Lord Ace of the Fictional Lands (ensuing) wrote,
Lord Ace of the Fictional Lands

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Japan Trip 2014: Nagano C: A Day of Relaxation, 10/09/14

60 Images. Worksafe. Little bit of the swears, but a grand lack of ranting!

Woke up, chatted with people online, then ate breakfast with my mom. I don't know if I mentioned this in the last update, but these breakfasts were AMAZING. Super delicious, but there was SO MUCH FOOD. I couldn't get close to finishing the previous day's breakfast, so my mom asked if we could just split one for the other days and it worked out really well! This day was a big one for the both of us. We were each on a quest to visit a museum… but different museums in different towns. Mine was close by and easy to access, but my mom's was in an entirely different city and far from the train station. I wished her good luck as she headed out and then I was on my own!

I set out myself shortly after and headed the opposite way she did, just maybe two hundred meters up the street to the first gate of Zenkoji Temple. I'm not as interested in temples as I am in shrines, but I heard this was the site of some activity between Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen in the 16th century. The area was a base for Kenshin's forces, I guess? I wasn't able to find information about it at the temple (though I didn't look very hard). Side note: There's a statue of Kenshin vs Shingen elsewhere in Nagano!)

Anyway, up the street there was a little path with lanterns, then a big formal gate.

I think this was the center of the big gate, Nimon.

Baku and Komainu, perhaps? They were on each of the corners, and there was another set of beasts inside the chicken wire.

You can almost make out one of the beasties at the top of this pillar.

Through an even bigger gate and to the left was Daikanjin Temple. It's fairly small, but it had these lovely Komainu.

I took tons of pictures of the main temple, but realized after the first fifty or sixty that my settings were all wrong and the pictures were completely blown out. I tried to go back and retake them, but as I am posting these in the order I took them things may seem out of place!

This is behind the main building of Zenkoji Temple. All of the lanterns were donated for various people, groups of people, or objects.

Front of the temple with a lovely bell in the foreground.

Looking down the steps from the same spot as the previous image.

This chap was on top of the incense burner and either smoke would come out his mouth or it'd get caught in there. He had wax(?) dripping out of his mouth.

Each foot of the incense burner had a serious beastie.

TADAAAAAAAHHH IT'S THE MAIN BUILDING! …it's actually not that big, but once you get close it feels pretty imposing.

At some point I decided to pay the entrance fee to see the treasures and underground passage. I held little interest in the treasures (the enormous drums on display were way cooler to me), but the underground passage seemed interesting. It's a test. You take off your shoes and hold your right hand to the wall. You can't use your phone or anything, you just have to walk with your hand on the wall. As you walk further from the entrance, the light dims until it's pitch black. Somewhere on the wall is the "Key to Paradise." It's said that if you touch it, you receive eternal salvation. Pretty sweet, eh? The walk is creepy. VERY creepy. It's so dark but you can hear the shuffling around of everyone else in front and in back of you. A girl a little in front of me starting freaking out; screaming and sobbing. She eventually decided to get out and ran into me on her fervor to get out. I felt bad for her. I soldiered on, trying to find that key, but no luck. It was a real intense experience that I'll definitely do again if I'm ever in the area. Amazing what taking away all light does to you.

Before I get to more pictures, let me tell you about some of these memorials they had all over. They were for a large variety of really interesting stuff.

A Few of the Memorial/Monument Sites on the Zenkoji Temple Grounds:
-Memorial for the Women of the Tokugawa Household
-Senninzuka Monument (for the souls of 1000 peasants who staged an uprising, I think? My photo is blurry)
-Takao Lantern (for a famous courtesan)
-Memorial for Undelivered Mail
-Monument for the Spirits of Flowers
-Memorial Pagoda for Souls in Deserted Graves
-Memorial Monument for the Sato Brothers (oldest on the premises! They died tragically for their master, Minamoto Yoshitsune. You know, the famous Yoshitsune, trained with Tengu, Benkei is his bro? That one.)
-Mujina Lantern (for a Mujina that was very devotional but was bawled out when his true form was discovered)
-Old Monument to Sanado Family Retainers
-Memorial for Used Pins and Needles
-Monument to the Song "Hato Poppo" (Cute Pigeons)
-Monument to the Haiku-Poems of Taneda Santoka
-Monument to the Haiku-Poems of Issa
-Monument Dedicated to the Haiku-Poems of Seigetsu Inoue.
*phew!* And I probably missed a bunch.

