Ameyoko Street market

Ameyoko Street market in Ueno just next to the Ueno JR station (Shinobazu Exit) is always a good idea to visit when in Tokyo, but just before New Year it is very crowded when fish and other food things required for the New Year celebrations are sold there cheaply and lots of people want to profit.
A perfect chance for a spot of street photography! Everybody was very accommodating, I guess I wasn’t the first one to put a camera in their faces.

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The market is a constant drone of  “sen en, sen en (1000 yen, 1000 yen)” with which the vendors promote their wares and I suppose it doesn’t really matter that we bought a same-sized chunk of the same fatty tuna for 500 yen a week later. 🙂
And it was crowded, so very crowded. The police was present in drones and had even constructed a platform to keep an eye on the crowds from above. Surprisingly people had led children and even carried babies into the crowds.

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Hokkaido in winter

Hokkaido in winter is a photographers’ paradise, and it is packed with photographers. We’re in Biei and we see cars and taxis coming and going around the famous trees in the area and we keep meeting the same people at the different locations. It is all understandable, the scenery vaguely reminds me of Luxembourg and the gentle slopes are very different from the steep mountains that make up most of Japan. The snow transforms all and a row of trees or a small copse becomes an object of beauty.

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However, as everybody appears to be taking the same pictures, it is time to use the fact that we’re here for a few days and explore. I wanted to make my way to the coast as well, but the weather is frankly horrendous over there and I’m not really temped to end up getting stuck in a snow drift or caught out on a road with black ice even though the Nissan we rented is a 4WD. Best to see if we can find some areas around Biei that are not packed with too many photographers.

Additional: We found some great locations on the way to Furano, very nice!

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Copying sutra at Taiyo-ji temple

As part of a temple stay (shukubo) at Taiyo-ji temple, you get the chance to copy sutra. No calligraphy experience or knowledge of kanji is required (I know, I’m really bad at calligraphy and being left-handed doesn’t help either as all the stroke directions of a kanji are defined by right-handed people — I push the brush where they would pull it and v.v.) 🙂 The habit of hand copying sutra is considered a merit and is a devotional practice.
The monk speaks English and Taiyo-ji temple is very accommodating for tourists from everywhere wanting to get the shukubo experience.

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