Hello faithful! I’m back from my over-lengthy vacation to the magical, mystery world that is Japan – fully rested, fighting fit, and counting down the days till we go back next year. Business as usual, really. In keeping with the finest traditions of globe-trotting bores, I thought I’d share some of my holiday photos with you, in order to help share some of the wonder and majesty that is the land of Nippon.

Caveat: I’m not the world’s greatest photographer, so apologies if some of the shots are a touch out of focus and whatnot. Hopefully I won’t lose too much of the flavour of the country. Click on and let us begin our journey…

roadflower

Now, all you amateur botanists out there (of which a surprisingly large share of this site’s regular readership comprise) are no doubt salivating with unbridled jealousy right now. This is indeed the somewhat tricky to find Rhodisidius Shrubbaeneum, a native grassplant to the Japanese shores, found mostly in small clumps at the side of suburban area Japanese roadways. It took quite a bit of hunting to find, but I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when this particularly fulsome specimen popped up!

handle

The famous Japanese subway system is indeed as crowded during rush hours as the legends foretold, as this shot of a crammed commuter train no doubt shows. It was quite a squeeze to get on (especially with family in tow) and I may have been jogged about a little when trying to get the a suitable shot ot get the crowds across, but you can certainyl get a feel for what it must be like for these poor salarymen enduring this crush day in, day out!

sign

One thing the first-time visitor to Japan is never prepared for is the language barrier, especially in written form. While it’s easy to make educated guesses at what signs mean when using the Roman alphabet in countries like Germany, Italy and Mexico, when the alphabet itself is completely unfamiliar, you really are left out on something of a limb. Who knows what mysteries lie behind such arcane and unintelligable signs such as this?

arcade

Modern pop culture fuses with old-time tradition in Japan, but the most popular outlet for modern Japanese youth are the arcade centres. Floor upon floor of video machines, prize grabbers, complicated card-game-arcade-system setups and funky photo booths compete for attention with every manner of flashing neon and LCD lights you can imagine. My own daughter was captivated by touch-screen dog simulations, barely giving me time to record the environment before whisking me off for another momentary thrill.

trees

More for the botanists now, and one of the most popular outdoor experiences is the falling of the cherry blossom from the public trees. Japanese of all ages gather to celebrate, lying beneath the pink and white canopy and enjoying nature’s beauty. Sadly, my visit was at the wrong time of year for this (generally it happens in Spring), but many of the trees were still very nice!

food

Food plays an important part of Japanese culture and most regions of the country have their own particular famed dishes. Fish is, naturally, a prime staple of the nation’s diet, but not all of it is in the popular ‘sushi’ format. Many wildly creative concoctions can be found if you hunt hard enough!

bridge

Slightly more touristy this, but we were on holiday after all, lol! One excursion saw us crossing the beautiful ‘Rainbow Bridge’ on a monorail in order to reach to popular Oedo wharf area. As you can see, the water looks stunning in the glorious sunlight and the surrounding giant architecture certainly takes the breath away!

tokyo

Here we see Tokyo in all its horizon-filling majesty! To get this stunning nighttime shot I had to brave the winds on the sixtieth floor of a popular downtown shopping and office building. As you can see, the city stretches away in all directions and when lit up at night is quite an awe-inspiring sight! I just hope the flash and my adjustments to the manual settings on my camera were up to the task of capturing it!

fujisan

And finally, what tour of Japan would be complete without the country’s shining centerpiece, Mount Fuji, here in all it’s glory, looming over another part of Tokyo like a slient guardian! Admittedly, the weather conditions weren’t the best for this kind of shot, but hopefully you can take in a little of the beauty of Mother Nature at her awesome finest!

Well, naturally I’ve barely scratched the surface of this magnificent country, but hopefully I managed to capture just a little of the flavour, the sights and the essence of what makes modern Japan tick. I’ll return to regular updates about failing to be any good at EverQuest II and the exploration of random and obscure MMO betas soon.

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