Friday, March 31, 2017

Tokyo Sky Tree

The Tokyo Sky Tree is the world's tallest communication tower  It took 4 years to construct and tops out at 623 m (2080 feet) to the top of the spire.  By comparison, the CN Tower in Toronto is a mere 596 metres (1954 feet) in height.  There are 2 observation platforms; one at 350 metres and the other at 450 metres.  It is a spectacular structure and the ascent to the observation decks is lightening fast and remarkably smooth.  Tokyo is prone to earthquakes and the tower has successfully endured many.

Wikipedia reports: "The tower has seismic proofing, including a central shaft made of reinforced concrete. The main internal pillar is attached to the outer tower structure for the first 125 meters (410 ft) above ground. From there until 375 meters (1,230 ft) the pillar is attached to the tower frame with oil dampers, which act as cushions during an earthquake. Additional resilience is achieved through an "added mass control mechanism" (or tuned mass damper) - a damping system which, in the event of an earthquake, moves out of step with the building's structure, to keep the center of gravity as central as possible to the tower's base.[15] According to the designers, the dampers can absorb 50 percent of the energy from an earthquake.

...all that and looking elegant at the same time.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Gardening in Japan

Several years ago I watched mesmerized as a Japanese gardener pruned a tree at the Kurimoto Japanese Gardens at the Devonian Botanical Gardens near Edmonton.  What struck me was how he worked from one side of the tree to the other with methodical precision and how ruthless he was with his technique.  Amateur gardeners - like me - tend to spend a lot of time pondering and considering each cut with trepidation and we usually stop short of completing the job.  In Tokyo I observed the results of the precise and relentless method of tree care.  In this photo taken in the imperial palace gardens an enormous, perfectly shaped and meticulously cared for tree stands in an open area while in the distance smaller trees are staked with surgical precision awaiting the day when they too tower over this expanse of public parkland.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Eating Out in Japan

We ate very well during our short time in Japan; from the fanciest restaurants, department store noodle bars and everything in between it was clear that Japanese cooks and chefs know what they're doing.  Food was never far away it seemed.  These small pieces of fish were available outside a small tea shop and were complimentary; just grab some chop sticks and get on with it.  The weather was cool and the smoked fish and a small cup of tea was just the thing.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace gardens in Tokyo is everything you'd expect it to be, immaculate, tranquil and timeless.  It is not as old as you might think but it's history is crammed with stories of the Shogun and other iconic historic references.

It's size and location in the heart of Tokyo are such that at one time experts considered the land value of the Imperial Palace site to be greater than the value of all real estate in the state of California.  In this photo a security guard passes by one of the many structures on the palace grounds.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Quiet Time in Tokyo

Despite the congestion and crowds in central Tokyo there are places to decompress and relax.  The gardens at the Imperial Palace for instance are the perfect place for a picnic or a little nap