Cherry blossom time is coming… 桜と花見

Spring has come and the cherry blossoms are opening soon all over Japan. For many spring is the favorite time of the year in Japan and I’m no exception well I do like Autumn too with the beautiful autumn colors.

This year I won’t be able to see Tokyo blossoming in sakura (cherry flower) because I will arrive to Tokyo in the begin of May when the main season has officially finished but I did take couple of thousand photos last spring that I’d like to share with you!

Depends how my plans go but I might be able to see cherry blossom in north of Japan since there the season starts later than in Tokyo.

Little Japanese for you.
サクラ (桜) = Cherry blossom (Sakura)
はなみ (花見) = Flower viewing (Hanami)

Did you know that in Japanese TV you can see info when and where the flowers are at their best? .Well you can so keep you eye on the tv shows 😀

Little bit about Hanami (flower viewing)

One of the best things to do in Japan is to get together with your friends under the colorful cherry flowers and drink beer (or something stronger),eat tasty food and talk with your friends.
The first Hanami I went was organized by the Sakura hostel asakusa and since I was renting an apartment from Sakura house (basically the same company) I could join their parties without paying anything. At that time I did not know pretty much anyone in Tokyo but at the hanami where all of us were having fun and drinking I made lots of new friends.
Sakura house Hanami 東京 日本。Tokyo Japan Sakura
Actually about 5-10minutes after this photo was taken it started raining a lot (and I mean A LOT) so everyone quickly packed their bags and ran back to the lobby of the hostel (I know I tolled this story like million times but it was such a fun night). At the hostel we were sitting at the lobby drinking and getting to know one another and after couple of hours someone got this great idea that we should go to a bar that was close called “Samurai bar” (hope I’m not mistaken about the name), in the bar we stayed until the last train.  So even tho the rain stopped our fun under the flowers we still kept the party on!

Here are some of my favorite shots of the cherry blossoms.
サクラ. Tokyo, Japan 東京 日本。
(This one was taken at Shinjuku park in the begin of sakura season)

サクラ。Sakura, Ueno park. Tokyo Japan
(Ueno park)

靖国神社.Yasukuni Shrine .東京 日本 Tokyo Japan
(Near the Imperial palace)

サクラ Tokyo, Japan.東京 日本。
(This one is from erm somewhere near shibuya :D)

One of my favorite shots of last spring was this I took in front Yasukuni Shrine near the Imperial palace.
"I will reach it"  靖国神社.Yasukuni Shrine .東京 日本 Tokyo Japan
These are great too 😀
サクラ。Sakura, Ueno park. Tokyo JapanCamera ready サクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo Japan靖国神社.Yasukuni Shrine .東京 日本 Tokyo Japan

Here are some “closer” shots of sakura flowers.
サクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo Japanサクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo Japanサクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo JapanTokyo, Japan 東京 日本。サクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo Japanサクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo Japanサクラ Sakura 東京。日本. Tokyo JapanSakura サクラ。東京 Tokyo

I need to get myself a macro lens so I could take better shots of them for y’all !

Famous and huge Hanami (flower viewing) happens in Ueno park! Here are some photos and video from there!

花見 上野公園. Hanami, Ueno park. Tokyo Japan 東京 日本花見 上野公園. Hanami, Ueno park. Tokyo Japan 東京 日本花見 上野公園. Hanami, Ueno park. Tokyo Japan 東京 日本花見 上野公園. Hanami, Ueno park. Tokyo Japan 東京 日本 
I took a lot of photos there which you can see more in my flickr!

If you like this post “like” my facebook page 😀 Photographer Ari Helminen facebook

First day in Kyoto !

I’m back ! (well few days ago)

I decided to make my Kyoto & Osaka trip blog posts in few different parts since I took #cough #cough 4000+ photos (went a bit over board there). I even had to buy 2 memory cards while there since I did not have my mac with me.

These photos I will show you are from the first day there, I got very good shots even tho the weather was not perfect (at least it was not raining). Earlier today I uploaded 283 photos to my flickr from the first day I truly hope you like them and please go and check them out ! The photos from the other days I will edit and re-check them by Monday and I will get them uploaded as well (350+ photos).

The first day we arrived to the Kyoto station at 5.30am with the night buss from Tokyo. It wasn’t too cold but I was happy I had my jacket and sweater on me. We went to our ryokan to drop off our luggage and we head off to the first temple.

Here are the temples, shrines and areas we visited the first day (in visiting order)

1st. Kiyomizudera Temple
2nd. Yasaka no tou Tower
3rd. Yasaka Shrine
4th. Gion (famous for geisha)
5th. Kennin-ji Temple
6th. Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Temple)
7th. Ryoan-ji (Famous for Stone garden)
8th. Ninna-ji Temple
9th. Gion (geisha hunting with my camera ready)
10th. Shinkyogoku Street

As you see we did visit quite a few, all of them were breathtakingly beautiful!

