Best Street Eats in Saigon
Travel-Asia-Best-Eats-Saigon

Delicous Meal from one of the Best Street Eats in Saigon

Photo credit: Paro Nguyen / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Chicken Vendor Truong Dinh
A lunch vendor in District 3 in Ho Chi Minh City, specialises in a dish that is described as crack fried chicken. Located on the corner of Truong Dinh and Vo Van Tan, mama Lang runs a tight ship with her daughter Thao. It’s a typical streetside affair. Everything is set up with a couple of large metal tables as their ad hoc cafeteria, complete with no fewer than ten different dishes on offer. At least six dishes are on rotation, depending on what is fresh at the market, but what doesn’t change is a couple of pork dishes, thit kho tau or braised pork in a caramel sauce, and suon ram, or pork ribs in a caramel sauce, as well as two very tasty chicken dishes.

The ga ran or fried chicken is the business. While the chicken is moist and tender, it’s the glaze that puts it over the top. The crisp fried chicken skin holds a mixture of fish sauce with a heavy dose of garlic, chilli and brown sugar, addictive in its combination of sweet, spicy and umami. The other chicken dish, ragu ga, sees a wealth of chicken on the bone, potatoes, carrots and herbs swimming in the punchy tomato and annato infused broth.

The stall gets really busy for lunch because of the proximity of several offices and one TOEFL center located just around the corner.

Sui Cao Viet Nuong
A good place to go for sui cao is in District 5 on busy Tran Hung Dao. it’s a no-frills hole-in-the-wall that dishes out some seriously good dumplings. The English menu is also a plus, as most restaurants in District 5 are strictly Vietnamese or Chinese affairs.

Sui cao refers to anything that is wrapped in rice flour dough. There can be a bit of confusion regarding sui cao and hoanh thanh as both are filled with meat and covered in dough. Hoanh thanh is wrapped in an egg flour dough akin to a pasta while sui cao is wrapped in a dough of rice flour. Sui cao is prepared in a number of ways: boiled, steamed, deep fried or potsticker style and is usually stuffed with minced pork and chives.

Goi du du bo kho
While there is an abundance of noodle dishes, soups and grilled items on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, salads seem underrepresented and are only found in restaurants. One vendor in District 1 bucks that trend and makes one of the best goi du du bo kho that can be found in town.

The unassuming cart is manned by a trio of sisters and while the setting looks kind of generic the salad they serve is certainly not. Like most vendors in the city, they take the base of the dish and add their own flair to it. And by the looks of the crowd of motorbikes that are usually parked next to their cart, they are doing something right.

This particular salad takes young unripe papaya julienned and this is the base upon which everything is built. Next is succulent bo kho or beef jerky. The meat has a glaze that is equally sweet, savoury and spicy, which paradoxically keeps the meat moist while it is being dried out. Aromatic herbs such as Thai basil and rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) are added along with rice croutons and roasted peanuts. Everything is dressed with a spicy chilli sauce and a slightly sweet, tart dressing made from fish sauce, lime and a bit of soy. The tart dressing melds with the smoky flavour of the bo kho while the peanuts bring a certain earthiness to the salad. The deep-fried croutons add some crunch to round out the dish. Those averse to spicy food should ask for “khong ot” or no chilli as this stall tends to douse the salad with the stuff.

94 Quan Thuy
This restaurant is located on 84 Dinh Tien Hoang and they are famous for their crab, which they offer in a variety of styles. It is a favourite spot for those looking to feast on shellfish. Their most popular dishes include cha goi cua, a fried crab spring roll, and mien xao cua, glass noodles sauteed with crabmeat. They also serve just plain soft shell crab coated in your choice of sauce.

Banh Xeo 46A
This is the go-to spot for authentic street food. Tucked down a tight alley on the edge off Dinh Cong Trang in District 1, to the outside observer Banh Xeo 46a might not look like much, a mostly outdoor restaurant with red plastic stools and generic metal tables. The seating area is covered, and fan cooled, but it’s about as basic as you can get. The kitchen is also without walls, so you can see the chefs cooking on their large frying pans. The restaurant attracts large groups, often drinking and in high spirits, which when mixed with the constant stream of traffic flowing by your plastic stool can make for a uniquely Saigon atmosphere.

