The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

 

We began one morning with a stroll through the public Gardens of the Imperial Palace in the center of downtown Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district, across from the Tokyo Station (main downtown train station) where our shuttle bus had dropped us off — our ship was anchored at the Harumi Passenger Terminal sever miles/kilometers southeast of the Imperial Palace.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Ginza district continuing to enjoy the architecture (our own extension to the Tokyo architecture walking tour of the day before [see our blog post, “Tokyo Architecture Walk, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)”]), having an excellent sushi luncheon, and shopping.

 

The Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle):  “The Imperial Palace has occupied the site of the former Edo Castle since 1868 [the Meiji Restoration].  Edo Castle was the home of the Tokugawa Shoguns and the seat of the feudal samurai government which ruled Japan from 1503 until 1867.  After the end of feudal rule in 1967, Edo Castle was vacated by the Shogun and transferred to the new Imperial Government.  The Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, after residing in Kyoto for over a millennium.  There has been a castle on this site since 1457, when a castle that occupied the site of the Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru areas was built by the samurai Ota Dokan.  From 1590 this castle was the home of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603.  The Honmaru area included the massive keep tower, and the palace of the Shogun.  Edo Castle was extended by the second and third Shoguns, Hidetada and Iemitsu, with work completed by 1660.  Most of the original castle buildings have been lost to fire.  The current Imperial Palace buildings were completed in 1968, in the Nishinomaru, which had been the palace of the retired shoguns during the Tokugawa shogunate.” – Kokyogaien National Garden Office, Ministry of the Environment (Japan)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 -- this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 — this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station along Marunouchi 1st Street and goes past Wadakuramon Fountain Park (not pictured, on the left) with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance (building and) Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens across from the Wadakuramon Gate and Wadakura Fountain Park

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens – in complete contrast with our experience in many other major city parks (e.g., New York City’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park, etc.); this was truly an “oasis” in the heart of the city (of 35.6 million people)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge); this is one of the most popular portrayals of the Imperial Palace

 

The Main Gate and the Nijubashi Bridge:  This gate is the main, formal entrance to the Imperial Palace grounds.  It is used only when the Emperor leaves the Palace for important State occasions, for the official visits to the Palace by State guests, or when ambassadors present their credentials to the Emperor.  Ambassadors are given the choice of arriving at the Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.  The Main Gate to the Palace is open to the public on January 2nd and for the Emperor’s Birthday.  Visitors to the Palace entering through the Main Gate cross two bridges, the Main Gate Stone Bridge and the Main Gate Iron Bridge.  The Nujubashi Bridge refers to the Iron Bridge, not the two bridges.  During the Edo period (1603-1867), because of its height above the moat, the Nijubashi Bridge was a wooden bridge reinforced underneath with a further wooden bridge, hence the name.  The Palace buildings are hidden behind trees to the right of the Nijubashi Bridge… Special Historic Site Edo Castle Specified on May 30, 1963.

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat (still filled with water, but with both pedestrian and vehicular bridges now)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Hillsborough Castle, a Georgian mansion dating back to the 1750s, has been a grand family home and is now the official home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and a royal residence, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland

Hillsborough Castle, a Georgian mansion dating back to the 1750s, has been a grand family home and is now the official home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and a royal residence, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

Hillsborough Castle, an elegant “Irish Big House”, was built by Willis Hill, the 1st Marquis of Downshire, in the 1750s.  The Georgian mansion has been a grand family home and is now the official home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and a royal residence.  Her Majesty The Queen stays at Hillsborough, as do other members of the Royal Family when visiting Northern Ireland.  Viewed by some as a politically neutral venue, Hillsborough has played an important role in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland since the 1980s.  In 2014, Historic Royal Palaces (of the U.K.) took over the running of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and began an ambitious project to restore the house and gardens to its former glory.  Following a five-year, 20 million British pound restoration, the palace and its exceptional gardens were officially reopened by the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla), in April of this year.

 

The State Entrance Hall has always been the entrance to the mansion and a space in which to welcome visitors from HM The Queen to pop star Gary Barlow

The State Entrance Hall has always been the entrance to the mansion and a space in which to welcome visitors from HM The Queen to pop star Gary Barlow; the portraits in the Hall portray all the main protagonists involved in the history of the house, including Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

Paintings in an Irish ‘Big House’, as these aristocratic private homes were known, were usually created by minor jobbing artists.  These painters travelled around the country to paint for wealthy clients.  However, it is known that Hillsborough originally displayed work by one prominent artist, George Romney (1734-1802).  The house inventories going back as far as 1747 reveal that family portraits hung in the Dining Room, as was traditional.  Satirists were also popular, and these early inventories showed that the family owned many prints by William Hogarth.