Let’s start with the first one! (Please remember that I only post a small portion of my photos here, the rest you can see by visiting my Flirck page 

kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺
As you can see it was pretty much the best time to visit with all the leafs red and yellow.
kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺
The main gate of the temple
kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺
Saw a wicked looking bird there as well !
kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺
This was a very interesting thing that is a normal in Japanese temples (wash your hands place).
kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺
My girl of course did it.
kiyomizudera-temple 清水寺

uhm.. Just realized that this post will have way too much photos… How should I do this mmm ok well let’s try putting all in one post.

Let’s move on to the second one, that tower also was very nice!
京都 Kyoto "Old Town"

We were on foot so we accidentally went through the Yasaka shrine, a recommended place to visit while in kyoto as well.
yasaka jinja-shrine 八坂神社yasaka jinja-shrine 八坂神社yasaka jinja-shrine 八坂神社yasaka jinja-shrine 八坂神社

I wanted to go through Gion since I hoped to catch the beauty of a Geisha with my camera but did not have such luck.
祇園 Gion"the geisha area"
But in Gion we found a temple that I was so taken in with called Kennin-ji. I love dragons (my birth year was the year of the dragon), this temple had the most beautiful dragon painting I ever seen and probably will see. One of my absolute favorite places in Japan.
Kenninji-temple 建仁寺
There was also many replicas of this famous painting.
Kenninji-temple 建仁寺
Also this great looking dragon! Then we put our slippers on and continued the main part.
Kenninji-temple 建仁寺
And we saw this ! I was in shock of the beauty of it !
Kenninji-temple 建仁寺 Twin dragonsKenninji-temple 建仁寺Kenninji-temple 建仁寺Kenninji-temple 建仁寺

This place also had a beautiful garden.
Kenninji-temple 建仁寺Kenninji-temple 建仁寺Kenninji-temple 建仁寺

Time for the world famous Golden temple (kinkaku.ji), I loved the colors there!
Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣
The main Temple.
Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣
Don’t you just love those Autumn colors in Japan !
Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣
Money money money !! I tried throwing money there but went absolutely to the wrong dirrection.
Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣

At the Kinkaku-ji they were having a event that happens couple of a month where people write down their hopes and prayers to a piece of wood and give it to the Yamabushi men who placed them to the fire.
Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣Kinkakuji-temple 鹿苑寺金閣

My girl wanted to visit the famous stone garden of Ryoan-ji temple. (Japanese people soo love those stone gardens !)
龍安寺 Ryoanji-temple龍安寺 Ryoanji-temple
There was a lake as well !
龍安寺 Ryoanji-temple龍安寺 Ryoanji-temple

There is a famous Temple with a walking distance from that place called Ninna-ji, so we decided to visit there as well.
Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺
This next picture will show you how heavy those autumn leafs really are, with my girlfriend trying to lift them up!
Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺
Salarymen from Tokyo walking at the temple site.
Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺
Main part of the temple
Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺Ninnaji-temple 仁和寺

Our trip back to the “new” part of Kyoto started, took about 45 mins in a buss. Our ryokan was very close to the Kyoto station so it was easy to find. This Kyoto tower looks so small for us since we are from Tokyo with the Sky tree which is about 6 times bigger. Kyoto tower is about 131meters and Skytree about 663meter
_DSC5385
After we got everything done with our Ryokan check-in and a bit time relaxing in our room, we left to Gion again to find my geisha but no such luck again. We did get lost tho and found a Finland bar !!
祇園 Gion"the geisha area"祇園 Gion"the geisha area"
Day ended nicely with a hot onsen in our ryokan and with couple of asahi beers while watching tv.
I will now start editing the second days photos ! Monday I will get them uploaded ( I hope since I’m going to the Tokyo motor show and I will end up taking way too much photos there I know).

How you do you know that Kyoto is more friendly with foreigners then Tokyo… well free wifi of course !
祇園 Gion"the geisha area"

I hope you all enjoyed these photos and please visit my flickr for more photos from this beautiful day at Kyoto !

World famous Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場

Image

Yesterday Morning I was thinking where should I go and then it hit me , Tsukiji fish market! I never got good photos from there even tho it is one of the most famous things about Tokyo.
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場
I got there a bit early at 8am and the main fish market area opens at 9am but it didn’t bother me that much since all the little shops around the area were open, lots of interesting hand made things that I absolutely have to buy later.

Once I got in I started taking photos like a crazy person but the thing in Tsukiji is that us the foreigners need to understand that it is a place of business not a sightseeing spot, need to be very careful and fast not to disturb the people who work there.

Few pointers for y’all of what not to do !
1.Do not touch any fish you see (no matter how cute they might look)
2.Don’t stop in the middle of the pathways for more than 5-10sec
3.If you want to take a photo of the people working, take it fast and move on.
4.This is kinda easy but don’t go there drunk (same as going to other persons work place drunk)
5.Do not wear flip flops (sandals) there in any situations.
6.Don’t bring your children way too big of a hassle. (no rollers as well)

What you will learn at Tsukiji Fish Market!
1.You’ll learn to watch everywhere around you otherwise you will be run over.
2.How to take more fantastic photos fast with quick reflects.
3.That fish blood is actually red ! joking 😀
4.Some fish move even when they are cut in half ( zombie fish anyone?)

