There are nearly 1350 images in the Japan Portfolios. I have selected 150 of these images
to create this page (each of these images is also in the Japan Select gallery on Photoshelter).
Because there are 150 images on this page, all Portrait thumbnails are 300 pixels wide, and all
of the Landscape thumbnails are 425 pixels wide. This is to help the page to load more quickly.
Each of the linked Portrait images is 1200 pixels tall. Landscape images are 1500 pixels wide.
Some images on this page are captioned differently than on their respective Gallery pages.

Links are provided to pages with related images and more information.

These images were all created from the full-sized images (available on Photoshelter),
so the title bar text is smaller than on the images created specifically for this website.

This page has been laid out in alphabetical order, with a few exceptions. To avoid any
issues caused by the number of images on this page, it has not been indexed
and hyperlinked. By scrolling through the images, the page will load as
you are viewing the images and there should be no waiting time.

Click a thumbnail to open a larger version
Use your back button to return to this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Chion-in Sanmon 9621

The Sanmon Gate, Chion-in's main entrance, stands 24 meters tall and 50 meters wide.
It is the largest wooden gate in Japan and dates back to 1619. It has 70,000 roof tiles.

—  from the Assorted Temples page  —


Engakuji Jizo 0872

Jizo Bosatsu is one of the most beloved
of Japanese deities, known to alleviate suffering
and as Master of the Six States of Reincarnation.


Engakuji Yakushi Nyorai and Soseki 0905

Located in the Senbutsujo (constructed in 1699)
are wooden statues of Yakushi Nyorai and Soseki.
—  Engakuji is on the Kamakura 3 page  —


Geiko Maiko 9400

A Geiko (Geisha) and Maiko (apprentice Geisha)
greet a client at the door to their Ochaya (teahouse).
The geisha (on the right) is not wearing a clown nose.
It is just an unfortunate positioning of part of the lantern.


Geisha 9387

Tracking down the wild Geisha can be very tricky.
They are only on the street between appointments.
Most are in a hurry... this geisha prefers a stately walk.
Geisha (Gion District) are on the Kyoto Scenic page.


Gion Sakura Night 9342

Hanami (Sakura Viewing) on a Gion street at night.


Gion Street at Night 9361

A traditional Gion street scene at night.


Hasedera Fudo Myoo 0775

Fudo Myoo (Myoh-oh), the God of Fire, is
a personification of Dainichi Nyorai. Kurikara
(the devil-subduing sword) is in his right hand,
and a rope to bind demons is in the left.


Hasedera Jizo 0726

One of Hasedera’s numerous Jizo statues, this statue is in the Mizuko Jizo aspect as the guardian of unborn, aborted, stillborn or miscarried babies and of those children who have died young.   —  Hasedera is on the Kamakura 1 page  —


Hasedera Rinzo Sutra Wheel 0747 0748
(Rinzo: rotating Sutra bookracks)

The enormous octagonal wheel in the Kyozo is a
storehouse of sutras. Spinning it is said to allow the
person to accumulate the knowledge in the sutras and is
the equivalent of reading all of the sutras  in the library.


Heian Shrine Blue Dragon Tower 9633

Soryu-ro, the East Tower. Its name means Blue Dragon and a god that stands in the east. The identical tower in the west is called Byakko-ro (White Tiger, and the god that stands in the west). These were two of four gods of a religion which came from China.   —  from the Heian Jingu Shrine page  —


Himeji Castle 0401

The prototypical Japanese Castle, this is a view of Himeji
(aka Shirasagi-jo, White Heron Castle) from the south.


Himeji Castle 0570

Himeji is widely considered to be Japan’s most beautiful
castle. This late afternoon view is from the West Bailey.


Himeji Castle 0590

Himeji (south face) framed in cherry blossoms in full bloom.
This image was taken from the San-no-maru (Third Bailey).


Himeji Castle Armor 0462 0465

Kozane dou maru samurai armor (Sengoku period)
(a wrap with separate plates that opens on the right side)

This armor is fully described on the Himeji Castle page.


Himeji Castle East Approach 0416

The backlit tenshu (main tower), with stone drops,
firing slits, and stacked, gabled roofs. This dramatic
view of the castle tower is from the courtyard inside the
To-no-Ichimon (main southeast gate, Himeji’s oldest gate).


Himeji Castle Interior 0450

Windows and wall detail on the first floor of Himeji Castle.
Most wooden features are original (it is quite dark inside).
There are openings for dropping stones or boiling water,
firing weapons, and secret spaces for warriors to hide.


Himeji Castle Ka Yagura West Bailey 0568

The Ka Yagura (Southeast corner yagura, connecting two outer walls of the West Bailey).

Himeji is a National Treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

144 castles remain of the 5000 feudal castles which once existed, and
Himeji is the most complete of the twelve that are still in original condition.


Himeji Castle Ni Gate Tamon Nagaya 0547

A view of Himeji of the castle from the Ni Gate approach.
On the right and atop the wall to the left are tamon-nagaya
galleries, where defenders could rake attackers with fire
from the ports, creating a gauntlet of crossing fire.


Himeji Castle Shachihoko Tile 0489

Shachihoko = tiger-headed carp.

Abstract fish tiles were used in corners of wooden castle
roofs as symbolic protection against fire (a major problem).


Himeji Castle Roof Detail 0520

This view across the roofline shows both gable types
associated with Japanese castles. Chidori Hafu are
peaked gables, and Kara Hafu are arched gables.
You can see Shachihoko tiles on the ridge ends.


