JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - TOCHIGI 栃木県
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Posing with maybe with their school teacher.466 views
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Warriors coming down the Omotesando. 武者行列420 views
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Also called "Sennin Gyoretsu" (1,000-person Procession 千人行列), this is Nikko's largest festival held on May 17-18. The highlight is a long procession of over 1,000 people dressed in various costumes.373 viewsThe three portable shrines are dedicated to the spirits of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Minamoto Yoritomo. Photos start with May 17 at Toshogu Shrine, when priests gathered for a ceremony. 発興祭
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Ashikaga Flower Park is home to one of Japan's largest wisteria trellis and numerous wisteria trees/vines. Besides purple wisteria, it also boasts white and yellow wisteria. Entrance to the park..370 views
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The warriors are the procession's main attraction.366 viewsWaiting near Futarasan Shrine's torii.
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Chigo children wearing an elaborate crown with the signs of the eto Oriental Zodiac. Nikko338 viewsNikko Grand Spring Festival in May.
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Shinkyo Sacred Bridge, Nikko 神橋304 views
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Long line for the shuttle bus to Ashikaga Flower Park.302 views
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Warriors on Omotesando289 views
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Yomeimon Gate, National Treasure, Nikko 陽明門289 views
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Face of a samurai.282 views
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Shuttle bus in front of Ashikaga-shi Station going to Ashikaga Flower Park. Bus fare is 300 yen one way, taking about 15 min. The bus leaves once an hour, but more often if there's a large crowd.279 views
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Tokugawa Ieyasu's mausoleum273 views
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Ashikaga-shi Station on the Tobu Isezaki Line. It takes about 2 hours from central Tokyo. Connected to the Hanzomon Line.269 views
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Giant Wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga, Tochigi. The trellis is huge and the wisteria strands are long. Super awesome.268 views
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Omotesando main promenade. Also see the video at YouTube. 表参道263 views
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Shrine priest258 views
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Dance maidens252 views
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Warriors leaving the Otabisho.251 views
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250 views
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Tobu Line train to Nikko. It takes about 2 hours from Asakusa, Tokyo.250 views
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Map of Ashikaga Flower Park. It's large, but compact enough to walk around and see everything. They also light up the flowers at night until 9 pm.245 views
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Warriors walk back up the slope in front of the Otabisho.236 views
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Chigo children 稚児, Nikko222 views
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Coming down from Yomeimon Gate (National Treasure). 陽明門221 viewsThe gate is a National Treasure and symbol of Nikko.

陽明門
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Shrine priests standing216 views
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Passing under the torii at Futarasan Shrine. 二荒山神社204 views二荒山神社
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Priests on a rainy day.202 views
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Tunnel of White Wisteria is one of a kind in the world at Ashikaga Flower Park.196 views
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Shrine priest191 views
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190 views
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Near departure time at Otabisho185 views
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Hear, speak, and see no evil185 viewsWood carving on the horse stable
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Ashikaga Flower Park, Tochigi.185 views
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Warriors and Five-story Pagoda182 views
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Tokugawa Ieyasu's mausoleum182 views
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Sleeping cat 眠り猫182 views
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Utsunomiya Castle, Tochigi Pref.176 views
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Yoroi Toshikoshi Shuko festival, Ashikaga, Tochigi.173 views
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At Ashikaga-shi Station on the Tobu Isezaki Line, there is the Ashikaga Tourist Information Office inside the train station, but it was closed. On the very day when tourists would arrive to see the warrior procession.172 views
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Five-story pagoda 五重塔170 views
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Shrine maidens 巫女168 views
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Gyoza restaurants in Utsunomiya Station. The city's gyoza connection started in 1940 when soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army's 14th Division assigned to a garrison in Manchuria returned to Utsunomiya and brought back gyoza recipes.167 views
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Tunnel of White Wisteria goes for 76.5 meters.166 views
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166 views
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Yellow wisteria at Ashikagae Flower Park.165 views
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Oriental zodiac (hare) carving on five-story pagoda164 views
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Yomeimon Gate, National Treasure 陽明門163 views
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The bean-throwing was disappointing at Yoroi Toshikoshi Shuko festival in Ashikaga, Tochigi. Few beans and they hardly reached anybody.163 views
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1:30 pm: The end (path to Futarasan Shrine). A similar festival is held in Oct., but on a smaller scale and with only one mikoshi.160 viewsAfter the festival ends, there's enough time to see the shrine.
