Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The (rebuilt) Globe Theater, Shakespeare's playhouse.

The bridge opens to let a sailboat through.

Cool Bridge!

The Tower of London is the infamous final destination of many politically troublesome people including a few wives! Mine stayed safely on the outside, thank goodness!

Ye Olde Cock Tavern was a hangout of some of Londons most famous, including Charles Dickens.

Piccadilly square in London rivals Time Square in New York. It has a bit of a different personality though. Whereas Time Square has taller buildings covered in glass, Piccadilly Square's buildings are historical and seemingly more sophisticated.

The Changing of the Guard. Joy is on my shoulders.

The parade of the Changing of the Guards.

The Horse Guard.

The two story horse stalls of Great Scotland Yard.

This giant ferris wheel in London holds multiple people per capsul and takes an hour to get all the way around. Our budget didn't allow us to ride it though.

Big Tan in front of Big Ben.

London isn't immune to the political protests that plague George Bush back home, but despite some obvious antiwar sentiment Tony Blair re-won his position as prime minister while we were in England.

After an excruciatingly long trip on Cathay Pacific airlines (their seats are obviously made for Asian sized people not fat Americans) we made it to London. We thought that Japan would be the most expensive place we would encounter on our trip. We were wrong, the pound is so strong right now (about double the Amercian dollar) that we went way over budget during this leg of the trip. We stayed in England for quite a while though because Joy wanted to see a ceramic show that was to feature one of the artists that inspire her, Kate Malone. Anyway, here I am in front of Buckingham Palace.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The gardens of the castle were equally well developed. I was continually amazed at the beauty all around us. Kyoto, and truly the Japanese themselves, are quite a wonder.

This picture is taken from the wall of a very old Japanese castle in Kyoto. It is amazing how well built it is. It looks brand new.

Very peaceful.

I believe this is a Shinto sactuary.

Japanese structures are beautiful, functional, and precise.

Beauty is to be found often in Kyoto.

More women in kimono's.

Traditional clothing is still often seen in Japan. It is not out of place at all for this woman in the subway to carry a cell phone and wear a Kimono.

Hmm, which way?

The structures were built well back into the woods and into the hills.

They are built as a symbol of devotion, these people must be very devoted.

Remember what I said about the Gateway!

This statue seems quite imposing!

Here I am reading about the temple.

There were many of these dog statues, but the gateway thing is especially significant to this temple.

We happened upon this temple dedicated to a Goddess esteemed by the agricultural people of the area. The popularity of the temple was established long ago when a drought broke after a ceremony held here.

Joy loved the garden!

Here the owner of the house demonstrates the use of what is known as a water harp. There is a cistern under the fountain that rings out most musically as the water drips into it. It is quite magical sounding!

Looking back at the house.

Kyoto was our favorite city that we visited in Japan. It seemed to still possess much of it's ancient charm. In this picture we are looking out the door of a traditional Japanese house upon a traditional Japanese garden.

But even the the most ancient of ceremonies we are still reminded that we are living in a modern world. "Yes, you can play your gameboy, just stay still while I fix your outfit!"

The music is difficult to describe. It's definitely not western.

And how intricate the ceremony.

It was amazing how many people were involved.

The music was as ancient as the ceremony.

Do you think Joy liked the costumes?

We happened upon an ancient Japanese traditional dance in Osaka that is still performed to please the soul of a long dead prince.

It's hard to believe that such beauty could exist in the midst of such a large bustling city.

Though it was said that nothing would grow in Hiroshima for seventy-five years after the blast, you can see by this garden that the Japanese land as well as the people are resilliant. It's hard to imagine the effort that goes into producing such beauty. In some cultures it seems as if man and nature are struggling against one another. Japanese gardens make me appreciate what can be when man and nature work together.

Joy of course loved all the Koi in the ponds, and rivers around Hiroshima.

This castle was completely destroyed, but rebuilt as a museum.

These multicolored ribbons are actually innumerable paper cranes strung together. There is a myth in Japan that if you fold a thousand paper cranes your wish will come true. One of the many children that developed cancer from the radiation of the blast believed the story and folded countless cranes before she died of leukemia. In rememberance of her and the other children victims there are hundreds of thousands of paper cranes placed upon the monuments.

After China we stayed with Kevin in Korea for a couple more nights before heading to Japan. The first major city we went to in Japan was Hiroshima. It was quite a "tear jerker" as they say in Texas. The whole city is like a massive monument. They don't want the world to forget the power of Atomic weapons or the victims of them. The city is officially dedicated to World Peace.

Joy loved all the lanterns and other decorations that could be found tucked away in hidden corners and market streets.

Here I am trying to decipher a map (written in Chinese of course) of the Forbidden City.

Even with large sections being inaccessible due to construction, the Forbidden City is massive!