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