However, with so many other countries to explore and new experiences awaiting, it didn't make sense for me to revisit the same city too soon. And there would always be new cities that caught my eyes and arrested my heart along the way to fill my travel plans. Hence, it was only until fourteen years later that I made a trip back to the Land of the Rising Sun.
In 2005, the World Expo Aichi had triggered my return to this beautiful nation of beautiful people. Having been to the World Expo 2000 held in Hannover, Germany on two trips (for photography assignments), I was aware of the physical demands in visiting this extraordinary 5-yearly event. Typically, one would take three days to a week of extensive walking to cover the Expo ground and to visit most of the participating countries' pavilions.
With that in mind, we decided to be humble with our itinerary and realistic with our physical abilities, and had remained in Nagoya for the entire short trip. The 9-day trip was halved for visiting Morizo and Kiccoro on the sprawling 173 hectares of exhibition ground. The remaining time was spent on exploring the capital of Aichi, where several famous shrines and temples were worth a visit.
It was a short but memorable trip. And of course, most memorable to rekindle with my love for this beautiful country some fourteen years after.
|Locals at the train station.
|Roof detail at the Nagoya Castle.
|The Nagoya Castle.
|Guess which station.
|Worshippers at Osu Kannon Temple. Praying to the wooden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
|Prayer requests, all prepared.
|No ballpoint or fountain. Brushes for writing your name on the prayer sticks.
|Not sure what the characters mean, but simply beautiful.
|Residents at Osu Kannon Temple.
|A row of torii inside the Fuji Sengen Shrine. The torii is a traditional Japanese gate found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine. It symbolises the transition from the profane to the sacred as one walks into the shrine.
|A solemn and prayerful Japanese at the Fuji Sengen Shrine.
|The beautiful Atsuta Shrine. Founded in year 113, it is the second most important shrine in Japan and houses the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi, one of the three sacred national treasures of Japan.
|The art of construction and engineering, the ingenuity of design and expression.
|A purification ritual. Every Shinto shrine provides water for washing the hands and rinsing the mouth before entering.
|Classic Japan rail travel.
|Leaving the platform together.
|The JAMA Wonder Wheel at the World Expo. Visitors travel through a series of visual displays indoors before exiting to the exterior, to be met with a panoramic view of the entire Expo site.
|Installation art at the Expo site.
|Art and construction - a bamboo overhead structure.
|Pavilion of the Japan Gas Association at the Expo.
|Not just a pile of waste wood. On closer look, one could appreciate the art of traditional Japanese construction.
|Seldom do I buy travel souvenirs. But I just couldn't resist walking into this shop and brought a pair home.
|Torii paving the way into the Fuji Sengen Shrine.
|Streets in Nagoya.
|Morizo and Kiccoro, the mascots of the World Expo 2005. They are everywhere in the city.
|David and Goliath.
|Ad placement. Do you see any similarity?
|Nice car, nice colour.
|Simulated rainfall through the "Urban Nature" section of the Singapore Pavilion at the Expo.
|The colourful celosia (lattice) at the Spanish Pavilion - a typical element of traditional Spanish architecture. The ceramic hexagons were made from Spanish clay shipped to Nagoya.
|The Global Loop - a 2.6 km long barrier free connector around the Expo site.
|Corporate Pavilions at the Expo.
|One of the reasons that make any trip to Japan interesting and entertaining.
Facts and Figures:
- Date: May 2005
- Accommodation: Toyoko Inn Nagoya (5 minutes walk to JR Nagoya Station) http://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00094/index.html
- Equipment: Fujifilm Finepix S3 Pro, Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6, Nikon AFS 18-200mm f3.5-5.6.