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Japan is synonymous with ancient traditions and futuristic technology, and every year more than eight million visitors come to explore it. Of course, repeat visitors know its appeal rests on more than geishas and cell phones. What's the highlight of a Japan vacation for you? Whether it's zipping down the slopes at resorts in Nagano, finding serenity in Kyoto's temples and shrines, or singing karaoke late into a neon-lit Tokyo night, we want to see and hear about it.

Share your favorite photo from a trip you've taken to Japan, along with the story behind it, for a chance to win the grand prize: a Checkpoint roller bag from Timbuk2. One first prize winner will win a Timbuk2 Suitcase and 10 runners up will receive a Timbuk2 travel wallet and a Fodor's guide of their choice (click for prize details). All winners will have their photo featured in a slideshow on Fodors.com.

Enter "Show Us Your Japan" today! And tell friends and family who have traveled to Japan to enter too! The "Show Us Your Japan" contest closes March 16, 2009.

Photo by univek

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Calamari Anyone?

Calamari Anyone?

Where else would you set up a wake up call for 5AM. Only to goto a fish market? Only to discover the world's largest fish market and Sushi lover's paradise.

Photo: univek

Photo by Matt Herold

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The Great Buddha of Kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kamakura

The weathered face of Amida Buddha looks down on Kotoku-in temple in Kamakura.

Photo: Matt Herold

Photo by Matt Herold

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The Peace Statue

The Peace Statue

Shortly before the first tour buses start to arrive, a man snaps a picture of the Peace Statue in Nagasaki's Peace Park.

Photo: Matt Herold

Photo by Matt Herold

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Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

The serenity of a bamboo forest in Uji. Located on the outskirts of Kyoto, Uji is famous for its green tea and for being home to Byodo-in, the temple on the 10 yen coin.

Photo: Matt Herold

Photo by sddbb

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Hanging by a Thread

Hanging by a Thread

Fortune seekers tie their bad-luck-prediction paper at the temple to have themselves protected from the misfortunes.

Photo: sddbb

Photo by Matt Herold

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Japanese Calligraphy

Japanese Calligraphy

A man does shodo (Japanese calligraphy) near the exit of Todaiji temple, home to Nara's famous Daibutsu, or "Great Buddha".

Photo: Matt Herold

Photo by sddbb

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Shrine in Tsukiji Market

Shrine in Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market is famous for the fish market and fresh sushi. Perhaps not many people will notice this small, hidden shrine around the corner. These water scoops are used to cleanse hands before entering the shrine.

Photo: sddbb

Photo by lilaki

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Peaceful grounds of Himeji Castle

Peaceful grounds of Himeji Castle

Escaping the throngs of visitors at Himeji Castle, we stumbled upon this quiet oasis and striking stone bridge.

Photo: lilaki

Photo by sunD

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Deer me!

Deer me!

Deer roam freely around Nara Park. They are tame and very friendly, but can be sneaky at times.

Photo: sunD

Photo by frkhan

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Geisha watching children play

Geisha watching children play

We were walking around old Kyoto when we came upon these two lovely geisha. They were waiting for someone, but in the meantime were watching some children play off to the side. The looks on their faces was what caught my eye.

Photo: frkhan

Photo by ericmeg

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Matsuri Meeting

Matsuri Meeting

Our son Jackson (on right) and his new friend in Asakusa at Sanja Matsuri. The Japanese would flock to our blue-eyed baby, as I would be drawn to their little asian cherubs! Tokyo and surrounding areas are easy places to meet people and make friends.

Photo: ericmeg

Photo by Jay_Sottolano

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Some things never change

Some things never change

Amidst the hustle and bustle of tourists walking about the many paths of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, an older woman holds to the old ways of keeping the gardens beautiful, using a simple bamboo broom. Nothing motorized, nothing electric, just what has worked for centuries.

Photo: Jay_Sottolano

Photo by StacyKuti

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Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

One of the best times to be in Japan is during the brief and beautiful cherry blossom season. I have found that one of the finest places to enjoy the sakuras is in Arashiyama in Kyoto. The cherry blossom trees line the river and are speckled throughout the mountains. I really enjoyed getting lunch from the food stalls and having a picnic along the river sitting under a tree overflowing with pink sakura petals. This was one of the most perfect days I ever spent in Kyoto!

Photo: StacyKuti

Photo by kgrijalva

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Afternoon stroll

Afternoon stroll

As I followed these women under the array of electrical wires and through meandering streets of ice cream shops, time stood still, encapsulating them in cultural tradition. I could only imagine the conversation among these modern girls in a modern world. No matter the changes of the city or fashion, the universal conversation topics of young women stand the test of time.

Photo: kgrijalva

Photo by StacyKuti

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Yokohama Fireworks

Yokohama Fireworks

Summer is one of my favorite times to be in Japan. Summer brings festivals, yukatas, shaved iced and of course fireworks! A highlight of Japanese summer for me is meeting up with friends, keeping cool with some shaved ice, and watching the fireworks light up the night sky. Everyone oohs and aahs at each burst of color. At the end of the show, the crowd erupts in applause! My favorite place to watch fireworks is at the Yokohama Bay fireworks festival.

Photo: StacyKuti

Photo by Jay_Sottolano

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Dance of the Capital - Miyako Odori

Dance of the Capital - Miyako Odori

One of the most special moments in Kyoto is an evening with the maiko and geiko of Gion Kobu. The authentic tea ceremony and performance by the musicians and dancers, makes this enchanting. You feel transformed to a different place and time of Japan's history, even if only for a brief time.

Photo: Jay_Sottolano

Photo by kgrijalva

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Solitude at the zen garden

Solitude at the zen garden

A fellow visitor takes a moment to reflect in the zen rock garden.

