Results tagged “Kyushu” from kwc blog

Photos: Sasebo Favorites

|

1 2 3

4 5 6 7 IMG_1600_edited-1 IMG_1389_edited-1

I couldn't post all the photos I wanted to from Sasebo, so I'm limiting myself to two sets: one with my favorites and one from around the city center. I would have omitted the latter, but it wouldn't have been fair to the city to do so. When I first showed my mom the photos I was taking, she complained that I was taking "ugly photos." She wondered why I wasn't taking photos of the more beautiful areas of Sasebo, whereas my photos seemed to all contain rust stains and grime. This is a frequent interaction with my mom. Several years ago I was taking her around MIT, she made hardly a comment. Later in the day we visited Harvard and she immediately burst out with a, "This is so much prettier! Why didn't you go to school here!?!?"

It isn't that I find rust attractive. Sasebo is filled with so many textures and has such an overwhelming density of architecture. I can't help taking photos of parking lots on top of homes, rooftops that meet in anything but right angles, buildings that similarly lack right angles, a narrow sidestreet adjacent to bright shopping plaza, homes that rise up and up into the hillside, and stairways, stairways, stairways. Zen photos are fun, but it's just as fun to take a stroll around town.

Full photoset

Photos: Sasebo City Center

|

IMG_1367_edited-1 IMG_1387_edited-1 Toy store in Sasebo

I've already posted some photos from the area around Sasebo, Japan, including spiders (kumo), 99 islands, and Braille-encoded city, but it's taken me quite awhile to start putting up photos of the city itself. I took hundreds of photos and I just want to post all of them with detailed explanations so that I could try to convey all the interesting aspects that I strangely find fascinating, like a shopping mall that could be Anywhere, US, a train tunnel through a shopping mall, four-way overpasses, and more. Neither you nor I really have time for that.

Full photoset

Photos: Nagasaki Peace Memorial

|

Nagasaki Peace Memorial-21Nagasaki Peace Memorial-10The Nagasaki Peace Memorial in Japan is a newly built memorial to the atomic bomb victims and survivors in Japan. Much of the complex is underground, with the above-ground portion serving as a public space to walk around and explore. The actual memorial is at the heart of the underground complex. An antechamber with video screens lets you learn more about each of the individual victims before entering the main memorial hall, which has lighted pillars that lead to a skylight above. In a roped-off portion of the hall is a lone dark pillar that contains the registry of all the victims.

Nagasaki Peace Memorial-13I left with mixed impressions of the building. From an architectural point of view, it was disorienting for me. It looked much like a Tadao Ando building, including a staircase that emerges out of the center of an elliptical pool, yet enough elements were slightly different from Ando's style that I could tell that it probably wasn't. The exterior layout was somewhat haphazard with very little to draw the eye, the dome was oddly placed, and the grounds weren't very well kept. I was happy to learn it wasn't an Ando building because I have higher expectations. The one element of the building design I did like was the finish on the interior concrete: it was very porous, almost wood-like in feel.

Nagasaki Peace Memorial-14The memorial itself was pretty, but it felt lacking in humanity. The use of pillars was familiar from the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, but unlike the Boston memorial that allows you to read the names inscribed, the main pillar with the names is roped off from exploration. Rather than express the human loss, it conveyed the sense of a vault. The antechamber's tech-y video screens combined with the sterility of the hall made me think of scenes from tech thrillers where the hero must break into the vault to steal the McGuffin.

Flickr Photoset of Nagasaki Peace Memorial

Photos: Kumo (Spiders)

|

Kumo-1-1

Mt. Yumihari, which overlooks the town of Sasebo, is covered in spiders. Between a pair of trees you might see up to a dozen spiders hanging in mid-air. The top of the mountain was formerly a World War II outpost, but now all that is keeping watch are thousands of spiders and some feral cats. The spiders have some great designs on their bodies, with underbellies often resembling a demon mask.

Flickr Photoset of Spiders

Braille-Encoded City

|

Braille Encoded City-1 Braille Encoded City-5

Braille Encoded City-2 Braille Encoded City-4 Braille Encoded City-3 Braille Encoded City-1-1

I noticed special tiles running along the sidewalks while I was wandering around the cities of Sasebo and Fukuoka in Japan. My mom explained that they help blind people navigate the city. With my mind now aware of these tiles and their purpose, they became a secret code for me to try and decode. Straight-lined tiles indicated a path to follow; dotted tiles could be arranged to flag a split in the path or a waiting point (e.g. crosswalk or bus stop). At the Fukuoka airport, the trail leads you through the automatic doors to a split: the side-branch takes you to a map of the airport. The secret codes also had their secret hiding places: tiny balled-headed pins were embedded in a railing, nearly invisible to the naked eye, which they are not meant for, but easily detected by anyone using the railing for assistance up the stairs. I wonder what the message is, something informative, "Ten paces to next set of stairs," or something cloak-and-dagger, "Secret meeting when the thunder whispers, follow the trail."

