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Tateishi Park is one of the best scenic spots in Kanagawa Prefecture.

This park is found on the west coast of the Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture. The vertical rock, 12 meters high, against the back ground of the rugged coastline with pine trees, has long attracted many people. Ando Hiroshige, a famous Ukiyo-e wood block printing artist in the late 18th century, made this scenery the subject matter. If weather permits, a distant view of Mt. Fuji adds color to this scenery. The good combination of the blue sea, vertical lock, rugged coastline, pine trees and Mt. Fuji realizes the ideal scenery of traditional Japan. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

"Dobuita-dori" is a unique shopping street in the heart of Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

This street originally was a wide drainage flanked with narrow lanes both sides, before the Second World War. The Imperial Japanese Navy Headquarters stood in Yokosuka at that time, and this street led there from a nearby train station. As this narrow lanes became too busy to walk, they covered this drainage with stout iron plates from the naval dockyard to widen the street. The name of "Dobuita-dori", literally means a "street who's ground is covered with boards over a drainage", stems from this fact. This drainage was converted into a culvert thereafter, and the street has become a unique shopping street mainly for the seamen of the US Navy after the war, featuring a variety of fusion cuisines and "Sukajan", a souvenir jacket in Yokosuka style. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

Biwako Sosui, meaning Lake Biwa Canals, largely contributed to Kyoto.

Kyoto, which had been the capital of Japan for 1,100 years, suffered from population decline in the latter half of the 19th century after the capital relocation to Tokyo. In order to break this difficulty, the Kyoto Prefectural Government carried out the canal construction works from Lake Biwa to the rivers in Kyoto. They contemplated utilizing these canals for the generation of electricity, water transport, industrial water, drinking water, agricultural water and so on. These canals, generally called Biwako Sosui, are made up of three canals, the First Canal, the Second Canal and the Branch Canal. The first one and third one was completed in 1890, and the second one in1912. Japan's first hydropower station for business purpose was built at this time and is still at work. The electricity from this was used for Japan's first streetcars in Kyoto, as well as the canal inclines. The first picture shows the active aqueduct bridge of the Branch Canal, which was built in 1888 and was found in the grounds of Nanzenji Temple. The second picture shows the canal incline in Keage area, which is preserved just for display purposes. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久

The former clubhouse of the Industry Club of Japan in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

The old five-storied building in front of Marunouchi North Exit of JR Tokyo Station was built in 1920. The Industry Club of Japan, the association to promote mutual friendship of powerful manufacturers of Japan at that time, built this building as their headquarters as well as a guest house. Right after the completion, unfortunately, it was seriously damaged by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, but was repaired soon after and had long been used as the most important hub of the bodies of manufacturers of Japan. It was decided to be rebuilt due to deterioration in 1997, but many people opposed this plan. So that, one-third of the old building was left intact and two-thirds was faithfully restored. The modern 30-storied building was newly built wrapping the original one as just it was. The original one is designated as an important cultural asset. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

'Matsuchi-yama Shoden' is a branch temple of Sensoji Buddhist Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo.

There is a small mound, less than 10 meters high, several minutes walking upstream the Sumida from Sensoji Buddhist Temple. Matsuchi-yama Shoden stands on the top of this mound as shown in the first picture. This neighborhood is a dry river bed of the Sumida, so has been repeatedly hit by flood waters since the dawn of history. This temple, however, has survived thanks to the favored location. Many marks of the combination of radishes and drawstring pouches are found here and there in this temple grounds, because the radishes signify the concord of husband and wife, and the pouches mean good business. The funny things are an offering of radishes and inclined elevator. as shown in the second and third pictures respectively. The visitors offer radishes instead of money, and also can use the inclined elevator to the main building if they are disabled or too old to climb the mound just 10 meters high. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

Inoue Masaru is known as the father of Japan's railways.

There is a statue in the square in front of the Marunouchi Exit of JR Tokyo Station. This person is Inoue Masaru, who was born into a samurai family of the Choshu domain, present Yamaguchi Prefecture, in1843. When he was young, he went to London to study civil engineering together with four other young samurais from the same domain, Ito Hirofumi, Japan's first prime minister later on, included. They are called "Five heroes" in the Choshu domain. After returning home, he was appointed the Minister of Railways to push the railway construction throughout Japan. The father of the social infrastructure in modern Japan consists of three great people, who are Maejima Hisoka who established the postal system, Goto Shinpei who directed the reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake, and he. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

Mitsubishi Ichigokan in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, is Japan's first full-scale office building for rent.

