NIPPONIA No. 37 June 15, 2006


| Japan from the Air |

A Flight over History and Culture

Anyone touring Japan has plenty of interesting destinations to choose from.

Famous historic sites and unusual rural scenery are just two possibilities.

This virtual flight over places of historical and cultural interest is something different for the armchair tourist.

Hagi, an old castle town

The city of Hagi faces the Sea of Japan in northern Yamaguchi Prefecture. From the air it is easy to understand that this is an old castle town from the Edo period (1603-1867). In the early 1600s, the Mori daimyo feudal lords built Hagi Castle at the base of Mount Shizuki (photo, near top), with other fortifications on the mountain. The Hashimoto and Matsumoto rivers were natural outer moats for the castle, and the delta between them developed into a castle town. Hagi still has many historical buildings, and the layout of the old streets reminds history buffs of city maps from the Edo period.

Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Tourists come from all over the world to see the famous sights of Kyoto, and the most famous of them all is perhaps Kinkaku-ji (formal name, Rokuon-ji Temple). The pavilion rises from a large pond surrounded by trees. In the background on mountain slopes is a dense forest. The temple was built in 1397 on the order of the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Even from this height, you can see the shimmering gold-leaf gilding on the pavilion's second and third floors.

(Both photos: Watanabe Manabu)