In the US, I've seen similar sorts of tiles to guide you from a Mountain View bus stop to the Caltrain station, but there is less code and the implementation is incomplete. I was able to wander most of downtown Sasebo by following the trail at my feet, though there are gaps and it will not get you far into the residential areas. At Fukuoka airport they lead you to a map, but inside the airport there is no guide on the floor to lead you; perhaps the map provided an answer I could not read.

Photos: 99 Islands

|

99 Islands-4 99 Islands-2

My cousins and aunt braved the cold for me so that I could snap some sunset photos of the 99 Islands from the top of Yumihari Mountain in Sasebo. The city of Sasebo is busily spread out around the harbor along one side of the mountain, while, on the other side, things are mostly green and blue with ony the occassional settlement dotting the view. I'm not sure how one counts the 99 Islands, as there are many formations barely larger than a boulder, but by the official metric it is actually closer to 218 or so. At night you can see a string of lights snaking across the water between the islands as the squid hunters go out and try to lure their prey.

99 Islands Photos (9 photos)

Japan trip index

|

Dazaifu Station-17 Dazaifu Station-21 Dazaifu Station-06

On my first full day in Japan my aunts took me to Dazaifu Station in Fukuoka. Dazaifu Station is home to Dazaifu Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine for Tenjin, as well as Komyozenji, a Buddhist temple with a Zen garden in back. Both are tourist attractions, i.e. they are not places for quiet contemplation, but they are very beautiful tourist attractions. In between our visit to the shrine and the temple we had lunch at Ume no Hana, a restaurant that specializes in tofu. Our lunch consisted of about fifteen courses, most of which I have photos of. Part of your meal price is the plates you choose to eat on, so thanks goes to my aunt for the nice plates you see pictured. I can't read our menu so I don't have proper names for most of the courses.

It was a little paranoia-inducing to see a photo of a bridge you just crossed at Dazaifu Tenmangu in a national newspaper the next day, but as it turns out the crown prince was in town.

All thirty photos from Dazazifu Station

Dazaifu Station-10 Dazaifu Station-05Dazaifu Station-08 Dazaifu Station-02 Dazaifu Station-16 Dazaifu Station-18 Dazaifu Station-13 Dazaifu Station-22 Dazaifu Station-28 Dazaifu Station-29 Dazaifu Station-27 Dazaifu Station-24

Quick post from Japan

|

Japan goes well and I've found some US Internet here on a military base nearby. My mom is off buying pizza for my aunt and Popeye's Chicken for me, so I have a bit of time.

I'm having a great time with my family. My aunts have been teaching me more proper green tea preparation as well as curry-cooking technique. In between has been several visits to 100 yen shops as well as a bus tour of Nagasaki.

The layout of Sasebo is reminiscent of a European town with twisty, tiny roads in the center, though most of the buildings here are less than 50 years old. The outer perimeter of the city appears to be a fortress conglomerate of giant pachinko parlors. The inside of those parlors sound like a waterfall, but substitute little metal balls for water and add a bunch of Vegas blinging noises. Five minutes was enough to make my ears ring.

The culture here has plenty of American influence -- the city's most famous food export is the Sasebo Burger and they've added a Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee since I last visited. I'm still not used to seeing teenagers dressed like rappers and grunge rockers.

I just purchased some t-shirts that I wanted to share with you:

Solution
Fraud Tradition
Mount Sedge the Cobalt Blue Beard
Explicate
disunion verbal

Usally Stomack as crunches are as appealing to you as pop quizzes
But not anymore.
This year you would-be couch potatoes are posed to become
very buff spuds.

As wonderful as these t-shirts are, I think the strangest thing is seeing how popular marijuana leaf (hemp) air fresheners are. It was a bit weird seeing them for sale in a kids store next to Minnie Mouse, but even weirder was seeing a Buddhist monk driving around with a marijuana leaf logo hanging from his rearview mirror.

That's all for now.