JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - IBARAKI 茨城県
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Plum Blossom Queen at Kairakuen Station1306 viewsShe was passing out maps of the garden. It was a nice touch to see two of these kimono beauties greeting us.
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Plum Blossom Queen1209 views
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Plum Blossom Queens in Kairakuen, Mito1127 views
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Plum Blossom Queens in Kairakuen, Mito787 views
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White plum blossoms, the most common variety, and with the sweetest aroma.594 views
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Closeup of red plum blossom557 views
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Closeup of white plum blossom480 views
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Cherry Blossom Room, Kobuntei Villa472 views
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Red and white plum blossoms410 views
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Kobuntei Villa, fusuma sliding door with painting of maple leaves380 views
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Kobuntei Villa378 views
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Inside the top floor of Kobuntei Villa378 views
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Natto fermented beans370 views
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Kobuntei Villa355 views
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Oarai Isosaki Shrine torii at sea352 views
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Getting to Mt. Tsukuba is easy by bus from Tsukuba Station's Tsukuba Center Bus Terminal. Tsukuba-san Shuttle buses going directly to Mt. Tsukuba leave every 30 min. on weekends or every hour during weekdays and non-peak hours.347 views
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Kobuntei Villa, fusuma sliding door with painting of fall leaves346 views
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Plum blossom-viewing picnickers342 views
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Kobuntei Villa, fusuma sliding door with painting of plum trees322 views
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Kobuntei Villa313 views
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Tokiwa Shrine, Mito299 viewsDedicated to Lord Mitsukuni Tokugawa, the second lord of Mito, and Nariaki Tokugawa, the ninth lord of Mito and the one who built Kairakuen Garden.
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Welcome to Ibaraki291 viewsTrain platform of Kairakuen Station.
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Kobuntei Villa261 views
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A big, two-day August festival in Tsukuba featuring diverse dance groups, bazaar, street performances, hula dancing, and food stalls. The climax is a nebuta parade in the evening. 257 viewsEverything is near Tsukuba Station (Tsukuba Express). Ever since the Tsukuba Express train line opened in 2005 from Akihabara, getting to Tsukuba is a breeze in about 45 min. Wide streets and sidewalks. The festival's main venue centered around this brown building which you see from Exit A5.
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Osaka-zuki red plum blossoms 大盃252 viewsOsaka-zuki

大盃
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235 views
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Bonsai plum trees232 viewsI bought one of these once and the flowers smelled good before they withred away. The tree also died soon afterward.
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Map of Kairakuen, a garden built in 1841 by Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860), the ninth Lord of Mito. It is one of Japan's three most famous gardens.226 views
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Giant votive tablet (2006 is the year of the dog)226 views
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Isosaki Shrine's second giant torii221 views
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Higashi Mito Station (on the way to Oarai)221 views
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Kobuntei Villa217 views
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Plum trees and Lake Senba213 views
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Oarai Isosaki Shrine's giant torii209 views
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Pinickers207 views
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Pine trees and plum trees201 views
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Train platform of Kairakuen Station199 views
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Train platform of Kairakuen Station194 views
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When I was there, a helicopter hovered about Mt. Nantai to rescue an injured hiker. I took a bus back to Tsukuba Station.194 views
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Kairakuen Station193 viewsThis station, right before Mito Station, is open only during major flower seasons of Kairakuen.
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Kobuntei Villa, fusuma sliding door with painting of azalea191 views
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Plum tree grove, about a week too early.190 views
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Entrance to garden via Tokiwa Shrine. One of Japan's three most famous gardens, Kairakuen is especially noted for thousands of plum blossom trees which bloom in Feb. and March.187 viewsOne of Japan's three most famous gardens, Kairakuen is especially noted for thousands of plum blossom trees which bloom in Feb. and March.
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Isosaki Shrine187 views
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Konan Shomu plum blossom 江南所無186 viewsPrunus mume Kounanshomu
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Plum grove185 views
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Bamboo grove182 viewsPine trees, bamboo, and plum blossoms are called Shochikubai in Japanese. This trio of trees is most famous.
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Kobuntei Villa was originally built in 1842 by Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860), the ninth Lord of Mito. It was his summer villa.181 views
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Crowd at Higashi-mon East Gate180 viewsThis was the defacto main gate and most crowded since it is closest to the train station.
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My video of Matsuri Tsukuba and the Nebuta parade.177 views
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Torii to Tsukuba-san Jinja Shrine175 views
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Plum trees and Lake Senba174 views
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Natural spring (cold water)174 views
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Tourist info office.174 views
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Kobuntei Villa173 views
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Plum trees and Lake Senba171 views
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Fantastically-shaped plum tree170 views
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Plum tree grove168 views
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Kobuntei Villa167 views
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Omote-mon Gate165 viewsThis supposed to be the front gate.
