The Cats of Fushimi Inari

Like many Japanese shrines and temples, Fushimi Inari Taisha, south of Kyoto, has its share of resident cats. Although not numerous, the cats appear to be permanent residents of the shrine, and though some, like this little fellow: seem to live on the mountain itself. That said, unlike most feral cats, the residents of Fushimi Inari seemed eager for human attention. The handsome tuxedo in the photo above followed me along the path, meowing insistently, until I stopped to pet him. A group of visitors gathered behind me, pointing at the cat, and as soon as I left him they moved in

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Breakfast at a Japanese Buddhist Temple

Many Buddhist temples in Japan offer overnight lodging and meals for visitors. In most cases, these meals follow the standards of shōjin ryōri (literally “devotional cuisine”), a vegetarian style of cooking that involves no meat — and in some cases, no “vegetables that excite the senses” like spicy peppers and garlic. Some people think that meals without meat or heavy spice sound “boring” – but shōjin ryōri is one of my favorite styles of eating in Japan, and every temple meal I’ve eaten ranks among the most delicious food I’ve sampled in Japan. Here’s what travelers can expect from a typical shōjin ryōri breakfast in Japan: –

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The Gardens of Magome

While visiting Magome-juku, a preserved post town in the Japan Alps (and formerly a post town on the Nakasendo and Kisoji travel roads), I appreciated the care the shopkeepers took with the tiny but manicured gardens located in front of many shops. The garden featured a decorative water wheel, hearkening back to the time when real water wheels provided power for the town. Unlike the more strictly manicured gardens found at shrines and temples, these were clearly decorative but personal gardens featuring local trees and flowers that the owners kept trimmed but allowed to grow in more natural, informal styles. Despite their

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Momijigari – Leaf Hunting in Japan

In Japan, “momijigari” or hunting colorful autumn leaves, has been a popular autumn pastime for hundreds of years. In my post at Murder is Everywhere this week, I’m taking a closer look at momijigari, and offering some photos from my recent research trip to Japan. Fortunately, you don’t have to hunt very hard to find the post – just click this link.

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Enterprise Bridge Panels – Up Close and Personal

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I visited the Star Trek exhibit at Seattle’s EMP (Experience Music Project) museum over the weekend – and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the more interesting exhibits I didn’t cover in yesterday’s post was a set of original bridge panels from the original (1960’s) Star Trek TV series. One thing that really stood out to me, seeing them in person: the set creators didn’t even bother to glue the pieces in a way that avoided smearing, or to keep the glue from showing on the finished pieces. TV cameras filmed with low enough resolution and detail

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The Reconstructed Pagodas of Tōdaiji

The original structures at Nara’s Tōdaiji dated to the eighth century and included a pair of 300-foot pagodas which were subsequently destroyed in an earthquake. A wooden model inside the Great Buddha Hall shows the original temple structures, including the pagodas, all built to scale: Although not as impressive as the original pagodas, the golden reconstructions hearken back to the Indian Buddhist stupas from which pagoda architecture evolved upon its arrival in China and then Japan.

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