ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “church

GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

2006.05.07

Cappadocia is not just all about rocks.  Since prehistorical times, humans had established cave dwelling and even underground communities in the area.  Kingdoms rose and fell; trade routes came by and moved away; religions flourished and replaced by other religions as new settlers arrived.  The Hatti community emerged in 2500 BC, then came the Hittites, Assyrians, Phrygians, and Persians.  In AD 17, the Roman arrived and Cappadocia became a province of the empire.  The Christians came in the 3rd century AD, and Cappadocia soon became the dominant culture in the region where uncounted chapels and churches were carved out from the rocks.  In the Medieval Ages, monastic communities flourished and so as caravanserais where trade routes connected Cappadocia with the world along the Silk Road.  In the late Middle Ages, invasions from Turkmenistan, Mongolians, Seljuks and finally Ottomans wrapped up the ever changing story of Cappadocia.

Only 15 minutes from the town centre of Goreme, the Open Air Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Cappadocia.  Despite the crowds, the UNESCO world heritage site is the best place to understand the a part of the history of Cappadocia.

near open air museumIn the midst of fairy chimneys, different kingdoms and communities left their marks in Cappadocia throughout history.

06ME17-17All communities in Cappadocia began in one of the many valleys.  As soon as the first settlers discovered the unique properties of the volcanic rocks, cave communities emerged.

open air museum 1Small cave dwellings and pigeon holes were carved from the rock cliffs.

06ME17-05Small caves led to larger rock cut spaces as the communities evolved, such as the rock cut chapels constructed in the Middle Ages.

open air museum 4Goreme Open Air Museum hosts a number of the rock cut chapels and cave dwellings, mainly from the Byzantine era.

open air museum 5Despite the caves at the Open Air Museum have been abandoned for a long time, visitors today can still imagine how these cave communities might have operated centuries ago.

06ME17-10Many caves are only accessible via a flight of stairs.

06ME17-13What lies inside the caves are the real gem.  The Karanlık Kilise or Dark Church contains some of the best preserved frescoes in the museum.  It presents some great examples of Byzantine art.

 

 

 

 


RED BASILICA & ASCLEPION, Bergama, Turkey

2006.05.04

Below the acropolis hill of Pergamon stands the town of Bergama and the scattered ruins of ancient Pergamon.  A short taxi ride took us from the acropolis to the Red Basilica in Bergama.  Originally a temple built by Roman Emperor Hadrian dedicated to Egyptian deities, the basilica was later converted into a Christian church in the Byzantine era.  The brick structure itself is massive and red in colour, and hence the name Red Basilica.  Massive red brick structures were common in Roman Italy at that time, but was something rather new and unique in Asia Minor.  We stayed for roughly half an hour to appreciate the structure’s grandeur from the remaining archways and masonry shell.

Outside the Red Basilica, we had a quick bite at an pancake eatery.  The town was pretty laid back, with donkeys wandering on the street and artisans sitting in front of shops weaving carpet.  We ventured further uphill behind Bergama, passed by a military base, to the ruins of Asclepion, a medical complex in the Greek and Roman times.  Most of the remaining buildings we saw dated back to the Hadrian’s time.  There were theatre, pools, libraries, temples, and houses.  Patients who came to Asclepion were offered spiritual treatments at temples, as well as physical exercises and spa services at the adjacent facilities.  After a full day of sightseeing, we headed back to Izmir and then transferred to Selcuk.

At 21:00, we arrived at Selcuk Bus Station.  A guy named Michael approached us to sell us bus tickets.  At last, we bought from him tickets to Pammukale for the day after tomorrow.  The van from Homeros Pension finally arrived and took us to the beautifully decorated guesthouse.

06ME11-28Bergama was quite a laid back town in the Aegean region of Turkey.

bergama streetscape_01Sleepy street scene of Asclepion in midday.

streetscape 2Dated back to the 11th century, Bergama is famous for its carpet weaving.  Most Bergama carpets are made with wool.

streetscape 3_01Donkeys and ponies were quite common in Bergama.