Photo: kgrijalva

Photo by kikipoo

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 Purification Ritual

Purification Ritual

We had a great experience touring the Meijing Shrine in Tokyo, thanks to our wonderful guide Kyoko, (Tokyo Free Guide) who spent an entire day with us. There, she taught us the rituals of purification so that we could enter the shrine properly, making sure that the last step was cleansing our hands...and the vessel we'd used. From then on, upon entering any shrine or temple in Japan, we were aware of, and comfortable with the procedure, and happily shared our experience with our fellow travelers who later joined our tour group..

Photo: kikipoo

Photo by kgrijalva

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Moment of reflection

Moment of reflection

At a temple, surrounded by cultural beauty, tradition and wisdom that was beyond my grasp, this woman reminds that a simple moment to reflect is the universal language of understanding.

Photo: kgrijalva

Photo by StacyKuti

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Kiyomizudera at Night

Kiyomizudera at Night

No trip to Japan is complete without visiting Kyoto. I was fortunate enough to go to Kyoto at the peak of cherry blossom season. Kiyomizudera welcomes visitors at night during this special time to view the sakuras all lit up. It is breathtaking to see not only the temple lit up, but also to see the sakuras glowing along with it. From this famous viewing spot in the temple, you can also see the city of Kyoto illuminated in the distance. This was an unforgettable Kyoto experience!

Photo: StacyKuti

Photo by kikipoo

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Quite a Fish Story!

Quite a Fish Story!

Our 5:00 a.m. arrival at the Tsukiji Fish Market gave us the opportunity to watch and hear the auctioneers and wholesalers in a whirlwind of activity. This photo shows a wholesaler preparing his purchase for his regular customers: usually retail markets and restaurants.

Photo: kikipoo

Photo by melix96

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Up to Kiyomizu Shrine

Up to Kiyomizu Shrine

The simplicity and eye for detail in Japanese aesthetics struck me on my walk up to visit Kiyomizu Shrine. The moss growing through the cracks in the walls reflect what has been referred to as wabi-sabi (roughly, the idea that all things are imperfect and impermanent). As elsewhere in Japan, there was no litter to be found.

Photo: melix96

Photo by LauraBurr

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Buddhist temple with strings of wishes

Buddhist temple with strings of wishes

In the sweltering heat of August, I came accross this string of wishes in the courtyard of a Kyoto temple.

Photo: LauraBurr

Photo by Jimbly

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Rice paddy reflections

Rice paddy reflections

Quietly working against the reflected sky.

Photo: Jimbly

Photo by Jimbly

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Giant Bamboo

Giant Bamboo

Huge bamboo shoots dwarf my mate!

Photo: Jimbly

Photo by diorbabej

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Class in Session

Class in Session

It must be a bliss to have a field trip in this magical bamboo grove

Photo: diorbabej

Photo by FineTuscanWine

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Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

On an overnight ferry from Beppu to Osaka just before docking I noticed we were approaching a bridge and wanted to try and capture being directly underneath of it. It was a terribly windy and rainy start to the morning.

Photo: FineTuscanWine

Photo by martinlevine

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Slurping Soba

Slurping Soba

After an icy-cold morning in the snow-covered mountain village of Gokayama, we headed for lunch in a noodle house. We were starving, and by now had mastered the art of chopsticks, so slurped our soba with gusto! Delicious.

Photo: martinlevine

Photo by cmstraf

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Persimmon tree in late autumn

Persimmon tree in late autumn

The round ripeness of the persimmon contrasts with the austere beauty of the bare branches amidst the lush gardens of the Temple of the Golden Pavillion, offering a graceful depiction of the Japanese theme of the interplay between transience and permanence in the beauty of nature

Photo: cmstraf

Photo by martinlevine

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The Recording of Memories

The Recording of Memories

At the advice of Japanese friends living in the United States, we bought a 24-page "temple travel book" (Nokyocho) at the first temple we visited in November, 2007. It cost approximately $12.00 US, and we carried it with us throughout our journey. At each shrine or temple we visited, we paid $3.00 (US) at the Nokyo (Pilgrim's Office) for a monk's inscription, temple stamp and the date of our visit on one of the pages. The accordion-like book measures about 5" x 7" and is a special record of our shrine and temple visits, as well as a great conversation piece since it now stands open on a shelf in our home.

Photo: martinlevine

Photo by martinlevine

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Traditional Tea Ceremony

Traditional Tea Ceremony

Watching and participating in this traditional tea ceremony (Cho-no-yu) was especially enjoyable for us, since our guide had prepared us ahead of time, telling us the significance of each item used, in addition to instructing us in the etiquette to follow. We had practiced holding and turning the bowl in a particular way and knew that we were to compliment the hostess on the beauty of the ceremony and instruments used as well as the delicious flavor of the tea. We sat on tatamis and watched in silence and were amazed at the grace and elegance of our hostess, and left with a sense of having experienced and participated in an unforgettable Japanese tradition.

Photo: martinlevine

Photo by altezza

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Ginza Mitsukoshi store

Ginza Mitsukoshi store

nicely packaged high price fruits

Photo: altezza

Photo by altezza

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 Osaka clown

Osaka clown

famous Osaka clown

Photo: altezza

Photo by spasticmunky

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Shinkansen Hikari 421

Shinkansen Hikari 421

Riding on the most comfortable and fastest train in the world, it also has the ultra sleek look, like a transformer ready to go to battle!

Photo: spasticmunky

Photo by jlmurphy

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Prepared for firing

Prepared for firing

On a day trip to Bizen, I roamed the two main streets of this little pottery town - quiet, serene, and void of other tourists. I stopped into the many shops, carefully soaking in all of the beautifully displayed Bizen ware for sale. In one shop, a worker motioned me to the back door and I stepped into a small world of pottery production. The outdoor space contained shelves filled with bowls, cups, and vases prepared for firing, gigantic kilns being loaded, and ceiling-high stacks of pine wood for fueling the kilns. Inside a small workshop, one of the artisans showed me the ancient process of applying rice straw and pine ash to pieces to create their unique finish. The photograph I am submitting is of some of his pieces awaiting firing outside a kiln. This was one of the most personal and inspiring parts of my trip to Japan.

