Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Nagoya : Atsuta Shrine

Today I visited the Atsuta Shrine with a friend. We wanted to visit Kami no Ondo, a shop that specialises in all kinds of paper and paper craft supplies. Since the shop is close to the Shrine we decided to visit it as well. 

Atsuta Shrine is one of the important Shinto Shrines in Japan. Infact it is considered the 2nd most important shrine after the Grand Shrines of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The Shrine stands amidst tall trees in Nagoya's Atsuta Ward. The Shrine buildings are built in the Shinmei-zukuri architecture and are said to be modeled after the Grand Shrines of Ise.  

Many of the shrine buildings were destroyed in the World War II bombings. The main Shrine Building, the Honden and other buildings were reconstructed in 1955. 

The Atsuta Shrine enshrines the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and the Five Gods of Atsuta. The Shrine is also home to ' Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi', a sword which is one of the Three Sacred Imperial Treasures. It is believed that three treasures, Yata no Kagami (a mirror), Kusanagi no Tsurugi (a sword) and Yasakani no Magatama (a jewel) were brought to earth by Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. The Japanese Imperial Family are descendants of Ninigi-no Mikoto. The three sacred treasures are considered to represent, valor, wisdom and benevolence. The Three Sacred Treasures find a mention in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki, the oldest Chronicles containing explanations about the origin of the Japanese islands and the Kami.Since these three treasures are legendary, the exact locations of these treasures are not disclosed but it is believed that the Sword is located in the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the mirror is located in the Ise Grand Shrine and the jewel is located at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Traditionally these three sacred treasures can be seen only by the Emperor and certain priests and these treasures are presented to the Emperor at the time of his enthronement ceremony, which is a private affair.

The Treasure Hall, Bunkaden, houses about 4000 articles donated by the Imperial family, Shoguns, feudal lords and even common people. The collection contains articles like ancient documents, sacred garments, masks, furniture and even household items. 

There are many halls where various ceremonies like weddings etc are conducted.

We saw few Plum blossoms on the Shrine grounds. 

Address: Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Atsuta Ku, Jingu 1-1-1

Phone: 052-671-4151 

Nearest station: Jingu Nishi and Tenma cho Stations on Subway Meijo Line and Jingu mae Station on Meitetsu Line

Opening Hours: Shrine -Open 24 hours
                          Treasure Hall: 9:00-16:30 hrs 

Closing Days: Shrine - Open 24 hours 
                     Treasure Hall- Closed on last Wednesday of each month and Dec 25-31

Entrance Fees: Shrine: Free
                         Treasure Hall: 300 yen 

Parking: Ample Parking Available

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Coffee Crazy : Latte Art

These days Latte Art seems to be the trend in Japan. There are a couple of Coffee shops specialising in Latte Art in Nagoya.     

What exactly is Latte Art ? It involves turning the foam on top of a Cafe latte or Cappuccino into a piece of art, like a sculpture or a tile. 

My friends and I tried out a couple of Coffee Shops specialising in Latte Art.
One of these Coffee Shops - ELK Cafe, specialises in 3D Latte Art.
The other shop, Presto Cafe specialises in Latte Art. 

The owner also conducts workshops for those wishing to learn Latte Art. 

At another Coffee Shop - Air Cafe, the Cafe Latte had this cute girl image on top.

Many local Baristas offer Latte Art workshops for those willing to learn the basic skills. But trust Japan to come up with a gadget for anything ! Toy maker Takara Tomy has introduced a 3D Latte Art Making gadget "Awa Taccino". It is ideal for people who want to try making their own latte art at home. Its blender dispenses milk foam in a controlled manner such that it makes the foam easy to sculpt. 

So go ahead, Indulge !  

Monday, March 02, 2015

Ena Kyo Gorge

Lately I haven't been posting much stuff. Though  I have been wanting to write for long time, somehow I have not been able to. Hopefully I will post more in the days to come. 

One of our day trips in Autumn was to a place called Ena Kyo. Ena Kyo or Ena Gorge is a scenic place in the neighboring Gifu Prefecture. It is a popular spot among tourists during the Cherry Blossom season in Spring and for Foliage Viewing in Autumn. 
 Ena Gorge is located along the historic Nakasendo highway which connected Kyoto and Tokyo (erstwhile Edo) during the Edo Period. It is also close to the old Nakasendo posts of Nakatsugawa, Magome and Tsumago. 

The Kiso river, popularly referred to as Japan's equivalent to the Rhine, runs through the Gorge. Various rock formations can be seen along the Gorge. 

The best way to enjoy this scenic place is from a cruise boat which take visitors around a 20 km area to view the rock formations. 

The 30 minute cruise boat trips are especially popular in Autumn and Spring when the cliffs appear to be decorated by the seasonal colors. 

Visitors can also hike along a circular trail between Oi Dam and Enakyo Ohashi Bridge. 

Address: 509-7201, Gifu Prefecture, Ena city, Oi-machi, Okudo 2709-104 (Ena Kyo Jet Marine)

Phone: 0573-25-4800

Website: (English)

Fare: Adult 1280 yen and Children (up to 12 years) :640 yen
         (Discount coupon available on the above Website)

Closed: Cruise cancelled in Inclement weather

On our way back to Nagoya, we stopped by at the Michi no Eki- Obachan ichii. 

Michi no eki are stops on Highways with facilities similar to the service areas on Expressways.

This one featured a Huge Wooden Waterwheel and offered nice views of the Origawa Dam nearby.  

Finding Art and Craft Supplies in Nagoya

Recently my friends and I have been indulging in arts and crafts. Since the weather was too cold for outdoor activities, we took this opportunity to turn creative. Some of my friends are really talented and so creative ! They conducted workshops to teach us to weave baskets, make our own crystal jewellery etc. Few of us also participated in a Paper Rose Window making workshop. Few more workshops are on the cards but we sometimes find it difficult to buy craft supplies. 