06ME11-19The Red Basilica was one of the largest surviving Roman structures in the Greek world.

06ME11-21The enormous structure formed only a part of an even larger religious complex.

red basilica 1Unlike Ancient Rome, red masonry used in such enormous scale was something new in Asia Minor

06ME11-22One of the rotundas of the Red Basilica is now occupied by a mosque.

06ME11-32Asclepion, the ruined medical centre in the Roman times, was a well known treatment centre in the classical times.

Asclepion 1There were hardly anyone else when we visited Asclepion.

06ME11-36The theatre of Asclepion revealed that the ancient medical centre was once also served as a social venue.

06ME11-37Fine details at the theatre stair.

06ME12-01Ionic columns and remaining frieze and cornice could still be found at the ruins.

06ME12-02In times of Antiquity, Asclepion was the 2nd most popular medical treatment centres just after Epidauros in Greece.


HAGIA SOPHIA, Istanbul, Turkey

2006.04.30.

It was nice to take an early morning walk in the Sultanahmet area.  To visit Hagia Sophia, one of the country’s most popular attraction, an early morning start allowed us to beat the crowds to walk around the marvelous structure and enter the museum at 9am.  Hagia Sophia to Istanbul is like Colosseum to Rome, Parthenon to Athens or the Great Pyramid of Giza to Cairo.  These architecture represent the architectural and engineering marvel that has defined an era in world history.  The current building was built in 537 AD during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian.  Back then, Hagia Sophia was the largest building in the world.  Its great dome has a diameter of 107 feet, and remained as the largest in the world until the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica was completed in the late 16th century.  In fact, one of the biggest achievements for architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus was to create the gigantic dome without resting on any solid wall support, but instead, constructed triangular pendentives to transfer the force of the circular structure to a square base.

Throughout history, Hagia Sophia has gone through times of destruction and alterations due to earthquakes and regime change.  From 537 to 1453 AD, Hagia Sophia served as an Eastern Orthodox church and housed the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.  After the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople, four minarets were added, Christian figures and decorations were destroyed while mosaic art were plastered over, and the building was converted into the city’s primary mosque, until the Blue Mosque was completed in 1616.  In 1935, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, converted the famous structure into a museum.

S-Hagia Sophia 3Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Turkey.  We came early in the morning to avoid the tourist groups.

S-Hagia SophiaThe 1500-year-old structure has been altered several times in history.

06ME05-22After almost a thousand years as an Eastern Orthodox church, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque in 1453.  Then in 1935 the building was converted into a museum.

S-Hagia Sophia 2The 40 windows at the dome allow plenty of natural light to enter the interior, and reduce the overall weight of the dome structure.

Hagia Sophia 1The interior of Hagia Sophia contains artifacts from the Byzantine and Ottoman era.

06ME01-22The windows in the dome allow natural light to enter the interior.

06ME01-21Richly decorated with mosaics and marble pillars, Hagia Sophia is the most important example of Byzantine architecture in the world.  One of the highlights for a visit to check out the mosaic work on the upper level.

06ME01-27Outside the building, the splendid fountain built in 1740 is an Ottoman addition after the conversion into a mosque.

fountain behind sophiaServed as a social gathering pavilion outside of the Hagia Sophia, the Fountain of Ahmed III was built in 1728 during the Ottoman era.  The rococo-style fountain stands right outside the gate of Topkapi Palace, the royal palace of the Ottoman Empire.

 

 


FROM BYZANTIUM TO ISTANBUL, Turkey

2006.04.29.

Our Middle East journey began from Istanbul on 29th of April, 2006.

