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Chinka-bashi, also called Chinka-kyo, is a type of bridge spanning a river.

Chinka-bashi, also called Chinka-kyo, is a type of bridge spanning a river.

Chinka-bashi, which literally means a bridge designed to be underwater during a flood, is ausable in the dry season. In the rainy season or typhoon season, when the water level is high, it can't be used as it is submerged. Compared with a common bridge, it can be built more quickly as well as less expensively, because of shorter bridge girders and shorter total length. And it features a unique external appearance with no parapets. This type of bridge is designed not to catch driftwood with parapets when the entire body is submerged. A lot of driftwood washed away by a torrent tend to destroy a bridge with parapets. Chinka-bashi, amounting to a total of 410 in Japan, can be found across the country though, they are unevenly distributed in Western Japan. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki.

'Kumano-Hongu-Taisha' creates the most traditional atmosphere among 'Kumano-Sanzan' three shrines.

'Kumano-Hongu-Taisha' creates the most traditional atmosphere among 'Kumano-Sanzan' three shrines.

After striving to follow Kumano pilgrimage main routes all the way from Kyoto, Osaka or Nagoya, Kumano-Hongu-Taisha Shinto shrine comes earlier than the other two major shrines in Wakayama Prefecture. On the hilltop with many stone steps, a traditional 'Shaden' main building stands as shown in the picture. This building originally stood on a nearby sandbar called 'Ohyunohara', which is formed by three rivers, however it was partially destroyed by a flood in 1889. Soon after that damage, this was relocated to the present site, on the hilltop. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki.

'Kumano Hayatama Taisha' in Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture, composes 'Kumano Sanzan'.

'Kumano Hayatama Taisha' in Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture, composes 'Kumano Sanzan'.

This Shinto shrine is a component of Kumano Sanzan, three major shrines in Kumano region in Wakayama Prefecture, together with 'Kumano Hongu Taisha' and 'Kumano Nachi Taisha'. In addition, these three shrines are on the list of the World Heritage as 'Three Major Shrines of Kumano'. As the origin of this shrine is too old to determine academically. It is said that the spirit of this shrine originally was enshrined on the side of a nearby hill called ''Kamikura-yama' though, it was relocated to the present site as shown in the picture. Accordingly, this shrine is also called 'New Shrine'. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki.

International Library of Children's Literature in Ueno, Tokyo.

International Library of Children's Literature in Ueno, Tokyo.

This library was opened in 2002, as Japan's first national library focusing on children's books. The library building in the picture originally was the Imperial Library built in 1906, and was largely repaired for the new library for children. *Most books of the Imperial Library were moved into The National Diet Library in Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo, built in 1961. During the repair work, needless to say that striving to keep its original exterior as well as interior design, they also put importance on the remaking of the details such as illuminators and finishing hardware. The 100-year-old building was reborn as a modern intelligent building. Licensed tour guide,travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki.

Kanagu-ya ryokan stands in the heart of Shibu-onsen hot spring resort in Nagano Prefecture.

Kanagu-ya ryokan stands in the heart of Shibu-onsen hot spring resort in Nagano Prefecture.

The foundation of Kanagu-ya ryokan dates back to 1758. The name of Kanagu-ya sounds strange as the name of ryokan for the Japanese, because Kanagu-ya literally means a manufacturer of metal fittings. In fact, the founder of this ryokan was a blacksmith before 1758. Around 1930, thereafter, the five-storied wooden building as shown in the picture, big banquet room and public bathroom were added. The first building and the second room are on the list of the registered tangible cultural properties. Townscape preservation work of Shibu-onsen hot spring resort was carried out in preparation for Nagano Winter Olympic Games in 1998, thus this hot spring resort has totally retrieved its traditional atmosphere. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki.

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

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。

TOTO Museum in Kitakyushu City was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of TOTO'S foundation.

TOTO Museum in Kitakyushu City was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of TOTO'S foundation.

TOTO, inaugurated in 1917, is the oldest as well as the largest toilet maker in Japan. Most big businesses in Japan have their head office in mega cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya though, TOTO's head office is in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. The picture shows TOTO Museum adjacent to its head office. This is one of the rare full-scale museums in the world, as the main exhibits are focusing on toilets. From the first modern toilet in Japan down to the latest automated ones, various kinds of toilets in each era are on display here. Toilets aside, a lot of beautiful old dinnerware is also found here. Tracing the history of TOTO, it was separated in 1907 from Noritake, which is a world-famous dinnerware maker, and had been manufacturing dinnerware too till 1970. And TOTO's old dinnerware is still highly appreciated by connoisseurs. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant, Masahisa Takaki. 全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

