Photos by: Philip Galvin

Narratioin by: Yoko Galvin


1. Nara


Horyu-ji (法隆寺) Travel TipFrom JR Nara Station, take Yamatoji Line to Horyuji Station (12 min). Then take a bus #72 to the temple.


 Horyu-ji is a Buddhist temple that was built by Prince Shotoku and is the oldest wooden structure in the world. The first temple in the complex was completed as early as 607. The temple was damaged by fire once but is believed to have been reconstructed around 670.  It was one of the powerful Seven Great Temples in Ikaruga.  It now is a UNESCO Site and World Heritage Site.DWorld_Travel_1._Japan_Nara_Osaka_html_c402a601e8d3cf92.jpg 

                                                                                          Central Gate 



                                     Great Lecture Hall (大講堂) 


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             5 Story Pagoda  (五重塔)  

This pagoda contains various importnt Buddhist scriptures and the relics.It is 7 meters tall incl. the central column.    


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             Main Hall (本堂)

The coloured mural of all four walls in Mail Hall are made to resenmble the Buddhist vision of paradise

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At the Middle Gate of the West Precinct, you will find the above statues, dated 711, guarding the temple. They are called Nio (仁王) – Guardian Kings.





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 In Buddhism, the lions protect Buddha and are a symbol of strength and protection.  They are found as sculpures at the entranes to many temples.

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Todaiji (東大寺) Travel Tip: 30 min walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.


This is the most famous temple in Japan. It was initially completed in 752 (Nara period) but rerebuilt twice because of fires from wars.In the Kamakura period, Minamoto clan built just about the same width as the original building (88m wide).  The current building was built in 1709 (Tokugawa clan period) which is somewhat smaller (57m wide) than the original building (88m wide).  Until recently, the Big Buddha Hall was considered the world’s largest wooden building. It houses one of the largest bronze Buddha (Daibutsu) which is 15 meters tall. (UNESCO World Heritage Site)



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                            Todaiji was originally built in 728.


 Daibutsu is so large (15 m), a small person can go through his nostle. There is a sample hole curbed in a piller beside the Buddah. The length of his month is 1.3 m, eye is 1.0 m.  head 5.3m tall, and hand 2.6m tall. 

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 Komokuten (広目天)- Guardian deity that protects the west of Buddah. Lord of Liimitless Vision


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 Nyoirinkannnonnzazou (如意輪観音座像)  Tamonten (多聞天)  Protector of the North            


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                                           Binzuru (賓頭盧)

Despite the look of the statue (well worn), it is one of the most charming characters in Buddihsm. Apparently, his healing power was matched by his love of drink. 



2 Osaka

Osaka Castle Travel Tip: Take JR train to JR Osakajo-koen Station.


Another favorite place to visit in Japan. It was originally built and lived in by Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), who was one of the famous shoguns (lords) of that era. The height of the castle is 58 m.  The castle was destroyed by Ieyasu Tokugawa, who was famous for bringing peace to Japan after winning the war against Hideyoshi (Sekigahara no Tatakai). The castle was later rebuilt three times. (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

We recommend visiting the inside of the castle. It is set up as a museum where many valuable artifacts from Hideyoshi’s era are displayed. The view from the top floor is a must see.

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The second flag from the left belongs to "Maeda" clan.    As Yoko's maiden name is also "Maeda", she was told that she is a decdendent of Maeda clan.

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 In Japan, the crane signify Good Furtue and Longevity.

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 The desplay of gold figures that decorates the outer castle. The tiger represents Strength, Vitality, and Growth.


Quick historical references of Japan related to the photos in this document:

660 BC Jimmu Tenno becomes the first emperor of Japan according to myth

794 Capital was set up in Heiankyo (now Kyoto)

1185 Japan’s medieval era begins (See Kamakura)

1192 Yoritomo Minamoto becomes the first Shogun (See Kamakura)

1543 Portuguese sailors reached Japan (See Nagasaki)

1585 Hideyoshi Toyotomi ruled Japan between 1585 and 1592 (See Osaka)

1600 Sekigahara no Tatakai (War between Toyotomi clan and Tokugawa clan.

1603 Tokugawa clan began to reign Japan (See Tokyo and Kyoto)

1639 Foreign traders except Dutch were forced to Leave Japan. (See Nagasaki)

1867 Emperor Mutsuhito regained power over shoguns (See Tokyo)

1945 Atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima (See Hiroshima and Nagasaki)