Formerly known as Constantinople, the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire for over 1500 years, Istanbul is a city full of layers, where kingdoms came and go, and new buildings being built upon ruined ones.  Occupying both sides of Bosporus Strait that separates Europe and Asia, Istanbul has always been a venue of cultural exchange between the east and west.  The Sultanahmet area in Fatih District was the historical centre of Constantinople, where the emperors of the Roman Empire (330-395), Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395-1453) and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1923) chose to establish their splendid capital.  Bounded three sides by water, the Historic Area of Istanbul is an UNESCO World Heritage site with a concentration of iconic cultural heritage that are precious to human civilization, including Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern, etc.  Like many tourists, we specifically chose our hostel in Sultanahmet, just a stone throw away from the Blue Mosque.  In Sultanahmet, we never needed to walk far to encounter the former glory of the empires.

06ME05-27Legends has it that in 667 BC, the Greeks came to the intersection of Golden Horn, Bosphorus Strait and Marmara Sea and found the city of Byzantium at the peninsula where the current Sultanahmet area is situated.

06ME05-31Because of its strategic location at the sole access point of the Black Sea, Byzantium was soon developed into a trading city.  After Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium in the 4th century, Byzantium became Constantinople, and its glorious time as Europe’s largest and wealthiest city officially kicked off.

06ME05-32Defensive walls had been erected to protect Constantinople since Constantine’s time.  Walls were also constructed along the waterfront to protect the city from sea attacks.  After the partitioning of the Roman Empire, Constantinople remained as the capital of Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire).

06ME02-14In Istanbul, hundreds of underground cisterns were constructed during the Byzantine era.  Measured 138m x 65m, Basilica Cistern was constructed by thousands of slaves in the 6th century under the orders of Emperor Justinian.

06ME02-15Probably taken from earlier Roman buildings, two stone heads of Medusa were used as  column bases in Basilica Cistern.  This mysterious cistern was forgotten briefly in the Middle Ages.  After the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople, local residents knew nothing about the cistern, but soon discovered that they were able to obtain water and even fish below their home basement by just lowering a bucket through a hole in the floor.  The cistern was rediscovered by scholar Petrus Gyllius in 1545.

06ME10-10The most prominent Byzantine icon is undoubtedly Hagia Sophia.  Built in 537, Hagia Sophia was the largest building in the world, and housed the patriarch seat of Eastern Orthodox Church until the the 15th century.

blue mosque 3Standing opposite to Hagia Sophia is another cultural icon of Istanbul, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or the Blue Mosque.  Inspired by the Byzantine icon Hagia Sophia, the Ottomans left their mark in Constantinople more than 1000 years by constructing the Blue Mosque over the former palace complex of the Byzantine emperors.

Sultanahmet 1Smaller in scale than the iconic monuments, Sultanahmet also host many lesser known historical buildings in the residential neighborhoods.

06ME03-08Walking in Sultanahmet was like going back in time, as if every other street bend was marked by splendid timber houses and pavilions from the Ottoman era.

wooden house 3Turkish author Orhan Pamuk’s autobiographical Istanbul: Memories and the Cities introduces readers his childhood Istanbul with a melancholic depiction of the Ottoman houses.

wooden house 5Pamuk’s writing and black and white photos showed me an unique Istanbul beyond the historical palaces, churches and mosques.

wooden house 1Searching for the Ottoman houses in Istanbul was not as easy as I thought, since many had been torn down in recent years.

wooden house 8Due to continuous urban renewal in the historical centre, many Ottoman houses were at risk for redevelopment.

0ME04-34Today, Sultanahmet has become a tourist hub, where many buildings have been converted into hotels and restaurants.  In the time of commercialization, even the ruins of a 550-year bathhouse, the Ishak Pasa Hamam, is up for sale.

0ME04-32In Istanbul, we stayed at the friendly Sultan Hostel just two blocks behind the Blue Mosque.

whirl danceAt night, tourists would gather at restaurants in Sultanahmet to enjoy dinner and nargile or Turkish water pipe, along with live performance of the Sufi whirling dance.

 


CHURCH ON THE WATER (水の教会), Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.22

Day 8 (1/4).

