Japan (2005)

These pictures were made during a business trip to Kobe, Japan (IEEE ISCAS conference, May 2005).

Ah... Japan ....

This is my second business trip ever, and it's immediately to the other side of the world. To visit Japan for only one week is an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, we had some time to visit several of the beautiful places and sites of the Kansai region, including Kobe, Kyoto and Himeji.

Kobe

After an almost 24-hour trip we arrive in Portopia Hotel, Kobe. Of course a little bit tired, but fortunately, we have a few days spare time before the conference starts. But, no time to relax, we want to see Japan! As we're staying in Kobe, we start with a visit to this place...

MsM-ers in Japan

No surprise: fish is one of the important ingredients of the Japanase Cuisine Art. This restaurant displays (plastic) versions of the different dishes...

As we will discover in the coming days, Japan has an enormous amount of temples and shrines. Sometimes big, sometimes small. This one is special, as it is the first one we came across ;-).

While we arrived at the temple, a ceremony (I think a marriage) was taking place. Two beautifully dressed ladies are part of the ceremony.

The decorated entrance of the temple.

Next to the temple, a lot of wooden plates are being placed, each with a Japanese text written on them.

This picture shows the roof of a Chinese temple.

And the main entrance of the same Chinese temple.

What's striking in Japan is that at one moment, you're in a traditional, tranquil temple site. Then, just a few meters further you'll be back again in the modern, busy city:

Kobe has a large port from where one has a nice view over the modern city in the evening hours.

Kyoto

A must-see is the city of Kyoto, which used to be the imperial capital of Japan. Thanks to its rich history, Kyoto has an abundance of temples and castles. The first site in Kyoto we visited was the ...

The castle is surrounded by an enormous wall. This picture shows the main entrance for visitors.

Inside the outer wall, there are several buildings.

And Japanese gardens.

This is the imperial palace in Kyoto, an enormous complex, with an even larger park around it. Unfortunately, this palace could not be visited.

We continue our walk in Kyoto, passing by at several temples and gardens.

A temple site.

A lady wearing traditional clothing.

A tea-ceremony is taking place.

Just a street. Interesting how the electricity is connected in Japan...

A beautiful Japanese garden.

At some of the temples, large barrels of sake are being stored.

And once again, a nice temple building.

We take the train back to Kobe. Mostly, we see houses and buildings. Occasionally, there are some small rice fields in the middle of the city!

Himeji

The next day, we take the train to Himeji, as it has one of the most famous castles of Japan.

In Himeji, an impressive castles is waiting for us: protected by many walls, the tall main building provides a clear view over the entire area.

It is not without reason that this castle was never attacked. It's almost impossible!

Shooting holes are also useful to shoot pictures!

Bonsai trees.

The main building.

Inside, one can see the solid wooden construction of the building

After the visit of the castle, we dwell a bit around in Himeji...

... finding a garden ...

... which includes a small shrine.

Kobe

After our visit to Himeji, it's time to go back-to-work: the conference starts. Nonetheless, the evening hours are used to make some additional detours in Kobe.

This is the view from our hotel. The hotel is situated on an artificial island, connected to the main land through a bridge. In the background, one can see Kobe and the mountains.

Just a picture inside the hotel...

Meeting Mr. Gilbert ...

At the banquet, a Japanese drum band gives a life performance.

We make a group photo after the banquet, and then ...

... we rush back into Kobe-evening-life!

We pass by the Chinese shopping street ...

... which is marked by colorful decorations.

... and again, we end the evening in the harbour where one of our favorite restaurants is.

Kyoto

After the conference, we have one more spare day, before we return home. So, we went back to Kyoto to continue our walking tour...

We take the train again. After one week in Japan, we know pretty well how it works...

Just some flowers (viooltjes!).

The entrance gate of something...

We leave the busy city behind and enter the largest temple sites we've seen so far. Below a few impressions ...

Nicely carved and painted structures.

Temple interiors ...

... exteriors ...

... more interiors ...

... and even more-impressive interiors.

...

We say goodbye in Japanese style!

And then, its time to travel back home...