The west side of JR Tokyo Station, called Marunouchi, is ridiculed as Mitsubishi Village, because most buildings in this area belong to the Mitsubishi financial group. The development of this area dates back to Mitsubishi Ichigokan Building built in 1894. The Mitsubishi group dared to purchase this area from the then Government, although it was thought to be useless because it was a reclaimed land from the tidal wetlands of Tokyo Bay. They commissioned Josiah Conder, a British architect, to design this building as the first building in this area, present Mitsubishi Village. And also as the first full-scale building for rent in Japan. This area was once called Little London, as many brick buildings were clustered here in the 1910s. Most of them were destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake and the Second World War though, this building survived. After being reconstructed to a high-rise building for the head office of a group company in 1968, the faithful replica of original building as shown in the picture was built in 2009. This brick building is used now as an art museum. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

The residence of the Tachibana family, commonly known as OHANA, in Yanagawa City, Fukuoka.

The 5th feudal lord of the Yanagawa domain, the Tachibana clan, built the residence for his family in the castle enclosure in 1738. After the end of samurai years in 1910, the Tachibana clan, holding the title Count, rebuilt all buildings on the same site. The white building in Western style as shown in the first picture is one of those rebuilt buildings. The Japanese garden in the second picture, called Shoto-en, was also improved at the same time. These classic buildings with Japanese garden are open to the public, and the private museum stands in the same ground. The visitors can study how bygone daimyo's daily life was. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久

Sengoku-bune is a big sailing ship, which used to navigate along the coast of the Sea of Japan.

Big sailing ships for foreign trade with the countries in East Asia were changed to the use of domestic cargo transport in the 17th century. Because the then government issued a national seclusion order. The center of commerce of Japan in those years were Osaka and Kyoto, thus almost all the domestic products were once collected there to be evaluated, then were sent to all the consuming cities like Edo, present Tokyo, across the country. A group of sailing ships in charge of this transport is called Kitamae-bune, and this transport had been bolstered in accordance with the increasing number Sengoku-bune big cargo ships. In spring, they left Hokkaido to navigate along the coast of the Sea of Japan toward the west till arriving in Shimonoseki, the western tip of Honshu main island, then entered the Seto Inland Sea by way of the Kanmon Strait to steer east all the way till Osaka. In summer and vice-versa. The specific goods on board were rice, sake, sugar, salt, candles, dried seafoods and so on. The first picture shows a replica of Sengoku-bune, 24 meters long and 7 meters wide. The second picture, the still existing stone stakes to moor the Sengoku-bune, which are found in Sado Island. The white granite, the material of these stakes, are from Kobe, a total sea route of 1,000 kilometers away from this island. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久

A red spider lily is thought to be a inauspicious flower in Japan.

The home of a red spider lily is China, and it came to Japan before the dawn of history. It originally is a seed plant though, Japan's variety is a cloned plant growing from a bulb. So, it comes into flower simultaneously and is the same height. The colonies of this flower, large and small, can be found across the country in early autumn, and all of them were originally planted on purpose a long time ago. Being a beautiful flower though, it is thought to be inauspicious in Japan. Japanese people had long been planting this plant in graveyards, because the poisonous substance contained in the bulb repels all kinds of animals which may damage a buried body. As a red spider lily reminds Japanese people of graveyard, these beautiful flowers may have become a symbol of inauspiciousness. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久

Tarai-bune boats are used to catch fish on the ragged coast of Sado Island.

A large earthquake hit Ogi area in Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, in 1802. This quake caused the sudden rise of Ogi area, and so the coastline of which became ragged with numerous tiny inlets. These inlets have gradually become ideal fishing grounds of abalones, turbos and wakame seaweed. Thus, the special fishing boats, being capable of turning in the narrow inlets, were invented. They were TARAI-BUNE boats, which were an improvement of traditional wooden washbowl. The tarai-bune boats, with a payload of 500kg, can be controlled with one paddle. These special boats are still used in Sado Island, not only for fishing purpose but also for tourism. The tarai-bune in the picture is for tourism though, this type is one size bigger than for fishing. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久

Tokyo Station Building in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, was built in 1914.

Japan's first railway ran from Shinbashi, Tokyo, to Yokohama in 1872, and was extended to Osaka and Kobe, 500 kilometers west of Tokyo, in 1889. Two major cities in Japan were connected by rail in the second half of the 19th century. In 1896, the plan to extend this rail to Ueno, 6 kilometers north of Shinbashi, was decided. Going with this plan, Tokyo Station was also decided to be built. Putting great importance on the Emperor's convenience, this was built right in front of the Imperial Palace. The main entrance in the middle of this building as shown in the picture was just for the Imperial family. Right after being largely damaged by the air raid in 1945, this was temporarily repaired. But, it had taken another 65 years to be completely restored. In 2012, this finally regained the original stately form. Original form of this building was three-storied though, the temporary repair work was done as a two-story building. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久

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