Photo: jlmurphy

Photo by DesmondHo

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"Kinkakuji" The Golden Pavilion

A friend brought us to this beautiful pavilion. Made us wonder how's the interior looks like, since entering the building is prohibited.

Photo: DesmondHo

Photo by walt_niemczura

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Honden Shrine in Nekko

Honden Shrine in Nekko

Looking down from the steps leading up to the Honden at the shrine complex in Nikko.

Photo: walt_niemczura

Photo by walt_niemczura

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Sleeping Cat

Sleeping Cat

When we lived in Tokyo in 2005 once of our first trips was to Asakusa with my brother who was passing through Japan on his way to the Philippines. As we wandered around the side streets I happened on this sign. At first I thought that the cat was a stuffed animal but after a couple of seconds its whiskers twitched.

Photo: walt_niemczura

Photo by Margo_Niemczura

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Heading Home

Heading Home

This photo was taken at dusk at the shrine next to our apartment in Kagurazaka, Tokyo. I was always amazed by the way the noise and bustle of the nearby shopping street was replaced by a sense of peace and tranquility when I entered the grounds of the shrine.

Photo: Margo_Niemczura

Photo by hliao

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Fuji and Pirate Ship

Fuji and Pirate Ship

Early in the morning, the tourist/pirate ships on Ashino Lake were already busy running. Suddenly the cloud cleared and gave a glimpse of the Fuji summit.

Photo: hliao

Photo by peter7800

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The stunning Shinto gate of Itsukushima-jinja

The stunning Shinto gate of Itsukushima-jinja

Seeing Miyajima's beautiful floating torii flanked by one of the many iconic Japanese lanterns that dotted the island made for an unforgettable sight that I knew I had to capture.

Photo: peter7800

Photo by peter7800

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A pilgrim resting during his temple climb

A pilgrim resting during his temple climb

About half-way up the 1368 steps to the top of Kompira-san, we stopped for a moment and saw a man in a traditional bamboo hat who had decided to take a nap before continuing his trek to the top of the temple.

Photo: peter7800

Photo by Travelanytime

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Street food vendor

Street food vendor

One of the popular culture in Asia and one way to taste some of the local food.

Photo: Travelanytime

Photo by Travelanytime

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Bicycles parking

Bicycles parking

As modern as Japan is, bike is still one of the popular mean of transporation even in the cities. Good for the environment.

Photo: Travelanytime

Photo by slangevar

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Subway squish

Subway squish

The Tokyo metro is so dependable that workers need a note in order to blame their train for being late. It's also packed. This car was so stuffed, we were ready to wait for the next train, but two polite men in white gloves pushed us in until the doors were able to close. They must be amazing packers.

Photo: slangevar

Photo by slangevar

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Thirsty anyone?

Thirsty anyone?

It's impossible to go thirsty in Japan because there seems to be a vending machine (or 30) on every corner, in people's backyards and even on deserted rural streets like this. We tried just about every drink we found except "Pocari Sweat."

Photo: slangevar

Photo by slangevar

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Bunraku in Gion Corner

Bunraku in Gion Corner

Bunraku is a traditional form of puppet theater in which black-clad puppeteers seem to bring the puppets to life. This shot is from Musume Koi no Hikanoko in which Oshichi sets fire to her town in hopes of seeing her love again.

Photo: slangevar

Photo by slangevar

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Little Bow Peep

Little Bow Peep

We spotted her near the statue of Hachiko in Shibuya. My Japanese friend calls these girls "Little Bow Peeps" - Harajuku fashionistas who dress up and walk around town pigeon-toed, like little girls.

Photo: slangevar

Photo by sincerelyg

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Autumn in Arashimaya

Autumn in Arashimaya

fall Ferry ride at Arashimaya, Kyoto.. It is more traditional area near Kyoto.. Boat ride takes you back in time.

Photo: sincerelyg

Photo by xv

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Three cherubs

Three cherubs

While in the Tokyo area and in Ropungi Hills area inside one of the buildings was a sculpture...a large stone with an opening...a family walked by and the three girls were quickly attracted to climbing in the hole....what a beautiful photo!

Photo: xv

Photo by heidzilu

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Hakone Hot Spring

Hakone Hot Spring

The hot spring is used to boil eggs. The saying goes that if you eat one egg, it increases your life by 7 years.

Photo: heidzilu

Photo by MongolGlobal

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Modern Geisha

Modern Geisha

This photo is of a young Geisha that I met in Kyoto. I love this photo becuase it conveys the merging of ancient and modern traditions!

Photo: MongolGlobal

Photo by EricBaum

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The Bath

The Bath

These are Japan's famed snow moneys in Jigokudani (Japanese for Hell's Valley). On cold days, the monkeys come down from the hills to unwind in the natural hot springs dotting the area. Monkey viewing is immensly popular in Japan - a reflection of the country's love of nature and its inhabitants.

Photo: EricBaum

Photo by scarbeary

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Sword play

Sword play

I have too many beautiful images of Japan to choose just one. But on a afternoon strol to a temple we first came upon this court yard of Samuri practicing their art and were treated to a view of Japan not in any guide books. Arigato

Photo: scarbeary

Photo by robando

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Old meets new

Old meets new

There was something captivating about watching the Rockabillies in Yoyogi Park one Saturday afternoon. This one girl's outfit particularly struck me not to mention the juxtaposition of the outfit and the cellphone.

Photo: robando

Photo by Lulu16

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Japanese Business Cards!

Japanese Business Cards!

Thousands of these brightly coloured orange torii line the path which winds it's way up a mountain. These torii are donated by businessmen, hoping for success in their businesses. It was a beautiful walk with the sun shining through the orange autumn leaves onto these brilliant poles.

Photo: Lulu16

Photo by Lulu16

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Yummy in any language

Yummy in any language

Of all the wonderful sights in Japan, it was impossible for a little boy (and big boys!!)to walk pass this one - the biggest icecream ever. It all looked so tempting that we were quickly inside buying the real thing. And surprise, surprise, it tasted as fabulous as the 'fake food' looked

Photo: Lulu16

Photo by michaellynch

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Pep Rally

Pep Rally

The night before an Okinawan Bullfight celebrating the Lunar New Year, Eisa Dancers perform in the arena where the Bullfights take place.

