B&W Travel Photography Essay – Japanese Culture

Kendo at the Japan Matsuri

This travel photography essay was submitted to Edge of Humanity Magazine by photographer Hans Ter Horst.

 

Gohyaku Rakan — Gossiping monks

Gohyaku Rakan — Gossiping monks

Gohyaku Rakan, the 538 very personalized statues of the disciples of Buddha carved out of rock at the Kitai-in Temple, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. Each of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac are part of some of the statues and visitors find the animal that corresponds to their birth-year and leave an offering. If you pay attention you can see that all statues have been destroyed during the Meiji Restoration period, when Buddhist temples, text and images were destroyed as Buddhism in Japan had been close to the Tokugawa-clan that had just fallen out of power.

Kuroyu Onsen at Nyuto Onsen, Japan

Kuroyu Onsen at Nyuto Onsen, Japan

Nyuto Onsen in Akita Prefecture is one of the most famous onsen locations in Japan, mostly because of one very famous and expensive onsen, but there are many other hot springs in the same area that are much more rural and more fun to visit. Kuroyo onsen is one of the hidden onsen as featured in Robert Neff’s book: Japan’s hidden hot springs.

A Tsukubai at a Japanese shrine

A Tsukubai at a Japanese shrine

A tsukubai is a small basin provided at Shinto shrines, for visitors to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth. This photo was shot at a tiny shrine close to Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture.

Japanese graveyard next to a temple: the stone haka and the wooden sotōba

Japanese graveyard next to a temple: the stone haka and the wooden sotōba

The stone gravestones and the wooden strips marked with Buddhist sutra and the posthumous name of the deceased. In Japan, it is customary to receive a dharma name from the Buddhist priest, after death. The length of the name depends on the person’s virtue, but also on the amount of the donation, of the family and this is a bit controversial as often pressure is put on the family to pay more for a better name.

Wedding at the Meijijingu Shrine, Japan

Wedding at the Meijijingu Shrine, Japan

Shot at the Meiji Jingu shrine in the hearth of Tokyo. Personal anecdote: I had a Shinto ceremony myself when I married and I have walked underneath that large paper umbrella behind the priests with my wife.

Hannō matsuri, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

Hannō matsuri, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

Click on any image to see Hans’ archives of photographs taken over the last seven years.

All female Taiko drums

All female Taiko drums

Click on any image to see Hans’ archives of photographs taken over the last seven years.

The Black Castle, or Plover Castle as it is also known, in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, is one of the few remaining original wooden medieval castles in Japan.

The Black Castle, or Plover Castle as it is also known, in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, is one of the few remaining original wooden medieval castles in Japan.

Click on any image to see Hans’ archives of photographs taken over the last seven years.

Lanterns of Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara Park, Nara.

Lanterns of Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara Park, Nara.

Click on any image to see Hans’ archives of photographs taken over the last seven years.

Sake omiyage

Sake omiyage

See also:

Japan 

Bio

By Hans ter Horst

 


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