JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.


Most viewed - CHIBA 千葉県
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The biggest taiko drum festival in the Kanto region is held annually in April. Various taiko drum troupes perform for two full days on various outdoor stages in Narita, including the main stage in front of the Narita-san temple.1489 views
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White weeping cherry blossoms1435 views
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All the baby-carrying men must be careful not to slip and fall in the mud. Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.1067 views
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Statue of an ama woman diver sitting on a rock on the Onjuku Station train platform. These women dived deep in the ocean (without scuba gear) from small boats to harvest shellfish and other seafood.930 views
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Mud Brings Happiness, at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.890 views
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Musashimaru and Dejima867 views
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I can't see... That's what he said: "Mienai" The kids nearby were screaming with laughter.863 views
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New Status Symbol at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.857 views
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Actress Riho Makise throwing setsubun beans at Narita-san850 views
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Mud Spotting, Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba. The men hold babies and use mud to paint a mud spot on the baby's face. It is to wish for happiness for the baby.796 views
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Naoko Yamazaki gets help in the donning of her shuttle launch and entry suit in preparation for a water survival training session...791 views17 Sept. 2009 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, gets help in the donning of her shuttle launch and entry suit in preparation for a water survival training session in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center. United Space Alliance suit technicians assisted Yamazaki.
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The End(s)783 views
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A Touch of Mud. One custom is to receive a touch of mud on your face.771 views
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A large banner adorns JR Matsudo Station (Joban Line) to celebrate Matsudo native and astronaut Yamazaki Naoko's return to Earth from her Space Shuttle mission in April 2010.753 views
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Mud Fight749 views
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Being next to the Pacific Ocean, Chiba has quite a few festivals held on the beach. The Kazusa Junisha Matsuri is one of the larger ones. Sept. 13, 2009 (Sun.) was the main festival day when they went in the water at the beach. 732 views
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Keep in mind that this is in the middle of winter.725 views
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Musashimaru throws setsubun beans at Narita-san722 views
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Musashimaru gets his setsubun beans at Narita-san.692 views
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Baby Blessings at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba. Infants are blessed in front of the shrine.689 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.643 views
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After warming up at the fire, they run back to the mud.625 views
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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.620 views
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Mud Fight. After clashing and crashing to the mud, they throw mud at each other.615 views
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Warm Up607 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.601 views
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Bag of beans. I caught this from Dejima. They throw little bags of beans instead of individual beans. Bean bags are much easier to catch and to clean up afterward.579 views
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Mud on Your Face: Fashionable, at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.568 views
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Hikaru Nishida at center in red for Naritasan Setsubun in Feb. 2001.556 views
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Mud for All Ages550 views
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A Man and a Baby at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.549 views
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The festival is also nicknamed "Doronko Matsuri" which means Mud Festival.546 views
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Mimusubi Shrine, Yotsukaido, Chiba. The small shrine that conducts the festival. (皇産霊神社)533 views
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Narita-san Setsubun bean throwers. Sumo wrestlers, Nishida Hikaru, Makise Riho, etc.529 views
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View of Chiba Park from monorail. 綿打池521 views
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Narita Gion Matsuri516 views
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Men Take Strands of Straw479 views
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Preparing unagi eel, Narita, Chiba. Also see the video at YouTube.474 viewsSlicing it in half lengthwise.
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Mud Slinging472 views
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Mud Fight Round 2450 views
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Some babies wear beautiful kimono for the occasion.449 views
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Cherry blossoms and Chiba Castle447 views
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Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, addresses a large crowd of well-wishers at the STS-131 crew return ceremony on April 21, 2010 at Ellington Field...429 views21 April 2010 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, addresses a large crowd of well-wishers at the STS-131 crew return ceremony on April 21, 2010 at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center.
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Tired from walking, Narita Gion Matsuri428 views
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Mud Paddy. Main site of the Warabi Hadaka Matsuri held every Feb. 25.423 views
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Statue of Chiba-no-suke Tsuneshige built in Dec. 2001 to commemorate Chiba city's 80th anniversary. 千葉介常重423 viewsLord Chiba-no-suke Tsuneshige was the founder of Chiba Castle in 1126.
