I’ll talk about food, nature, and other quirks from my Japan trip in other posts, but this one captures other cool stuff I saw.
I must say I didn’t notice a lot of street art, perhaps because my eye isn’t sufficiently trained. Buildings didn’t often seem to accommodate murals—maybe because they had talking video screens instead!
Osaka was my favorite of the major cities I visited; it seemed a little grittier than Tokyo and less touristy than Kyoto. I’d even presumptuously call it the San Francisco of Japan. Here I saw some of the most unique art and culture, at least in the major tourist areas (from which I hardly strayed).
In addition to ubiquitous advertisement screens, LEDs were all over the place. A large, but not particularly fancy club in Osaka had video LEDs wrapping its columns and filling its entry staircase.
Kyoto is known for its artisanal craftsmanship. I wasn’t interested in anything too high-end, so I opted for one of the many monthly flea markets, held on the (beautiful, cherry-blossomed) grounds of a temple. Despite being one of the smaller markets, Tezukuri-Ichi was a maze of stalls filled with unique goods: fine woodwork, jewelry, clothing, ceramics, food, etc. I hit up a popular bakery stand and a fancy pour-over coffee proprietor using cloth filters.
Temples and shrines are everywhere in Japan; I can’t claim to know much about their history or culture. I must admit there was a “seen one seem ’em all” effect where I stopped maying attention to them pretty quickly. One notable exception was Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. Even mobbed with tourists, this gold-leafed marvel set over a tranquil pond was totally worth the visit.
One more notable shrine, with the worlds largest torii gate, coming soon in another post!