Another itinery which can easily occupy a whole day is a trip to Ueno Park and the nearby old Tokyo areas of Yanaka, Nippori and Nezu.
To reach Ueno Park take the train to Ueno Station.
Ueno Park contains Ueno Zoo which I have never visited, but I do know it has pandas. It also has Tosho-gu Shrine which is a life-sized replica of the main temple shrine of Nikko. On our first visit there a Noh play was being staged in the grounds. Free-entry and worth a look.
The park also contains several water-lily covered ponds - Shinobazu Ponds and this area has a small temple to the goddess Benten - goddess of good fortune.
At the top of the hill not far from the Ueno Station entrance to the park there is a statue of a mighty samurai warrior taking his little dog for a walk.
Near Ueno Station before you enter the park you will also find a wonderful street market selling everything and anything, including lots of colourful food stalls.
There are several museums including the Tokyo National museum in this area.
If you exit the far end of the park, near the Tokyo National Museum, you can walk to the Yanaka, Nippori district. This area is the one of the few areas of Tokyo which survived the bombings of World War II. Wander aimlessly down winding lanes with traditional wooden houses and beautiful little temples set in idyllic Japanese Gardens. Or take a stroll through Yanaka cemetery.
Nearby Nezu has a beautiful 300 year old shrine with a fantastic azalea gardens and pathways lined with bright red tori. The azaleas are at their peak around April/May
Some of japan's famous SHRINES
Ise Shrines .......Japan's most sacred shrines.
Izumo Taisha ......Japan's second most important shrine.
Fushimi Inari Shrine .....The ultimate torii experience.
Heian Shrine .....Shrine in form of the ancient Imperial Palace.
Yasaka Shrine ......Shrine famous for its Gion Festival.
Kasuga Taisha .....Nara's most celebrated shrine.
Meiji Shrine .....Dedicated to the deity of Emperor Meiji.
Yasukuni Shrine..... Dedicated to the deities of Japan's war dead.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu ......The most important shrine of Kamakura.
Zeniarai Benten ......Shrine where visitors wash their money.
Sengen Shrine .....Major shrine dedicated to Mount Fuji.
Hakone Shrine ......Hakone's most famous shrine.
Sumiyoshi Taisha .....Osaka's most prominent shrine.
Oyama Shrine ......Shrine dedicated to the former local lord.
Nikko Toshogu ......Mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Futarasan Shrine .......Dedciated to three of Nikko's sacred mountains.
Kompirasan .....Shikoku's most popular shrine.
Itsukushima Shrine ......Famous for its large gate standing in the ocean.
Yamaguchi Daijingu..... A small version of the Ise Shrines.
Dazaifu Tenmangu ......The first shrine dedicated to Tenjin.
Kamakura, a 1 hr. by rail from Tokyo, now a small town, was once a seat of the feudal government set up in 1192, the first of its kind in Japan.
Kamakura has 3 main features: a historical site, a bathing resort and a residential town for commuters to Tokyo.
The city is flanked with wooded mountains on three sides and faces Sagami Bay on the south. It is renowned for manyold temples and shrines, and well-preserved historical treasures. These are set against a backdrop of beautiful hills or in rustic settings. The best way to enjoy Kamakura to the full is to explore the city on your own.
Highlights are the Great image of Buddha, the colorful Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Enoshima Island.
Has a mild climate, since it is tucked away among thick woods, ringed with hills. An ideal summer and winter resort.
"The Great Image of Buddha or Daibutsu"
A 10 min. walk from the Hase Kannon Temple, is a principal lure in Kamakura to both Japanese and foreign visitors, and of course, a photographer's delight.
The "Daibutsu" is a bronze image in a sitting posture, the second largest after the one in Nara. It measures 11.4 mt (37.4 ft) in height. A small stairway inside the Buddha enables you to reach the small platform near the interior shoulder.
Another photo of the Daibutsu.
Too bad the head got cutoff!.
"The Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine"
A 10 min. walk from the station, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kamakura.
You can enjoy a pleasant stroll to the shrine along the Wakamiya Oji Street running straight from the shrine to Yuigahama Beach. The section between the second and third torii gates of this street is somewhat elevated and flanked with cherry trees and azaleas, and shaded by their flowers in season. The perspective was used to give a suitably solemn impression to shrine visitors.
The graveled approach to the shrine starts from the third torii gate. The shrine was originally built in 1191 and the existing building dates back to 1828.
Passing through the torii gate and crossing over the steeply arched bridge, you will find 2 ponds called Genji and Heiki respectively.
The white lotus flowers grow in the Genji Pond and the red ones in the Heike Pond. Beyond the ponds are the Noh stage to the right and the Wakamiya Shrine to the left. The colorful main hall stands at the top of the 62 stone steps.
During the New Year period, the shrine is crowded with hundreds of thousands of visitors in their best clothes.
