on the left. This Heijo-kyo area is a National Special Historic Site.57 views
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Roof edges.57 views
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Buddhist priests in the Aoniyoshi Parade.57 views
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Layout of the excavated pillar holes.57 views
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Photo studio where you can dress up in Tempyo Period costumes and get your picture taken.57 views
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Eastern Palace Garden57 views
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About the excavation of Former Imperial Audience Hall in English.56 views
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Top of the Takamikura Throne56 views
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Design pattern on the Takamikura Throne panels.56 views
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Metal fittings on a door.56 views
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Metal fitting and ornament on balcony railing.56 views
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These two represent the many traders from China, Korea, and India doing business in Heijo-kyo.56 views
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View of Entrance Plaza from the ship. The museum (photography not allowed inside) has animated films and panel displays.56 views
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Pottery56 views
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Hands-on Learning Center 体験楽習広場56 views
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The ceiling has hand-painted flowers.55 views
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Roof edges of Daigokuden Hall.55 views
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This Aoniyoshi Parade might be canceled in the event of rain.55 views
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About the Imperial Domicile.55 views
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Chairs and desks on a dirt floor.55 views
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The Heijo-kyo History Museum is near the Entrance Plaza. 平城京歴史館54 views
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Ship's rudder54 views
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Directional sign in English.54 views
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Paintings on the ceiling.53 views
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Suzaku Gate 朱雀門53 views
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When it's crowded (weekends, etc.), they require reservation tickets (seiriken) to enter the museum. The seiriken can be had near the museum. Museum admission is 500 yen, but free if you show a foreign passport..53 views
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These platforms are the site of old buildings.53 views
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Roof tile pieces.53 views
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I finally realized what was wrong. Their footwear didn't match the period.53 views
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Biwa player53 views
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Ornament on balcony railing.52 views
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Front of Suzaku Gate.52 views
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About the ship to China in English.52 views
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These pillar-like bushes indicate the location of pillars of buildings which existed in the Heijo Palace.52 views
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Wooden well52 views
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About the excavated pillar holes in English.52 views
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About the Office of the Imperial Household in English.52 views
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Flower arrangement for a Man'yoshu poem.52 views
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The museums can be quite far apart within the Heijo-kyo site. Walking can be tiring.52 views
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Sento-kun's cousins.52 views
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"Sento" means "Capital relocation" in this case, and not public bath. Japan's capital was relocated to Nara Heijo-kyo in 710, 1,300 years ago.51 views
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Next to the bus stop is the Entrance Plaza, the site's main entrance. The Food Court is here too, as well as souvenir shops. エントランス広場51 views
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Back of Suzaku Gate.51 views
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Aboard the diplomatic ship to Tang China. It's pretty small.51 views
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Desks for writing on mokkan wooden tablets since using paper was too precious in those days.51 views
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At the Hands-on Learning Center, kids can try their hand at archeological digging in this sand box. They don't get to keep what they find. Reservations required.51 views
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A strange sight.51 views
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This area is still being excavated so it's off limits.51 views
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There was someone introducing the people in the parade, but it only applied to when the procession reached the stage where the announcer was.51 views
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Also see my video at YouTube.51 views
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Korean women51 views
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The end of the procession featured Buddhist priests of all sects.51 views
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Arrows and Sento-kun point the way. Or just follow the crowd.50 views
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Also see my video at YouTube.50 views
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Rest station. This place had cooling vapors as well. 50 views
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Sento-kun first made various poses for picture-taking by the audience. 50 views
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The compartment toward the front was the envoy's quarters.50 views
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About the Excavation Site Exhibition Hall in English.50 views
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Another museum you should see is this Excavation Site Exhibition Hall. Free admission. 遺構展示館50 views
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Gate to the Office of the Imperial Household.50 views
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