Most of us know of the Tokyu Hands stores at Nagoya station or the Tokyu Hands Annexe store in Sakae or online stores.The problem with ordering online is that most websites are in Japanese. So, I started looking for stores selling craft supplies in Nagoya and came across quite a few. So I thought I should share whatever information I have with others who might be interested. I have been to some of the stores but am yet to check out the others. 

1. For Paper Craft  :
    Store name: KAMI NO ONDO 
    Address: 11-26, Jingu 2 Chome,Atsuta Ku, NAGOYA  456-0031
    Phone:  052-671-2110 
    Timings: 9:30-17:30 hrs 
    Closed on Sundays
    Website :  
    Access: 5 mins walking from Tenmacho Subway Station on Meijo Line
2. For Fabric, Stitching Material, Woolens :
    Store Name: OTSUKAYA 
    Address: 3-1-24, Aoi, Higashi Ku, NAGOYA 461-8603
    Phone: 052-935-4531
    Timings: 10:00-18:30
    Closed: Irregularly 
    Access: 1 min walk from Kurumamichi Subway Station on Sakuradori Line 

3. For Traditional Japanese Doll making Kits, Kimekomi Kits etc:
    Store Name: NINGYODO
    Address: 13-16, Nakata 2 chome, Chikusa Ku, NAGOYA 464-0074
    Phone: 052-846-8373
    Timings: 9:00-17:30 hrs
    Access: 5 mins walking from Ikeshita Subway Station on Higashiyama Line

4. For Beads, Swarovski Crystals, Jewellery making kits, Natural stones 
    Store Name: PARTS CLUB  
    Address *: Central Park Annexe Bldg  B1 Floor, Sakae, Naka Ku, NAGOYA
    Phone: 052-961-6582
    Timings: 10:00-20:00 hrs
    Access: Hisaya Odori Subway Station on Sakuradori/Meijo Lines or Sakae Subway Station  
               * Same Building as Tokyu Hands Annexe store, Sakae

5. Fabric and Stitching Materials, Other Craft Supplies and Tools 
    Store Name: YUZAWAYA
    Address: Sakae Skyle 6F, 3-4-5, Sakae, Naka Ku, NAGOYA 460-0008
    Phone: 052-238-3232
    Timings: 10:00-20:00 hrs
    Access: 5 mins walking from Sakae Subway station 

6. Various Art and Craft Supplies 
    Store Name: SEKAIDO
    Address: 5F, PARCO East Wing, Sakae, Naka Ku, NAGOYA 460-0008
    Phone: 052-251-0404
    Timings: 10:00-21:00 hrs
    Access: 5 mins walking from Yaba Cho subway tation on Meijo Line/ 10 mins walking from                    Sakae Subway station 

For now, this is what I have found. I will update this list incase I come across any more stores.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

A visit to the Kokeizan Eihoji Temple

Few months back, we visited the Kokeizan Eihoji Temple. The temple is located in Tajimi City in Gifu Prefecture. 

The Temple was founded in 1313 and belongs to the Nanzen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. The temple, its grounds and several structures on the grounds have been designated National Treasures. At one time the temple complex consisted of about 30 structures but a few remain now.

The Zen garden is especially beautiful and include a pond, a bridge and a waterfall. 

The buildings are an interesting combination of Chinese and Japanese architecture. 
The main building, the Hondo with its stone lanterns is an impressive sight.

The original Hondo was destroyed in a fire in the Sengoku Period.  

The Musaibashi Bridge is the main attraction of the temple. 
The bridge is built over a pond filled with colorful carp.
It is believed that crossing the bridge symbolizes travelling to a place of enlightenment. 
Once you crossover, you are not supposed to walk back, but walk around it. 

The garden is a popular Momijigari or Autumn Leaf Viewing spot. No wonder the garden is designated as a place of National Scenic Beauty.

The Kannon Do hall is located across the Musaibashi Bridge. Kannon Do,one of the National Treasures is famous for its Zen architecture. A statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy is enshrined withn the building.

Kaisan-do, the other National Treasure houses the Kenpon Choshoku Senju Kannonzo, a silk fabric with a rendition of the Thousand Armed Kannon and calligraphy by the founding priests of the Kokeizan Eihoji Temple.
A 700 year old Gingko tree planted by the founder of the temple stands on the temple grounds. 

A wooden pagoda stands at one end of the Garden.  

On our way to the Kokeizan Eihoji temple we stopped at the Hojuin Temple. 
The temple is a subsidiary of the Kokeizan Eihoji temple. The  vermillion colored gate is impressive.
 It also has a small rock garden. 

Few other temples that we passed by on our way to the temple.

Address: Gifu Prefecture, 507-0014, Tajimi Shi, Kokeizan cho 1-40

Phone No: 0572-22-0351

Entrance  Fees: Free

Opening Hours: 5:00 am to 5:00 pm

Parking: Free Parking Available near the railway crossing. The temple is a 5-7 minute walk from the parking lot. 

Website: Click here (Japanese only)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ooidaira Kogen

After visiting Obara to view the Shikizakura, we drove a little further to Ooidaira Kogen, which is also known for its Autumn foliage.
The foliage was its peak and we enjoyed some beautiful sights. 

Free Parking is available across the road near the wooden bridge.

Donguri no Sato-Inabu is a popular roadside station where visitors can shop for local produce, sample seasonal delicacies and even soak in an onsen. 

Address: Aichi Prefecture, Toyota shi, Inabu-cho, Ooidaira 5-1 

Parking: Free Parking available

Entrance fees: Free