In September, the unique festival of Yabusame, or the dynamic feat of target-shooting by horsemen, takes place in the shrine compound.
There are also 2 museums, the Municipal Museum and Modern Art Museum.
This is a Guide to the Hachiman Shrine:
1-Dankazura, 3-Genpei Pond, 4-Hataage Benten Shrine, 5-Masako Stone, 10-Dancing Hall, 11-Junior Shrine, 12- Byaku-Shin, 14-Tsurukame Stone, 15-Shirahata Shrine, 16-Shirahata Temizu-Ya, 18-The Great Ginkgo, 19-Stone Steps, 20-Senior Shrine, 21-The Reception Office, 22-The Treasure House, 23-Maruyama-Inari Shrine, 24-The Prayer Place for cars(place where brand new cars are exorcised of evil spirits), 25-Koshinsatsu Osame-Dokoro, 27-Imamiya Shrine, 28-Parking, 29-Tsurugaoka library.
"A History of the Hachiman Shrine"
The Hachiman Shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Ojin, Hime-gami, and the Empress Jingu. Originally it was raised in 1063 near the seaside, Yuigahama, by Yoriyoshi Minamoto. On his return to Kamakura after having suppressed the rebellion of the Abe Family in Oshu, a northern part of Japan, he founded it in honor of the tutelary deity of the Genji Family.
Later on, the shrine was moved to the present position in 1191 by the first Shogun of Kamakura, Yoritomo Minamoto, who made the Hachiman Shrine into a splendid shrine. He completed the present arrangement of the shrines, the Senior Shrine on the top of the stone steps and the Junior Shrine at the bottom. By that time, Yoritomo had already finished putting down his enemies so that Kamakura was actually the center of culture and politics coping with Kyoto.
Thus the Hachiman Shrine attracted the honorable attention and became a guardian deity not only of Kanto' area but of all Japan as well. This is the reason why The Hachiman Shrine was dedicated as tutelary dietly in every place. The present building was constructed after Edo-style of architecture in 1828 by eleventh Shogun of Tokugawa, Ienari Tokugawa.
But the Junior Shrine, which is designated as one of cultural properties by Kanagawa prefecture, was restored by Hidetada Tokugawa. There are so many things to see in the grounds of this Shrine. First, you can see the Dancing Hall which is famous in connection with the sad love story of Shizuka and Yoshitsune. Then, there is a huge, old ginkgo tree known as Hiding Ginkgo which reminds us of the tragic death of the third Shogun of Kamakura, Sanetomo Minamoto assassinated in 1219 by his cousin, Kugyo, who had lain in ambush behind this tree. It is about a thousand years old and seems to be telling us about old times.
Shichi-go-san Festival 2010
I will be in Tokyo from November 12 until November 15, in Shingu (Wakayama) on November 15, Kyoto from the 16th to 20th, and back to Tokyo on November 21st. Where will I be able to witness this festival? I want to try to photograph the wee ones in their pretty garb in scenic settings in the autumn leaves...
Re: Shichi-go-san Festival 2010
On Shichigosan, parents take their children to visit shrines, so you will want to go to a shrine to see the children. Famous shrines may be crowded, but even smaller, lesser known shrines will have visitors! This should be good for your desire to photograph them in "scenic settings", because (in my opinion) the shrines themselves are scenic settings!
I saw a few children at Oharano Shrine (out of the way in Kyoto for most tourists) but more at Matsuo Shrine (famous in Japan, but still not often visited by foreigners). If you visit Shimogamo Shrine, Fushimi Inari, Kamigamo Shrine, or other very famous shrines, you'll probably see a steady stream of children and parents.
Re: Shichi-go-san Festival 2010
Hi Rabbityama, can you suggest some shrines in Tokyo (besides the Meiji, which will be thronged with hundreds, I bet), since that is a Sunday and likely more kids out on that day than on the Monday 15th. Also, during the day on the 14th, I will be heading to Yokosuka for a concert. That means I'll be looking for shrines along the Tokyo-Ofuna-Yokosuka train route (quick stop in Ofuna to photograph the big Kannon!). Can you suggest some shrines along that route?
Re: Shichi-go-san Festival 2010
Most major shrines and some smaller ones have the celebration.
Try Meiji-jingu is one of the most famous shrines that has the Shichigosan celebration, and it's in Tokyo.
The dates is not set like the old time, and each family chose the weekend that is convenient for them to go to the shrine.
Re: Shichi-go-san Festival 2010
I have not spent much time in the Kanto area, but along your line, I was able to find some shrines:
Moroka Kumano Shrine (Under "See"):
Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine (also under "See"):
In Kamakura there is Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Zeniarai Benten Shrine:
In Tokyo, Togo Shrine is near Meiji Shrine:
Kumano Shrine behind the government building, Yasukuni Shrine, Asakusa Shrine, Toshogu Shrine (in Ueno Park) are some options that are known.