Banh Xeo 46a is one of the better-known street food restaurants in all of Saigon, so it’s quite the popular spot, with a steady stream of customers at all hours.

The specialty here is banh xeo, a fried, rice-flour crepe stuffed with savoury meat, generally pork and shrimp, a touch of diced onion, maybe some mung beans and a healthy dose of bean sprouts. A popular spot with the tourist crowd, portion sizes are quite generous compared to more local banh xeo carts.

Packing Tips and Packing Essentials

 

Why check a bag, ever, when I can fit what I need for up to a month in a single rollaboard and second small bag?

All of the packing essentials when heading to Asia with Travel Asia or other places in the world.

Photo credit: lyzadanger / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Many airlines have reduced baggage weight limits and charge for anything extra so it has become more important than ever to pack wisely, and to travel as lightly as possible when planning to travel.

Recently baggage comes in the latest fabrics and plastics which are much lighter, more durable and far easier to wheel or to carry than they’ve ever been. Many include good ideas for better packing, with separate compartments, expandable sides, strong zippers, easy-to-manoeuvre wheels and longer handles making it easier to pack for your exotic Asia tours.

Make a packing list and start your packing process days or even weeks ahead of your departure date; this gives you time to craft a complete list, plus purchase any additional items you might need for your all inclusive tours to Asia.

Check the climate of your destination, and choose your clothing accordingly. Pack a careful array of mix-and-match items that can all be worn with each other, in easy wash and drip-dry fabrics, that don’t need ironing.

Roll clothes instead of folding to take up less room and end up less creased. Stuff small items, like socks, into shoes, to make the most of space and, if you’re going away for a while and really do need a lot of clothes for all weathers, consider buying a compression bag, either an automatic one, or one that works off a vacuum cleaner, to suck out all the air before putting into a suitcase.

For your toiletries leave all heavy glass bottles at home. Decant your favourite shampoo, conditioner and any face and skin lotions into small plastic travel bottles and buy a sample size of toothpaste, and put all of them into a clear, resealable plastic pouch. Count out the number of pills or vitamins necessary for your time away, and put them into small empty plastic tubs.

It’s terribly important to keep your valuable and essential belongings in your carry-on bag, not in your checked luggage. Your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables should always be brought onto the plane with you. Split up your bank cards, cash, travellers’ cheques and credit cards as much as possible in different pockets, your bags and wallet. In case you do get robbed, at least you won’t be strapped for cash while on tour packages.

When you are packing things into a backpack, place the lighter items at the bottom and the heavier ones on top. Your bag will feel lighter this way as the pack rests on your lower back. It is also smart to place the things you use the most on top. Dirty clothes are perfect to pack at the bottom of a backpack.

It is always handy to have a few plastic bags around certain items, especially toiletries. Not only does it counter any leaking, the bags can also come in useful to keep dirty clothes in, as garbage bags or even as a makeshift umbrella. Ziplock or other airtight plastic bags are the best.

When you are flying somewhere and especially if you have a few stopovers, divide the clothes between different suitcases/backpacks/bags etc. If one persons luggage doesn’t arrive at the destination, they’ll still have clean clothes available.

Packing essentials for travel tours include:
Address list and list of important contacts or numbers
Backpack, suitcase, sports bag (something to pack everything in)
Paper or Notebook, pens, pencils
Passport (check validity!)
Tickets and itinerary (airline, train, bus, accommodation bookings, etc.)
First aid kit
ATM card, cash (local currency), money belt

Tokyo in a Day
Meiji Shrine Tokyo Japan

People gathered at the beautiful Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan

Photo credit: udono / Foter / CC BY-SA

Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Market is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of fish, meat, produce and flowers in Tokyo and is best known as one of the world’s largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.

The sight of the many kinds of fresh fish, other seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji Market a major tourist attraction for Japan tour packages. In fact, the increase in visitor numbers in recent years has become a problem to the course of business, as the aging market’s infrastructure was not anticipated to serve as a tourist spot. It is a favourite destination for jet-lagged tourists with predawn hours to fill. But the main reason for going at 5 a.m. is to catch the live tuna auctions whose opening hours are 3:30am – 6:00am; two sets of 60 people are allowed to watch the action; the first tour is allowed to watch the auction between 5:25am and 5:45am, the second tour is allowed to watch the auction between 5:50am and 6:10am.