Photo: michaellynch

Photo by michaellynch

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Not Glass Slippers

Not Glass Slippers

A group of young ladies waiting for their signal to enter the ballfield to perform Eisa Dancing at a Village Festival are shown in this photo wearing what the locals call "Shima Zori". Yellow flip-flops are probably the most popular form of footwear in Okinawa; certainly the most comfortable !

Photo: michaellynch

Photo by RMCASS

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Japanese Sumo Wrestling

Japanese Sumo Wrestling

Plan your trip to Japan to see one of the Grand Sumo Tournaments. Very entertaining with lots of ceremony. Simply put, the last man standing in the ring wins.

Photo: RMCASS

Photo by Relocated

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Sweet Chestnuts

Sweet Chestnuts

Loved the simple beauty of these "amaguri" - sweet chestnuts. This popular snack can be found at outdoor kiosks on the sidewalks of Yokohama.

Photo: Relocated

Photo by Relocated

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Geisha Beauty

Geisha Beauty

Early one evening while strolling through the narrow streets of the historic Geisha District of Kyoto, I was startled to hear the nearby "clip-clop" sound of geta (platform sandals). I looked up just in time to snap a photo of this Geisha beauty en route to a teahouse.

Photo: Relocated

Photo by djirku

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Asahi-dake, Daisetsuzan National Park

Asahi-dake, Daisetsuzan National Park

The fuming volcano of Asahi-dake, the highest point on the island of Hokkaido. My wife and I hiked to the summit of many volcanoes during our 3-week trip to Japan in September 2008, but this view is simply my favorite.

Photo: djirku

Photo by inglea

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Shinto wedding processional

Shinto wedding processional

During a visit to Meiji Jingu (Shrine), we were able to see a traditional Shinto weddinng processional. Meiji Jingu is located adjacent to Yoyogi Park in Tokyo where I lived when my father was head of the Far East Command. We lived in Japan for two years, and these past two visits to Japan have been a wonderful experience for me. The Japanese are very gracious, their cities are immaculate, and their culture and history very interesting.

Photo: inglea

Photo by inglea

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Ryozen-Kwannon

Ryozen-Kwannon

This statue of the compassionate Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Kwannon) was erected by the late Hirosuke Ishikawa to commemorate the Japanese soldiers who lost their lives in World War II. Unveiled on June 8, 1955, the statue is a good example of Showa era art.

Photo: inglea

Photo by inglea

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Daibutsu-den

Daibutsu-den

Daibutsu-den translates to the Hall of the Great Buddha. The structure is said to be the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world. The current Daibutsu-den was restored in 1709 and houses the Daibutsu, a 53-foot bronze statue of the Buddha.

Photo: inglea

Photo by Richard1945

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Rush Hour

Rush Hour

One has to get used to the grounds or take a later train.

Photo: Richard1945

Photo by Richard1945

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Mist rising

Mist rising

Looking out our hotel near Hakone, as the mist rose from the lake to cover Mt Fugi.

Photo: Richard1945

Photo by Richard1945

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Night life

Night life

Wandering the streets in the evening taking in the Japanese atmosphere.

Photo: Richard1945

Photo by cnishi

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Seto Ohashi Bridge

Seto Ohashi Bridge

This is the longest Road/Rail Bridge in the World. Linking, Kojima in, Okayama Prefecture, on Honshu, to Sakaide in Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku.

Photo: cnishi

Photo by cnishi

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Lunch Time in Yonago

Lunch Time in Yonago

What a treat! Everything so fresh, delicately prepared and served.

Photo: cnishi

Photo by Bac654

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Just Browsing

Just Browsing

We spent a fabulous day in the park exploring the temples and interacting with the deer. As our day was coming to a close, we came upon this lone deer... "just browsing"

Photo: Bac654

Photo by spalt

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Two women in kimono

Two women in kimono

On a street in Kyoto on a rainy afternoon.

Photo: spalt

Photo by stefd

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Have you seen my bike

Have you seen my bike

This was taken outside Ryogoku station, how does anyone can find their bike at the end of the day ?

Photo: stefd

Photo by Gerald1944

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Mesmerizing smoke

Mesmerizing smoke

Outside Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo's largest Buddhist temple, this young Japanese boy appears mesmerized by the incense smoke from the caldron. The incense smoke is believed to have the power to purify and heal.

Photo: Gerald1944

Photo by Gerald1944

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Friendly Tadpole Collectors

Friendly Tadpole Collectors

During low tide, we saw Japanese children catching tadpoles from shallow pudles of water in front of the famous Otorii Gate. The children were anxious to demonstrate their friendliness and compassion for the world with the peace sign.

Photo: Gerald1944

Photo by tower

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The Tunnel to Miho

The Tunnel to Miho

This museum, overlooked by so many visitors, has this unique, long tunnel entrance...in this case, two kimono'ed ladies are heading for the museum. Designed by world famous architect, I.M. Pei, I feel it is a "must" for all visitors to Kyoto.

Photo: tower

Photo by tower

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From sewage running in the streets, 1946, to this phenomenal sewer cover in 2007

From sewage running in the streets, 1946, to this phenomenal sewer cover in 2007

When I was a G.I. in Japan, in 1946 , it was was a devastated , downtrodden country, reeling from the massive defeat...and when I saw these changes upon my return in 2007, the sewer cover served as a symbol for the amazing resilience of a world class nation.

Photo: tower

Photo by gonzal1

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Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

This castle is worth the trip to Himeji!! Don't miss it!