Himeji Castle West Bailey 0567

West and South faces of Himeji Castle in the late afternoon sunlight, seen from the West Bailey over the I Watariyagura and blooming Sakura.

—  from the Himeji Castle page  —

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Hokyointo 3-element Stele 9807

In Nara Park just outside Todaiji Temple (which houses the Nara Daibutsu)
is this ancient Hokyointo, a 3-element stupa or stele. The Hokyointo generally
served as a Buddhist grave marker or cenotaph, and the elements represent
Earth, Water and Fire. On each side are the Sanskrit seed words for the
Gods of Wind, Fire, Water and Earth (the Four Diamond Protectors).


Horyuji Dragon Fountain 0031

This dragon is placed here as part of the Chozuya, where
the visitors wash their hands before entering the temple.

Earth Dragons reputedly have the ability to purify water, and are often associated with water. There are similar dragon fountains in Chozuya of early temples, but this dragon has a long, sinuous shape, and other than the use of three claws instead of five it resembles Chinese dragons (note the head).


Horyuji East Kairo 0018

Horyuji houses the world’s oldest existing wooden structures.

The Kairo (roofed colonnade) was built in the early 700s, along with the Chumon (Middle Gate), Kondo (Golden Hall), and Gojunoto (Five-story Pagoda). The Kondo and Gojunoto shown below are the two oldest existing wooden structures, built in 700 and 710 respectively. All are the only examples of Asuka-period architecture (538-710) other than drawings.


Horyuji Gojunoto 9959

Japan’s oldest existing pagoda. The wood in the central pillar was felled in 594 AD.
The pagoda is approximately 32.45m tall (122 ft.) and has resisted numerous earthquakes.
The central pillar is likely part of the reason... it is sunk three meters below the foundation.
The ratio of the roofs is 10:9:8:7:6, creating the graceful lines of this striking pagoda,
which is meant to be appreciated from the outside. The lower floor houses four
groups of clay statues (created in 711 AD) depicting the life of Buddha.

—  from the Horyuji page  —


Horyuji Kondo 9961

The world’s oldest wooden structure, the Kondo (Golden Hall) at Horyuji has a doubled lower roof. It shows several features of Asuka-era construction. The swastika-patterned railings and inverted V-shaped supports are similar to designs seen in grottoes of Yunguang China (Northern Wei). The cloud-shaped bracket supports are native to Japan.


Horyuji Kondo Gojunoto 9974

One interesting departure at Horyuji from mainland (Chinese and Korean) temple architecture is that the Gojunoto and Kondo are side by side. There is evidence that the first temple (which burned down in the 670 fire) was configured with the structures in a line from the gate, as in mainland temple architecture, but the rebuilt temple is different.


Horyuji Nio Ungyoh 9952

The Nio guardians are the oldest in Japan (711 AD).
Ungyoh (Naraen Kongo, the Guardian of Darkness)
symbolizes latent strength and holds his mouth shut.


Horyuji Nio Agyoh 9947

Agyoh (Misshaku Kongo, the Guardian of the Light)
symbolizes overt violence, and bares his teeth. They
stand in the Chumon (Middle Gate) in front of Horyuji.


Horyuji Temple Approach 9937

The approach to Horyuji is lined with Monk’s Quarters on both sides. The gate on the far right has a Chidori roof (peaked gable). At left are the Gojunoto and Chumon (Middle Gate). The Oogaki (6th century earthen wall) is a National Treasure.


Horyuji Yumedono 0011

The Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) was built on the
ruins of Prince Shotoku’s palace in 739. It is the
oldest octagonal building in Japan and contains
the Yumedono Kannon (Guze Kannon).


Imperial Palace Kusunoki Masashige 7416

Statue in Kokyogaien Park outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

A 14th c. samurai, Kusunoki Masashige fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in the attempt to overthrow
the Kamakura Shogunate. He epitomizes samurai loyalty, courage and devotion to the Emperor.

When a Loyalist general betrayed Go-Daigo and marched on Kyoto with a huge army, Kusunoki
suggested that they take refuge on a nearby mountain and let the general take Kyoto, then pounce on
him in the city where he couldn’t maneuver. Go-Daigo refused to leave Kyoto, and ordered Kusunoki to
engage the rebel in a pitched battle that would be certain death. Kusunoki left his death poem with his
son and went to do battle. When they were surrounded he committed seppuku with 600 of his troops.

—  from the Imperial Palace page  —


Imperial Palace Meganebashi 7414

Meganebashi = Eyeglass Bridge


Imperial Palace Tetsubashi 7412

Tetsubashi = iron bridge (aka Nijubashi)

Among the most well-known bridges in Japan, the iron and stone bridges over the Nijubashi-bori (doubled-bridge moat) used to be made of wood. They were replaced with an iron bridge and a stone bridge in the Meiji era (1887-88). The iron bridge, when it was made of wood, crossed the deepest part of the moat and was reinforced with multiple layers of wood beams. It became known as Nijubashi (doubled bridge), so the name refers to both bridges as a team, and to the iron bridge specifically.

The Seimon Ishibashi (Main Gate Stone Bridge) is popularly known as Meganebashi and is the most photographed scene in Japan. In the right background over Meganebashi is the Fushimi-Yagura (moved from Fushimi Castle to Edo Castle).