The cows Yoshiko and Mitsuko!

This is Churei Den (War Memorial Pagoda). This pagoda holds the ashes of 2.4 million war dead from the last 150 years.

This is a cool phoenix on a lantern in front of Churei Den. I kneeled too quickly in the wrong spot and smashed my knee against the base of this I thought it was gushing blood. It wasn't, it barely bruised, but it hurt sooooo badly.

The box of dried bush thorn is a bit unusual. I asked my mom about it when I was showing her these pictures and she says she thinks they put them in the eaves to prevents birds from hanging out.

Old pines.

They were taking photos of the thing in this building. That guy is helping to reflect the light to where they need it… perhaps? The object inside is the "Kyozo," a sutra repository.


This is the Sanmon Gate. For a fee, you could go inside it. I did not. At this point, it was late morning and it was getting crowded!

Looking down the path towards Nimon Gate.

Sculpted pine.

Another shot of the front of the temple.


A serene stream. This area was maybe 50-75m to one side of the main temple, but it was so nice and quiet.

Main temple building behind the trees and you can see the top of Churei Den to the right.

…Walnut tree, I think? It was HUGE.

A man ringing the bell in Shoro. Or is the bell called Shoro? My photo of the info plaque says "Shoro (Temple Bell Tower)". The bell is from 1687 and was chosen as one of the "100 Beautiful Sounds" of Japan. It was a beautiful sound.

You can see Churei Den's top again through the sea of trees. It's incredible how well the trees hide everything from above when it seems like they are somewhat sparsely spaced when you're on the ground.

Oh wow, I guess this is the spot for the main goal of the day! It's just one street over from the temple!

There's a flower clock! Cool!

Da-da-da-DAAAAAAAH! I was here to see The Power of Manga: Osamu Tezuka and Shotaro Ishinomori at the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum.

No cameras were allowed inside except for a few specific spots. The exhibit was truly incredible and inspiring. They had so many pieces from all times in both artists' lives. I'd been to the Tezuka Museum and a Tezuka exhibit in San Francisco, but I'd never seen any of Ishinomori's work in person. *_*

This is the Tokiwa Apartment Building. (I think!) It's where a lot of very influential manga artists stayed for a time. Oh course, this is a reproduction.

Atom and Joe!

Françoise and Sapphire!

I—Is this a Leiji Matsumoto exhibit in Karuizawa? I tried to mentally figure out if I could head to Karuizawa to see this after I finished at this museum, but in the end I decided to take it easy. The museum my mom headed to was in Karuizawa, hahahaha.

Oh gosh, this Tezuka-Ishinomori exhibit though, so freaking amazing. Early Kamen Rider sketches, Kikaider designs, Go Ranger mask sketches, Black Jack pages, Buddha art, oh man oh man ohhhh maaaaan. There was a section about general themes (Life, Hometown, Person, Don't Give Up, Science, Love, War and Peace, Threat of Nature, Female Image, Sound, Time, and something that translates to "Reflection-Bull's Eye-Expression) that had made me cry because the chosen images were so powerful. T^T

At the end there was a section of tribute works. They were all cool, but there was a pair of pictures by Takeshi Obata (Death Note, Bakuman., etc etc). One for Dororo, one for Cyborg 009. They were… so gorgeous. I wanted… no, NEEDED copies of them, but the gift shop let me down. There's probably some legal reason they couldn't sell postcards or posters or whatnot of them. I bought the exhibit guide instead, so even though they're not huge versions and I can't put them on my wall, I can still flip through the guide and see them. Plus all the other incredible pieces and memorabilia from the exhibit!