 

The display of art at Hillsborough Castle was selected to represent both the history and the contemporary use of the house as a royal and government residence, drawing from several sources, including The Royal Collection

The display of art at Hillsborough Castle was selected to represent both the history and the contemporary use of the house as a royal and government residence, drawing from several sources, including The Royal Collection, The Schorr Collection and collections featuring contemporary Irish artists; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

Over the years, numerous politicians and other dignitaries have spent time at Hillsborough Castle, from Eleanor Roosevelt, Japan’s Crown Prince, and the Dali Lama to Princess Diana, President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blain, and Hillary Clinton.

 

The Throne Room, a splendid space that is the ceremonial heart of the castle, was created in the early 19th century as a Saloon and was the picture gallery of the house

The Throne Room, a splendid space that is the ceremonial heart of the castle, was created in the early 19th century as a Saloon and was the picture gallery of the house; traditionally, that was where the Downshire family, like other aristocrats, would hang their most prized ‘history’ paintings, featuring stories from the Bible, mythology and ancient history, to reflect an aristocratic classical education; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

In the Red Room the paintings appear as a “cabinet hang”, typical of the type where many small, highly-decorative paintings are densely displayed – a cabinet was usually a private room in which intimate discussion took place

In the Red Room the paintings appear as a “cabinet hang”, typical of the type where many small, highly-decorative paintings are densely displayed – a cabinet was usually a private room in which intimate discussion took place; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

During the 1980s and 1990s, many of the delicate negotiations of the Peace Process were held in the Red Room of Hillsborough Castle.  It was in the Red Room that HM The Queen met Irish President Mary McAleese in 2005, for what was described at the time as “a historic event”.

 

Around the chair rail in the Red Room are a series of numbered miniature painted portraits of English Royalty

Around the chair rail in the Red Room are a series of numbered miniature painted portraits of English Royalty; this photograph captured #24, King Charles II; #23, Queen Catherine of England, wife of Charles II; #26, King James II; and #25, Ann Hyde (Duchess of York), wife of James II; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

Around the Red Room at Hillsborough Castle are 40 miniature portraits of English sovereigns, and several of their consorts, which span the walls.  Prince Albert commissioned this collection, named the Bone Miniatures, in 1843.  Albert and Queen Victoria used to place the portraits on the floor to test each other’s knowledge of the family tree.  The collection is named after its creators, Henry Bone and his son Henry Pierce Bone.

 

One hallway in Hillsborough Castle was filled with satirical cartoons from the 19th century publications; pictured here is- St. Stephens Review Presentation Cartoon (Tom Merry) June 23rd, 1888. GEOGRAPHY BEWITCHED

One hallway in Hillsborough Castle was filled with satirical cartoons from the 19th century publications; pictured here is: St. Stephens Review Presentation Cartoon (Tom Merry) June 23rd, 1888. GEOGRAPHY BEWITCHED: The false Ireland & the True. Erin strangling the hag of Hawarden. Ireland strangles Home Rule advocate GLADSTONE, who is presented as the ‘hag’ of Hawarden Castle, his Flintshire home. The beautiful, youthful ERIN tries to stifle his manipulation of true Ireland

 

 

A second satirical cartoon caught our attention- Supplement given away with the WEEKLY FREEMAN 22nd May 1886 SUSPENSE!!! ERIN, the personification of IRELAND, stands outside the door of the House of Commons

A second satirical cartoon caught our attention: Supplement given away with the WEEKLY FREEMAN 22nd May 1886 SUSPENSE!!! ERIN, the personification of IRELAND, stands outside the door of the House of Commons as MPs debate the fate of the first Home Rule Bill

 

The formal and picturesque gardens at Hillsborough Castle cover 100 acres, including the newly restored Walled Garden that we walked to on the edge of the estate; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland

The formal and picturesque gardens at Hillsborough Castle cover 100 acres, including the newly restored Walled Garden that we walked to on the edge of the estate; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

A view of the Castle from the gardens, including a beautiful fountain in the formal garden; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

A view of the Castle from the gardens, including a beautiful fountain in the formal garden; Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