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Torano-o plum blossom (Tiger's Tail) 虎の尾164 views
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Kobuntei Villa164 views
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Plum tree and train163 views
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Map of central Tsukuba.163 views
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Kobuntei Villa has exquisite Japanese-style paintings on paper sliding doors. Kobuntei is closed until early 2012 since they are repairing earthquake damage.161 views
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View from the top floor of Kobuntei Villa161 views
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View from the top floor of Kobuntei Villa159 views
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Balcony on the top floor of Kobuntei Villa159 views
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Path to natural spring157 views
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Poem monument156 views
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Kobuntei Villa, fusuma sliding door with painting of cherry blossoms156 views
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Monument proclaiming Kairakuen as one of Ibaraki's 100 Best Sights155 views
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Kobuntei Villa154 views
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Kobuntei Villa152 views
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Inside the top floor of Kobuntei Villa151 views
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Kobuntei Villa150 views
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View from the top floor of Kobuntei Villa150 views
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Kobuntei Villa149 views
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Kobuntei Villa147 views
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Kobuntei Villa146 views
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Oarai Isosaki Shrine's giant torii142 views
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Matsuri Tsukuba posters140 views
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Kobuntei Villa139 views
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View from the top floor of Kobuntei Villa133 views
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Kobuntei suffered quite a bit of damage during the big earthquake on March 11, 2011. Repairs have started in Sept. 2011, and they hope to reopen the Kobuntei by Feb. 2012.129 views
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Oarai Isosaki Shrine torii at sea128 views
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Train back to Mito.127 views
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Dried fish116 views
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Oarai Isosaki Shrine torii at sea115 views
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Resort hotel115 views
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Wave breakers115 views
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The beach115 views
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Ika squid113 views
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Torii at sea108 views
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Seafood restaurants106 views
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Anko seafood soup (miso-based)104 views
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Shoreline103 views
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Oarai town102 views
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Isosaki Shrine torii102 views
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Koma-inu lion dog and lanterns101 views
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Baby scallops101 views
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Fresh oysters100 views
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Seafood restaurants99 views
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Sign saying Oarai is famous for noren curtains.95 views
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Isosaki Shrine torii as seen from the beach93 views
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Oarai Station93 viewsShort ride from Mito Station.
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Haneto93 views
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Gate to Tsukuba-san Jinja Shrine's Haiden Hall93 views
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Nebuta face-off.91 views
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The ropeway runs every 20 min. The fare is 600 yen one way.91 views
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Isosaki Shrine torii90 views
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Path from shrine90 views
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Observation tower at the beach and a symbol of Oarai90 views
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For the finale, all the giant nebuta gathered at the large intersection. They didn't do much.90 views
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Ferry port (service to Otaru, Hokkaido)89 views
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Boat museum within the shrine grounds88 views
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There are many things going on at the same time all day long for two days from 10 am to 9 pm. 88 views
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A hula troupe dances next to a yosakoi group.88 views
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The fourth giant nebuta was perhaps the most unique. It was made of inflatable vinyl. It is partially deflated here.88 views
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Rear view has a sleeping cat.88 views
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Mt. Tsukuba ahead. It takes about 50 min. to reach Mt. Tsukuba by bus from Tsukuba Center Bus Terminal.88 views
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Shrine87 views
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In Oshimizu Park were these nebuta tents where they store the nebuta floats. 大清水公演86 views
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I got off the bus at Tsutsujigaoka, the last stop. つつじヶ丘86 views
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Center Hiroba outdoor stage センター広場特設ステージ84 views
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A short walk away is this large road serving as a venue for numerous dance groups performing almost all day long. This is also where the nebuta floats would be paraded in the eveing.84 views
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Tsutsujigaoka has a ropeway aerial tram terminal taking you up to Mt. Nyotai, Mt. Tsukuba's female peak. 女体山84 views
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This is Tsukuba Center Hiroba, the central part of the festival where there are food stalls and information booth.83 views
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It drizzled off and on during the day.83 views
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A third giant nebuta depicts the Pharaoh Ramses II. Seeing an Egyptian theme on a Japanese float was interesting.83 views
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Tsukuba Tourism Ambassadors81 views
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The first big one squeezes under the bridge. 81 views
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Mt. Tsukuba has two peaks, Mt. Nantai (male peak) on the left and Mt. Nyotai (female peak) on the right. They are wedded peaks due to the wedded gods Izanami and Izanagi. 男体山 女体山81 views
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Lookout deck on Mt. Nyotai on Mt. Tsukuba.81 views
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English translators available! I noticed quite a few foreigners in Tsukuba, a national science and technology research and academic center.80 views
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The mikoshi goes to meet the float.80 views