Many people acknowledge the harmonic relationship between buildings and nature in Japanese architecture.  Taking the site’s natural context as design inspirations and the dominating factor for spatial arrangement is popular among modern Japanese architecture, where buildings are sometimes configured according to the site terrain or to a unique relationship with a natural element such as a feature tree or a water body.  This respect to nature is quite apparent in the works of Tadao Ando.

On our way to Furano, we tried visiting Ando’s Chapel on the Water but failed to get in because of a private wedding taking place.  We decided to return once again when we left Furano.  To ensure entry, we managed to arrive at the official time for visit: 06:30 to 07:15.  Getting to the chapel in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム) at 06:30 meaning we had to leave our hotel in Nakafurano at 5am.

IMG_0129We made it to Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム) on time for the 6:30 visiting time slot for Ando’s Chapel on the Water.

DSC_6240We were surprised to find that at least 30 people were already waiting for the staff in the waiting lobby.  We were soon led out to a path leading to the concrete enclosure of the chapel.

DSC_6154We walked along the concrete wall of the chapel until reaching an opening into the inner court.

DSC_6159Once we got into the inner court, we finally had our first glimpse of the beautiful chapel architecture and its famous cross in the water.

IMG_0050The entry path continued to the back corner of the chapel, where a flight of stairs led us up to the small semi enclosed platform dominated by the cross concrete members.

DSC_6228From the platform we followed a spiral staircase descending down to the main chapel space.

DSC_6183Used for wedding ceremonies, the chapel is simple and elegant.  The prime focus for all visitors is the view of the cross and water pond, which takes the place of the traditional altar piece.

DSC_6186The enormous opening can be shut with the hydraulic powered sliding door.

DSC_6206Once the door is shut, the sound of the moving water would be shut off from the interior.

DSC_6209The staff demonstrated the closing and opening of the sliding door for us.

DSC_6224Once the door was opened, the interior was filled with the sound of moving water again.

IMG_0060The exterior scenery was peaceful and calming.  The boundary between the interior and exterior didn’t seem to exist.

DSC_6225We could sit there for a long time just to take in the peaceful scenery and calming sound of water and birds.  We could imagine how the scenery might change in different seasons.

DSC_6233To exit, we followed the spiral staircase to the lower level, passed through a circular space and left the building from its side.

DSC_6235Outside the building, we could see the frame structure housing the track for the sliding door.

DSC_6239Just like the Church of Light, visiting an early work of Tadao Ando is always touching and inspiring.  Taking the effects of light, reflections, sounds and water to formulate the spatial qualities of the architecture, seeing his buildings has always been a spiritual experience for us.

* * *

Introduction
HOKKAIDO ROAD TRIP, Hokkaido (北海道)

Day 1 – from Tokyo to Shiretoko Peninsula
Day 1.1 TSUKIJI OUTER MARKET (築地場外市場)
Day 1.2 ARRIVAL IN SHIRETOKO, Utoro (ウトロ)

Day 2 – Utoro
Day 2.1 SHIRETOKO FIVE LAKES (知床五湖)
Day 2.2 UTORO FISHERMAN’S WIVES CO-OPERATIVE DINER (ウトロ漁協婦人部食堂)
Day 2.3 FUREPE FALLS (フレペの滝)

Day 3 – Rausu
Day 3.1 RUSA FIELD HOUSE (ルサフィールドハウス)
Day 3.2 JUN NO BANYA (純の番屋)

Day 4 – Rausu
Day 4.1 MOUNT RAUSU (羅臼岳)
Day 4.2 FANTASTIC ORCAS, Nemuro Strait (根室海峡)

Day 5 – Lake Mashu & Lake Akan
Day 5.1 SUNRISE AT LAKE MASHU (摩周湖)
Day 5.2 MOUNT MASHU TRAIL (摩周岳) , Teshikaga (弟子屈)
Day 5.3 SILENT NIGHT AT LAKE AKAN (阿寒湖)