The entry and exit gate at Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

The entry and exit gate at Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

County Meath Country House and Gardens, Slane, Republic of Ireland

The front entrance of one of the very few surviving classical Irish country houses from the early eighteenth century, recognized in the Irish National Inventory of Architectural Heritage; Slane, Republic of Ireland

The front entrance of one of the very few surviving classical Irish country houses from the early eighteenth century, recognized in the Irish National Inventory of Architectural Heritage; Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

The County Meath House that we visited from Dublin, built in 1712, is one of the very few surviving classical Irish country houses from the early eighteenth century.  The architectural design and detailing of this house are immediately apparent, as the architectural form of the house is enhanced by many original features and materials, such as the slate roof, molded window surrounds and string courses.  The house has important historical connections with Gustavus Hamilton, a noted Protestant politician in Irish affairs during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  Hamilton commanded a regiment of Williamite soldiers at the Battle of the Boyne (1690) and later rose to become a Major General in the English Army and fought against Louis XIV of France.

 

The back of the Irish country house opens onto a magnificent garden, Slane, Republic of Ireland

The back of the Irish country house opens onto a magnificent garden, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #1, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #1, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

The gardens have been restored, enhanced and greatly expanded over the past two decades with many themed gardens added (e.g., the Japanese Garden, the Birthday Garden, the Chinese Garden).  When the present owners bought the estate of 500 acres, it had been a stud farm, largely in fields, with some of the original features, such as a canal, filled in.  The design and execution of the present gardens is extraordinary.  We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the estate and are happy to share these photographs.

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #2, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #2, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #3, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #3, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #4, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #4, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #5, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #5, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #6, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #6, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #7, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #7, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #8, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #8, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #9, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #9, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #10, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #10, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #11, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #11, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #12, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #12, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #13, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #13, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #14, Slane, Republic of Ireland

County Meath Country House’s Gardens #14, Slane, Republic of Ireland

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

The entrance to Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden) and the artist Jacques Majorelle_s studio (now a Berber Museum), designed in 1931 by architect Paul Sinoir and saved from real estat

The entrance to Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden) and the artist Jacques Majorelle’s studio (now a Berber Museum), designed in 1931 by architect Paul Sinoir and saved from real estate developers in 1980 by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent (the fashion designer); Marrakech, Morocco

 

“[Jardin Majorelle], the Majorelle Garden, in Marrakech is one of the most visited places in Morocco.  It took the French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) forty years to create, with passion, this enchanting place, today in the heart of the red city.  In its shaded alleys, one strolls among the trees and exotic plants whose origin makes one dream, with running waterways filled with refreshing murmurs and ponds filled with water lilies and lotus; you can hear in the fragrant air here and there the rustle of the leaves and the chirping of the many birds that come to take refuge there.  Stop at a bend in front of a building with Moorish charm or Art Deco style, surprisingly painted with very bright primary colors dominated by the intense blue seen in the Atlas by the artist [“Majorelle Blue”].  One is soothed and bewitched by the harmony of this luxuriant and alive picture where the senses are delicately solicited to offer a magic walk, out of the city so animated yet so close, in the enclosure protected by the high walls of ground, out of time.” — http://www.jardinmajorelle.com

 

Jacques Majorelle became a gardener in his travels and his collected rare trees and plants that were arranged in his garden in what would be described as a pictorial composition of a pai

Jacques Majorelle became a gardener in his travels and his collected rare trees and plants were arranged in his garden in what would be described as a pictorial composition of a painter; Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

A wall of the artist Jacques Majorelle_s studio (now a Berber Museum) painted in "Majorelle blue", designed in 1931 by architect Paul Sinoir; Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marra

A wall of the artist Jacques Majorelle’s studio (now a Berber Museum) painted in “Majorelle blue”, designed in 1931 by architect Paul Sinoir; Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

“Majorelle blue” – a strong, intense cobalt blue color — was introduced by Jacques Majorelle in 1937 in his garden and on the walls of his studio.  In the garden, the color was painted onto the gates, the pergolas, the ceramic jars and various buildings – an unusually bold and generously colored primary blue.

