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Category Archives: Flower Photography

Today we were off to Inokashira Park. We arrived at the train station before the rush hour.

I took a few shots from just outside the Musashino Station while I was waiting for my wife to get Google Maps up and running so we could find the park.

What can I say. My wife likes cats.

When we arrived at the park we walked across this bridge. We didn’t get very far before we became entranced by the antics of the ducks in the pond. It also helped that there were some nice reflection shots in the water.

The view down the pond from the bridge.

After watching the birds we continued our journey around the pond. I particularly like to photograph fall landpools (reflections) and there were a lot of them in the pond.

We continued to see wildlife as we walked around the pond.

Mid morning we passed the Blue Sky Cafe. As soon and my wife found out that they had donuts shaped like cats we had to stop.

There were quite a few people out in boats enjoying the beautiful fall day. On a weekend it is probably packed.

As we were nearing the end of our visit we noticed, what appeared to be, a class trip visiting the park and the kids seemed to be having fun. There were also adults out exercising.

We spent some time visiting the Inokashira Benzaiten a small Buddhist Temple in the park.

A few last shots of the pond before we headed back to the train station.

Just outside the park there was a small shopping street which attracted Linda.

One last shot from outside the train station.

We caught the subway over to Yushima Tenmangu Shrine.

The Shrine was not very big.

There was a small Japanese garden associated with the shrine. A family had dressed their little girl up in a traditional costume so I took a photo of her.

What we really came to see was the Chrysanthemum Exhibit that was taking place at the Shrine. It was Chrysanthemum season and there were exhibits all over Tokyo. This was by far the best exhibit we found.

After finishing at the Shrine we noticed there was a large park area not too far away. It was called Ueno Onshi Park and is noted for its lotus plants in Shinobazu Pond. In the fall the lotus plant were not all that impressive. It was getting late so we only manged to walk around a small portion of the park. It is a park that includes zoos and museums so it requires more than a an hours time to really experience it.

One of my hobbies is photographing wildlife and there was plenty of wildlife to photograph in the Pond.

As we were leaving the park we noticed this young man dressed in his school uniform walking along the street. In Japan young kids are trained at an early age to navigate the Tokyo train system and you can frequently see them walking alone on the streets and in the stations.

It was getting late so we started looking for a place to eat and the train station to take us back to our hotel.

 

 

Today’s excursion is to Mount Fuji. We took a couple of trains to Shinjuku station to pick up the JR Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station to Mount Fuji. Our rail pass covered the cost from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki. We  then transfer to the Fujikyu Railway. It was the same train but we had to pay for the reminder of the trip to Kawaguchiko Station.

When we arrived we went to the train station ticket office to purchase our ticket on the Fujikyu Railway from Kawaguchiko Station to Otsuki where our JR pass would kick in.

We then went to the Omni Bus ticket office to purchase a ticket on the red line. From Kawaguchiko Station there are  Omni buses which are hop on an hop off buses and are generally the easiest way for tourists to get around. There are three lines starting from Kawaguchiko Station, We took the red Kawaguchiko Line (buses every 15 minutes) runs along the eastern and northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko. There were long lines to get on the red bus and the area was a zoo with all kinds of buses and lots of people.

We made sure we were standing within the lines.

Once we got on the bus we decided to ride the bus to the end of the line which was the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center. Along the way we noted other places we wanted to visit on our way back. It looked like they were in the process of planting flowers around the Living Center.

Not sure what these bushes were but in the fall they really beautiful.

I noticed these buildings up on the hill away from the lake. I think they were small places to stay.

We hopped on the bus and rode back towards town. We managed to get off one stop before we wanted to. There was construction taking place and we couldn’t figure out how get past the construction on the trail along Lake Kawaguchiko. Some other folks cam along from the opposite direction so we watched how they managed to get through the construction. It was a beautiful day to walk along the lake. There were some beautiful views of the lake and Mount Fuji.

There were beautiful flowers along the trail.

We were heading into an area with beautiful fall colors.

One of the few examples of graffiti that we saw on our visit to Tokyo and environs.

As we walked along we came to a craft fair that was taking place. Lots of beautiful things but no way to get them home.

 

As we were walking through the fair we ran across a both that had a display of Rose Mauling. When we arrived the individual staffing the stand was in the back having lunch. When she heard us talking about Rose Mauling she came out. Since my wife is Norwegian she was really interested. Turns out the Japanese woman had lived in Chicago for about 10 years and she took it up as a hobby which she continued when she returned to Japan. She had some sayings on some of her work that didn’t make and sense in Norwegian. We went off to have lunch and after lunch my wife decided to write some Norwegian sayings down on paper for the lady. We when back and gave them to the lady and had her picture taken.

