Curious as to why I haven't made a Japan-themed calendar yet? I have given it some thought but putting one together isn't as easy as one would think! (To learn about some of the challenges, I recommend reading my answer to question 10 on the FAQ page.) I haven't given up though. Let's see what the next year brings. (^.^)/
(This is the kind of photo I refer to in my answer to question 10. As much as I love photos like this, I'm not sure it's for everyone. Oh, it's also in portrait mode so there's that as well. Phooey!)
We've been practicing social distancing and staying very close to home these past few weeks. The plan was to tackle house chores and various projects while working at home. However, the fact is that not much is getting done despite having more time on our hands than usual. It's easy to feel overwhelmed right now as well as frustrated with all that is not going as usual, but I'm trying to be kind to myself in these complicated times and I pray that you are doing the same. Let's help each other through this...
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected. (^.^)/
(This is from a walk we took several days ago. Ah, it was so refreshing to be out and about.)
Spring is most definitely in the air! There are flowers around, of course. The plum blossoms are in full bloom and various camellia trees are as well. However, it's a delight to stubble across something unexpected, like this phox that was growing among the rock work fronting a grand house nearby. I can't wait for spring to really be here!
If you are puzzled about this cat, well, I was puzzled too. I was walking through a very small shrine just minutes away from my house and tucked away on the grounds was this goofy looking cat figurine beckoning good luck with both paws. It sat at the base of rather serious looking stone tablet which I expect was commemorating some auspicious event or person. It was so unexpected and I laughed when I saw it.
Ah, good-luck cat, I do hope your beckoning does the trick!
Bring it on! (^.~)/
(Those are plovers flying across the cat's tummy. Plovers dart through the high waves of the sea and brave strong winds while looking for food. As a result, they are seen as symbols of strength and perseverance.)
Top Photo: Original Photo
Bottom Photo: I went back on another day and took this to show the larger context. All those animal figurines are Chinese zodiac figurines that are discarded once their year is over.
3/2/2020 Update: The cat is no longer there. It has been replaced with the dancing boar seen in the photo on 1/2/2020. I'm curious as to what happened to it!
Okay, so I'm a little late with this image but it can't be helped. Life has been a bit all over the place and better late than never, right? (^.~)
This is the bridge at Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) in Osaka on January 2nd, 2020. Sumiyoshi Taisha is the head shrine of all the Sumiyoshi Shrines in Japan (there are over 2,000 of them) and was founded in the 3rd century. This makes it one of the oldest shrines in Japan. If you get a chance to visit, make sure pick up an English pamphlet - it will explain the unique layout (the 4 shrines are set up in an unusual configuration) and architecture which is thought to be free of influence from other Asian countries.
Personally, my favorite part of this shrine is the bridge. The official name is "Sorihashi" but it is more commonly known as the "Taiko (Drum) Bridge". During the first 3 days of the new year, close to 2.5 million people cross this bridge as they head to pray at one of the 4 shrines on the grounds. While the bridge may not look that steep from here, you need to watch your step as you walk across it - especially if there are thousands of people coming up from behind!
And don't be fooled into thinking this is peaceful, quiet scene! The grounds of the shrine are crammed full of food and games stalls during the first few days of the year and there is hardly enough room to move through the crowds. Ah, for me, Sumiyoshi Taisha is what spending the New Year in Osaka is all about - the noise, the people, the bridge, and taking this photo from the same vantage point every year...
Happy 2020! \(^.^)/
Wishing you many blessings.
I'm a photographer based in Osaka, Japan. I love to take photographs. I like to share.