Imperial Palace Tatsumi Yagura 7399

At the corner of Kikyo-bori moat (near the Kikyo-mon
gate) is Tatsumi Yagura (watch-tower). This is one of
three remaining keeps from the original Edo Castle
(Fushimi-Yagura is one of the other original keeps).


Imperial Palace Shimizumon Hikaebashira 7369

Shimizumon is one of the two earliest Masugatamon gates, consisting of a light outer gate (kouraimon) with a central courtyard and a stronger inner gate. The Hikaebashira are roofed pillars stabilizing the kouraimon gate pillars from rams.


Izumo no Okuni 9339

Izumo no Okuni, founder of Kabuki, Gion District, Kyoto.
—  from the Kyoto Scenic page  —


Japan Cultural Potpourri

1500 pixel preview

The full-sized composite is a
(9670 x 7262), 48 MB

Framed with the Shinkyo and Tozai Kairo panel scenes are 14 selected images of Japan, including images from Nikko Toshogu Shrine, temple sculptures, street scenes and Himeji.

Detailed descriptions on the Japan Composites page.


Japan Select

24 Selected images from Japan,
SXXXL (14510 x 10586), 57 MB.


Japan Special Select

12 Selected images from Japan,
XXXL (11015 x 7713), 57 MB.
The composite images can make wall-sized prints.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Kamakura Daibutsu 0793

The iconic image of Japan, the Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha) is a 45 foot tall bronze statue of Amida Nyorai standing in the open air, facing towards the western sea. The temple housing the Daibutsu was washed away in a tsunami.


Kamakura Daibutsu 0811

It is hard to express the absolute sense of wonder that comes over you when you see this statue. Cast in 1252, the Daibutsu is seated in lotus position with his hands forming the mudra of meditation (Mida no Join) commonly used on Amida statues.


Kamakura Daibutsu and Brazier 0862

The Daibutsu and the gilded bronze brazier of Kotoku-in.

The Buddha was originally gilded, but the gold has
come off over the years and now only a very few
traces can be seen inside of the statue’s ears.

—  The Kamakura Daibutsu is on the Kamakura 1 page  —


Kamakura Daibutsu 0864

The Kamakura Diabutsu is the most
widely-recognized symbol of Japan.


Kanteibyo Temple Upper Roof Detail 7736 7738

Yokohama Kanteibyo (Guan di Miao) was founded in 1862.

This image shows the upper temple roof, with shachihoko (in this example, dragon-headed fish), dragons, birds, tigers, an elephant, sea-life, flowers, pagodas, human figures and other sculptures, all in riotous color. Kanteibyo is in the heart of Yokohama Chinatown and is dedicated to Guan Yu (Guan Di), a deified General instrumental in the civil war which ended the Han Dynasty and began the Three Kingdoms period.


Katsuoji Hokora Mini Shrine 0144

The Hokora (miniature shrine) in the Katsuoji garden pond. This may be one of Japan’s smallest complete shrines. Note the Koma-inu (lion-dog guardians) and miniature torii gate.


Katsuoji Incense Oni 0120

An Oni straining to hold a heavy bronze incense holder. He receives little help from the horde of Dharma dolls. Oni are creatures from Japanese folklore (demons, ogres or trolls).


Katsuoji Mizuko Kannon 0093

Mizuko Kannon is patron of children lost to miscarriage,
stillbirth, abortion and untimely death (Mizuko Kuyo Kannon).


Katsuoji Senju Kannon 0129

Senju Kannon (thousand-armed Kannon) protects
people in the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts (gakido).


Katsuoji Tahoto 0088

A tahoto is an unusual two story pagoda. The ground floor is a square with a dome, and the
upper story is circular with a square roof. These evolved from the Hoto (a bronze Hoto houses
the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu at Nikko, shown further below in the Nikko section). Katsuoji Tahoto
dates from the reconstruction of the temple after the destruction caused by the Genpei War (1184).

—  Katsuoji is on the Assorted Temples page  —


Kenchoji Bonsho and Suzamon 0929

Cast in 1255 by Mononobe Shigemitsu,
the Kenchoji Bonsho (bell) is a National Treasure.


Kenchoji Butsuden and Hatto 0940

Kenchoji Butsuden (Buddha Hall) and Hatto (Dharma Hall).


Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo 1005

Kenchoji’s 14th century, 16 foot tall wooden Jizo Bosatsu was placed in the Butsuden to propitiate the souls of those executed in the valley (an execution ground before the temple was founded). The Kamakura period Jizo Bosatsu was carved from a single block of Hinoki (Japanese Cypress).

Behind the Butsuden Jizo are numerous other Jizo statues, including the Shinpei-ji Jizo and Saito Jizo, plus hundreds of cast iron Jizo statuettes.

—  Kenchoji is on the Kamakura 2 page  —


Kenchoji Hatto Senju Kannon 0962

Senju-Kannon (1000 arms and 1000 eyes) in Kenchoji Hatto. 42 arms are shown (the palm of each hand has an eye, and each side arm stands for one of the 25 Buddhist worlds).


Kenchoji Sanmon 0919

Kenchoji Sanmon (sangedatsumon, Gate of Enlightenment) is a 30 meter tall copper roofed gate, also called Tanuki-mon because a Tanuki (raccoon dog) is said to have transformed itself into a monk to help raise the money for the gate.