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Chiba Castle410 views
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Cherry blossoms and Chiba Castle402 views
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"Shidare" actually means "drooping."395 views
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Chiba Castle as seen from Kencho-mae monorail station.390 views
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Chiba Park approach388 views
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Narita-san temple's main hall.388 views
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Exhibits inside the castle, a folk and history museum for the Chiba clan and Chiba city.385 views
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Group photo of bean throwers. Sumo wrestlers at the top.379 views
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14 Sept. 2009 --- Naoko Yamazaki, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, participates in a training session...371 views14 Sept. 2009 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, participates in a training session near one of the full-scale trainers in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
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Monorail to Chiba Koen Station 千葉公園駅369 views
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Cleanup.361 views
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Narita-san during Narita Gion Festival358 views
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Narita Gion Matsuri357 views
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Narita-san Park's Ukimido Floating Hall353 views
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Poster for Setsubun in Feb. 2001. The following photos are from Feb. 3, 2001.351 views
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White weeping cherry blossoms345 views
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Onjuku Beach is a wide, expansive beach. 御宿海岸340 views
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21 April 2010 --- Dr. Kuniaki Shiraki, executive director, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), addresses a large crowd of well-wishers at the STS-131 crew return ceremony on April 21, 2010 at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center.336 views21 April 2010 --- Dr. Kuniaki Shiraki, executive director, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), addresses a large crowd of well-wishers at the STS-131 crew return ceremony on April 21, 2010 at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Also pictured (seated from the left) are JSC director Michael L. Coats (mostly obscured), NASA astronauts Alan Poindexter, commander; James P. Dutton Jr., pilot; Rick Mastracchio, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki and NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, all mission specialists.
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Skewering the eel. Also see the video at YouTube.335 views
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Striping off the boney spine.331 views
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Pulling the float, Narita Gion Matsuri329 views
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Held in July, Narita Gion Matsuri Festival has ornate floats pulled on the streets of Narita and to Narita-san temple. Pulling a float on the street328 views
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Also see the video at YouTube.328 views
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Ohara Hadaka Matsuri325 views
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One great thing about this hadaka matsuri is that there are women as well. Most hadaka matsuri have only men.323 views
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Some photos taken by Iwase. There are still ama divers in Onjuku, but they now wear wetsuits. No topless women.317 views
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Gathering at Narita-san temple314 views
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Names of celebrity bean throwers in 2001. They include actresses Hikaru Nishida and sumo wrestlers Yokozuna Akebono, Musashimaru, Dejima, and Asashoryu.314 views
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Drum troupe from S. Korea313 views
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A prince and princess on camels. This monument was built in 1969. 月の沙漠311 views
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Women too, while they are careful to prevent any nip slips.311 views
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Priests at Narita-san.307 views
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Narita-san Dai-hondo main worship hall. These people are waiting to see the taiko drum performance. 大本堂307 views
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Yotsukaido Station is on the JR Sobu Line on the way to Narita Airport. Map: http://www.kanko.chuo.chiba.jp/c_event/5705/305 views
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Narita Gion Matsuri301 views
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Museum of Aeronautical Sciences295 viewsThe museum is right at the end of the runway of Narita International Airport.
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Narita Gion Matsuri292 views
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Offering prayers at Narita Gion Matsuri290 views
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NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) director Michael L. Coats (center background) and the STS-131 crew members are pictured at the STS-131 crew return ceremony on April 21, 2010 at Ellington Field near JSC.285 views21 April 2010 --- NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) director Michael L. Coats (center background) and the STS-131 crew members are pictured at the STS-131 crew return ceremony on April 21, 2010 at Ellington Field near JSC. Pictured from the left are NASA astronauts Alan Poindexter, commander; James P. Dutton Jr., pilot; Rick Mastracchio, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki and NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, all mission specialists.