Photo: gonzal1

Photo by ChristineC

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Peace and Happiness To All

Peace and Happiness To All

This is my husband and three cute Japanese high school girls. They were interviewing tourists and taking surveys to practice their English. This was at the entrance to the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. We love to interact with the people of each country we visit especially the children and teenagers. These girls were so friendly and even laughed at my husband's silly jokes. Japan is a beautiful country that manages to combine the sleek ultra modern buildings with the most beautiful traditional gardens, parks and pavilions. Christine Affronti

Photo: ChristineC

Photo by DeirdreGoggins

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Golden House

Golden House

We turned the counter on our tour to find the house of gold in such a scenic setting.

Photo: DeirdreGoggins

Photo by DeirdreGoggins

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thousand lanterns

thousand lanterns

It was breathtaking viewing the thousands of lanterns in Kyoto with my 13 year old nephew. Simple symbolism that runs in deep water.

Photo: DeirdreGoggins

Photo by luvleigh

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Bamboo Groves

Bamboo Groves

featured in all japan travel guide book.. but it never ceased to amaze when you actually 'walked down the aisle'

Photo: luvleigh

Photo by kaleimakamae

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A step into the past

A step into the past

Carrying bamboo poles involves the same tools as it did in the past, only the clothing changes. The shrine was very busy this day, so this was a happy moment of peace watching these men work. December 2008

Photo: kaleimakamae

Photo by magicvoice

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Sea of hats

Sea of hats

This is a group of grade school students on a field trip to Arashiyama just outside Kyoto. The color of the hats lets adults know what grade they are in and makes them easy to spot in case they get lost and also for traffic safety.

Photo: magicvoice

Photo by meohare

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A fresh glance at a couple of long-standing Japanese traditions.

A fresh glance at a couple of long-standing Japanese traditions.

We were most fortunate to encounter a pair of beautifully adorned Geisha out enjoying the pleasures of an early evening rickshaw ride through Maruyama park.

Photo: meohare

Photo by christinea78

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Kasuga Taisha

Kasuga Taisha

This Shinto temple is a photographer's paradise with over 100 lanterns. Beautiful spot! Twice a year a lantern festival is held. The temple was originally built for the Fuijiwaras, one of the many families who founded Nara.

Photo: christinea78

Photo by christinea78

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Sakura Buddha

Sakura Buddha

Walking along the streets of Gion is a delight during Sakura season. Beautiful!

Photo: christinea78

Photo by Michael

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temple courtyard

temple courtyard

The photo contains the essential elements of the manicured Japanese garden: the simple wooden fencing, the raked gravel, the green of the cedar against the red of the Shinto temple.

Photo: Michael

Photo by Charliedell

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A golden grin

A golden grin

My family travelled to Japan in December 2008. This is my four-month old son Xavier, grinning in front of the gleaming pavillion. This photo always makes me smile.

Photo: Charliedell

Photo by caroneko

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Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

A clam picker is hard at work, early in the morning, amidst the glittering waves of the ocean.

Photo: caroneko

Photo by caroneko

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The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

An incredible sight; this temple was once covered with gold leaf that has since been replaced. Nonetheless, it retains its rich beauty.

Photo: caroneko

Photo by scutso

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Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

This temple has more than 1200 stone rakan carved mostly by amateurs. The story is that the temple needed repairs badly, and a fundraiser was developed so that anyone could learn how to carve the stone rakan for a donation. There are so many of them, crammed into this beautiful, out of the way, setting.

Photo: scutso

Photo by scutso

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Little Foxes

Little Foxes

Fushimi Inari is our favorite shrine in Kyoto. We especially like the shrine mascot, the clever fox.

Photo: scutso

Photo by mrwunrfl

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7-5-3

7-5-3

This beauty was my first photo on the first day of my first vacation trip (of seven so far) to Japan. She is dressed for Shichi Go San. November 2001. Got permission by signing to her parents and grandparents who were taking photos. My compliment on her beauty was understood by her grandfather and so the first thing said to me by a Japanese in Japan was "domo arrigato gozaimasu". A good start.

Photo: mrwunrfl

Photo by mrwunrfl

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Ogimachi, Shirakawa go, Gifu ken

Ogimachi, Shirakawa go, Gifu ken

Shirakawa-go under a "light" blanket of snow, January 2004. Before trudging up the hill, I asked a snow shoveling boy if I was headed in the right direction. I was. A couple minutes after I started walking, the boy and his mother drove up and gave me a ride to the top in their car.

Photo: mrwunrfl

Photo by ms_go

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Heian Shrine

Heian Shrine

I was crossing the stone path in the pond (the same stones you see Scarlett Johansson skipping across in Lost in Translation) when I looked down and noticed the dragonfly centered among the flowers. I was a little concerned about keeping my balance on the stone while trying to frame this.

Photo: ms_go

Photo by ms_go

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A row of swan boats awaits customers on Lake Ashi

A row of swan boats awaits customers on Lake Ashi

We took a day trip to Hakone National Park, on a rare July day when the clouds cleared a bit and we could actually see Mt. Fuji (not in this photo).

Photo: ms_go

Photo by hrochas

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Kintai Bridge

Kintai Bridge

Five arched wooden bridge/ Gold like nishiki obi/ Serenity here

Photo: hrochas

Photo by stcecile

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How do you say 'scrumptious' in Japanese?

How do you say 'scrumptious' in Japanese?

With a dizzying thirty flavors to pick from, I finally decided on plum, and then I simply had to try the wasabi, and both were as good as they looked! Scrumptious!

Photo: stcecile

Photo by bcornejo

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outstanding museum

outstanding museum

The Open Air Art Museum in Hakone featured outdoor, large sculpture by many artists, both Japanese and foreign. AND a large Picasso Museum (no photos allowed). The gardens were beautiful.

Photo: bcornejo

Photo by hotlantabear

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Moving Geisha

Moving Geisha

Was crossing a street and saw this beautiful geisha right next to me.

Photo: hotlantabear

Photo by hotlantabear

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Buddha's Hands

Buddha's Hands

I remember the tranquility of this site every time I look at this photo.

Photo: hotlantabear

Photo by hotlantabear

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Street Market

Street Market

A table full of these caught my eye.