There was a food court setup at the fair so we stopped and had some chicken on a stick.

In back of the art fair there were some gardens with beautiful fall colors.

We continued our walk along the lake and the colors were spectacular.

We came to another are with many food trucks. In the first photo the vendor was twirling a stick into the ice cream and when he had the equivalent of a scoop he would plop it on to a cone then had it to the person on the end of the stick. In this case he was teasing the girls by handing it to them and then pulling it away.

What a backdrop for a vendor with Mount Fuji in the background.

We continued walking but hadn’t gone far when we found another ice cream stand and couldn’t resist buying some.

The required smoking area.

We found another bus stop but had to wait far more that the 15 minutes that was noted on the brochure.

We rode the bus back toward town and then got off at a stop that would allow us to walk along a section of the lake that was very beautiful in the late afternoon light.

At this point we were back in town and decided to catch the bus back to the train station. We saw it coming so we raced to the place that it was supposed to stop. The bus kept on going and didn’t stop. Only then did we realize that we on the wrong side of the road and were an outgoing bus stop. We forgot the Japanese drive on the left rather than the right. At this point we figured out that we could take a shortcut through town to get to the station. On the way we found this beautiful little cemetery.

We figured it would be late when we arrived back in Tokyo so we decided to look for a place to eat. Unfortunately most restaurants don’t open until late in the afternoon which means after dark this time of year. We wandered through town looking for a place that was open. on the way we found this statue which my wife thought was from some fairytale. She was right it is from the  Grim fairytale “The Bremen Town Musicians.

We finally found a place to eat and had traditional noodles since we were really not all that hungry having had chicken on a stick and ice cream earlier in the day.

We caught the train back to Tokyo and arrived back in our hotel after a long day.

 

 

Our first objective of the day was to find Todoroki Valley Park. It is only a 20-minute train ride from Shibuya Station. This is a wild and untamed gorge, with a jungle-like canopy. It was forged by the Yazawa River as it heads for the larger Tama River and it is the only valley in Tokyo. A short 1.5 km walk along the river will bring you to a shrine and temple and small waterfalls.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

After walking a short distance we found this small bridge over the river. This lead to the Todoroki Valley Park Caves which were used as burial sites.

Retracing our steps we returned to the path along the river where we encountered a picturesque bridge which leads to the Chigo Daishi Mieido a small shrine that features a statue of Kobo Daishi. Fudo Waterfall is right beside the small shrine and originates from the mouths of two ornate dragons.

Following the steps leads to another small shrine.

Continuing up the steps leads to the Todoroki Fudosan Temple.

Chōzubachis, are used by worshipers for washing their left hands, right hands, mouth and finally the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine temple.

There was a Chrysanthemum exhibit taking place at the temple including Bonsai  Chrysanthemums.

Walking back down to the Yazawa River we continued our river walk. We found a small Japanese Garden. Some of the trails were closed but we were able to walk through the garden and out of the gorge. On the way we found several small ponds a small bamboo forest, fruit trees and flowers.

There was a small gate at the top of the garden so we went through it and found ourselves in the Todoroki Fudo Children’s Park. We sat on a bench to change batteries in our camera and while we were doing so a group of small children on an outing showed up. The care takers had their hands full. As soon as they took the child out of the wagon the child was off and running or crawling.


We retraced our steps back to the train station and caught a train to Oimachi Station where we changed trains for Hamamatsucho Station and our destination which was Hamarikyu Gardens. The lines in the second photo tell riders where to stand when waiting for the train.

I found this giant spider along the sidewalk and it was close enough to get a good shot.

 

We had to walk a short distance from the train station to Hamarikyu Gardens. I took this photo because of the odd shape of the building. It looked like you could almost touch both walls at the same time. There was also garbage on the street. This is a very rare event in Tokyo. It looked like a bird might have gotten into the garbage. Normally garbage is covered with a net to prevent that from happening.

After a short walk we arrived at Hamarikyu Gardens. Many of the parks in Tokyo are free but most of the formal gardens have an entrance fee.

I believe this is part of the Sumida River with in the background.

As I recall this park was a villa for a feudal lord and this was his duck hunting blind. It was a very elaborate setup with everything choreographed to bring the ducks to the lord.

This park had some wildlife that I was able to photograph.

As we were wandering around we noticed this water bus leaving the dock so we walked over to see what was going on. Checking at the dock we discovered that water buses leave from the dock about every hour. Since we had not ridden a water bus we decided to walk around the park for a bit more then come back and take the water bus up the Sumida River to Asakusa.

