I have had this shrine on the “While living in Japan” list. It is one of the more famous Tori gates in Japan, the Hakone Shrine. The massive Tori sits at the edge of the Lake Ashi.

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It was dark, cloudy and about to rain that day.

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While taking a shot of the family under the gate we all started chuckling at this sight … she was working very hard on the windy lake so that her husband, in the life jacket, could get a photograph.

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Supposedly it is a great place to view Mt. Fuji. Unless it is cloudy. For reference, Mt. Fuji is that way. You know .. behind the clouds.

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There is a long stairway from the Lake Ashi Tori to the shrine at the top. This shot gives you a perspective off the surrounding forest with it’s very large trees.

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The shrine at the top ..

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and the dragons at the purification fountain.

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An important monk .. but I have no idea who he is as it was all in Japanese.

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Will have to go back to see Fuji another day.


There are shrines everywhere in Tokyo. What I didn’t know is that many of them are family run, generations and generations.

Near us is a shrine with a wall around it. I have not gone in yet, and when I walked by on Equinox day it seemed closed (which is odd). I did hear drumming. I had to get going, and will return, but I snapped a few photos (usual configuration shooting handheld HDR). It looks like an interesting place for future exploration.

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Love the flowering bushes in Tokyo.

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The not yet “awoken” contrasted by the blooming.

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The view over the fence.

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In contrast to a hazy white sky.

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Warrants more exploration.

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It was Vernal Equinox Day on Wednesday this week.

Vernal Equinox Day (春分の日 Shunbun no Hi?) is a public holiday in Japan that occurs on the date of the Northward equinox in Japan Standard Time (the vernal equinox can occur on different dates in different timezones), usually March 20 or 21. The date of the holiday is not officially declared until February of the previous year, due to the need for recent astronomical measurements.

Vernal Equinox Day became a public holiday in 1948. Prior to that it was the date of Shunki kōreisai ( 春季皇霊祭?), an event relating to Shintoism. Like other Japanese holidays, this holiday was repackaged as a non-religious holiday for the sake of separation of religion and state in Japan’s postwar constitution.

Even though it is a non-religious holiday, many people visit their ancestor’s graves. I walked past a cemetery near our apartment that I wanted to visit .. and clicked off a few photos using my Canon 5D Mark III and my go-to lens: Canon 28-70mm f/2.8.

Pink peeking out behind the red.

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The bell at the cemetery. People would walk up randomly and hit the bell, followed by a bow of respect.

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A mix of very old, and very new graves.

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Of course, people leave behind flowers.

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The grave stones are all grey and covered in moss. Intermingled with shots of color from the fresh flowers.

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A beautiful place.