Day 6 – On the road from Lake Akan to Furano
Day 6.1 FISHERMEN BELOW MISTY OAKAN (雄阿寒岳), Lake Akan (阿寒湖)
Day 6.2 TREATS OF OBIHIRO (帯広), Tokachi (十勝)
Day 6.3 ARRIVING IN FURANO (富良野)

Day 7 Furano & Biei
Day 7.1 LAVENDER BUDS, Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.2 FARM TOMITA (ファーム富田), Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.3 BI.BLE, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.4 PATCHWORK ROAD & PANORAMA ROAD, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.5 NINGLE TERRACE (ニングルテラス)

Day 8 – from Furano to Otaru
Day 8.1 CHURCH ON THE WATER (水の教会), Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム)
Day 8.2 HILL OF THE BUDDHA (頭大仏), Makomanai Takino Cemetery (真駒内滝野霊園)
Day 8.3 SEAFOOD, CANAL, & HISTORY, Otaru (小樽)
Day 8.4 RAINY NIGHT IN OTARU, Otaru (小樽)

Day 9 – Yochi & Sapporo
Day 9.1 NIKKA YOICHI DISTILLERY (余市蒸溜所), Yoichi (余市)
Day 9.2 SOUP CURRY NIGHT

Day 10 – Sapporo
10.1 OKKAIDO SHRINE (北海道神宮 )
10.2 MORIHICO COFFEE (森彦珈琲本店)
10.3 KITAKARO SAPPORO HONKAN (北菓楼札幌本館)
10.4 SATURDAYS CHOCOLATE
10.5 GOTSUBO OYSTER BAR(五坪)
10.6 MOUNT MOIWA (藻岩山) & RAMEN HARUKA (ラーメン悠)

Day 11 – Sapporo
11.1 FORMER HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENT OFFICE (北海道庁旧本庁舎)
11.2 RED STAR & GENGKIS KHAN, Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール株式会社)


HOKKAIDO ROAD TRIP, Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, June 15-25, 2019

Tsuyu (梅雨), the rain season, begins to hit Okinawa in May and gradually makes its way north to the rest of Japan until the end of June.  During the wet season, rainy and cloudy weather affects the entire country except Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island north of the main Honshu Island.  The seismic active island is 3.6% smaller than Ireland, with a climate significantly cooler than the rest of Japan.  Seeking for a pleasant getaway from Hong Kong’s humid and hot summer, we picked Hokkaido as the destination for our 11-day vacation from 15th to 25th of June.  Traveling in the remote national parks and rural countryside of Hokkaido, hiring a car was a necessity.  The Hokkaido journey was our first road trip in Japan.

Known as Japan’s last true wilderness, Shiretoko National Park (知床国立公園) is the natural haven where Brown Bears and Blakiston Fish Owls ruled the primeval forests and Orcas, Minke and Sperm Whales roamed the waters of Nemuro Strait.  With fantastic natural scenery, wildlife and seafood to offer, this easternmost part of Hokkaido topped our priority list in the travel itinerary.  Next in the journey took us to the spectacular volcanoes of Akan Mashu National Park (阿寒摩周国立公園), where we came close to Japan’s clearest water at caldera Lake Mashu (摩周湖) and the fantastic onsen and fly fishing hot spot of Lake Akan (阿寒湖).  While the lavender fields of Furano (富良野) and Biei (美瑛) had yet reached the peak bloom moment, the ultra fertile soil below the Tokachi Volcanic Group (十勝火山群) treated us with some of the best bread, corn, potatoes, asparagus, melons and milk that we ever had in our lives.  Despite far away from Tokyo and Osaka, the architectural magic of Tadao Ando (安藤忠雄) in Hokkaido satisfied our thirst of contemporary design and aesthetics.  Back in Obihiro (帯広), Otaru (小樽) and Sapporo (札幌), historic traces of early pioneers and contemporary dessert shops and local eateries brought us back to delightful charm of urban Japan.  What’s more?  Day after day of mouthwatering seafood, fresh produces, good coffee, and lovely patisseries reminded us how wonderful our world could be, when the water is clean, soil is rich, forests are healthy and people are friendly.  Thank you Hokkaido.  You have truly touched our hearts.

maps 2Located north of Honshu Island, Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan.

maps 1Flying in from Tokyo Haneda, our Hokkaido journey began from Memanbetsu (女満別空港) near the Shiretoko Peninsula.  After more than 1,181km of driving, we arrived at Otaru and Sapporo at the western side of the island.