Kinkakuji 9255

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion Temple) casting its reflection in Kyoko-chi (Mirror Pond). Kinkaku was originally built as a retirement villa by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. The top two stories of the Pavilion are covered in gold leaf.


Kinkakuji Hakuja-no-Tzuka 9275

A five-element stone stupa (Hakuja-no-Tzuka, White Snake Mound) standing on an islet in Anmintaku (Tranquility Pond), which never dried up and was used as a site to pray for rain.


Kinkakuji Sekkatei Teahouse 9280

The Sekkatei (Favorable Sunset) three-mat Teahouse was created by the Tea Ceremony connoisseur Kanemori Sowa for retired Emperor Gomizunoo for his retirement villa.


Kiyomizudera 9546

Tamurado (Founder’s Hall, originally built in the 8th century), Kyodo (Sutra Storehouse) and Sanjunoto (3-story Pagoda) of Kiyomizudera (Clear Water Temple).


Kiyomizudera Hondo 9564

The Hondo (Main Hall) and Butai (Dancing Stage) Veranda, cantilevered over the hillside, are shingled with Cypress as a reminder that they were once a part of the Imperial Palace.


Kiyomizudera Kyodo 9544

The Kiyomizudera Kyodo (Sutra Library and Storehouse).

At right is the Kiyomizudera Sanjunoto (three-story Pagoda), the tallest Sanjunoto in Japan, erupting from a sea of Sakura. Rebuilt in 1633 after a disastrous fire that destroyed most of the temple buildings, it houses a statue of Dainichi Nyorai.

 —  Kiyomizudera is on the Kyoto Temples 2 page  —


Kiyomizudera Sanjunoto 9577

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Keitakuen Garden Kotoji Lantern 9032

Kotoji-toro (Kotoji Lantern) was built as a copy of the Kotoji Lantern in
Kenrokuen in Kanazawa (one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan). It
was designed to resemble the bridge holding up the strings of a Koto.

Keitakuen Garden, designed by Kizu Issai, was the garden of the main residence of the
Sumitomo Family in Osaka. Jihei Ogawa, the master gardener of the late Meiji period
who established the modern Japanese gardening style, spent 10 years transforming
Shinsui Sumitomo's circular garden into a chisen-kaiyu-shiki garden (a Japanese
strolling garden centered on a pond), with stones brought from all over Japan.

—  Keitakuen and Korakuen (below) are displayed on the Gardens page  —


Korakuen Asahi River Pathway 0395

Sakura-lined path beside the Asahi River, standing
between Korakuen Garden and Okayama Castle.


Korakuen Bamboo Sakura 0356

A bamboo forest beyond an overhanging arch of violently
blooming sakura is at the entrance to Korakuen Garden.


Korakuen Maple 0384

 A topiary Japanese Maple and an unusual ring-shaped stone lantern stand by the Kyokusui (meandering stream), which runs through an expansive lawn in front of a wall of sakura.


Korakuen Sawa-no-ike Jari-Jima 0391

Jari-Jima Island with Gojusantsugi Koshikake-Jaya Teahouse peeking out of the pines in the background on the opposite bank of Sawa-no-Ike pond in Korakuen Garden. Tranquility.


Kyoto Street Life 9615

A street scene at the foot of the Kyoto’s Higashiyama
(Eastern mountains) between the Ryozen Kannon shown
further below and Tetsugaku no Michi (Philosopher's Path).

—  from the Kyoto Scenic page  —


Minato Mirai Landmark Tower 7644

Landmark Tower (972 ft., at left) is Japan’s tallest building.
Part of Yokohama’s Minato Mirai 21, it houses a 600-room
hotel, shops, offices, and Japan’s tallest observation deck.

—  from the Japan Potpourri page  —


Minoh Monkey 0152

Japanese Macaque (saru), also called the Snow Monkey
(in their winter fur, they look like they’re wearing a hooded
parka). Shot taken in the wild on Osaka’s Minoh Mountain.


Minoh Monkey 0200

A small troop of monkeys came out of the forest to dry
their feet after a rainstorm. I convinced a few to sit for
formal studio portraits, promising them Internet fame.


Kasuga Shrine Fawn 9880

A terminally-cute Sika Deer fawn in the forest
above Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine in Nara.


Nara Park Deer 9773

The deer practice the cute look in mirrors so they can get
lots of deer crackers. — from the Japan Wildlife page  —


Nijo Castle Karamon Gate 9169

The Karamon (Chinese arched gable gate) is the
entrance to the Ninomaru Palace. It was transferred to
Nijo from Fushimi Castle by the third Shogun in 1626.


Nijo Castle Moat 9204

The west section of the Uchibori (inner moat) and the west bridge, which crosses onto a gate platform extending into the moat guarding the Honmaru.  — from the Nijo Castle page  —


Nijo Castle Seiryu-en Tea House 9206

Koun-tei (Koun Teahouse) is located in Seiryu-en Garden. Seiryu-en Garden is where the Honmaru (Inner Bailey) tenshu(main tower) was located before it burned in the 1750 fire.


Honmaru Palace 9195

In 1893, the Imperial Family moved the palace of
Prince Katsura from the grounds of the Imperial Palace
to Nijo Castle to occupy the Honmaru Palace grounds.


Ninomaru Palace 9174

Ninomaru Palace: entrance to the Toh Samurai and Shikidai reception rooms. The Ninomaru Palace is comprised of five buildings designed to operate as a social control mechanism.


