September 19th, 2010

drinking bird

August in Japan, [2]

We went on next to the hot spring town of Kinosaki Onsen. It has seven public hot springs around the town. People stroll about in yukatas and getas going from one bath house to another. It is a very attractive small town, especially along the river.

Kinosaki bridge

Another view of the river, with a small grey egret

Public onsen entrance

There were of course the usual souvenir shops and restaurants. It was enjoyable to walk around town, in spite of the heat.

Collapse )

We then went on to Tottori to see the beautiful coast and the famous sand dunes.

Tottori dunes

I am afraid it was too hot to go trudge on them, and the sand was burning!

We went on to see the Gembudo caves, with very interesting basalt rock formations. It was pleasantly shady there.

The entrance

More basalt

Then we took the train and went on to Matsue, where I had stayed last April. This time I visited the castle, took a boat trip on the Horikawa river, which serves as a moat. Then we went to visit Izumo Taisha, an important old Shinto shrine. It attracts 450,000 visitors a year!

The banks of the Horikawa river. Saw several herons, but did not manage to photograph them

Matsue castle

Outer building, Izumo

Roof detail, Izumo

Unexpected object: a sculpture of the famous "wave" of Hokusai

The third and final installment coming up!
drinking bird

August in Japan [3]

After Matsue we went on to Hagi. It is famous for its pottery, and there were pottery stores everywhere. I enjoyed walking around the older part of town, its samurai houses or rich merchants' places. Hagi played an important role at the time of the Meiji restoration.

A typical older house

On the hill to the east of Hagi is Tôkô-ji, an attractive temple where 5 Hagi lords are buried. Their vassals erected over 500 stone lanterns in their memory.

March of the lanterns

More lanterns

Collapse )

We continued our journey in this beautiful region and took a long walk along the Chomonkyo Gorge, where luckily the path was shaded.

The river at the bottom of the gorge

Then we headed for the Akiyoshido cave, the second largest cave system in Asia. This was huge and very impressive. It was quite cool, naturally, and a great relief. Unfortunately the lighting is very low [to prevent excessive algae growth], and I only had on this trip my little pocket camera. A mistake, as my large Canon has much greater possibilities, and I was often frustrated. I think the general quality of my pictures is mediocre for this trip. Gomen nasai!

There are many curious formations in this cave, apart from the usual stalactites.

tiers of ponds

scalloped ponds

a strange light effect

Afterwards, we continued on to Tsuwano, which I will talk about in a 4th [and last!] installment.