Posted in Around the World

|TRAVEL| Tokyo 秋葉原 Akihabara Electric Town.

A great place to walk around and absorb the japanese metropoli’s sights and sounds is Akihabara (秋葉原) district. Just two stops from Tokyo Station, Akihabara is a neighborhood known for its electronic superstores. There’s a reason that it’s known as Electric Town, but the neighborhood is so much more.
Originally this Tokyo’s neighborhood was a gateway used mainly by merchants to enter into the city proper, and was born out of a devastating fire in 1869.
After the disaster locals began reconstruction with a shrine to a fire protection deity, Akiba. As Tokyo expanded the neighborhood developed, and took the name of the shrine that protected it.
Following World War II, as Japan became more future-focused, Akihabara became known as the place to buy electronic goods of all kinds: radios, television sets, household appliances, many of them sold illegally.
Tokyo’s inhabitants knew to head to “Akihabara Electric Town” for all the latest contraptions on the market.
Of course, when home computers entered the global marketplace, Akihabara was the perfect place to buy them. In the 1980s, paso-kons, personal computers, were a niche hobby, but the internet’s evolution over the decades to come meant that otakus (the obsessive fans that have unified into a proud subculture!) could create and share at an ever-increasing rate.
So, the neighborhood’s wares changed to suit this cultural explosion. Though Akihabara is still the place to go for computers, mobile phones, cameras, video games, and other electronic goods, the visual landscape has been dominated by anime and manga aesthetic.
Some of the electronics on sale are only intended for use in Japan due to voltage and other technical differences, Japanese language documentation and limited warranties.
Akihabara has been undergoing major redevelopment over the years, including the renovation and expansion of Akihabara Station and the construction of new buildings in its proximity.
In recent years Akihabara Electric Town has only become more of a consumer’s paradise. On Sundays the central Chuo-dori street is blocked off to vehicles from 13:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from October through March), and shoppers flood the streets, crowding into big department stores like Mandarake and Don Quijote as well as tiny independent stalls.
In particular, it has become a popular place for teenagers to congregate, especially those visiting from outside Tokyo.
Cute, colorful wares are for sale, and cosplayers are everywhere. The popular girl band AKB48, which takes its name from the neighborhood, even runs a restaurant in Akihabara!

My text and photos for ©️Random-Times.com

Posted in Around the World

|TRAVEL| Tashirojima Cat-Island

Tashirojima (田代島) is a small, rural island off the coast of central Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture.
Informally known as “Cat Island”, It’s just over three kilometers long and It is the paradise of a large colony of felines, which are cared for and worshiped by the island’s human residents.
It is part of a group of about a dozen “islands of cats” in Japan, small places where there are more feline residents than humans.
More than a hundred cats roam the island (about 120), and they are owners of abandoned houses, and also of the quiet fishing village.
The cats were originally brought over to help with pest control around the island’s silkworm farms, but also to hunt mice that infested fishermen’s boats. In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fishing has long been an important industry on Tashirojima.
For ages the fishermen who worked on the island cared for and protected the semi-wild cats because they believed that the cats would bring them good luck. Over time, this cat population left un-neutered began to grow immensely while the human population dwindled down to fewer than 80 residents.
Since then their numbers have increased to the point that they now outnumber the island’s human population six to one!

Cat lovers from all around Japan, but not only, come to visit Tashirojima, which requires taking a one hour long ferry ride from Ishinomaki port.
The boats stop at both of the island’s settled areas: a tiny village around Odomari Port in the north and a larger, more developed village around Nitoda Port in the south.
Several narrow roads and walking trails crisscross the forested island’s interior between the two villages.
In Japanese culture, cats are considered to bring good luck, said to bring money and good fortune to all who cross their path. Some even claim that it was the cats who kept the majority of the island from being destroyed during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which partially flooded both villages and destroyed several buildings around the port towns which were close to the coast. After all, for a few days people all over the world (even in Japan) thought that the whole island was gone (washed away by the tsunami)!
Luckily the island’s location behind a peninsula helped protect it from more severe damage, and the majority of the debris was cleared within a year.

Following the fishing tradition, people built a small Cat Shrine known as Neko-jinja (猫神社), at the center of the island in memory of a cat that was accidentally killed.
Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period (江戸時代, 1603-1868) and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island, praying that never ever something similar would happen again.
The shrine is located along the road about halfway between Odomari and Nitoda villages. It’s a fairly small shrine, but there are tons of cat related tiny items like those Maneki Neko statues.

The cats on Tashirojima are mostly found around Nitoda Port on the southeastern side of the island. They freely roam the streets and enjoy the attention that they get from the tourists who play with them. The cats sometimes gather around the steps of the island’s lone store, Kamabutsu Shoten, located in the northwestern part of Nitoda village.
Tashirojima does not have many tourist facilities. There are no restaurants, and very few shops or public toilets available on the island. Only a drink vending machine and a public toilet are located along the Nitoda waterfront, but this is a really nice travel destination for all cat-lovers!

My text and Photos for Random-Times.com ✍🏼📸

Posted in Around the World

|TRAVEL| Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree, is a broadcasting and telecommunications tower in Tokyo, and at a height of 634 metres, it was the world’s second tallest structure, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It was inaugurated on May 22, 2012, and it is also the world’s tallest freestanding tower, exceeding the height of Tokyo Tower, previously the city’s tallest structure, by 301 metres.
The major role of Tokyo Skytree is to transmit electric waves in a stable manner free from influences of super tall buildings that have been increasing every year. The area used to be called as “Musashi” in ancient times and the height of the tower, was decided, as a play of words, to be 634 meters, which can also ben pronunced as “Mu-Sa-Shi”.
Tokyo Skytree stands on an equilateral triangle cross-section and, as it progresses upwards, it morphs into a circular cross-section. The structure of circular cross-section is able to support the base structure on a limited area and to fend forces of winds from any directions off. In addition, this unique shape, with “concave curves”, offers different shapes depending on the angle it is viewed.
The tower has two publicly accessible observation areas, the Tembo Deck and the Tembo Gallery. The three-level Tembo Deck features an observation floor that sits at a height of 350 metres, and the Tembo Gallery has two floors. The higher of these floors is 451 metres above the ground!
Tokyo Sky Tree was designed by the Nikken Sekkei architectural firm, and its construction began in 2008. Under earthquake conditions the core column is intended to counteract any sway of the tower.
The center column made of reinforced concrete at the core sways differently from the steel-frame tower body at the periphery, thus suppresses vibrations of the whole structure during high winds and earthquakes. This damping mechanism is called as “shinbashira vibration control” after the “shinbashira” of Goju-no-to towers, Japanese traditional five-story pagodas.
Tokyo Sky Tree is also the centrepiece of a multilevel urban development called Tokyo Sky Tree Town, which include a large shopping centre, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a 31-story office building.

Random-Times.com