About 1,200 wild deer inhabit all over Nara Park, including the precincts of Kasuga Shrine, Todai-ji

About 1,200 wild deer inhabit all over Nara Park, including the precincts of Kasuga Shrine, Todai-ji

The wild deer in Nara Park have long been warmly protected, as they are regarded as divine messengers of Kasuga Shrine. Killing a deer necessarily resulted in a severe penalty, and it is said that some offenders were actually sentenced to capital punishment. These deer once were threatened with extinction during and right after the second World War when the locals were suffering from a food shortage. However the number of the deer has been kept around 1,200 after that, thanks to the protection activities. Deer originally are very much timid animals though, the deer here are well tamed as they have long been fed by the locals. But they become short-tempered in the rat, so the locals periodically dehorn the bucks. From this point, they are not wild deer but belong to Kasuga Shrine to be more precise. It is under the consideration recently to cut back the number of the deer, because of the damage to the plants and crops caused by these deer.


Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.

'Nara-machi' zone in the heart of Nara City, Nara Prefecture, is lying in the ancient area,

'Nara-machi' zone in the heart of Nara City, Nara Prefecture, is lying in the ancient area,

Nara-machi has been developed on the overhanging part of 'Heijo-kyo', the capital of Japan before Kyoto. It is an old zone along the ancient grid-pattern roads in the 8th century. Ganko-ji Temple found here originally had extensive precincts though, these precincts had gradually been transformed into a commercial zone from the 16th to 19th century. It had become a busy zone with a variety of wholesalers and retailers dealing in writing brushes, Indian ink, mosquito nets and the like. This is one of the rare cities which escaped the air raids during the Second World War, as it was a relatively small city without big factories. Nara-machi, accordingly, is still dotted with many old buildings as shown in the pictures, and some of them are converted into bars, restaurants, variety shops and lodging houses to attract many people as a new tourist spot of this former capital.


Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.

The Nara Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Japan, is found on a hilltop of Nara City.

The Nara Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Japan, is found on a hilltop of Nara City.

Tackling the rapidly increasing number of non-Japanese travelers around the last half of the 19th century, the Japanese government urged the building of the accommodation facilities for them. In accordance with this situation, the Nara Hotel was erected in Nara City, Japan's first full-fledged capital in the 8th century. The exterior of this building is likened to Byodo-In Temple in nearby Uji City built in the 11th century. The hotel guests were limited to the people of social eminence at first, because this hotel was originally run as a quasi-national guest house. We can find many big names in the old hotel book, such as Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, Pyui (The last emperor of the Qing Dynasty), Jawaharlal Nehru, Audrey Hepburn and so on. Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

The history of 'Kamikochi', a leading mountainous scenic spot in Japan, dates back to 1896 w

The history of 'Kamikochi', a leading mountainous scenic spot in Japan, dates back to 1896 w

Walter Weston is known as the father of modern mountain-climbing in Japan. Because Japanese style mountain climbing was just for belief and discipline, or hunting at that time. He taught modern mountain climbing as a sport to Japanese people for the first time. Since then, many alpinists both within and outside Japan have started to visit here. When Higashi-Kunino-Miya, one of the princes of Japan, visited here in 1916, the mountain trails were largely repaired. Thanks to this environmental improvement program, Kamikochi has been widely known as a base of climbing as well as a scenic spot for common people. A flat highland expanding both sides of the Azusa 1,500 meters high above sea level, Kamikochi attracts more than 1.2 million visitors a year. There also stand many hotels, and the classic one in the second picture is the Kamikochi Imperial Hotel, the oldest high-end hotel here. The first picture shows the distant view of the peaks of the Hodaka over 3,000 meters high, Japan's third highest mountain range, seen from the central part of Kamikochi.


Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.

'Lake Suwa', found in central Nagano Prefecture, is known as 'Omiwatari' Shinto ritu

'Lake Suwa', found in central Nagano Prefecture, is known as 'Omiwatari' Shinto ritu

Lake Suwa, the perimeter of 17 kilometers, height above sea level of 760 meters and average depth of 4.7 meters, lies in Suwa Basin in Nagano Prefecture. It used to thickly freeze over the entire surface every winter, so that a military drill such as tank driving training and fighter taking off and landing training were carried out making the most of the thick ice. Repeated freezing over suddenly causes pressure ridges on the surface of the thick ice with a loud noise, which is called Omiwatari in this neighborhood. The locals thought these ice ridges must be the traces of a god and goddess of the shrine both sides of the lake. Two gods met each other in the middle of the lake on foot. This Omiwatari ritual dates back to the 12th century according to the old documents. However, the chance of their dating is dropping recently due to global warming.


Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.