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Usubeni Bridge (Light Pink Bridge) with a canopy of light pink wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga, Tochigi. うす紅橋160 views
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Dragon on ceiling that squeaks when you clap.159 views
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Horse stable158 views
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Ichino-torii156 views
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In front of the portable shrine storehouse for the three mikoshi. A ceremony is held to transfer the spirits from the main shrine to the portable shrines. 神輿舎にて宵成渡御155 viewsThis building is right next to the famous Yomei-mon Gate at the Toshogu Shrine.

神輿舎にて宵成渡御
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Soldiers in the 14th Division came from Utsunomiya. Sadly in 1944, the division was assigned to Palau and Anguar in the South Pacific where most of them died in bloody battles. What would a trip to Utsunomiya be without eating gyoza?155 views
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Sleeping cat154 views
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Utsunomiya Castle, Tochigi. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to explore this castle more.154 views
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Flower Stage154 views
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Sleeping cat 眠り猫153 views
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153 views
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White Wisteria Waterfall. 白藤の滝153 views
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White Wisteria Waterfall. 白藤の滝153 views
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Yomeimon Gate151 views
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151 views
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Yoroi Toshikoshi Shuko festival, Ashikaga, Tochigi.151 views
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A semi-ring of chairs in front of the Flower Stage. The ceiling has light pink wisteria. うす紅の棚151 views
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Futaraasan Shrine in Utsunomiya.148 views
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Oriental zodiac (tiger) carving on five-story pagoda146 views
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Oriental zodiac (dragon) carving on five-story pagoda145 views
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Niomon144 views
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Karamon close-up144 views
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White Wisteria Waterfall. 白藤の滝144 views
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142 views
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White Wisteria Waterfall. 白藤の滝141 views
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Wisteria noodles141 views
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Horse stable140 views
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Karamon140 views
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Yoroi Toshikoshi Shuko festival, Ashikaga, Tochigi.140 views
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Utsunomiya is famous for gyoza, and inside JR Utsunomiya Station are many gyoza shops and restaurants. The station's east exit even has a gyoza sculpture.140 views
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Rear of Yomeimon Gate139 views
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Entrance to Ashikaga Flower Park is guarded by these yellow wisteria. Admission is a pricey 1,700 yen during the wisteria season from late April to early May. It's worth it during peak bloom.139 views
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139 views
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Passing under Yomeimon Gate.137 views
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The main and spectacular attraction is this Giant Wisteria (大藤) on a expansive trellis. 137 views
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Rear of Yomeimon Gate136 views
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Prayer ceremony by priests135 views
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Kids on school trip along Omotesando 表参道135 views
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Yomeimon Gate134 views
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This wisteria tree is about 140 years old. It was transplanted here in Feb. 1996.134 views
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Inside Tobu Line train133 views
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Flower beds near the entrance.133 views
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The park's parking lot had many tour buses. Crowded even on weekdays during wisteria season. But fewer people in the late afternoon.133 views
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This warrior procession is said to be a reenactment of Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada's visit to Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Successive shoguns visited the shrine as well.132 views上新道
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Group photo132 views
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Wisteria kamaboko fish cake.132 views
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Tobu Nikko Station 東武日光駅131 views
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Tunnel of Yellow Wisteria.130 views
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The three portable shrines (mikoshi) are then carried out of the storehouse to be taken to Futarasan Shrine.129 views
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Portable shrine storehouse129 views
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Cool heads.127 views
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A National Treasure and World Heritage Site, Nikko's magnificent shrines and temples overshadow any other attractions Tochigi has. The Toshogu Shrine is especially famous and also serves as Tokugawa Ieyasu's mausoleum. Omotesando 表参道126 views
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126 views
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Gift shop at the park entrance. When you enter the park, you enter here first (and last).126 views
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The spirits of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Minamoto Yoritomo in the three portable shrines are then transferred to Futarasan Shrine. The mikoshi spend the night here.123 views
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Both men and boys wear the warrior costumes.118 views
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Futarasan Shrine's torii117 views
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Warriors coming down the Omotesando. 武者行列117 views
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A short path leads to Futarasan Shrine.115 views
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Second group of mikoshi bearers fall in line.114 views
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Portable shrine in Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall.114 views二荒山神社 拝殿
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Over 50 different costumes are featured in the procession.114 views
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞113 views
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The procession's starting point at Futarasan Shrine is a great photo op.112 views
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At 11:00 am, the procession starts. They leave Futarasan Shrine through this torii. 上新道112 views上新道
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A small shrine under the Giant Wisteria.112 views
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Yae-fuji wisteria features more flower petals, making the flower look more like little balls. 八重藤111 views
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The three portable shrines (mikoshi) in Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall. 二荒山神社 拝殿110 views
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What happened to the white roof for the musicians? Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞110 viewsThese pictures were taken in different years and combined.