DSC_4258This black hatchback hybrid Toyota Prius c (Toyota Aqua in Japan) provided us the means of transport from east to west across Hokkaido.

DSC_4490After 2 days of rain and wind, we finally had a glimpse of the active volcano of Mount Rausu (羅臼岳), the tallest peak in Shiretoko Peninsula.

DSC_5154The greatest experience we took away from Shiretoko was the close encounter with a pod of orcas in the Nemuro Strait.

DSC_5307The Mashu Lake (摩周湖) offered us a peaceful sunrise at 3:30am.

DSC_5666Under the shadow of Mount Oakan (雄阿寒岳), dozens of fly fishermen stepped into the crystal water of Lake Akan (阿寒湖) to test their luck.

DSC_5751Farms and greenhouses were washed with heavy rain as we entered into Furano (富良野).

DSC_5893Still at least half a month to go before the peak season of lavender blossom, visitors were enjoying themselves at a relatively less crowded Farm Tomita in Nakafurano.

DSC_6040Compared with rainbow flower fields, we loved the wheat fields at Biei the most.

DSC_6183Tadao Ando’s Chapel on the Water has been famous in the designer’s world since the 1980s.

DSC_6282The Hill of Buddha is the latest addition in Hokkaido by Tadao Ando.

DSC_6466At Yoichi Distillery (余市蒸溜所), whiskey has been produced since 1934.

DSC_6538Saturdays Chocolate in Sapporo is one of the many excellent local eateries and cafes that we visited in the journey.

IMG_9267Last but not least, Hokkaido offered us the best seafood and dessert that we ever had as far as we could remember.  Let’s begin to tell the story of our journey!

 

* * *

Introduction
HOKKAIDO ROAD TRIP, Hokkaido (北海道)

Day 1 – from Tokyo to Shiretoko Peninsula
Day 1.1 TSUKIJI OUTER MARKET (築地場外市場)
Day 1.2 ARRIVAL IN SHIRETOKO, Utoro (ウトロ)

Day 2 – Utoro
Day 2.1 SHIRETOKO FIVE LAKES (知床五湖)
Day 2.2 UTORO FISHERMAN’S WIVES CO-OPERATIVE DINER (ウトロ漁協婦人部食堂)
Day 2.3 FUREPE FALLS (フレペの滝)

Day 3 – Rausu
Day 3.1 RUSA FIELD HOUSE (ルサフィールドハウス)
Day 3.2 JUN NO BANYA (純の番屋)

Day 4 – Rausu
Day 4.1 MOUNT RAUSU (羅臼岳)
Day 4.2 FANTASTIC ORCAS, Nemuro Strait (根室海峡)

Day 5 – Lake Mashu & Lake Akan
Day 5.1 SUNRISE AT LAKE MASHU (摩周湖)
Day 5.2 MOUNT MASHU TRAIL (摩周岳) , Teshikaga (弟子屈)
Day 5.3 SILENT NIGHT AT LAKE AKAN (阿寒湖)

Day 6 – On the road from Lake Akan to Furano
Day 6.1 FISHERMEN BELOW MISTY OAKAN (雄阿寒岳), Lake Akan (阿寒湖)
Day 6.2 TREATS OF OBIHIRO (帯広), Tokachi (十勝)
Day 6.3 ARRIVING IN FURANO (富良野)