Photo: hotlantabear

Photo by CLenfield

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Edo Shop

Edo Shop

I live here in Japan and drove up to this shop because I had heard of these famous little teacups that when you hold up to the light you can see a geisha shining through. I fell in love the little old lady running the shop. She filed down my teacups until they were very thin. I plan on going back before leave.

Photo: CLenfield

Photo by labern116

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Leaves falling on an Autumn Day

Leaves falling on an Autumn Day

We were on our way to catch the tour and realized Autumn was here.

Photo: labern116

Photo by meohare

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... In hopes of good fortune.

... In hopes of good fortune.

On the grounds of Sensoji Temple, we found crowds of visitors immersing themselves in plumes of incense. All in hopes of good fortune and good health.

Photo: meohare

Photo by mvclmn

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Sneep Dip

Sneep Dip

The theme of the trip and then some.

Photo: mvclmn

Photo by mikebytahoe

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Sumo Wrestlers Waiting To Go On

Sumo Wrestlers Waiting To Go On

Before the main Sumo tourament in Tokyo, they hold demonstration matchs open to the public where you can get up close and personal with the wrestlers. Here two of the best known wrestlers wait their turn.

Photo: mikebytahoe

Photo by mikebytahoe

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The Painters

The Painters

While touring with the Women's Group of the Tokyo American Club, I happened on these painters capturing the beautiful scenery.

Photo: mikebytahoe

Photo by mikebytahoe

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The Togo Girls

The Togo Girls

The Togo Shrine is a great place to visit to catch local events and weddings and visit the nearby flea market.

Photo: mikebytahoe

Photo by mikebytahoe

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Man in the Garden

Man in the Garden

On a tour with the women's group of the Tokyo American Club, I happened on this gardener busily at work.

Photo: mikebytahoe

Photo by CMNak

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Tea sweets in Spring celebration

Tea sweets in Spring celebration

Spring in Japan, with its quintessential cherry blossoms, is a season for celebrating rebirth and life. During the spring, festivals and tea ceremonies are held to celebrate the season. This tray of sweets was served during a spring tea ceremony and shows the beauty, delicacy and elegance of Japanese traditions.

Photo: CMNak

Photo by tcho82

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Standing tall and majestic next to the Miyajima Shrine

Standing tall and majestic next to the Miyajima Shrine

A beautiful structure, jutting out of the landscape like a historic skyscraper. The backdrop creates a stunning environment to view the details of the structure. A definite site to see while in the area.

Photo: tcho82

Photo by tcho82

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The beautiful Kintai Bridge

The beautiful Kintai Bridge

A great wooden bridge, with beautiful architectural details. It made a wonderful starting point for the hike up to Iwakuni Castle.

Photo: tcho82

Photo by tcho82

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Wandering the shops of Miyajima (Itsukushima)

Wandering the shops of Miyajima (Itsukushima)

After visiting Itsukushima Shrine, there are many wonderful shops to stroll along and enjoy at a leisurely pace. The backdrop is also quite beautiful.

Photo: tcho82

Photo by kbrennan

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Daigo Shrine

Daigo Shrine

Very tranquil and photogenic spot - cherry blossom petals in the water.

Photo: kbrennan

Photo by kbrennan

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Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

A riot of lights, sounds and people.

Photo: kbrennan

Photo by jpellgen

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Maze of Torii

Maze of Torii

Minutes from Kyoto station lies one of the most breath-taking sites in all of Japan. Fushimi Inari shrine features thousands upon thousands of Shinto gates called "torii" that are lines up along the mountainside in tunnel-like fashion. This scene has been popular amongst tourists, and has even been displayed in the recent film "Memoirs of a Geisha." I arrived early in the morning on a sunny day in late March. The stillness of the air, the quiet atmosphere of the mountain, and the light beaming through the endless row of torii was certainly a memory that will be with me for a long time.

Photo: jpellgen

Photo by jpellgen

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Sanjusangen-do Sakura

Sanjusangen-do Sakura

Sakura is an important cultural icon and symbol of Japan. As a historian, the significance of the cherry blossom has always amazed me. Representing the transience of life, particularly the life span of the samurai, cherry blossoms bloom and within a week they fall to the ground. I was fortunate enough to capture a glimpse of these brilliant pink blossoms the last week of March in 2007 on a visit to Kyoto's famous Sanjusangen-do. Seeing the beauty of the cherry blossom up close reveals the mindset of poets, artists, and warriors since the earliest days of Japanese history.

Photo: jpellgen

Photo by kbrennan

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Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion)

Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion)

We just loved the school children in their sailor uniforms. They were very outgoing and extremely polite!

Photo: kbrennan

Photo by aj

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floating beauty

floating beauty

This photo was taken on a fall walk through Showa Park.

Photo: aj

Photo by aj

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Ginko Gold

Ginko Gold

Ginko Gold in Showa Park.

Photo: aj

Photo by aj

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Beautiful children

Beautiful children

We were so fortunate to see these beautiful children on our visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Their parents gave permission for the photo and seemed pleased to have their children poise.

Photo: aj

Photo by AndrewWertheimer

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Only slighly off the beaten track

Only slighly off the beaten track

My favorite part of any Kyoto visit is the Kyoto's Philosopher's Walk. Many people miss the beautiful gardens of the sub-temples on the way to Ginkaku-ji (Silver Temple). Zen temple Honen-in is just before that, and offers amazing Japanese gardens and a small art gallery. It was one of those surprises you were not expecting. Even though it is so close to Ginkaku-ji it still was like a quiet retreat that can be contemplated and enjoyed.

Photo: AndrewWertheimer

Photo by AndrewWertheimer

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Jidai Matsuri

Jidai Matsuri

We were visiting Kyoto that day for a conference, but we were lucky to happen to catch the Kyoto Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages), which takes place in October. Volunteers from all walks of life put on clothes representing different historical periods. It was an amazing way to sense Japan's long history.