Ninomaru Palace Ohiroma 9181

Ohiroma, housing the four Grand Chambers which
surrounded Musha-kakushi-no-ma (the bodyguard
chamber) and Sotetsu-no-ma (fern-palm chamber).


Ninomaru Garden 9183

Ninomaru Garden was designed by the famous landscape architect and tea master Kobori Enshu, and contains a large number of very carefully-placed ornamental stones. A slight change in position or direction of view completely changes the character of this chisen-kaiyu-shiki strolling garden.


Ninomaru Garden 9187

In the center is a large pond with three islands, connected by four bridges. Horai (the Island of Eternal Happiness) is flanked by Turtle (Kame-jima) and Crane (Tsuru-jima) Islands. The turtle and crane are symbols of longevity. Ninomaru Garden was constructed in 1626 behind Ninomaru Palace.

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Nikko Forest Nyoirin Kannon Dosojin 8073

Dosojin are Shinto protective stone markers, placed to guard travelers
and pilgrims on roads, borders, village boundaries, and mountain passes.

In the Cryptomeria forest above Nikko, near a small Hokora (miniature shrine),
are several dosojin and sekibutsu (stone Buddhas) including this Nyoirin Kannon.

The Nikko Toshogu Shrine is displayed on three pages:

Nikko Toshogu 1: Lower Level  —  Nikko Toshogu 2: Yomeimon and Kairo  —  Nikko Toshogu 3: Upper Level


Nikko Ishidorii 8472

The Ishidorii (Stone Torii) gate is 30 feet (9 meters) tall and is the largest Edo-period stone Torii in Japan. It was constructed of 15 pieces of granite, and is designed to move rather than collapse in an earthquake.


Nikko Lower Level 8524

From the left are the Omizuya (Purification Pavilion),
Kyozo (Sutra Storehouse), Karadou Torii (Bronze Torii),
and Kamijinko sacred storehouse (Azekura-zukuri style).
—  from the Nikko Toshogu: Lower Level page  —


Nikko Kyozo Koro 8542

The Kyozo is the storehouse for Buddhist Sutras.
The Koro is used to store the drums, and houses
the suspended drum (used to toll the hours). The
steps lead to the Yomeimon Gate (Honsha level).


Nikko Kamijinko Detail 8111

Detail of the “Imaginary Elephants” from the Kamijinko.
(clawed feet, horse-like tails, and funnel-shaped ears).
The artwork at Nikko was painted by Kano Tanyu and
Kano school artists using the Mitsuda-e technique.


Nikko Kamijinko Detail 8534

The Kamijinko is the upper Sacred Storehouse, one of
three built in the Azekura-zukuri (log structure) style of
architecture. The logs are cut triangular, flat side in.

The design was copied from the Shosoin storehouse
at Todaiji, the earliest example of an environmentally
controlled building (756 AD). The storehouses hold
costumes and equipment for the Togyosai Festival.


Nikko Gojunoto 8840

The Nikko Gojunoto (5-story Pagoda) is 118 feet tall
with no floors inside (a 2 foot diameter pillar suspended
by a chain stabilizes the structure from earthquakes).
Inside the pagoda is a sculpture of Dainichi Nyorai.


Nikko Bronze Lantern 8119

A Kondo-doro (gilded bronze lantern), one of the most
interesting lanterns of all those I saw at the many shrines
and temples of Japan, with Tokugawa hollyhock kamon,
dragons, koma-inu lion-dogs, and a Hoju sacred jewel.


Nikko Ishidoro 8495

A row of stone lanterns donated by Daimyo (feudal lords)
from all over Japan lines the path from the south entrance.
Buddhist sutra states that it is virtuous to offer light to the
Buddha (the lanterns are symbolic offerings to Buddha).


Nikko Shinkyo 8535

The Sacred Horse stable (Shinkyo or Shinkyu) houses two white horses which are used for thousand-person Togyosai Samurai-style processions. The Sansaru (three monkeys) panels are on the exterior, including the “See no Evil” panel.


See No Evil Shinkyo Panel 8105

Carved by the famous sculptor Hidari Jingoro, the panels
on the Shinkyo tell the Tale of the Three Monkeys. The
most famous of them is Mizaru; Iwazaru; Kikazaru:
(See no Evil, Speak no Evil, Hear no Evil).
(the five front Shinkyo panels can be seen in this image)


Nikko Tozai Kairo 8671

Tozai Kairo (roofed colonnade) near the Kamishamusho
(seen at right), where the Shinto services are conducted.


Nikko Tozai Kairo Exterior Panels 8786 8138

A 1500-pixel preview of the SXL composite (4520 x 1475) showing the exterior of the southern part of the Tozai Kairo roofed colonnade with its 25 carved nature panels. These sculptures by Hidari Jingoro and assistants were painted by the famous Kano school of painters using a paint mixing and application technique resistant to ultraviolet light and water called Mitsuda-e. This ancient oil painting technique was lost in the Meiji era and was only recently re-discovered by Yoshihara Hokusai, who restored the Omizuya over 15 years.(six of the Wildlife Panels are shown in this composite image)


Nikko Yomeimon Gate 8132

The Yomeimon Gate leads to Nikko’s 2nd level. The gate is elaborately decorated with 508 sculptures of dragons, Iki (dragon with nostrils on the upper lip) and other dragons, such as ‘giraffes’ (single-horned dragons), flying dragons, shin, and horse-dragons, (2 horns) along with lions, tapirs, elephants, rhinoceros, and phoenix, as well as other imaginary animals. There are also numerous sculptures of people from Chinese legends and Japanese life.


