“Imagine walking to the same place everyday to meet your best friend. Now, imagine watching hundreds of people pass by every morning and every afternoon. Imagine waiting, and waiting, and waiting. For ten years, that is what Hachiko did.”

 

There is a statue of a dog at the entrance of Shibuya Station. His bronze feet are bright and shiny, polished by thousands of friendly hands. This is a prominent landmark in Shibuya, and the spot where the statue sits serves as a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike. In fact, when you say “Hachiko mae de!” or “Let’s meet at Hachiko”, people will immediately understand where to meet. But do you know the fascinating story behind the dog’s regal bronze statue?

 

Unquestionable loyalty and faithfulness—these are the qualities that earned dogs the title “Man’s Best Friend”. One certain Japanese dog born in the Akita Prefecture epitomized these endearing qualities that he touched the hearts not only of the Japanese, but also of many people from around the world. Hachikō the Faithful Dog or chūken Hachikō is arguably the most famous and admired dog in Japan.

 

 

 

In 1924, Hachikō was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. Each day, when Professor Ueno left for work, “Hachi” would stand by the door to watch him go. When the professor came home at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Hachi would go to the Shibuya Station to meet him, waiting patiently and wagging his tail. This happy routine continued until one fateful evening, Professor Ueno did not return on the usual train. The professor died of cerebral hemorrhage while giving a lecture.

 

Hachikō didn’t realize that his master was gone, and so the dog returned to the train station every day, waiting for a friend who was never coming back. He was given away after the professor’s death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again in his old home. Each day, he returned to the station and waited—seated among the commuters to look for Professor Ueno, and each day, his friend did not show up.

 

Hachikō became a permanent fixture at Shibuya Station that he began attracting the attention of the people who passed through, including one of Professor Ueno’s former students, and they brought treats and food to nourish him as he waited faithfully for his master.

 

On March 8, 1935, after nine long years of waiting, Hachi finally went to meet his master—dying on the same spot where he last saw his friend alive. A year before his death, Shibuya Station installed a bronze statue of the dog to honor his loyalty and faithfulness to his master. Though the statue was melted down during World War II, a new version was recreated in 1948 by Takeshi Ando, the son of the original artist.

 

Hachi’s bronze statue remains standing at Tokyo’s Shibuya Station, forever keeping his vigil and forever in the hearts of the Japanese.

 

obon

Obon is the Japanese festival for the departed. It is held from the 13th to the 16th day of the 7th month of the year. Based on the solar calendar, July is the 7th month of the year while on the lunar calendar it is August. A lot of regions in Japan celebrate in August while others celebrate in July. The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan’s three major holiday seasons.

Obon is a very important holiday wherein families are reunited. They go back to their ancestors hometown to pray and celebrate.

During this festival, it is believed that the spirits visit their living relatives. As guidance for the spirits, lanterns are hung outside their relatives’ houses. There are also food offerings and obon dances (Bon Odori). At the end of Obon, floating paper lanterns (Toro Nagashi) are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world.

mt fuji

Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain with a height of 3776 meters. It is one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. Mount Fuji is named for the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi and is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama, whose shrine is found at the summit.

Mount Fuji has a symmetrical cone making it a common subject in art and photography. Among the most renowned works are Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji and his One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. It is also mentioned in a lot of Japanese literary works.

Mount Fuji is actually a dormant volcano which last erupted in 1707. Geologists estimated that the volcano was created 600,000 years ago. It is currently classified as active with a low risk of eruption.

The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is from July to August. Climbing during other months will be extremely dangerous due to unpredictable weather conditions. So if you want to have the experience of a lifetime, pack your climbing gear and book your adventure during the stated months.

(Mount Fuji Official Site http://www.mt-fuji.co.jp/index-e.html)

gundam cafe

Rejoice Gundam fans! A Gundam-themed cafe has opened in Akihabara. The cafe revolves around the Universal Century (UC) 0079 timeline.

There are no lovely maids here to spell out L-O-V-E on your food, but the cafe will surely have Haro’s face drawn on your coffee. They serve a variety of cakes and biscuits with Gundam written all over it. They even have meals for all earthlings and spacenoids.

(Gundam Cafe Official Site http://g-cafe.jp/index.html)

(Image from http://en.akihabaranews.com/44454/misc/bandai-open-its-first-gundam-cafe-in-akihabara%E2%80%A6-and-we-tested-it)

Do you know what’s the Cherry Blossoms festival in Japan? It’s actually during a season where Cherry Blossom trees will shed off their flowers (cherry blossoms).  It’s a wonderful scenery to watch and many people are still awe-inspired every time they go and see the festival.  Here’s a little info about the event:

During the Heian Period (794–1191), Japanese sought to emulate many practices from China, including the social phenomenon of flower viewing (hanami: 花見), where the imperial households, poets, singers and other aristocrats would gather and celebrate under the blossoms. In Japan, cherry trees were planted and cultivated for their beauty, for the adornment of the grounds of the nobility of Kyoto, at least as early as 794.[4]  In China, the ume “plum” tree (actually a species of apricot) was held in highest regard, but by the middle of the ninth century, the cherry blossom had replaced the plum as the favored species in Japan.

Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen (cherry-blossom front) as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. It proceeds into areas at the higher altitudes and northward, arriving in Hokkaidō  a few weeks later. Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts and turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties. Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view. The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan: the eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century CE.

Most Japanese schools and public buildings have cherry blossom trees outside of them. Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honshū, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Do you like Electronics and Anime? Then going to Akihabara in Japan is the place to be!

Read on some facts about Akihabara by Japan-101.  It pretty much summarizes what Akihabara used to be, what it is now and where you can buy particular items:

Akihabara is also known as Akihabara Electric Town (Akihabara Denki Gai). It is located less than five minutes by rail from Tokyo station, Tokyo, Japan. It is sometimes shortened to Akiba by locals. While there is an official locality named Akihabara nearby, part of Taito-ku, the area known as Akihabara (including the JR railway station of the same name) to most people is actually Soto-Kanda, a part of Chiyoda-ku.

History: Prior to World War II the area has been a bustling overcrowded community. A major blaze which nearly destroyed the region brought about the decision to clear the land in order to keep future fires from approaching the imperial residence. The region was given the name Akihabara (秋葉原 lit: Autumn Leaves Field) during World War II when only autumn leaves were visible.

Modern times: The area is mostly known for its large population of stores selling all kinds of electronic, anime, and adult goods.

It is probably the largest shopping area on earth for electronic and computer goods, including new and used items. New items are mostly to be found on the main street, Chuo Dori, with used items of all descriptions (software, hardware, and junk galore) to be found in the back streets of Soto Kanda 3 chome. First hand parts for the do-it-yourself PC builder are readily available, with many places around for the best price hunter. Tools, electrical parts, wires, micro sized cameras and more are to be found in the cramped (some might say dangerously so) passageways of Soto Kanda 1 chome (near the station). Foreign tourists tend to visit the big name shops like Laox or other near station specialty shops. The locals of course know where to get better variety and prices a little further away.

(source: Japan-101)

It’s almost that time of the year again! Japanese sakura, or cherry blossoms, bloom only on March/April. Japan Guide’s forecast is that the flowers will bloom several days earlier than the last, with Tokyo opening on March 21, Kyoto on March 22, and Osaka on March 23.

4500_01 A hanami is a cherry blossom viewing party. It’s usually held during lunchtime, and they bring their food to have picnics under the cherry trees.

Popular cherry blossom spots include Ueno Park, Shinjuku Goen, Sankeien Garden, Sumida Park, Nagoya Castle, Maruyama Park, Daigoji Temple, Osaka Castle, EXpo 70 Commemorative Park, and Yamazakigawa Riverside.

Non-Japanese gamers may already be acquainted with Shibuya through games like “The World Ends with You” and “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”. It’s no wonder that it’s become one of the most popular locations used in games, because the district boasts of a lot of tourist attractions that would appeal to people, no matter what the age, gender, or race. 

The statue of Hachikō, the famous Akita dog loyal to his master, remains one of the most popular spots of the area. Fashion-forward women need to look no further than Shibuya 109 for their shopping needs. Harajuku always has something to offer for the youth looking for new things. Want a taste of culture? Drop by the Bunkamura building to catch a play or a concert! However, if you’re looking for a quiet place to be at, the Meiji Shrine is open to visitors for meditation. The scramble crossing is yet another famous landmark of Shibuya, its large TV screens and busy pedestrian crossings known even to the non-residents of Shibuya.

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Original image from Siliconera.

All these and more can be found in Shibuya, so if you’re looking for an adventure, hop on a plane and visit there now!

If you are heading to Japan and looking for cute Hello Kitty merchandise, don’t miss the below link! You will find the shop list of Sanrio in Japan (with addresses and maps) and even the eight recommended shops with pictures! Make sure you bookmark it! :D

http://www.sanrio.co.jp/shoppinginjapan/english/shop/index.html

image

Hello everyone! Thank you for reading the Hello Kitty’s Travel Japan Blog! It is very common for tourists to visit Tokyo, Hokkaido and even Okinawa nowadays, but have you ever visited Tohoku?

Tohoku actually consists of six provinces including the famous Aomori. Tohoku is not a cosmopolitan area but it has its breathtaking scenery – including the Autumn’s red leaves…Hope you like our photos below!

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