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Chiba Park282 views
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When it's windy, the sand flies.282 views
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Corners281 views
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Platform for bean throwers.275 views
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Narita-san Park's Ukimido Floating Hall271 views
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Also see the video at YouTube.271 views
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Shopping area near Chiba Station265 views
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At 2 pm, the 18 portable shrines gather at the Ohara Fishing Port. 大原漁港に参集265 views
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Naoko Yamazaki, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, participates in a training session in one of the full-scale trainers in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at Johnson Space Center.265 views14 Sept. 2009 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, participates in a training session in one of the full-scale trainers in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
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One thing unusual about this festival is that they carry the mikoshi with their hands and arms only, and not on their shoulders.262 views
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JR Chiba Station and Yokosuka Line259 views
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Many more portable shrines follow.256 views
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Another room in the museum describes how the Spanish galleon "San Francisco" was shipwrecked on Onjuku Beach in 1609. Over 300 of the crew were rescued by local residents.253 views
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Deck243 views
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2009 May 15 -- Checking the fit of her pressurized suit at Johnson Space Center.243 views
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Outside JR Chiba Station242 views
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Narita-san Park's Ukimido Floating Hall241 views
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Tower of Peace, Narita-san Heiwa no Daito 平和の大塔239 views
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Path to Chiba Castle (visible on left)238 views
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Poster for a local festival.238 views
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Entrance to Inohana Park236 views
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Statue of Chiba-no-suke Tsuneshige and Chiba Castle tower 千葉介常重235 viewsLord Chiba-no-suke Tsuneshige was the founder of Chiba Castle in 1126.
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Model of the shipwrecked Spanish galleon. The ama women divers even used their bodies to warm the bodies of the weak Spanish crewmen. This has led to friendly relations between Onjuku and Spain.235 views
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9 Dec. 2009 --- Naoko Yamazaki dons a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit in preparation for a training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility...235 views9 Dec. 2009 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, dons a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit in preparation for a training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. United Space Alliance suit technician Toni Cost-Davis assisted Yamazaki.
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Inside Onjuku Station.231 views
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17 Sept. 2009 --- Naoko Yamazaki dons a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit in preparation for a water survival training session...229 views17 Sept. 2009 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, dons a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit in preparation for a water survival training session in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center.
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Also at night.228 views
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Platform for bean throwers.228 views
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Kazusa Junisha Matsuri Festival, Ichinomiya, Chiba on Sept. 13, 2009.227 views
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Last group226 views
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Narita-san priests225 views
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Festival poster for Sept. 23-24, 2004.225 views
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Picture of Iwase Yoshiyuki (1904-2001) who photographed many topless ama women divers in Onjuku during the 1930s to 1960s. He even organized photo shoots featuring the divers.225 views
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Chiba Castle tower223 views
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JR Chiba Station223 views
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Chiba Station as seen from the monorail223 views
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Chiba Park weeping cherries222 views
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Beach volleyball courts. Should come back in summer.218 views
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United Space Alliance crew trainer Robert (Rob) Tomaro briefs Naoko Yamazaki in preparation for a water survival training session...217 views17 Sept. 2009 --- United Space Alliance crew trainer Robert (Rob) Tomaro briefs Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, in preparation for a water survival training session in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Yamazaki is wearing a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit.
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Front view216 views
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Chiba Park215 views
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Chiba Station and monorail213 views
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The small coastal town of Katsuura holds one of Japan's most impressive hina matsuri doll festival during late Feb. to early March. 213 viewsA whopping 25,000 hina ningyo dolls are displayed all over town. Photo: JR Katsuura Station on the Sotobo Line. Katsuura is about 2 hours from Tokyo on non-express trains. Board the Sotobo Line at Chiba Station.
