Friday, December 26, 2014

Shirakawa-go ((白川郷, "White River Old-District"), Japan

Hello! Happy New Year! This is the first of several postings from my holiday in Japan in October. I loved visiting the beautiful, colourful, scenic Japanese Village in Gifu. I hope you enjoy the photos and they inspire you to go too!

The Bridge leading from the coach/carpark to the Village

The Gassho-style houses found in the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are rare examples of their kind in Japan. Here the thatched roof steams as the early morning sun evaporates the humidity of the night

The roof shape, which looks like one's hands put together with the palms facing inward, is the origin of the name of the architectural style, "Gassho", which means to join one's hands in prayer

Shirakawa-go is an outstanding example of traditional human settlements that are perfectly adapted to their environment and their social and economic raison d’être

The structural space inside is typically divided into three or four levels which were traditionally used as a work space

Because of the mountainous terrain, traditional rice-field production was not wholly successful in the area, and so the farmers turned to alternative grains such as buckwheat and millet, cultivated in small fields, but even with these the farming was at little higher than subsistence level.

Sooo pretty!

House on wheels! The steep thatched roof ensures that the heavy winter snow does not make the roof collapse

Water is everywhere. There is no place in the village where you cannot hear the sound of running water


Hanging out

The silk industry that this area is famous for, survived, from the late 17th century until the 1970s; its requirement of large enclosed spaces for silkworm beds and storage of mulberry leaves was an important factor in the development of the gassho -style house

From the village you can walk up a hill to get an arial view of the village....

....and the surrounding hills. It is a truly lovely setting

I wonder how much this one costs?

The flowers are a delight!

The river adds a dramatic touch


ln the 8th centurv AD the Shirakawa-go/Gokayama area was opened up as a place for ascetic religious mountain worship, centred on Mount Hakusan, for a religious order that combined ancient pre-Buddhist beliefs with Esoteric Buddhism

In the later 13th century it came under the influence of the powerful Tendai Esoteric sect. which was in turn replaced by the Jo do Shinshu sect, which still very influential in the area

lts teachings played an important role in the development of the social structure of the region, based on the kumi system of mutual cooperation between neighbouring households

Japanese scarecrows!

Back to the river and to the coach to go back to Takayama. The next posting will be dedicated to Takayama

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Beautiful Almaty (Алматы) in the Autumn

Hello. Welcome to my blog and this post of Almaty in Kazakhstan. I was here in October. The climate was fabulous. And the city, so green, was awash in autumn colours. I hope you enjoy the photos. I had a fabulous day exploring Almaty.

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan

The city is located in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan. This shot was taken close to where you used to be able to take a cable car up to the tower but it was closed when I was there. This is the Republic Palace. It is a concert hall

Just glorious!

Such a splash!

Music is very important. There are several statues in the city depicting the Kazakh love for music

Entering beautiful Panfilov park

Zenkov Cathedral is located in Panfilov Park and is probably the only wooden Cathedrals in the world.  The cathedral is built without using any nails, which again, makes it pretty unique

A great place for families to spend some of their Sunday

I do love the climate in Singapore, but it was awesome to be in Almaty and enjoy the lovely colours

Ivan Panfilov was the name of the General commanding the 316 division who, in spite of suffering heavy casualties,  managed to significantly delay the Nazi advance on Moscow

The Cathedral was used as a museum after the ‘Revolution’, but was again restored to its original use as a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in 1990

Up close

I'm not sure if this is General Panfilov

The Green Bazaar, or Zelionyj Bazar.  This market is central to the every day life of the local people

It is called the Green Bazaar, or market, because in the past it was the traditional place to buy and sell fresh local food

Almaty is the largest, most developed, and most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Kazakhstan

Always great to see trams!

Example of Almaty architecture

Love the truck! The building is the Kazakh-British Technical University

A plant replica of the Bayterek monument in Astana. The shape of Bayterek represents a poplar tree holding a golden egg

Here is the egg again

Action! Filming a movie

Policemen directing the traffic to allow the filming to happen without accidents!

 Almaty was the capital city from 1929 until 1997 when capital city status was transferred to Astana

Abay Opera House was built in 1934. Over forty western and Kazakh pieces are performed, including operas, ballets and classical music performances

Love the colour of this building

Walking up to the Presidential Palace

The Republic Square
The Presidential Palace

Gardens to the side of the Palace

The Republic Square has at its centre the Independence Monument. The monument is dedicated to the Republic of Kazakhstan’s rich history

This is close the Palace. It is one of the city's museums

The main entrance of the Central State museum of Kazakhstan

To the East of the city there is a range of mountains called the Zailiysky Alatau 

Apartment blocks

Modern buildings in the East of the city

On my way back to find a good restaurant for dinner. Passing the Republic Square