Nikko Yomeimon Gate Dragons 8612

The Yomeimon Gate is a National Treasure, and is considered to be the masterpiece of the structures at Nikko. The white dragons in the center section are Horse dragons (note the hooves), and the central sculpture is the Dragon of Menuki (no eyes). At the bottom of the lower section are Koma-inu (Shishi, lion-dog guardians) and above the Shishi are sculptures of people in early Edo-period dress. There are several detail shots of the Yomeimon on the Nikko 2 page.


Nikko Honden Karamon Gate 8610

A frontal wide-angle of the Honden Karamon gate,
with a Miko (Shrine maiden or fujo) sweeping up.

The Honden is the Main Hall of the Honsha (central shrine).


Nikko Honden Karamon Gate Detail 8177

The Karamon Gate is a National Treasure. Painted in white powder, the 27 sculptures of people depict a Chinese legend “The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove”. This image is an 85mm telephoto shot taken at distance for a better angle. The Honsha and Okusha (inner shrine) are on the Nikko 3 page.


Nikko Toshogu Haiden 8626

The Haiden Oratory (identical to the Honden but reversed). The roofed walls with lattice windows and openwork reliefs enclosing the Honden and Haiden are called Tozai Sukibe. Nikko Toshogu shrine is considered the pinnacle of Japanese shrine architecture (it is known as the Gongen-zukuri style).


Nikko Okumiya Okusha Haiden 8745

The Okumiya (Okusha Haiden) Oratory was the original structure enshrining Tokugawa Ieyasu, before the construction of the Toshogu Shrine. Ieyasu wanted a small shrine. When he was buried on Mt. Kuno in 1616 this structure was built there. It was moved to Nikko the following year.


Nikko Nemuri Neko 8216

Carved by Hidari Jingoro, this is the famous Nemuri Neko (Sleeping Cat).

The cat symbolizes the feudal warriors and sleep symbolizes peace. It refers to the fact
that the nationwide chaos of the Sengoku (Warring States) period was finally ended
by the efforts of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokogawa Ieyasu.
As long as the feudal warriors “sleep”, a peaceful society can flourish.


Nikko Okusha Hoto and Offerings 8245

The Okusha Hoto housing the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the vase, incense burner and crane candlestick offerings (a gift from the King of Korea). Hoto = Treasure Pagoda. The body of the hoto rests on a lotus flower. The roof is peaked with a finial, from which emanate stems that end in bud-like shapes. The finial is crowned with a ball-shaped sacred jewel emanating flames. The kaen hoju (flaming sacred jewel) has the power to repel evil, cleanse corruption and grant wishes.


Nikko Okusha Hoto 8246


Nikko Toshogu Shrine

A 1500 pixel preview of the SXXXL Composite (14511 x 8288), 82 MB

Framed with Shinkyo Sansaru (Three Monkeys) panels and Tozai Kairo Nature Panels

Left Side:
Ishidorii Stone Torii Gate; Kyozo Sutra Storehouse; Koro Drum Tower; Kamijinko Storehouse;
Kitouden Prayer Hall; Kaguraden Dance Stage; Tozai Kairo Roofed Colonnade; Shinyosha Mikoshi Shed

Center Section:
Sansaru (Three Monkeys): See no Evil, Speak no Evil, Hear no Evil;
Tozai Kairo Wildlife Panels: Hou-ou (Asian Phoenix); Ducks; Mandarin Ducks; Cranes; Night Herons

Right Side:
Yomeimon Gate to Honsha; Yomeimon Dragon Detail; Honden Main Hall; Honden Karamon Gate Detail;
Inukimon Single-cast Gate; Okusha Hoto Mausoleum Pagoda for Tokugawa Ieyasu and Mausoleum Offerings

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Ofuna Kannon 1055

The 96.4 foot Byakue (White Robed) Kannon at Ofuna looms over Kamakura from the hill above Ofuna station. Originally intended to be a 330 foot seated statue and platform, it was changed to a much smaller bust and platform when it was discovered that the hill would not support the weight. The project was started in 1929, but it was halted during the Depression and WW II. It was finally completed in 1961.


Ofuna Kannon 1058

All 1915 tons of concrete for the statue were hand-carried up the hill. The temple contains a cenotaph to the Atomic Bomb victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and 23 fishermen exposed at Bikini Atoll. It includes a Tower of Atomic Flame that has been continuously burning since brought back from Hiroshima.

—  from the Kamakura 3 page  —


Ryozen Kannon 9602

Ryozen Kannon peeks over the copper-clad wall through a spray of blooming Sakura.

A 24 meter seated statue of Byakue Kannon (White Robed Kannon), Ryozen Kannon was
made with 500 tons of concrete on a steel-rod frame in 1955. Just off the Philosopher’s Path
in Kyoto, it commemorates the soldiers who died in World War II and prays for a peaceful Japan.

—  from the Assorted Temples page  —


Okayama Castle 0327

Often called Crow Castle (U-jo, because it is painted black), Okayama-jo is a reconstruction, (the original was destroyed by Allied bombing). The castle is across the river from Korakuen Garden, one of the three best gardens in Japan.