Photo: AndrewWertheimer

Photo by AndrewWertheimer

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From one teahouse to another, Katsura Rikyu

From one teahouse to another, Katsura Rikyu

This was one of my favorite spots in Japan. The tour was only in Japanese, but it was amazing to be able to walk in these amazing gardens of the Katsura Detached Palace. Japanese history starts to come alive.

Photo: AndrewWertheimer

Photo by JillNikki

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Geisha on her way to Entertain

Geisha on her way to Entertain

While walking through the winding street of Kyoto, I saw this beautiful Geisha walking and then quickly scuttle into a restaurant.

Photo: JillNikki

Photo by C3pon

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The Colors of the Market

The Colors of the Market

Vibrant colors, wonderful aromas and friendly people await you at the markets in Kyoto!

Photo: C3pon

Photo by C3pon

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Before the storm

Before the storm

Dark clouds make for a beautiful background for the breathtaking Toji temple!

Photo: C3pon

Photo by C3pon

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Japanese Garden in the Rain

Japanese Garden in the Rain

A rainy fall color day in December...perfect to view a garden!

Photo: C3pon

Photo by h82work

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Geisha/Maiko

Geisha/Maiko

While in Kyoto, we were entertained by a Maiko (young Geisha).

Photo: h82work

Photo by h82work

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Japanese Cranes

Japanese Cranes

We were visiting the Kushiro Marsh to see the cranes. I was able to snapped a couple of photos of the cranes flying overhead.

Photo: h82work

Photo by h82work

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Snow Monkeys

Snow Monkeys

We visited the hot springs with the snow monkeys in Yudanaka.

Photo: h82work

Photo by travlr67

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KINKAKUJI TEMPLE - GOLDEN PAVILION

KINKAKUJI TEMPLE - GOLDEN PAVILION

The Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto was one of our most memorable visits in Japan. Kyoto is known for its beautiful temples and the Golden Pavillion summarizes the ones we've seen during our visit. The temple as well as the surroundings and the perfect weather made this one of our favorite destination in Japan.

Photo: travlr67

Photo by chasingskirts

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Young Japanese women wait for friends near Tokyo's best known meeting point, Hachiko Statue. Hachiko was a dog who was so loyal, she waited for her master everyday in the same spot, even after his death.

Young Japanese women wait for friends near Tokyo's best known meeting point, Hachiko Statue. Hachiko was a dog who was so loyal, she waited for her master everyday in the same spot, even after his death.

Five months ago, I traveled to Tokyo, Japan as a study abroad student at Temple University in the Minato-ku district of Tokyo. I took this photograph my second week in Tokyo as I was waiting with a friend at Hachiko to meet up with a group of classmates for Karaoke. Like most young Japanese, Shibuya's Center Gai district became our hangout spot and I made a lot of precious memories there. This photograph was the beginning of all those great memories!

Photo: chasingskirts

Photo by knazzaro

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Hanami in the spring

Hanami in the spring

It was so packed in the prime of cherry blossom viewing in Yoyogi Park! Everyone packs in tight under the trees to eat, drink, and view the blossoms.

Photo: knazzaro

Photo by knazzaro

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Passing down traditions

Passing down traditions

This was neat to witness. I watched the entire interaction take place between the older and younger man. The older man motioned for the younger one to come over, sliced a fresh piece directly off of the fish and popped it into his mouth. It seemed like a reward for a hard morning's work. (It was 6am!) I was a bit jealous!

Photo: knazzaro

Photo by knazzaro

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Graveyard on Mt. Koya

Graveyard on Mt. Koya

Koyasan was my favorite experience in Japan. We did a temple stay, had an amazing vegetarian meal and woke up with the monks at 6am for the morning prayer. This photo was taken walking through the large graveyard near the temple we stayed in. These statues are well taken care of.

Photo: knazzaro

Photo by knazzaro

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Buddhist Monk praying to Daibutsu

Buddhist Monk praying to Daibutsu

This was an amazing picture to capture. We watched this monk move toward the large Buddha and everyone else sort of cleared away while he had a moment with "The Great Buddha" Truly Beautiful.

Photo: knazzaro

Photo by knazzaro

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Himeji, Japan

Himeji, Japan

Last spring we traveled to see this amazing castle in the prime of Cherry Blossom season. It was a great trip.

Photo: knazzaro

Photo by mjstp

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Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre

Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre

Sunset in Kyoto...

Photo: mjstp

Photo by AnnetteGallagher1

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Maid and Vending Machines!

Maid and Vending Machines!

Young Lady was advertising for the Maid Cafe Restaurant. It was strange seeing her in front of the many vending machines!

Photo: AnnetteGallagher1

Photo by hawaiiantraveler

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Sunset at Hirosaki Castle

Sunset at Hirosaki Castle

Mr. & Mrs. HT enjoy a quiet sunset in peak sakura season on the bridge at Hirosaki Castle. There are over 4,000 cherry blossom trees on the Hirosaki Castle grounds and it is known to be the one of top sakura viewing spots in all of Northern Japan. We were there at the peak of the 2008 cherry blossom season and were rewarded with this and other spectacular views

Photo: hawaiiantraveler

Photo by laurie_ann

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Children's Ceremony, Sensoji Temple

Children's Ceremony, Sensoji Temple

On our last day in Japan after a wonderful two week trip around the country, just as we wheeled our suitcases out of our hotel in the charming neighborhood of Asakusa in Tokyo, my husband took this photo as we were surrounded by children and their parents in a parade down the main street for a special ceremony at the Sensoji Temple there. We were told it was for a blessing for their first day of school.

Photo: laurie_ann

Photo by marksuth

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Handa Matsuri

Handa Matsuri

Two things all visitors love - Japanese children and festivals! The effigies being carried from one temple to another by the strongest men in the town is always an enjoyable part of each festival, but seeing the young one's dressed up for the festivals was always a highlight for me.

Photo: marksuth

Photo by marksuth

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Sumo!

Sumo!

I know this shot is out of focus, but that's how I felt when I was watching the matches. Some of the matches lasted less than a second, and they seems to be a complete blur!