 

Fountains in the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden) were designed to introduce soothing sounds that contrast with the noise of the busy city outside the walls of the garden; Marrakech,

Fountains in the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden) were designed to introduce soothing sounds that contrast with the noise of the busy city outside the walls of the garden; Marrakech, Morocco

 

Stairs, geometric patterns and the bold "Majorelle blue" outside the artist Jacques Majorelle_s studio (now a Berber Museum); Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

Stairs, geometric patterns and the bold “Majorelle blue” outside the artist Jacques Majorelle’s studio (now a Berber Museum); Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) was a French orientalist painter and son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture designer, Louis Majorelle.  He arrived in Morocco in 1917, invited by the French Resident-General, Marshal Lyautey.  Majorelle was seduced by Marrakesh.  In 1923, he decided to live there, purchasing a vast palm grove that would become the Jardin Majorelle as we know today.

In 1931, he commissioned the architect, Paul Sinoir, to build an artist’s studio in the Art Deco style; it’s walls were painted in “Majorelle Blue“.  Around it, he designed a garden, a living work of art composed of exotic plants and rare species collected during his worldwide travels.  He opened his garden to the public in 1947, but after his death in 1962, it fell into abandon.

In 1980, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent acquired the Jardin Majorelle, saving it from real estate developers.  Since then, the garden has been restored, and many new plants have been added.  A museum dedicated to Berber culture was opened and the painter’s studio.  Today the Jardin Majorelle also includes a bookstore, café and boutique.

After the death of Yves Saint Laurent in 2008, Pierre Bergé donated the Jardin Majorelle to the foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent.  The Foundation Jardin Majorelle was established at this time.  A memorial to the French fashion designer was built in the garden.  —  courtesy Foundation Jardin Majorelle

 

The lily pond is a quiet oasis in the middle of Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

The lily pond is a quiet oasis in the middle of Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

Boldly painted large ceramic urns filled with plants line the walkways in Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

Boldly painted large ceramic urns filled with plants line the walkways in Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

The Moorish designs of the garden_s “kiosk” give way to the arch and a view of the long waterway leading to the square fountain (painted in "Majorelle blue) – pictured above; Jar

The Moorish designs of the garden’s “kiosk” give way to the arch and a view of the long waterway leading to the square fountain (painted in “Majorelle blue) – pictured above; Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

The long waterway leading to the square fountain (painted in "Majorelle blue); Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

The long waterway leading to the square fountain (painted in “Majorelle blue); Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

A painterly composition of cacti in Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

A painterly composition of cacti in Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Sakura and Ginkakuji Temple (the “Silver Pavilion”) in Kyoto, Japan

Scenic Kyoto, Japan, offers historical and religious traditions and has retained its old-world atmosphere; it is recognized for its uniqueness as a UNESCO World Heritage City

Scenic Kyoto, Japan, offers historical and religious traditions and has retained its old-world atmosphere; it is recognized for its uniqueness as a UNESCO World Heritage City

 

Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage City, on the main island of Honshu was Japan’s capital and center of its civilization for over ten centuries.  Kyoto offers historical and religious traditions and has retained its old-world atmosphere.  “Kyoto (京都) served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868.  It is now the country’s seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and a modern face.  Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II.  Countless temples, shrines, and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.” – http://www.japan-guide.com

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) were in full bloom when we visited Kyoto, Japan, shown here in the pouring rain at a local shrine

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) were in full bloom when we visited Kyoto, Japan, shown here in the pouring rain at a local shrine

 

The Kamo River runs through the center of Kyoto, Japan, and has Sakura (cherry blossoms) all along the banks – in the springtime they are a riot of color and invite numerous walkers; o

The Kamo River runs through the center of Kyoto, Japan, and has Sakura (cherry blossoms) all along the banks – in the springtime they are a riot of color and invite numerous walkers; our walk (unfortunately) was in the pouring rain

 

The bank of the Kamo River on the north side of the city has trellises to support the cherry trees and their blossoms (Sakura), Kyoto, Japan

The bank of the Kamo River on the north side of the city has trellises to support the cherry trees and their blossoms (Sakura), Kyoto, Japan

 

The view, just after the public entry to the site, from the Kogetsudai Window of Ginsyadan (representing waves and white sand) and the gardens at Ginkakuji Temple (a Zen temple establish

The view, just after the public entry to the site, from the Kogetsudai Window of Ginsyadan (representing waves and white sand) and the gardens at Ginkakuji Temple (a Zen temple established in 1482) – also known as the “Silver Pavilion”, Kyoto, Japan – a World Cultural Heritage Site

 

Ginkakuji Temple – also known as the “Silver Pavilion” – is a Zen temple that was established in 1482 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth Muromachi Shogunate.  Yoshimasa, following Kinkakuji Temple Kitayama den built by his grandfather, built villa Kigashiyama den to spend his retired life.  Ginkakuji is the common name, and formally it was called Higashiyama Jishõji, taking the name after Yoshimasa’s posthumous title after his death.  Higashiyama den is the place where Higashiyama culture, formed mainly by Yoshimasa, started and is the start of the modern life style of the Japanese.