Tsukiji Market consists of an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions take place, and an outer market where retail shops and restaurants cater to the public. Tourists on tours to Japan are encouraged to visit the outer market areas.

The Tsukiji Market is scheduled to move to a new site in Toyosu November 2016.

Japanese Sword Museum
The Japanese Sword Museum or Tōken hakubutsukan situated in Tokyo, is a small museum dedicated to the art of Japanese swordmaking. The museum is run by the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords and has a collection of more than 150 items, including swords (mainly katana), tosogu (mountings), yoroi (armor) as well as documents of metal working.

Since the introduction of sword-making techniques from the Asian Continent, Japanese swords have been improved throughout Japans long history of warfare. Not only were the swords considered traditional weapons but they were also sometimes regarded as an object of faith or a symbol of power. Usually, exhibitions such as the “Koto (old sword) and Shinto (new sword) Exhibition” are held and the works of famous swordsmiths from the Heian to Edo Periods (782-1867) are on display.

The Japanese Sword Museum is filled with both history and art. It houses swords, sword mountings, armour and other sword related items. The museum has swords created by famous craftsmen such as Nobuyoshi (Ryumon school), Kuniyuki (Rai School) and another Kuniyuki (from the Taima school). It also has swords created by Nobufusa (an, “Important Cultural Asset) and Sanekage (another important swordsmith, from ancient times).

Visitors on Japan tours can view about 1,500 historical documents and archives on swords that are kept in The Archives Room.

The museum is small, but filled with quality. As part of an all inclusive tour to Japan, you could walk through that museum in a very, very short time, but if you take your time, looking at each sword in detail, as you would a beautiful picture painted by one of the great masters of art, you could be there for hours.
In modern Japan the swords are regarded not as weapons but works of art and cultural assets. Japanese swords are said to reflect the sensibilities of Japanese aesthetics and the museum is charged with keeping the knowledge of sword making alive as the art is considered a part of Japanese culture.

Ryogoku Kokugikan
Ryōgoku Kokugikan, also known as Ryougoku Sumo Hall, is an indoor sporting arena located in the Yokoami neighborhood of Sumida, one of the 23 wards of Tokyo in Japan and is a venue for contests in Japan’s national sport of sumo. Three of the six official sumo tournaments that take place nationwide each year are held here, in January, May, and September.

The first permanent sumo hall was built in the Ryogoku area in 1909; the Kokugikan, is the fourth built in Tokyo and has been in use since 1985 an seats over 10,000 visitors. It also houses a museum about sumo and the venue is also used for other indoor events, such as boxing, pro wrestling, and music concerts. In past years, it has hosted the finals of the G1 Climax, an annual tournament held by New Japan Pro Wrestling.

The Ryogoku district is home to the sumo stadium, many sumo stables, chanko restaurants and other sumo related attractions for visitors on travel packages to Japan.

Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine, located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken to commemorate the emperor’s role in the Meiji Restoration. An iris garden in an area of Tokyo where Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken had been known to visit was chosen as the building’s location.

Constructed in 1915 the building of the shrine was a national project, mobilizing youth groups and other civic associations from throughout Japan, who contributed labor and funding. The original building was destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of World War II. The present iteration of the shrine was funded through a public fund raising effort and completed in October 1958.

The shrine itself is composed of two major areas: The Naien, the inner precinct is centered on the shrine buildings and includes a treasure museum that houses articles of the Emperor and Empress and The Gaien which is the outer precinct that includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery that houses a collection of 80 large murals illustrative of the events in the lives of the Emperor and his consort and also includes a variety of sports facilities, including the National Stadium, and the Meiji Memorial Hall (Meiji Kinenkan), which was originally used for governmental meetings, including discussions surrounding the drafting of the Meiji Constitution in the late 19th century. Today it is used for Shinto weddings as well as meeting rooms, rent and restaurants services.