Everyone was in line early hoping to get a good seat but as it turned out there were not all that many people on the bus.

In order to get out to the Sumida River we had to go through a set of locks.

These are some of the sights along the river on the way to Asakusa.

It looked like most of the bridge crossing the river were under construction or renovation. They must spend huge sums on infrastructure repair. Too bad this country can’t afford to fix out infrastructure.

Several couples in traditional costume were waiting for us when we docked in Asakusa.

A shot of Tokyo Skytree from the Asakusa docks.

We saw more people dressed in traditional costumes as we walked over to Sensō-ji.

We were looking for a McDonald’s for some ice cream and coffee and we found in in a shopping area.

Just across the street I notice a shop that was renting out traditional costumes. This is near Sensō-ji where we also saw quite a few people dressed in native costumes.

We then took a train over to Shibuya where we wandered around some fancy shopping centers while we waited for our son to finish work.

We then took the train to Ebisu and walked down to Specialized Group where he was just finishing up work.

We all caught a train to his apartment where we watched the Green Bay Packer Game. After the game Justin an Carla took us to dinner at a local restaurant just down the street.

We then headed back to our hotel which was about a 15 minute walk from his apartment.

 

 

Our trip started on October 31, 2019. It was Halloween when we left the USA and we arrived in Tokyo the day after Halloween. We were told to avoid this holiday because things get a little wild in Tokyo. We flew from Minneapolis on a direct overnight flight to Haneda Airport arriving mid afternoon Tokyo time. As we flew into Haneda we were surprised at the amount of pollution in the atmosphere.

We went through customs  and then spent about 40 minutes in a line to pick up our JR Rail Pass. We purchased a 21 day pass that allowed us to travel on any JR rail line in Japan. This turned out to be a great deal and avoided many hassles as we moved around Tokyo. All we had to do was display the pass as we entered the JR tracks. There were a couple of issues with the pass. First, we had to go to a JR station office to make reservations on trains. Second, when we entered or exited the JR Stations we had to go through a manned booth and show our passes. Normally this just involved walking through and flashing our passes. During busy times we sometimes got stuck in lines and couldn’t easily get through. Both of these problems are going to be fixed in April of 2020 prior to the Olympics.

Our son lives in Tokyo so when he met us at the Hamamatsucho station he provided us with a prepaid Suica card which allowed us to travel on most public transportation in Japan. In our case we already had a JR Pass so we used the JR Pass on JR lines and the Suica card on other lines. This did result in some confusion on our part.

We took the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho  Station . This was included on our just purchased JR Pass. He accompanied us to help us find our way to the Axas Stay Hotel in Ishikawa-dai. We took the Yamanote Line to Gotanda where we picked up a local line to Ishikawa-dai. We checked into the hotel and our son made sure we knew how to work the various appliances. There were directions but they were not always correct.

He then walked us over to his apartment which was only about 15 minutes away. We stopped to eat at a little restaurant near his apartment We now had a good idea of the lay of the land and walked back to our hotel after a long day.

The next morning we were up before six am. We have never been jet lagged when traveling from east to west. We were scheduled to meet our son and his girlfriend late in the morning. We couldn’t convince them to get moving early in the morning.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

We wanted to get moving early and decided to go for a walk. This Lotus Dealership was the location where we turned to go to our sons apartment. It was only fitting that it had the green and gold colors of the Green Bay Packers. It was on sale for 120 thousand dollars. Would have been great to buy it and bring it home but it might be a little cold driving it around Wisconsin.

Just down the street from the Lotus Dealership we discovered Senzokuike park. It was a beautiful day for a walk and there were quite a few people in the park.It looked to be a beautiful little park.

 

There were already quite a few boats out on the lake when we arrived. Boating is a popular pastime in Japan.

There were a few kids around dressed in consumes. I’m not sure what was going on but the previous day was Halloween so it may have been some carryover.

Walking across the main bridge in the park we noticed the fish wanting to be fed and a few ducks in the water.

The park contained a number of shrines including red Itsukushima shrine and the Inari Shrine.

We were finally able to get our son up and moving so we headed over to his apartment near Ookayama Station. As it turned out it is a very nice neighborhood with plenty of shops and places to eat. It is also right next to the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This is one of the reasons he has two 1 GB internet connections in his apartment. He never lets us forget it since we have a 25mb connection that is capped at 50GB.