 

We had a leisurely walk (in the rain) through the beautiful Japanese-style gardens where the beauty of nature in each different season is adapted skillfully, giving the atmosphere of a p

We had a leisurely walk (in the rain) through the beautiful Japanese-style gardens where the beauty of nature in each different season is adapted skillfully, giving the atmosphere of a profound spiritual world, at the Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), Kyoto, Japan

 

A view of Ginsyadan (representing waves and white sand) and the gardens and buildings at the Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), Kyoto, Japan

A view of Ginsyadan (representing waves and white sand) and the gardens and buildings at the Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), Kyoto, Japan

 

Wonderful serenity contemplating new growth on a Japanese maple tree and the bamboo fence in the garden of the Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), Kyoto, Japan

Wonderful serenity contemplating new growth on a Japanese maple tree and the bamboo fence in the garden of the Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), Kyoto, Japan

 

A national treasure, Kannon-den or Ginkaku (the “silver pavilion”) is unusual in that the first floor is built in the Shoin style (a traditional Japanese residential architectural st

A national treasure, Kannon-den or Ginkaku (the “silver pavilion”) is unusual in that the first floor is built in the Shoin style (a traditional Japanese residential architectural style) and the second floor is built in a Chinese temple style, Kyoto, Japan

 

As we left Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), we were again surrounded by Sakura (cherry blossoms), Kyoto, Japan

As we left Ginkakuji Temple (“Silver Pavilion”), we were again surrounded by Sakura (cherry blossoms), Kyoto, Japan

 

Kanazawa Gardens, Honshu Island, Japan

Considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was built during the Edo-period by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600_s

Considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was built during the Edo-period by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s

 

Kanazawa, on the northern shore of Japan’s “mainland” (Honshu Island), is renowned for its garden, Kenroku-en, considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan.  Literally translated as “Garden of the Six Sublimities,” Kenroku-en was built by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s.  Rated as one of Japan’s top gardens, this Edo-period haven, built by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s, takes its name from kenroku (combined six), referring to the six garden attributes needed to achieve perfection: seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water, and desirable views.  During the winter months, branches are suspended with ropes from a post at the center of each tree to form elegant conical shapes, protecting them from Kanazawa’s heavy snowfall.

 

Pine trees are symbolically important in Japan and are often supported by wooden poles, as shown, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Pine trees are symbolically important in Japan and are often supported by wooden poles, as shown, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Flowing water in the gardens was a major engineering accomplishment in the 1600s and the streams, ponds and lakes in Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, are an integral part of t

Flowing water in the gardens was a major engineering accomplishment in the 1600s and the streams, ponds and lakes in Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, are an integral part of the overall garden design

 

Three young Japanese girls in their rented kimonos were touring Kenroku-en garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Three young Japanese girls in their rented kimonos were touring Kenroku-en garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Although technically spring (by the calendar), the weather was not warm enough for most flowers to start budding and blooming, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Although technically spring (by the calendar), the weather was not warm enough for most flowers to start budding and blooming, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A few of the rare flowers this spring were in the plum garden section of Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A few of the rare flowers this spring were in the plum garden section of Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kanazawa Castle viewed from Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Kanazawa Castle viewed from Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The Nomura Samurai House offers insight into the lives of the highest ranking samurai during the Edo Period.  Occupied for 11 generations by the Nomura family, this traditional home features a drawing room made of Japanese cypress, and shoji screens painted with impressive landscapes.  Personal effects of the Nomura family are displayed including a samurai outfit, swords, lacquer pieces, and the family altar.  The tea ceremony is a highly recommended activity and takes place in one of the upper rooms overlooking a picturesque garden complete with a waterfall and stone lanterns.