Day 7 Furano & Biei
Day 7.1 LAVENDER BUDS, Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.2 FARM TOMITA (ファーム富田), Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.3 BI.BLE, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.4 PATCHWORK ROAD & PANORAMA ROAD, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.5 NINGLE TERRACE (ニングルテラス)

Day 8 – from Furano to Otaru
Day 8.1 CHURCH ON THE WATER (水の教会), Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム)
Day 8.2 HILL OF THE BUDDHA (頭大仏), Makomanai Takino Cemetery (真駒内滝野霊園)
Day 8.3 SEAFOOD, CANAL, & HISTORY, Otaru (小樽)
Day 8.4 RAINY NIGHT IN OTARU, Otaru (小樽)

Day 9 – Yochi & Sapporo
Day 9.1 NIKKA YOICHI DISTILLERY (余市蒸溜所), Yoichi (余市)
Day 9.2 SOUP CURRY NIGHT

Day 10 – Sapporo
10.1 OKKAIDO SHRINE (北海道神宮 )
10.2 MORIHICO COFFEE (森彦珈琲本店)
10.3 KITAKARO SAPPORO HONKAN (北菓楼札幌本館)
10.4 SATURDAYS CHOCOLATE
10.5 GOTSUBO OYSTER BAR(五坪)
10.6 MOUNT MOIWA (藻岩山) & RAMEN HARUKA (ラーメン悠)

Day 11 – Sapporo
11.1 FORMER HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENT OFFICE (北海道庁旧本庁舎)
11.2 RED STAR & GENGKIS KHAN, Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール株式会社)


DAY 1 (5/6): ST MARY’S CATHEDRAL (東京カテドラル聖マリア大聖堂), Tokyo, Japan, 2017.06.14

After Ueno Park, we still have time to visit another place before our 18:30 dinner reservation back in Shibuya.  West from Ueno, we took the metro to the residential neighborhood of Sekiguchi in Bunkyo District.  We stepped into the peaceful residential streets of Sekiguchi, and used Google Map to find our way to St. Mary’s Cathedral, the seat of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo.  Apart from its religious significance, the cathedral building is also a masterpiece of modernist architecture designed by renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange (丹下健三).  The cathedral was completed in 1964, about the same time as Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi National Gymnasium for the 1964 Olympics.

01The peaceful residential streets of Sekiguchi led us toward’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACladded with stainless steel, Kenzo Tange’s St. Mary’s Cathedral replaces its Gothic and wooden predecessor that was destroyed during the Second World War.

03Kenzo Tange’s version of the cathedral was much simpler than a traditional Gothic church.  The essence of the building is expressed through the combination of geometry, lines, shades, and reflections.

04On a plan in the form of a cross, Kenzo Tange extruded eight hyperbolic parabolas upwards to form this unique piece of architecture.

05When seen from above, the cathedral and its skylights would appear exactly in the shape of the cross.

06Reaching 61.68m, the bell tower is separated from the main church building.

07The interior of St. Mary’s Cathedral should be a huge surprise for any first time visitors.  The concrete structural shell is fully exposed, providing a minimalist interior where light and shades play the role to create a spiritual atmosphere.

08Benches inside St. Mary’s Cathedral face toward the main altar, behind which stands the tall window extending all the way to the ceiling, then runs across the ceiling to the opposite end of the building.

09The spiral stair behind the seating is a neat feature that goes up the largest organ in Japan.

11The large organ was manufactured by Italian company Mascioni.  We were lucky to experience its beautiful sound when staff were practicing the organ when we were there.

12After a fantastic architectural treat at St. Mary’s Cathedral, we made a short walk in the neighborhood to Zoshigaya Metro Station (雑司が谷駅) for the Fukutoshin Metro back to Shibuya.

13On our way, we passed through the peaceful residential neighborhood of Mejirodai (目白台).

14The afternoon sunlight of the early summer day was brilliant.  The half-hour walk was pleasant and we hardly saw other tourists along the way.