After picking him up we walked back to Ookayama Station where we caught the train to Shinjuku where we were going to meet his girlfriend for lunch. The train was busy since it was already early afternoon. On the trip on son took the opportunity to give us some advice on train travel. To start when you arrive at the platform there are lines to indicate where you should stand while waiting for the train. When the train arrives those on the train are allowed to leave in an orderly fashion. Once everyone leaves then those in line board the train in an orderly fashion. If the train is crowded you should remove your backpack and either put it on a rack above the seats or wear it in front. There is no food eaten on the train. There is no talking on the phone on the train. In fact it is unusual to hear people talking on the train. Most people have their phone out but they are reading or texting. If the train is crowded when people board the train they then turn and face the door. then they then start backing up as others enter the train. If it is really crowded there are pushers available to push people onto the train. When the train is crowded and it arrives at a stop those near the door step off of the train to allow those wanting to exit to get off then they get back on the train. When entering or leaving the station you stand on the left side of the escalator and let people walk on the right side.

Lunch was my first attempt at using chopsticks. For some reason I totally blacked out the fact that we would be using chopsticks in Japan. I made a mental note to check on the internet to find the correct way to use them.

 

We then walked over to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. On the way we passed an Apple Store and Louis Vuitton.

There was a small entrance fee for the Gardens. It continued to be a beautiful fall day and many people were out enjoying the weekend. We headed over to the Shinjuku Garden Greenhouse to look at the flowers. Wow what a great collection of flowers and plants.

After visiting the Greenhouse we walked around the park enjoying the beautiful gardens. We encountered this boy looking at something in the water. He was in this position the entire time we were in the area. I was tempted to walk up behind him and yell Boo but I didn’t think that would likely end well.

There were some nice reflections in the water and the roses in the rose garden were still blooming.

It was getting late in the day so we walked back to the park entrance.

We took the train back to where Justin and Carla gave us a tour of some of the back allies of It was still relatively early, around 5pm, and they pointed out that the type of folks on the streets would change dramatically after 9pm.

Piss Alley was one that we walked down. It got its name when many of the bars in the area didn’t have toilet facilities so patrons had to walk outside to relieve themselves. There are many small eateries and bars in the area. We were told that some of them have been turned into “private clubs” to keep foreign tourists out. We happened to be in the area at the end of the Rugby World Cup and found this sign on one of the doors.

After a long day we took the train back to Ookayama where we dined at a noodle restaurant across the street from our sons apartment. Fortunately he was with us because we would have never figured out how to order. You had to order from a kiosk then take the ticket to the counter and they would bring you the food.

We then walked back to our hotel and started planing the next day.

There doesn’t seem to be as many of them but the Groundnuts are blooming along the Red Cedar Trail. They are a little hard to find hidden behind the leaves. Some of the places I’ve traditionally found them don’t seem to have any this year.

Wandering around the farm this past week I decided to create some abstract photos. These were taken by using a slow shutter speed and either rotating the camera, panning with the camera or moving the lens.

 

If you have been on the Red Cedar Trail recently you will have noticed that the Touch-me-nots are blooming all along the trail. The Spotted-touch-me-nots are the most common.

There are also a few Pale Touch-me-nots blooming.

After the shareholders meeting we drove over to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens. We has stopped the previous evening but discovered that the butterfly house was closed so we decided to come back the next day. We love butterflies and so we were some of the older kids enjoying the butterfly house.

More photos from the Botanical Garden can be found on my website.

There were also quite a few flowers blooming throughout the gardens.

It was a really warm and humid day out. We toured the vegetable garden and got some ideas for our home harden.

We then headed back to Lambeau Field where we were scheduled to take the Packers Heritage Trail Trolley Tour.

 

The boat crew said goodby to our home for 7 days and traveled by cab to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport where we said our goodbys to members of the group. Dave and Sara caught a train to France, Lisa and Jim caught a plane to Stockholm and Linda and Phil stashed their belongings at the airport and caught a bus to Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulip displays. We found out earlier that the tulip displays in the fields were gone. The Netherlands has a couple of weeks of very warm spring weather so the tulips didn’t last long. When we arrived we found that the flowers at Keukenhof were still in full bloom. I can’t say enough about the experience so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

More photos from Keukenhof can be found on my website.

After spending the afternoon at Keukenhof Gardens we returned to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to collect our packs. We then caught a bus that we hoped would take us to somewhere near our Airbnb. We had to walk a few blocks from the bus stop before finding it. We were just getting unpacked when someone opened the back door. It turned out it the husband of the woman who managed it. He didn’t realize we had checked in. The woman was mortified and turned out to be really nice. It was a great place to stay.

The Gloriosa Daisies are in bloom out in the prairie. I’m not sure where they came from. Every fall when I cut down the Black-eyed Susan’s I dump them in this location. I suspect that they are a genetic offshoot of the Black-eyed Susan’s.