 

This private garden with a small pond on the grounds of Nomura Samurai House, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was strategically positioned so that it was visible from many rooms of the h

This private garden with a small pond on the grounds of Nomura Samurai House, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was strategically positioned so that it was visible from many rooms of the house

 

Schwerin, Germany

Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle) is located on Schwerin, Germany’s main lake, the Schweriner See, dating back to the original castle on the site in the 10th century; today it’s both a museum and the home of the state parliament

Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle) is located on Schwerin, Germany’s main lake, the Schweriner See, dating back to the original castle on the site in the 10th century; today it’s both a museum and the home of the state parliament

 

“Schwerin Palace, or Schwerin Castle is a palatial scholss located in the city of Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, Germany.  It is situated on an island in the city’s main lake, the Schweriner See.  For centuries the palace was the home of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg and later Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  Today it serves as the residence of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament.  It is regarded as one of the most important works of romantic Historicism in Europe and is designated to become a World Heritage Site.  It is nicknamed “Neuschwanstein of the North”.   Major parts of the current palace were built between 1845 and 1857.” – Wikipedia

 

Schwerin State Art Museum and Meclkenburg State Theatre, Schwerin, Germany

Schwerin State Art Museum and Meclkenburg State Theatre, Schwerin, Germany

 

Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle), seen from the west, has 653 rooms (most of which are used today by the parliament), home of the Grand Duke of Mecklengurg-Schwerin until 1918 wen he abdicated, Schwerin, Germany

Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle), seen from the west, has 653 rooms (most of which are used today by the parliament), home of the Grand Duke of Mecklengurg-Schwerin until 1918 wen he abdicated, Schwerin, Germany

 

The newer 19th century additions to the castle (including the Russian-style turret) surround the older 16th century portions of the castle, built by Duke Albrecht, who turned the earlier defensive, fort-like structure into a palace, Schwerin, Germany

The newer 19th century additions to the castle (including the Russian-style turret) surround the older 16th century portions of the castle, built by Duke Albrecht, who turned the earlier defensive, fort-like structure into a palace, Schwerin, Germany

 

 

A peaceful, tree-lined pond in the gardens on the southern end of Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle), Schwerin, Germany

A peaceful, tree-lined pond in the gardens on the southern end of Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle), Schwerin, Germany

 

 

The close-in gardens now house a beautiful restaurant; the view of Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle) is from the south, Schwerin, Germany

The close-in gardens now house a beautiful restaurant; the view of Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle) is from the south, Schwerin, Germany

 

 

The Duke’s throne room where he received state guests, Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle), Schwerin, Germany

The Duke’s throne room where he received state guests, Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle), Schwerin, Germany

 

 

German spargel (white asparagus) were in season when we visited Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle) and had a nice luncheon at Weinhaus Wohler in Schwerin, Germany

German spargel (white asparagus) were in season when we visited Scholss Schwerin (Schwerin Castle) and had a nice luncheon at Weinhaus Wohler in Schwerin, Germany

 

Schwerin, Germany “is the capital and second-largest city of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.  The population is 91,583… It is known for its romantic Schwerin Palace, crowning an island in the Lake Schwerin.  The city also has a largely intact old town, thanks to only minor damage in World War II.  Schwerin is located within the metropolitan region of Hamburg and close to that of Berlin, and to nearby regiopolises of Rostock and Lübeck.” — Wikipedia

 

A square in Altstadt (Old Town), Schwerin, Germany

A square in Altstadt (Old Town), Schwerin, Germany

 

 

The beautifully decorated nave of Schweriner Dom (“Brick Gothic Cathedral”), Schwerin, Germany

The beautifully decorated nave of Schweriner Dom (“Brick Gothic Cathedral”), Schwerin, Germany

 

Tile patterns in the intersection of the nave and transept of Schweriner Dom (“Brick Gothic Cathedral”), Schwerin, Germany

Tile patterns in the intersection of the nave and transept of Schweriner Dom (“Brick Gothic Cathedral”), Schwerin, Germany

 

The pipe organ of Schweriner Dom (“Brick Gothic Cathedral”), Schwerin, Germany

The pipe organ of Schweriner Dom (“Brick Gothic Cathedral”), Schwerin, Germany

 

A contemporary columnar sculpture about the 12th century Saxon duke Henry the Lion, who ruled over a vast area from the North to Baltic Seas, in the Markt Platz (plaza) in front of the Schweriner Rathaus (Town Hall), Schwerin, Germany

A contemporary columnar sculpture about the 12th century Saxon duke Henry the Lion, who ruled over a vast area from the North to Baltic Seas, in the Markt Platz (plaza) in front of the Schweriner Rathaus (Town Hall), Schwerin, Germany