— Snapitude

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Recently, I met someone who is living in my village for a little while and was asking about things to do in the area. So of course, hitting up Ushiku to see the large Buddha statue came up in conversation, and I got to thinking about how awe-struck I was by its size. And then I remembered that I got to see it in truly perfect weather conditions.

The standing Buddha statue in Ushiku is 120 meters tall and, for a time, was the tallest Buddha statue in the world. Visitors can enter the statue and take an elevator up to an observation deck located at chest-level, where you can get a view in four directions (through his shoulders, chest, and back).

Besides the statue and its museum inside, you can enjoy the gardens on its grounds as well as a small animal park with many friendly critters to pet and/or feed.

The Ushiku Daibutsu is not too far from Tokyo, and if the day is nice, I recommend taking a morning out to go visit.

note: images in this post are click-able for en-biggening.

 

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Whenever traveling, one gets used to looking up and around, taking in the architecture and other scenery. But while traveling in Japan, it’s a good thing to look down every now and again. One of the things I love about traveling throughout this country is checking out all the neato designs on manhole lids and other such caps and plates as I walk around. Below is a gallery of some choice designs I’ve seen in the past year, either in the area I live in or while out on vacation.

All of these are quickie cell phone shots, taken with my trusty iPhone 4S. Click on any thumbnail to enbiggen.

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Visiting Alcatraz last year was a treat. My brother and I got to the island on the first boat that morning, so a Park Ranger offered to take some of us early birds on a walking back tour around the island. We, of course, totally went along for the stroll and got to see parts of the facility that are normally off-limits to visitors while hearing some fantastic commentary from the Ranger. After the guided tour was over, we went and rented the headsets and did the regular tour that any visitor can take. Originally, we had planned to make short work of Alcatraz and zoom through the self-tour then leave to see more of San Francisco, but spending the extra time there was worth it.

Here are some of my shots. For full resolution, click on the shoddy thumbnails!

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One of the first festivals I attended while in Japan was in Daigo, which is a nice, small town in Ibaraki with a scenic waterfall hiking route. I didn’t go hiking on this day, but I attended their festival with some friends. Each team at this event represented one of the streets in that district. They constructed a shrine, put it on wheels, and put a taiko routine together. They would then roll around town (propelled by humans at the front and back) and scout for other teams. When two teams would meet head-to-head, they’d have a huge drum-off, and then part ways.

It was pretty rad, and this festival had an amazing energy to it. It took the townspeople a long time to put the money together to buy all the festival goodies, plus build the shrines and rehearse the drummers and folks on flutes. It had this intimate feeling to it that you simply don’t get in the bigger cities. Everyone was having a blast, and everyone was invited to get involved by helping with the cart-pulling. Below is a small selection of the photos I took that day. As usual, be sure to click on them individually for full resolution, because the thumbs look awful.

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Visiting the Grand Canyon has been one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. I didn’t take a helicopter over it, or really spend more than a few hours inside, but I still had a terrific time seeing it. The Grand Canyon is difficult to photograph because of how incredibly huge it is. It depends on the light and the weather, of course, but you’ll see in my photos that there are just so many details, so many colors, and so many layers to capture, and a conventional photograph just doesn’t do it justice.

We experienced ideal weather for landscape shooting and I picked out a sample of my better shots to show you. As usual, the thumbnails look awful and you need to click on each image to see it in full resolution.

As a side note, if you’ve been following along, I listed this location as one of the top spots I wanted to visit in 2012, and I made it. This trip was taken in November 2012.

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One of the things that I wanted to try during my time in Japan, at least once, was hitting up a cat cafe. For those unfamiliar, the way these work is you go in and you can have a cup of coffee or a snack, but what you really make the trip for is to reserve some time to play with the store’s cats. The one I’ve been to had varying rates depending on how much time you want to be in their playroom, and lots of pictures all around the cafe side through which you could identify the various in-house cats.

One problem I ran into when I came to this particular cafe was a limited number of people were allowed in the playroom at one time, resulting in a wait for my group. Another was we apparently didn’t show up at an optimal time, because the cats were mostly trying to sleep while we were there. We had been hoping they’d be more active and playful, but I think they tired us out more as we attempted to rouse them.

Even so, I managed to get a few decent shots in here and there. Please enjoy the gallery below! As usual, you’ll need to click on the thumbnails for the proper, uncropped image in its full resolution. I also ask that if you want to use any of these images, they are registered copyright to me and can be used with credit and permission. I don’t use watermarks because I feel that they get in the way of the images.

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Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of viewing the shy cherry blossoms in Tokyo for the first time ever. I went to Yoyogi Park and enjoyed the nice day; perfect picnic weather, and clear blue skies. The images below were taken in March 2013, and as with previous galleries, please note that the thumbnails are awful previews – do click on the images to see them clearly and in their entirety as they’re cropped here.

These flowers only bloom for a short time each year, so it’s a real treat to be able to enjoy them like this.

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Last week, I posted up some pictures from my trip to the Grand Teton National Park. This week we’re hopping on over to Yosemite, another beautiful place to visit. We went there in November, on the same trip as our visit to Grand Teton, actually, so there was a bit of snow lying on the ground (though it wasn’t too, too cold). We enjoyed a beautiful, clear day and I got a few fab shots.

This technically wasn’t my first trip to Yosemite, but the last time I had been there I was too little to remember. It’s pretty neat, and I’d like to go again sometime during the spring or summer seasons.

For the best experience, click on these photos individually, because the thumbnails really don’t do them justice! For some reason, they look super blurry in the small previews. Yay, WordPress!

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Earlier today I was thinking back on the big road trip I took with my brother last year, and decided I should share some pictures. One of our stops was the Grand Tetons, and since it was November, things were pretty frosty over there. It’s off-season then, so there were hardly any other people around, which made it great for a drive. We also saw some bison and moose, the latter of which was a first for me.

The weather changed a bit throughout the day – it started super nice and clear, and by the late afternoon, it got cloudy and even rained a bit. Check out a few choice shots of our day exploring the park.

Please do click through to see the images – these thumbnails degrade them horribly!

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I recently reviewed this lovely figure for Tomopop and was pleased with the results. The images here appeared on that review, I just wanted to share them sans watermarks and resolution restrictions.

I’m a fan of the character and I also like the Beach Queens line, despite the lame base they all share and sometimes lame poses. They’re not too expensive, and some of them are surprisingly attractive. I’m disappointed that Yozora is out of character here, but I still enjoyed what was done with what Wave decided to work with. You can click to enlarge any thumbnail below.

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