Okayama Castle 0322

Okayama Castle was one of the great castles of the Edo period, but like many others it was considered archaic and unnecessary by the Meiji period Ministry of War, so the moats were filled in and the city overgrew the grounds.


Okayama Castle Akazunomon 0351

Akazunomon (Never-opened Gate) was not used except for special visitors when the feudal lord Ikeda ruled the castle. It led from the feudal government office to the Honden.


Okayama Castle Korakuen 0373

Okayama Castle erupting from a sea
of Mountain Sakura in Korakuen Park.
—  from the Okayama Castle Page  —


Osaka Castle 8924

Osaka Castle from Hojoen Garden.

The largest, most intimidating castle of its time, Osaka-jo was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the three great unifiers of Japan. Begun in 1583 and completed in 1597, it was the site of two great battles (Summer and Winter Sieges of Osaka) that cemented the power of the Tokugawa Shogunate which lasted for 250 years. The original structures that remain were all rebuilt by Tokugawa, as the Summer Battle of Osaka in 1615 (with over 400,000 warriors) ended with the destruction of the castle.


Toyotomi Hideyoshi 8916

Screen painting of Toyotomi Hideyoshi from Osaka Castle.

The daimyo (feudal lord) who unified Japan in 1590. Toyotomi started as
Oda Nobunaga’s sandal carrier, evolved into one of his most capable generals,
became his successor after revenging his betrayal and forced suicide by the traitorous
general Akechi, and completed Nobunaga’s plans for the unification of Japan under one rule.
By his actions, he ended the Sengoku period (the 133 year long period of the Warring States).

—  from the Osaka Castle Page  —


Osaka Castle Inui Yagura 8933

The turret on the Inui (Northwest) corner of the outer moat wall. Designed by Kobori Enshu, the famous artist, tea master, designer and aristocrat during the reign of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Tokugawa-built stone walls and the outer moats are the greatest stone walls in Japan. The moats are 70 to 90 meters in width and the walls are more than 20 meters in height.


Osaka Castle Rokuban Yagura 8899

(rokuban = sixth)

Rokuban yagura overlooks the Southwest corner over the South Outer Moat. This is one of the five Tokugawa-period turrets that are in original condition. Thirteen key parts of the castle were designated as Important Cultural Properties.


Osaka Castle Sengan Yagura 8896

The Sengan Yagura (the turret of 1000 eyes) overlooks the West Outer Moat next to the bridge crossing to the Otemon Gate. This yagura was impregnable due to its position.


Osaka Castle 8902

The Castle Tower under assault (by a flock of crows). The tenshu was rebuilt in concrete as a museum in 1928-31 as it was destroyed during the conflicts of the Meiji Restoration.


Osaka Tenmangu Tsuri-doro 9075

Tsuri-doro Hanging Lanterns in Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.

—  from the Assorted Shrines page  —


Rinnoji Bronze Incense Burner 8436

Oni (trolls) straining to hold a bronze incense holder
in front of Rinnoji’s Sanbutsudo (Three Buddha Hall).
—  Rinnoji is on the Assorted Temples page  —


Okawa River Sakura Festival 9111

A couple strolling under a canopy of Sakura
by the river at the Okawa River Sakura Festival.
—  from the Sakura page  —


Philosopher’s Path Sakura 9677

One of the most popular sites for hanami (Sakura viewing) in
Kyoto, following Biwa canal between Ginkakuji and Nanzenji.
—  from the Kyoto Scenic page  —


Saigo Takamori 7618

The Last True Samurai (statue in Ueno Park, Tokyo)
Saigo Takamori was one of the most influential Samurai in
history, and lived in the late Edo and early Meiji periods.
—  detailed information on the Japan Potpourri page  —


Sankeien Ryokugaku Bai Detail 8007

A sazanka camellia stands next to a small ishidoro
stone lantern and chozu wash basin with bamboo ‘faucet’
in the Ryokugaku Bai Plum Garden, Sankeien, Yokohama.

—  from the Sankeien Architecture page  —


Sankeien Yokubuean 7858

The Yokobuean was built in the Inakaya style (rural cottage).
Yokobuean is now a tea arbor (its origins are lost to history).


Sakura Blossoms Ueno Park 7596

A close shot detailing just-opening and open blossoms.
—  from the Sakura page  —


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0264

Riotously-blooming Sakura in Satsukiyama Koen, Osaka.


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0265

I happened to be there the day the Sakura was at full bloom.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Shitennoji Kondo Gojunoto 8970

Steep oblique angle showing the Gojunoto (5-story pagoda), Kondo (Golden Hall), and Kodo (Lecture Hall), right to left, taken from a corner of the Kairo (colonnade). Located in downtown Osaka, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times... the last time the structures were rebuilt in concrete.


Shitennoji Kondo Gojunoto 8977

Founded by Prince Shotoku in 593, Shitennoji is the oldest officially administered temple in Japan. This image shows the Kondo and Gojunoto, which house sculptures of the Guze Kannon Bosatsu and the Shitenno Deva Kings respectively.


Shitennoji Nyoirin Kannon 9000

The six-armed Shingon representation of Nyoirin Kannon.
Shown sitting on a lotus flower, the six arms each represent one of
the karmic realms, and a vow to save beings in the six realms of rebirth.

—  from the Shitennoji page  —


Shitennoji Tamonten Komokuten 8988

Shitenno-ji was built to honor the four Shitenno (Deva Kings), protectors of Buddhist Law and of Humankind. The brush and scroll of the statue on the right identifies him as Komokuten, and the pagoda (treasure-house) held by the Shitenno on the left identifies Tamonten. Sculptures in the Gojunoto (Pagoda).


