Himeji, Mt Shosha, Aminohashidate... & a FARKIN rad Photographer by the name of SEAN AICKIN

Move over Kyoto and Osaka, this blog is dedicated to the bright stars of the central and lower third of Honshu.... and one burning bright with the flash ON in Wellington, NZ.

For a map of my travels click HERE. A fraction is taged, but it's still an interesting geez- growing up with a Da who has instilled in me the beauty, functionality and wonder of maps- it's nice to know where you have been and where you are going- better get on and tag past the moon then too hehe 

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HIMEJI CASTLE & Mt SHOSHA- 円教寺, Engyōji Temples


Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World heritage site and has only just reopened on the 27th of March 2015 after extensive reconstruction. What was especially remarkable about this is that this was done using completely traditional methods. It is the largest castle in Japan and is featured in many films and movies. It is truly spectacular to visit and I was fascinated by the displays and information regarding the constructions and conservation- there are even videos you can watch on your iPhone when you go past certain media sites! 

The grounds are amazing. The stonework walls, roofing tiles and landscaping are marvels- the attention to detail is mind boggling.

It's a helluva track up inside her with very steep staircases! Get that fan out and your nike free's on!

Often in Japan you find old sites or building have 'burnt' down and been reconstructed. The Japanese are meticulous in their assemblies and methodology, and in some ways this re-birth fits the Japanese mentality perfectly. This is the Land of reinvention yet protection. Like with ancient artefacts- associations, names and ideas are added or carefully assigned after long consideration and research- makes me giggle a bit if we have that toothpick as a priceless hairpin though... 

The castle is surrounded by stunning Japanese Gardens (rebuild 1992) where you can take tea and sweets in a traditional Japanese tea house without feeling like you are fighting with Time and the masses.

Making Himeji Castle Anko (red bean paste) sweets. Check out this machine! Recipe for paste is HERE. You can sandwich between pikelets for a tasty Eastern twist ;)

Himeji City Museum of Art- currently superb Marc Chagall

Himeji City Museum of Art- currently superb Marc Chagall

Himeji as a city is eaaaasy going, has fantastic food and great creative sites to see in the city and surrounding area. I went up into the surrounding hills for a day to feed my love for getting out of the hustle and bustle and had a stunning experience at the Engyoji Temples where you can wander around the over 1000 year old places of worship with the birds, the talking trees and the stones that listen. 

Amazing examples of Oshi-e or Kurumie (padded and layered pictures)

Amazing examples of Oshi-e or Kurumie (padded and layered pictures)

Now THAT is wedding attire!!

At the bottom of the ropeway at Mt Shosha is an INCREDIBLE (can I highlight this even further?!) museum called 'Shosha-no-sato Art and Craft Center' at the foot of the mountain. You will find artwork done by Kosho Shimizu who was born in Himeji and became the chief priest at the Todaiji Temple in Nara. His work is diverse, expressive, colourful and across many mediums (ceramic, paint, embossings and calligraphy- GO DUDE- & he had a wicked sense of humour).

You can also observe or participate in making traditional Himeji crafts such as leather products, spinning tops, masks, Kurumie and Himeyama dolls.

Kosho Shimizu

Shimizu's fantastic whimsical figurative pottery- love love LOVE, their facial expressions are priceless >-<

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AMINOHASHIDATE - Singing Sands Beach

Like a little Venice and Noosa wrapped into one with Oysters the specialty (BIG ones- like the SIZE OF MY FIST AND CUT INTO 5!!) and Fugu, the super poisonous Japanese puffer fish.

The water was warm, the sun hot, the sand sings(!), the food tasty and the vibe super chill- I could live here easily. You get a special travel ticket when you change onto the last train to get here that gives you free access around the area for two or so days too- boom! But trust me, as soon as you step off the train, it just smells and feels right- you are not going to be a rushin' :)

(⊙.⊙(☉_☉)⊙.⊙) - ⊙ ☉ ☉ ⊙ -  (⊙.⊙(☉_☉)⊙.⊙)

One of my closest buddies, and phenomenal photographer Sean Aickin has just got his website up and for the world to see! FIND HIM...and buy him a beer when you do  ;)  x

His BLOG is here too (which for the record is seanaikinsux - he don't - he's megga un-sux-ing lol)