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Warriors make their way through.109 views
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Rear view109 views
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Entering Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall. All three portable shrines are taken to this hall. 二荒山神社 拝殿108 views
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Beware of horse droppings108 views
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Start of the Omotesando with Ichino-torii in the background. 一ノ鳥居107 views
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This short path goes to the Omotesando main promenade.107 views上新道
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107 views
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About the Tunnel of White Wisteria. 107 views
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May 18: At 10:35 am, the spirits are transferred from Futarasan Shrine back to the portable shrines.106 viewsFutarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall.

二荒山神社 拝殿
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Mikoshi bearers standing by.106 views
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First group of mikoshi bearers fall in line.106 views
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Mikoshi bearers standing by.105 views
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Grounds of Futarasan Shrine, the starting point of the "1,000-Person Procession." 千人行列105 views
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance musicians105 views
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Warriors with shiny gold helmets.105 views
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Another mikoshi going up to Omote-mon Gate105 views
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12 noon: Otabisho resting place. They arrive and have lunch. The three mikoshi are stored in the building on the upper left. 御旅所104 views御旅所
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Omotesando main promenade 表参道103 views
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞103 views
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Passing under the torii at Futarasan Shrine. 二荒山神社102 views二荒山神社
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The Boy Scouts collect offerings (excluding horse droppings) thrown on the ground by spectators.102 views
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People get ready to leave and go back to Toshogu Shrine.102 views
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞102 views
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Shrine priests sitting101 views
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Carrying out the mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.100 views
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Those crowns are heavy.100 views
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The procession includes about 18 horses.99 views
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Sacred music musicians99 views
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The wisteria strands can be as long as 1.8 meters.99 views
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Carrying out another mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.98 views
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Mikoshi passing through Ichino-torii98 views
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This is near the end of the Omortesando and they turn left to go to the Otabisho resting place.98 views
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Omotesando is the main part of the route to watch the procession. It is the shrine's largest avenue.98 views
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Yae-fuji wisteria trellis. Yae-fuji features more flower petals, making the flower look more like little balls. 八重藤98 views
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The Giant Wisteria extends over 36 meters by 33 meters. About the same as a large hotel ballroom or a whopping 600 tatami mats. The trellis was only 50 tatami mats when it was transplanted here.98 views
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Carrying out another mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.97 views
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These two performed the Yaotome-no-Mai. They are leaving the building.97 views
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Chigo children, notice the Oriental zodiac animals on their crowns.97 views
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Yae-fuji wisteria trellis. Yae-fuji features more flower petals, making the flower look more like little balls. 八重藤97 views
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Yellow wisteria97 views
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Carrying out another mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.96 views
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Mikoshi96 views
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Dancers leaving the building96 views
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Chigo children and assistants make sure the crown doesn't fall off.96 views
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Another lion (shi-shi)95 views
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Wooden birds95 views
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Warriors going through the Omote-mon Gate.95 views
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Mikoshi coming through Ichino-torii95 views
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Another large wisteria trellis. 大長藤95 views
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Purple Wisteria Trellis. むらさき藤棚95 views
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Otabisho 御旅所94 views
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Yae-fuji wisteria trellis.94 views
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I like to shoot red and white flowers in Japan.94 views
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Another large wisteria trellis. 94 views
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Offerings of sea bream (tai)93 viewsSanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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93 views
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Tunnel of White Wisteria. 93 views
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Tunnel of White Wisteria. 93 views
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Banners leading the procession.92 views
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Ceremony to give offerings to the shrine deity. 三本立七五膳92 viewsSanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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Mikoshi coming through.92 views
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Ceremony to give offerings to the shrine deity. 三本立七五膳92 viewsSanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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Many wisteria trees decorate the park paths.92 views
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Usubeni Bridge (Light Pink Bridge) with a canopy of light pink wisteria. うす紅橋92 views
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Yae-fuji wisteria features more flower petals, making the flower look more like little balls. 八重藤92 views
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Wisteria and azalea92 views
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Yet another large wisteria trellis, called Purple Wisteria Trellis. むらさき藤棚92 views
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Yellow wisteria selling for 4,000 yen.92 views
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