• NARA, Japan - A traditional winter festival is held in Nara, western Japan, on Jan. 25, 2020, with burning Mt. Wakakusa and fireworks lighting up the sky. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2020.01.29 | Nara
  • NAGOYA, Japan - File photo taken Aug. 25, 2019, shows Nagoya Castle in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2019.08.30 | Aichi
  • GINZA, Tokyo - People in "yukata," the casual summer version of kimono, sprinkle water during an event in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district on Aug. 3, 2019. Temperatures in Tokyo reached as high as 33.7 C the same day.
    2019.08.05 | Tokyo
  • TOKYO - A Japanese government panel picked the Jomon Era archaeological sites in northern Japan on Tuesday as a potential candidate for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage designation in 2021. Tokyo will submit its formal recommendation by next Feb. 1 to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the ancient sites in Hokkaido and Aomori, Iwate and Akita prefectures, which represent a culture that occupied the Japanese archipelago for more than 10,000 years. The UNESCO advisory panel will then assess whether to accept Tokyo's recommendation before publishing its decision around May 2021. The archaeological ruins are comprised of 17 locations including the Sannai-Maruyama site, a large settlement in Aomori Prefecture which provides insight into life in the Jomon period, which is believed to have begun 16,000 years ago, and the Oyu Kanjo Resseki site, two large stone circles in Akita Prefecture. Local governments claim the sites, which feature numerous settlements, stone circles and graves, hold global value as they offer clues to understanding prehistoric culture based on hunting and food gathering. The archaeological sites were previously picked as a potential candidate for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage designation in July last year. But as recommendations to UNESCO are restricted to one per nation every year, Tokyo decided not to nominate the sites for listing in 2020 in favor of a chain of southwestern Japan islands in Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures that are home to rare species. ==Kyodo
    2019.07.31 | Aomori
  • TOKYO,Japan - East Japan Railway Co. begins operation of train cars emblazoned with 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots on Tokyo's Yamanote loop line on July 24, 2019, a year before the opening ceremony of the games. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2019.07.24 | Tokyo
  • NAKAFURANO, Japan - Tourists stroll through lavender fields at Farm Tomita in Nakafurano in Hokkaido, northern Japan, on July 18, 2019. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2019.07.19 | Hokkaido
  • OSAKA,Japan--About 70,000 light-emitting diode balls are lit up in blue on the river running through central Osaka on July 7, 2019. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2019.07.10 | Osaka
  • KOFU, Japan - A man dressed as a Tengu mountain spirit cuts sacred straw festoon with an ax during a ceremony at Komitake Shrine located at the fifth station on the Yamanashi Prefecture side of Mt. Fuji on July 1, 2019, to pray for safety as the climbing season starts at Japan's tallest mountain. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2019.07.01 | Shizuoka
  • Photo taken June 17, 2019, shows a torii gate at the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine in Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan. Repair work on the gate commenced the same day. (Kyodo)
    2019.06.21 | Hiroshima
  • (EDS: THIS IS FIRST OF A 5-PART SERIES ON JAPAN HERITAGE) The Sendai domain, founded by regional warlord Date Masamune, established a distinctive culture combining the luxury and brilliance that marked Kyoto in the Momoyama period with the traditions of northeast Japan's Tohoku region. Cultural properties scattered in places such as Sendai and Tagajo cities and Matsushima Town in Miyagi Prefecture are designated as Japan Heritage sites by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. They reflect Masamune's sophisticated taste which helped establish "Date Culture." A sightseeing boat from Shiogama Port takes visitors on a tour around Matsushima, made up of 260 big and small islands and known as one of Japan's three most scenic views. The port can be reached from Honshiogama Station on East Japan Railway Co.'s Senseki Line from Sendai Station. Passengers, viewing Kanejima, Niojima, Futagojima and the other unique-looking islands just as the great haiku poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) did when he visited the area, may wonder which to rank the highest for beauty. The boat arrives at Matsushima Port after sailing for about 50 minutes. Matsushima Town is known for Zuiganji, a Zen temple designated as a national treasure. The temple has various gold-leaf paintings on wall partitions introduced by Masamune (1567-1636) when it was rebuilt. But while visitors may marvel at their glittering beauty, they are also likely to be pleasantly surprised by the temple's simple yet refined ink wash paintings. "The coexistence of showiness and simplicity is the basis of Date Culture," a tour guide said. Masamune and feudal lords of the Date clan, who ruled the Sendai Domain of the Edo Period (1603-1868) for its entire history, preserved historic spots often mentioned in waka poems -- compositions using 31 syllables compared with the 17 of haiku and created much earlier. Suenomatsuyama and Okinoi, both in Tagajo, are among well-known places preserved by leaders of the clan and passed on to the present day. They are located close to each other, but comprising just a pine tree and pond, respectively, are not exactly Instagrammable. But as they were inspiring places for writers of poems included in the "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu," a classical anthology of one hundred waka by one hundred poets, it is fair to say that they are worth their weight in "heart" clicks. During the Nara and Heian periods (710-1185), Taga Castle was an outpost of the national government. A stone monument called "Tsubo no Ishibumi," erected in the eighth century, with an inscription engraved on it that gives the distance from the capital, remains on the site and has been admired by poetry lovers because of its appearance in many waka poems. Basho recounted his visit to the monument in his work of travel writing "Oku no Hosomichi," saying that he had been moved to tears. At the core of the glamorous Date Culture is a deep and tasteful beauty created through a long, enduring history. ==Kyodo
    2019.06.14 | Miyagi
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