Sumiyoshi Taisha Taiko Bashi 0047

The Taiko Bashi is a wooden bridge with stone supports built to represent a rainbow to connect the ground and sky. Maximum angle is 48 degrees. It was donated by Yodo-Dono, the favored concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and niece of Oda Nobunaga.  —  from the Sumiyoshi Taisha page  —


Todaiji Daibutsuden 9817

The Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) at Todaiji was originally completed in 751, and was larger than the current building, which was rebuilt in 1692-1709 after the original burned during the Sengoku Wars. Even though the current building is only 2/3 of the original’s width, this one is still truly enormous.                                —  from the Todaiji page  —


Todaiji Daibutsu 9844

Nara Daibutsu, the world’s largest bronze statue.
The Daibutsu is a representation of Rushana Nyorai,
(Birushana) a form of Dainichi Nyorai (Cosmic Buddha).
Daibutsu is 49.1 feet tall. The face is 17.5 feet tall, the eyes
are 3.3 feet across, the nose is 1.6 feet long, and the ears
are 8.3 feet long. The statue weighs 500 metric tonnes.


Todaiji Daibutsu 9832

The Daibutsu was cast on site using nearly all of Japan’s
 bronze production for years (almost bankrupting Japan).
437 tons of copper, 8.5 tons of tin, 968 pounds of gold,
2.5 tons of mercury and 7 tons of wax were used.


Todaiji Nyoirin Kannon 9846

Nyoirin-Kannon, the fulfiller of all wishes.
Often shown in the Shingon version (six arms),
Nyoirin-Kannon holds the wish-fulfilling jewel
(this 2-armed version holds it in the left hand).


Todaiji Komokuten 9838

Lord of Limitless Vision, Komokuten has a
third, all-seeing eye. Guardian of the West,
he sees through evil and encourages
aspirations for enlightenment.


Todaiji Tamonten 9839

The most powerful of the Shitenno, Tamonten
is Guardian of the North, all-knowing, always
listening and hears everything. He guards the
Earth’s treasures (note the treasure pagoda).


Toji Zochoten 9166

Shitenno (Deva King) of the South. Gilded wood (839 AD)

The Toji Kodo contains 21 sculptures (15 are original eighth to ninth century wood carvings),
arranged in a mandala in 3 dimensions containing five Nyorai, five Bodhisattvas, five Myoo
(Kings of Light and Wisdom), Taishakuten (Indra), the Deva Kings, and Bonten (Brahma).

Toji was built two years after the capital of Japan was moved to Kyoto (it was founded in 796),
and houses some very important Buddhist sculpture mandalas and the tallest pagoda in Japan.


Toji Kondo 9158

The Kondo (Golden Hall) was first built in 796,
and it burned in 1486. The double-roofed Kondo
is the largest building in the Toji temple compound.


Toji Monks 9133

A troop of Toji Monks crossing the Garan (compound).

—  from the Kyoto Temples 3 page  —


Transit Crush 0619

In Japan, most travel other than longer trips is done via the local commuter trains. Here is an
image that should give you a good idea as to what that is like. This was shot on a local train to
Kamakura during the morning rush. Like the fellow on the right, many people just get in and find
a way to ignore everything around them. The lady in the center, however, is being squished and
she certainly does not look happy about it. I hear that you eventually get used to being a sardine.

—  from the Japan Potpourri page  —


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Torii 3 0625

At the end of the cherry-lined Dankazura pathway,
San no Torii (Torii 3) stands over the front courtyard
of Kamakura's Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine.


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Treasure House 0650

A radically hipped roof line and painted mural
adorn a building at the end of the Treasure House.
—  from the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine page  —


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Taiko Bashi 0626

The Taiko bashi (drum bridge), named Akabashi (red bridge) as the original was made of wood and painted red. The stone arched bridge used to be reserved only for the Shogun’s use. Other people used the flat bridges on either side.


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Sakura 0656

The Gen (Minamoto) pond, with cherry blossoms
covering the surface and the peony garden on the
opposite side. The white Sakura symbolizes purity.
—  from the Sakura page  —


Ueno Park Phoenix 7490

The Hou-ou (Asian Phoenix). This Rube Goldberg bird has the head of a Golden Pheasant, the neck of a Snake, the body of a Mandarin Duck, the tail of a Peacock, the legs of a Crane, and the mouth of a Parrot. The Hou-ou stands atop a building near the Gojo Tenjin Shrine in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

—  from the Japan Potpourri page  —


Ueno Bentendo Sofitel 7447

Overlooked by the unusual architecture of the Tokyo Sofitel, the Bentendo (a Buddhist Temple dedicated to the Shinto goddess Benten) is an octagonal hall built early in the 17th c. when Edo (now Tokyo) became the capital of Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

—  from the Assorted Temples page  —


Ueno Toshogu Honden Detail 7553

Detail of the gold-leaf covered early Edo-period architecture of the Honden (Main Hall)
of the Toshogu Shrine in Ueno Park Tokyo, one of few surviving structures from the period
remaining in the capital. It is an excellent example of shrine architecture of the early 1600s.

—  from the Assorted Shrines page  —

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— The 150 Selected Images are in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan Select


Return to the Master Index on the Japan Select page.