But, damn. They're incredible. I showed them to my mom and even she (who greatly dislikes manga) thought they were incredible.

Walked back to the temple in order to head back to the ryokan. I tried to make a kitty friend, but they weren't interested. =(

Between the Sanmon Gate and Nimon Gate was this house(?) with lovely lanterns in front.

I spent a long time taking pictures of the lanterns and house, so I'm posting two of them. =T


Exiting the temple grounds, heading down the street…

I wanted to get a late lunch and wander around, but first I needed to drop off my big camera (actually my brother's camera he kindly lent me) and my museum purchases. I dropped them off at the ryokan, but took a handful of pictures of the place before heading out again.

Stairs! There were stairs everywhere.

Everywhere. This is looking down from our floor (3rd floor-ish) to the closest bathroom.

Down the hallway passed our room.

Down more stairs.

Inside our room!

And again, our room!

I took a breather, dropped off my stuff, and headed out again.

Nearby kabuki theater.

Cat and Chopper!

Medicine Dog with one beefy arm. (Trogdog?)

A head for a lion dance (shishi-mai).

I found a convenience store and grabbed some gyoza and the latest Weekly Shonen Jump. I sat on a planter at a street corner and tried not to look super suspicious and out of place.

Cool elephant statue. They had a giraffe one and a hippo one too.

After seeing so much amazing art, I decided to find a Starbucks to get a drink and doodle a bunch myself. I was inspired! As I meandered through the city, I found myself near the main train station. All of a sudden I looked up and BAM! There was an Animate. I wasn't planning on buying much until I got back to Tokyo, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to look.

Ha ha.


I wasn't… that bad. I found a couple Tales of Xillia 2 clear files I hadn't seen in Tokyo and didn't want to miss out having them so I grabbed them. I… may have also picked up Devils Line v3… BUT IT HAD A BONUS PAPER WITH AN ANZAI DRAWING ON IT and I kinda needed that so yeah… That was more than I had planned on buying, so I went to the cashier but was frozen by the Irregular at Magic High School section. I fought so SO hard, but Tatsuya, my beloved Onii-sama and the world's greatest Gary Stu, had my heart in a tight grip and I ended up getting THE FREAKING CUTEST TATSUYA PHONE STRAP OMG.

I was so ashamed of my purchases, especially beloved Onii-sama, but to this day that strap brings me great happiness, I guess it's alright. There was a Starbucks in the same building so I got a drink and doodled for a couple hours.

It was so relaxing and so nice. The entire day was just what I needed.

This was… a clothing shop? I love the store window. It says "Under Construction," but that might have been part of the store's name/design? It seemed like it was open and themed similarly inside.



I like this sign because the red circle looks like an elephant to me. Perhaps that's the intention?

That bear on the left is creepy because it has human hands. Maybe raccoon hands? Maybe it's actually supposed to be a raccoon????

Lion dance lions!

Back at the ryokan. Grenade! (aka Fire Extinguisher, I believe)

The view from one of our windows.

And finally… more stairs. So very many stairs.

I worked on Terra Formars until my mom got back, we talked about our days, then she went to get dinner. Since I had eaten lunch so late, I wasn't particularly hungry. I grabbed more gyoza and some drinks at a nearby 7-11, hurried back, took a super fast shower and was back in the room before my gyoza was cold. Worked some more as I watched The Devil is a Part-Timer and some Kamen Rider I had ripped for entertainment~

THAT'S ALL! For now. Next we'll leave Nagano and go to Kyoto. If anyone is interested in any of the art from the Tezuka-Ishinomori exhibit, let me know and I can take pictures of the exhibit book. I'm not going to scan it, sorry, I don't want to harm it in any way, but I'll take pictures of whatever you'd like.
Tags: anime, japan, manga, photos, tezuka
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