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At first glance, it looks very strange. But they soon inflated it.80 views
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Almost fully inflated.80 views
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Hayashi festival music80 views
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The inflated nebuta comes around.80 views
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Poor dragon80 views
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Each giant nebuta float is preceded by a set of drums and drummers.80 views
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People climbing on the narrow peak of Nyotai. Mt. Tsukuba is one of Japan's 100 Famous Peaks.80 views
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Kabuki-like magician.79 views
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A nice elevated walkway connected Chuo Park and the main festival area.79 views
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Then came this giant mikoshi portable shrine called the Tsukuba Manto Mikoshi. It doesn't seem to belong to any shrine. つくば万灯神輿79 views
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Banpaku Float79 views
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The floats were covered with plastic due to drizzling rain.79 views
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Haneto dancers. Much fewer of them than in Aomori.79 views
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This float by a junior high school.79 views
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Tsutsujigaoka Ropeway Station below, as seen from the summit of Mt. Nyotai on Mt. Tsukuba.79 views
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What would a festival be without taiko drummers?78 views
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The program was called Happy Hawaiian Stage. ハッピーハワイアンステージ78 views
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Street performer (Sign says, "Photography allowed.")78 views
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Chuo Park bazaar78 views
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Inside the nebuta tent.78 views
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Being inflated now.78 views
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This small float by local Boy Scouts.78 views
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Quite dramatic indeed.78 views
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And other musicians.78 views
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It's possible to climb up to Mt. Nyotai as well.78 views
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Climbing up the peak of Mt. Nyotai.78 views
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On the other side of the underground train station is Chuo Park where Art Town Tsukuba and street performances were held. アートタウンつくば2009 ~大道芸フェスティバル~77 views
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Kids dancing77 views
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At first, I thought it looked kind of gimmicky, comical, and fake, but it turned out to be quite impressive.77 views
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The slayed dragon exhaled smoke.77 views
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Rear view of Ramses II77 views
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Views from the summit of Mt. Nyotai on Mt. Tsukuba.77 views
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Rock formation called Gama-ishi. ガマ石77 views
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Walking further down the Tsukuba Koen-dori road toward Oshimizu Park.76 views
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Haneto76 views
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Approaching Mt. Nyotai. Mt. Tsukuba is noted for fall leaves. But I was a little too late. The leaves here turn color earlier than on the plains. 女体山76 views
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View from Mt. Nyotai.76 views
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The trail continues to a clearing in the middle of the two peaks.76 views
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Another one squeezes through. 75 views
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View from Mt. Nyotai.75 views
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Mt. Nantai in the distance.75 views
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Tsukuba-san Jinja Shrine's Nyotai Honden on Mt. Nyotai. It worships Izanami, wife of Izanagi.75 views
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Atop the summit of Mt. Nyotai on Mt. Tsukuba.75 views
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Between Mt. Nyotai and Nantai on Mt. Tsukuba is a row of tourist shops in this palce called Miyukigahara (御幸ケ原). That's Mt. Nantai in the background.75 views
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Another giant nebuta float.74 views
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From about 4 pm, they had the Matsuri Parade on the main road. まつりパレード 万博山車パレード74 views
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万博山車パレード74 views
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Without the plastic covering.74 views
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Mt. Fuji as seen from Mt. Nyotai.74 views
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From Mt. Nyotai, it's an easy hike but rocky trail to Mt. Nantai.74 views
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Street performers73 views
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Inside the nebuta tent was this nebuta float from Aomori, arrived earlier in Aug.73 views
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Patching up the damaged parts of the float. Apparently, it got damaged as it passed under a bridge that is a little too low for the giant nebuta.73 views
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Too bad the plastic was on the floats. 73 views
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The round building has a gift shop on the bottom, restaurant on the 2nd floor, and a revolving lookout deck on the roof (free admission).73 views
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View from Mt. Nantai on Tsukuba-san.73 views
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Bottom cable car station.73 views
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Another venue in Creo Square was this small outdoor stage featuring hula dancing all afternoon long by various groups. クレオ前広場72 views
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At 5 pm, the Nebuta Parade started. It was kind of strange to see a nebuta parade in almost broad daylight. 72 views
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Tsukuba-san Shrine on Mt. Nantai, the male peak.72 views
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Miyukigahara.72 views
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Monkey's underarm has patch-up work.71 views
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In the middle of the two peaks is another lookout deck and gift shops.71 views
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View from Miyukigahara.71 views
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Shrine atop Mt. Nantai on Mt. Tsukuba.71 views
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The cable car runs every 20 min. Fare is 570 yen one way. There are trails going down the mountain as well.71 views
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Cable car going up to Mt. Nantai on Mt. Tsukuba.71 views
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Tsukuba-san cable car on Mt. Tsukuba's Miyukigahara, near Nantai.71 views
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The nebuta tents were built in late July. No kids around sketching the nebuta though, as they do in Aomori during the day.70 views
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