the domed building Children's statue
Hiroshima is a beautiful, relaxed city. It is also a city of stark contrasts - the Hiroshima Carp stadium across the street from the A-bomb Memorial Peace Park, an old Buddhist temple overlooking the green line streetcar and a modern urban downtown landscape against a backdrop of history going back to the Tokugawa Era.

The centerpiece is the expansive Memorial Peace Park, dedicated to honoring all those lost, those who came to help, and those who seek an end of all nuclear weapons worldwide. An eternal flame at the site will burn until that day. The Children's Statue is dedicated to Sasaki Sadako, a child who waged a courageous battle against the effects of the blast.
the boat ride over the famous torii
Known by it's large red tori gate at the entrance, Miyajima has temples, shrines, shops, hiking trails and lots of deer. The ferry ride over is very scenic, and on a warm day, a relaxing break in the day. A vendor sells food for the deer, and once they realize you have a supply, the deer will follow and nip at you for a while.


tourists dressed like geisha view from the temple
Starting in 794 AD, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for 1,100 years. Within that time, over 100 temples and shrines were built, many which still remain today. Kiyomizudera (pure water temple) on the right was built in 778 AD and commands quite a view of Kyoto, at the same time it is bordered by many shops with local color. One such shop will dress tourists up as geisha for an hour to roam the area as seen in the photo on the left.

Kyoto is Japan's seventh largest city with a population of 1,461,103 and though it is well known for it's many temples and shrines, you are greeted upon your arrival by the all too familiar trappings of the modern urban landscape - very crowded train stations and streets jammed with cars and trucks. One fun get-away from the downtown is the Koei Eiga-mura (movie village) a movie set for many films made by the Koei studios. Further outside of town is Ohara, a 45 minute bus ride up to the hills where Sanzen-in and Jakko-in are located. Jakko-in unfortunately had burned down and was in the process of being rebuilt.
entrance to Matsumoto Castle moon viewing room side
Located at the base of the Japan Alps, Matsumoto is a wonderful and scenic escape from city life with a comfortable population of 200,715. Matsumoto Castle is one of the few castles located at street level rather than at an elevation. The town is seamlessly woven around the castle site, capturing the past and present in one landscape.