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Onjuku Beach212 views
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Chiba Koen Station 千葉公園駅210 views
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Chiba Station as seen from the monorail208 views
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Katsuura Big Hina Matsuri festival poster for 2010. Official Web site here207 views
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View from monorail204 views
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JR Chiba Station203 views
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Vending machines203 views
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JR Chiba Station platform202 views
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JR Onjuku Station on the Sotobo Line. From Tokyo Station, catch the Yokosuka or Sobu Line to Chiba Station, then switch to the Sotobo Line. Takes about 2 hours by local train. Faster by express train. There are no coin-operated lockers.201 views
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Monument for "Desert of the Moon," a famous children's song created on Onjuku Beach in 1923 by Kato Masao (加藤まさを). (Tsuki no Sabaku) 月の沙漠201 views
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Negatives of photos taken by Iwase who was a sake brewer in Onjuku. He was an avid amateur shutterbug who tended to ignore his sake-brewing duties and went after the ama divers instead. (Can't blame him.)201 views
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Also see my video at YouTube.201 views
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Chiba Castle and paper lanterns200 views
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Chiba Castle Sakura Matsuri lantern199 views
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14 Sept. 2009 --- Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, the STS-131 crew members await the start of a training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at Johnson Space Center.199 views14 Sept. 2009 --- Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, the STS-131 crew members await the start of a training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Pictured from the left are Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, mission specialist; NASA astronauts James P. Dutton Jr., pilot; Alan Poindexter, commander; Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Clay Anderson and Rick Mastracchio, all mission specialists.
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They run around while carrying a portable shrine.197 views
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29 Jan. 2010 --- Naoko Yamazaki, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, awaits the start of an ingress/egress training session...197 views29 Jan. 2010 --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, STS-131 mission specialist, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, awaits the start of an ingress/egress training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
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From the beach, the portable shrines are paraded in town.195 views
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Iwase took many precious photos of these young and old hardworking women. He put them in a book called Groups of Women Ama Divers. They were topless because it felt more comfortable.195 views
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Naoko Yamazaki (left) and NASA astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, await the start of an ingress/egress training session...195 views29 Jan. 2010) --- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki (left) and NASA astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, both STS-131 mission specialists, attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, await the start of an ingress/egress training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
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Bekkoame candy stand192 views
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Festival girls posing for me. They love the attention.192 views
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Prayers at Narita-san189 views
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They keep going round and round. Quite rowdy.189 views
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Chiba Prefectural Capital188 views
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Chiba Station as seen from the monorail187 views
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Outside JR Chiba Station185 views
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View from monorail185 views
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Komyodo Hall, Important Cultural Property at Narita-san. Built in 1701 and dedicated to the Dainichi Nyorai Buddha, the principal image of Shingon Buddhism. 光明堂184 views
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Chiba Koen Station monorail184 views
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Tossing the mikoshi into the air.184 views
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The road in front of Onjuku Station goes toward the beach. Follow the palm trees. A short walk to the beach.182 views
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Katsuura fish market182 views
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A few hotels overlook the beach.181 views
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Looks like a sand dune, but it's solid concrete looking like sand.181 views
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Chiba Monorail Station180 views
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Entrance to Chiba Monorail Station180 views
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Tossing a portable shrine, a common sight during the festival.180 views
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A man who got bumped and fell is quickly brought to his feet by other people.179 views
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Windsurfing at Onjuku179 views
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Main stage at Narita-san temple.175 views
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Origami hina dolls174 views
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Pink weeping cherry blossoms173 views
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Taiko troupe from Okinawa172 viewsThis group stole the show with a dragon dance, lion dogs, and eisa taiko drummers.
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Side entrance to Narita-san temple.172 views
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Chiba Koen Station monorail platform 千葉公園駅172 views
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Next to Onjuku Station is this tourist information office.171 views
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JR Chiba Station169 views
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Nice mikoshi.169 views
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2010 March 5 --- During the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, the crew sit in Space Shuttle Discovery for a countdown simulation. In the middle is Naoko.169 views
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Old YS-11 prop plane.167 views
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"I'm happy to be from Matsudo..." Also see my video at YouTube to hear her entire speech. 帰還の報告167 views
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Haruka Ayase is in the title role of Yae Niijima in this year's NHK Taiga Drama.167 views
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Entrance to Onjuku Beach. Onjuku has various Spanish touches.165 views
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JAXA Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki at her welcome home parade in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture on May 22, 2010.165 views
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Inside monorail164 views
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The men covered their bellies, while the women covered their bellies and chests.164 views
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