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The Oriental Caravan's 

Postcard from the Land of the Samurai...

click on any image to see it enlarged

For details of 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North', October 2004... click here

NEW ONLINE!!! - A Caravan across the Acacus. For details of 
The Oriental Caravan's
Xmas 2004/5 expedition to Libya... click here

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Autumn 2003

Dear All,

OK, so this one was delayed in 
the e-post! Nevertheless our 
'Tohoku - the Narrow Road to the Deep North' really was such a great trip this time... 

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Festival participant at Nikko displays his striking samurai  headgear Picnicking amid the ruins of Betsu-in temple on our way up to Haguro San mountain - Matsuo Basho once spent the night in this temple.
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The beginnings of a vegetarian feast at our temple lodgings on Haguro San. Zen garden contemplation 

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Water reflections Haguro San A crowd of stone Buddhas awaiting entry to paradise on Yamadera mountain

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Shadows of Shinto Memorial markers on Haguro San

that we felt we had to get the photos to you one way or another - even if we had to bring the postcard home with us!

Autumn is a great time to visit Japan, if nothing else, because this is when some of its most colourful festivals take place.

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Horseback official - Toshogu Autumn Festival (Nikko) Dragon display - Toshogu Autumn Festival (Nikko)

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Comic chindonya peforming in the Shitomachi district of Tokyo Samurai hilts - Toshogu Autumn Festival (Nikko)

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Protective deity at Osore San Temple at Tsuruoka housing a mummified mira monk
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Hats, Haguro San  Officials - Toshogu Autumn Festival (Nikko) 
In Japan's heavily forested countryside nature has her festival  too in a carnival of colour displaying the changing autumnal leaves.
Matsuo Basho is Japan's most famous poet. Renowned as the greatest haiku master his classic travelogue 'The Narrow Road to the deep North' was the inspiration for our journey through Tohoku. 
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Rain-kissed veranda of the Hama Rikyu Garden teahouse, Tokyo Cherry bark public telephone, Kakunodate - after being made redundant as warriors after the Meiji restoration, many samurai in Kakunodate took up making handicrafts from cherry bark
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Shopfront in Kakunodate Interior of the Tokyo International forum
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Acclaimed artist Roy Wood at work on Haguro San

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A cat

A person (click on image)

As well as Yamadera, Nikko, Hiraizumi and Haguro Mountain, all famous stopovers on Basho's sixty day tramp, The Oriental Caravan pushed even further north to visit some of Japan's remotest locations.


On the Shimokita peninsula, almost as far north as it is possible to travel on Honshu Island, we were rare but welcome visitors to the semi-mythical Osore San mountain.

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Japanese photographer shooting Maple leaves on Osore san The eerie sulphurous landscape of Osore San where the spirits of the dead are thought to linger before making their final journey to Buddhist paradise
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Meiji architecture in Tsuruoka  Itako, 'blind witches', at Osore San act as mediums between then living and the dear departed
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Yurakucho in Tokyo Lanterns in Kodenmacho, Tokyo
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Ringo Starr? Taking a rest at Chuson-ji in Hiraizumi
As well as attending the Yabusame and Toshogu Festivals in Nikko we took a relaxing cruise around the beautiful pine-clad islets of Matsushima Bay, and also explored some of the more atmospheric backstreets of Tokyo.
At the end of our trip in Tokyo we were witness to another great festival right outside our hotel. The Bettara no Ichi 'radish' festival is held in honour of the fishing god Ebisu... 
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Local tourists pose for a group photo Student ninjas at the radish festival
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Radish salesman offering his wares to a passing Tokyo citizen Dakigaeri Gorge near Kakunodate
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Edward Wood Radish aficionado holds aloft a prize white radish specimen
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A shadowed stele on Haguro San Japan Railways public information poster warning against the dangers of being drunk on a platform - note the sake bottle head of the businessman and the omiyagi gift intended as a sop for his spouse!
and is accompanied by the enthusiastic celebration of 'daikon'
 - pickled white radishes.
The remarkable thing about visiting the North of Japan is it still feels, from a traveller's point of view, like the last unspoilt place in Asia. All in all a great trip... and the Chief Caravaneer's favourite! 
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Shrine carrying, particularly down a flight of steps, is by no means an easy matter - it involves  perfect coordination of movement by the group and months of practice. Our ryokan accommodation in Nikko
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Skilled horsemen re-enact the feats of Samurai archers at the Yabusame Festival in Nikko Ryokan accommodation, Akita
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Dusk over Tokyo Downtown Ginza, Tokyo
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Sunset on the Land of the Rising Sun Laughing chindonya 
That's about it for the moment. 
The Oriental Caravan
is about to head back to Japan very soon for more adventures in this unstintingly fascinating land. See you there!

With best wishes from,


and all aboard The Oriental Caravan


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             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links