But now to the photo part! I hope you enjoy these, only 2 days left until our trip to Kyoto and Osaka so I want to leave something here for you to keep busy!

First couple of photos will be outside of the actual Fish market area.

In Tsukiji they don’t only sell fish but also fruits, handcrafts and much more.
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

Ok now you are thinking what do I need to become a worker at Tsukiji, well here is the answer for you!
Go to this shop and buy one of each ! In the photos you see later why.
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

At Tsukiji you need to be very careful with the people who work there, They are making their living and they will run you over if you are just idle in their way.World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

Before I will show you the bloody fish photos here is a cute photo of a father with his daughter (I hope)
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

Ok so now you are all happy happy cute cute right ?

time to start with the Fish Market !
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

Do not stop here in the middle ! always keep moving.
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場
I hope you liked the photos so far ! I understand if you became hungry !
Here’s some more !
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

This next photo I like a lot!
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

Ok now you want ice for your fish right, you go to this machine !
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場
It looks 100 -years old but it works so who cares !
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場
And then your fish are well frozen !
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

You see from the photos! Tools of the trade
World famous Tsukiji Fish Market, 築地市場

I hope you liked this post ! I’ll try to post until we get on the road tomorrow evening to go to Kyoto.

Shōwa Kinen Kōen 昭和記念公園 Part 2

Image

Decided to make this in two parts so it would not be too long !

Here I’ll show you some more photos from that breathtaking park!

I so love how Japanese take their dogs out in these things ! the dog looks happy still tho 😀

Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

These dogs reminded me about a dog my family used to have a long time ago!
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Look at this cute little dog saying hello to that little girl ! just the cutest thing you ever seen !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

This photo is again one of the “best photos I have taken in Japan”
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Don’t you just hate when people are behind your back watching what you are drawing!
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Taking photos of these guys were kinda easy, took my time changing my lens and everything and still they haven’t moved than 1cm
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Halloween Bonsai ??? anyone ??
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園
I hope I can go to this park again next week to take a better version of this photo ! this is nice too but I want it more sharp.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

These looked delicious but I doubt I could eat them !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

This Autumn color makes me feel warm inside and I feel like I can scratch “See the Beautiful Autumn colors of Japan” off my bucket list.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Cat’s are always popular with the ladies !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Entrance of the park.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

I HIGHLY recommend to visit that park any time of the year, but right now it is very beautiful !

Shōwa Kinen Kōen 昭和記念公園

Image

It only took me 12 hours to upload these photos !I truly hope you all like them. The internet I am using here at Chiba is not the best but it get’s the job done!

If you are now in Tokyo or arriving here in two weeks, you should go to this park right away! You can see what Japanese Autumn colors are all about if you visit there !

This place is a little far but that does not matter when we are talking about everything this park has to offer. Now you are saying yourself “what is so great about this park compared to Ueno or Shinjuku parks” well,,, EVERYTHING ! as you will see from my photos this park has the most beautiful Japanese garden you’ll ever seen in Tokyo area and also it is HUGE so much to see and do!

Park entrance: 400Yen
Access : Easiest way to this park I noticed was the JR Chuo Line from Nakano. Stop at Tachikawa station (the park is right next to the station 7mins walk)

Many famous photos were taken in this park as well that you can see in tourist magazines and books.

Here are some photos I took at the park! check for the rest at my flickr !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Aren’t those red leafs just to die for !! So beautiful !!! That is what Autumn in Japan is all about!
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Took a small break time after walking too long 😀 ! Those apples from Aomori are so delicious ! (portable wifi NTT Docomo, iphone4 ,ipad2)

There was also some very pretty Bonsai plants as well ! you can find them inside the Japanese garden !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Koi コイ You can find this fish in pretty much all the famous parks of Tokyo and maybe in all of Japan (not sure about that Japan part) Very interesting fish but they seem to be very hungry always.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

BIG SPIDERS ! I almost walked through this net where these spiders were ! Scared the Crap out of me !

Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

The Japanese garden was aboslutely breathtaking ! I’m sure you will love it !!
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

There was a lot of “older” people doing amazing paintings ! if I were richer I would so want to buy couple of them !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Doesn’t this just look beautiful ? do you get that autumn feeling from this photo ?
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

While everyone were taking photos of the beautiful leafs I decided to take some more interesting photos of people who were taking photos of the autumn leafs. What do you think ? did I get good ones?
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Those two are my favorite photos. More these kind of photos at my flickr !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Many of us were thinking why there were one sun flower left but we were happy that there were since everyone got some great shots of it ! as did I .
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

I think this is one of the main “artsy” things in the park, Very pretty fountain!
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

I came to the park a bit early as you can see.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

All of us were waiting outside the gate! about 13 photographers.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Soon as the gates open we all ran quickly to the first great photo spot !
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

As in everywhere in Japan, even in this park there were a lot of cute cats like this little fellow.
Shōwa Kinen Park, 昭和記念公園

Read more at Part 2 about this park !