Photo: marksuth

Photo by marksuth

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Children's Peace Monument

Children's Peace Monument

These origami cranes make up part of a monument in the Peace Memorial Park which was inspired by a young girl exposed to radiation from the A-bomb. It was not until 7 years after the bomb that she developed leukemia. This girl believed that if she folded 1 000 paper cranes, she would be cured. This monument stands to remember the children who were also affected by the A-bomb.

Photo: marksuth

Photo by Mike038

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Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

Most people go to the top to get the best views, but I love this picture from right underneath the tower.

Photo: Mike038

Photo by Mike038

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Snack Time!

Snack Time!

Went to a sumo match in Tokyo and while outside taking a break, we found two Sumo wrestlers doing the same, but of course they found time to grab a quick ice cream....YUMMY!

Photo: Mike038

Photo by aprillilacs

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Children's Day in Ena

Children's Day in Ena

Fish are flown for children's day, and obviously the people of Ena love their children. I liked the contrast between the factory and the celebratory fish. I took this picture while crossing a local bridge during an 11-day walking tour along the Nakasendo Way.

Photo: aprillilacs

Photo by aprillilacs

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Umbrella in cherry blossom pink

Umbrella in cherry blossom pink

There is a lot of pink in Japan, and to me this umbrella in a courtyard was a perfect representation of the season--cherry blossom time. To capture the moment, I stood directly under the open umbrella and filled the viewfinder with pink. It's one of my favorite pictures.

Photo: aprillilacs

Photo by alvuaro

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Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

One of the most gorgeous castles in Japan dating from the 16th century with "Unique architecture"

Photo: alvuaro

Photo by pamy

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Autumn haze, Kiyomizu Temple

Autumn haze, Kiyomizu Temple

I thought cherry blossom time was pretty special in Japan, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of autumn.

Photo: pamy

Photo by emilyblue

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The best stack of kindling in the world

The best stack of kindling in the world

One day we were out hiking in the Ebino Kogen area and came across a sweet old man living in a tiny wooden house. But what impressed us was this very neat and beautiful stack of kindling that he was getting ready for the winter.

Photo: emilyblue

Photo by emilyblue

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Dinner time in Shinjuku

Dinner time in Shinjuku

Many of the little hole-in-the-wall shops have great photos of the dishes and the prices clearly marked outside. So you can "shop" around for a dinner venue. An order of 6 gyozas for Y380 is a great deal. A cold glass of Asahi beer and you're set!

Photo: emilyblue

Photo by yellowrose477

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Truly, Japanese

Truly, Japanese

This shrine to me, is Japan. The architecture is beautiful and amazingly Asian. I felt more, in the Japanese moment, while at this shrine. We were lucky enough to capture some photos of a Japanese bride and groom in traditional wedding clothes here at this shrine and it reminded me that although we are worlds apart, we are really the same.

Photo: yellowrose477

Photo by yellowrose477

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Mt. Sakura-jima

Mt. Sakura-jima

As I was taking this photo of Mt. Sakura-jima I suddenly had the thought that I was a long way away from home. I remember as a teenager in rural Michigan thinking that it would be the greatest thing if I could go to Florida to see Disney World. That was a completely unreachable dream at that time. And here I was on the other side of the world taking a photograph of a volcano. It was a long way away from Disney World!

Photo: yellowrose477

Photo by cclemens31

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Under the Ginko Trees

Under the Ginko Trees

During a six hour layover at Narita, I decided to take the train to Chiba City. Overall Chiba is a very modern city, so I was surprised to see a bunch of bikes under some Ginko trees which are both synonymous with Japan.

Photo: cclemens31

Photo by xephalon

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View of Torii at Hakone Jinja from Lake Ashi

View of Torii at Hakone Jinja from Lake Ashi

My wife and I spent a night in Hakone on the way from Tokyo to Kyoto, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famed Mt Fuji, so beautifully captured in our Fodors' guide book. Sadly, we arrived that morning to behold a layer of dense fog which had settled over the area. Nevertheless, we were treated to this serene, misty view of the hills surrounding Lake Ashi. After a series of tour boats, cable cars, and mountain trams, we finally settled into our ryokan tatami room for a delicious kaiseki meal and a relaxing hot spring bath.

Photo: xephalon

Photo by fourfortravel

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My, what big suction cups you have!

My, what big suction cups you have!

One of the many offerings at the Tsukiji Fish Market

Photo: fourfortravel

Photo by fourfortravel

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Plum blossom

Plum blossom

An early bloom in February in the garden of the Hase Kannon Temple

Photo: fourfortravel

Photo by Explorer

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Himeji Castle-Japanese National Treasure

Himeji Castle-Japanese National Treasure

I went back to Japan for a second trip in 2005 with the intention of finally photographing castles. Himeji Castle is my favorite.

Photo: Explorer

Photo by cynstalker

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City Sidewalk

City Sidewalk

This was not considered a busy day!

Photo: cynstalker

Photo by cynstalker

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Model

Model

At a kimono fashion show in a department store - she was so elegant.

Photo: cynstalker

Photo by cynstalker

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Fish

Fish

Walking through a market in Tokyo. Items are displayed so artistcally.

Photo: cynstalker

Photo by StepJans

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Natsukashii

Natsukashii

When I lived in Japan you coul find them everywhere, but now they are nearly gone, what a shame :-)

Photo: StepJans

Photo by StepJans

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Don't worry, be happy

Don't worry, be happy

After a river trip strolling through this beautiful place

Photo: StepJans

Photo by StepJans

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Meditation

Meditation

A great place to go to, you get all kind of interessting things :-)

Photo: StepJans

Photo by bray99

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kaiseki dinner

kaiseki dinner

This was our sons first visit to Japan to see his grandparents. We stayed at local traditional bed and breakfast that requried us to dress in Kimono's. We ate a style of dinner called Kaiseki.Kaiseki is a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. We stayed here for about a week before taking off exploring. A wonderful exporsure for my son who is half Japanese, we had a blast.

Photo: bray99

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