Tag Archives: travel

Japan – Mount Fuji – carp streamer

Mount Fuji – carp streamer

Putting up koinobori, or streamers in the shape of carp, is a spring tradition in Japan. Colorful cloth carps flying against the blue sky can be seen across Japan from the end of April until May 5, Children’s Day.

The tradition is said to have begun in the Edo period (1603-1868) based on a Chinese legend about a strong, brave carp swimming upstream and becoming a dragon. Along with the Momo no Sekku (Peach Festival) for girls, which was celebrated on March 3 in the old lunar calendar, the Tango no Sekku (Tango Festival) for boys was celebrated on May 5. This festival is now known as Children’s Day. By putting up carp-shaped streamers made of cloth and other material in their gardens, families announced the birth of a boy and wished for his healthy growth.

Koinobori have gradually changed over time. Originally made only in black, other colors like red and blue were added, and baby carps are now flown with the larger ones to symbolize the family. Today koinobori are a colorful sight, with wind wheels at the top of the pole and a five-colored streamer above the carps.

There is a famous Japanese children’s song about koinobori flying higher than the roof. Nowadays cities are full of multistory apartment buildings, and the sight described in the song has become less common. But the streamers can still be seen all over Japan, as smaller ones are available for apartment balconies.

New Zealand – Lake Tekapo

Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo

In the centre of the South Island of New Zealand lies Lake Tekapo. This highland lake and settlement at 710 meters (2300 feet) is in the heart of the Mackenzie District and surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock grass. The name Tekapo derives from Maori words Taka (sleeping mat) and Po (night).

Situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo is the Church of the Good Shepherd, which, in 1935, was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin. The church at Burkes Pass, St Patrick’s built in 1872 was the first church built by pioneers as a joint community effort, by Anglicans Presbyterian and Catholic settlers. Also a joint venture between Presbyterians and Anglicans, St Columba in Fairlie was built in 1879. The church at Lake Tekapo was designed by Christchurch architect R.S.D. Harman, based on sketches by a local artist, Esther Hope. The church is arguably one of the most photographed in New Zealand, and features an altar window that frames stunning views of the lake and mountains.

Ireland – Dunquin

Dún Chaoin (anglicized as Dunquin), meaning “Caon’s stronghold”, is a Gaeltacht village in west County Kerry, Ireland. Dunquin lies at the Western tip of the Dingle Peninsula, overlooking the Blasket Islands.

There is breath-taking cliff scenery, with a view of the Blasket Islands, where Peig Sayers lived. A museum in the village tells the story of the Blaskets and the well-known writers of the island, including Sayers, Tomás Ó Criomhthain, and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. In 1588, when the Spanish Armada returned via Ireland many ships sought shelter in the Blasket Sound — the area between Dunquin and the Islands — and some were wrecked there. A memorial stands on the cliffs overlooking the site.

India – UNESCO – Hampi

The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.

The city of Hampi bears exceptional testimony to the vanished civilization of the kingdom of Vijayanagar, which reached its apogee under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-30). It offers an outstanding example of a type of structure that illustrates a significant historical situation: that of the kingdoms of South India which, menaced by the Muslims, were occasionally allied with the Portuguese of Goa.

The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.

As the final capital of the last of the great kingdom of South India, that of the Vijayanagar, Hampi, enriched by the cotton and the spice trade was one of the most beautiful cities of the medieval world. Its palaces and Dravidian temples were much admired by travellers, be they Arab (Abdul Razaak), Portuguese (Domingo Paes) or Italian (Nicolò dei Conti).

Conquered by the Muslims after the battle of Talikota in 1565, it was plundered over six months and then abandoned. Imposing monumental vestiges, partially disengaged and reclaimed, make of Hampi today one of the most striking ruins of the world.

The temples of Ramachandra (1513) and Hazara Rama (1520), with their sophisticated structure, where each supporting element is scanned by bundles of pilasters or colonnettes which project from the richly sculpted walls, may be counted among the most extraordinary constructions of India. In one of the interior courtyards of the temple of Vitthala, a small monument of a chariot which two elephants, sculpted in the round, struggle to drag along is one of the unusual creations, the favourite of tourists today as well as travellers of the past.

Besides the temples, the impressive complex of civil, princely or public buildings (elephant stables, Queen’s Bath, Lotus Mahal, bazaars, markets) are enclosed in the massive fortifications which, however, were unable to repulse the assault of the five sultans of Deccan in 1565.

(www.whc.unesco.org)

China – UNESCO – Mpunt Song

Mount Song, known in Chinese as Song Shan, is one of the Five Great Mountains and is located in Henan province on the south bank of the Yellow River in China. Its summit is 1,500 meters above sea level.

The mountain is one of the sacred Taoist mountains of China, and contains important Taoist temples such as the Zhongyue Temple; however the mountain also features a significant Buddhist presence. It is home to the Shaolin Temple, traditionally considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, and the temple’s collection of pagoda forest is the largest in China. The Zhongyue Temple is also located here, one of the earliest Taoist temples in the country. The Songyang Academy nearby was one of the four great academies of ancient China. The mountain and its vicinity are populated with Taoist and especially Buddhist monasteries. The 6th century Songyue Pagoda is also located here, as well as Tang Dynasty (618–907) pagodas within the Fawang Temple. Eight locations at the foot of the mountain in Dengfeng have been a World Heritage Site since 2010.