Visitors to the shrine who are part of travel packages to Japan can take part in typical Shinto activities, such as making offerings at the main hall, buying charms and amulets or writing out one’s wish on an ema. The Meiji Shrine is one of the Japan’s most popular shrines. In the first days of the New Year, the shrine regularly welcomes more than three million visitors for the year’s first prayers (hatsumode), more than any other shrine or temple in the country.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a “daimyo”(feudal lord) of the Edo era. It was completed in 1906 and designated as a national garden after the Second World War and opened to the public. The garden blends three distinct styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era. It is now a park under the jurisdiction of the national Ministry of the Environment.

Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks and is located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station, with spacious lawns, meandering walking paths and tranquil scenery that provide a relaxing escape from the busy urban center around it. The garden is a favourite hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) spot, and large crowds, including visitors on Japan tour packages, can be present during cherry blossom season.

Shinjuku Gyoen is a nice place for fun tours to Japan visitors during autumn when the leaves change. There are many different types of trees that change colors around the park, however the maple trees are particularly beautiful and can be seen in large numbers around the Japanese garden and Momijiyama (maple mountain) on the park’s eastern side. The colors typically appear from mid November to mid December.

Top 5 Places to Visit it Shanghai

rickz / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Bund
The Bund or Waitan is a famous waterfront area in central Shanghai. The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai.

Some of the most famous and attractive sight for tours around China at the west side of the Bund are the 26 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance.

The main attractions on The Bund for China tours are the Group of sculptures: Light of Huangpu River, Sail, and Wind; the Chenyi Square with a stone statue of Chenyi, who was the first mayor of Shanghai; and the Sightseeing Tunnel which is the first underwater tunnel for foot passengers in China.

The Bund was once the financial center of the Far East. It is considered the city’s symbol since the 1920s. It is often referred to as “the museum of buildings”, as many different styles of European buildings can be found here including banks, hotels, exclusive clubs, press organizations and headquarters of international concerns. Now it is even more attractive as you can also see modern skyscrapers just opposite the Huangpu River. That gives you a strong contrast between modern life and the past.

Nanjing Road
Nanjing Road is the main shopping street of Shanghai, China, and is one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. It is also the world’s longest shopping district; around 5.5km long, and attracts over 1 million visitors daily.

Nanjing Road comprises two sections, Nanjing Road East and Nanjing Road West. East Nanjing Road is a dedicated commercial zone. In the east is the central section of the Bund and west of the Bund precinct was traditionally the hub of European-style restaurants and cafes, although in recent years these have become less of a feature as the demographics of visitors to Nanjing Road have shifted from affluent local residents to visitors from around the country. Close by is the Central Market, a century-old outdoor market today specialising in electronic components and digital media. Further west is the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall, the location of most of Shanghai’s oldest and largest department stores, as well as a variety of domestic retail outlets, and some traditional eateries with a long history that provides a unique China experience.

Today East Nanjing Road becomes the first choice for many fashion-seeking shoppers.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower
The Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower is a TV tower in Shanghai, China. Its location at the tip of Lujiazui in the Pudong district, by the side of Huangpu River, opposite of the Bund makes it a distinct landmark in Shanghai and a place for educational tours to China.

The Tower was designed by the Shanghai Modern Architectural Design Co. Ltd. Construction began in 1990 and the tower was completed in 1994. At 468 m (1,535 feet) high, it is one of the tallest structures in China, the highest in Asia and the third highest in the world. It is classified as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration in 2007.

The Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower is a multifunctional venue with sight-seeing, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, Shanghai History Museum, Cruise Dock and a theatre for cultural performances. It has already become one of the most symbolic venues and tourism resources in Shanghai and it is acclaimed as one of the ten best views in Shanghai for tours around China.

The tower includes 15 spheres of different sizes at different levels creating an artistic conception of “large and small pearls dropping onto a jade plate”. There is a revolving teahouse and a sightseeing platform in the TV tower, where the largest ball can accommodate 1600 people. Here visitors on guided tours to China can get a panoramic view of the Bund and Pudong New area. There are 6 elevators within the tower, five of which are installed in the three columns, including a double-decked one, and another one runs between the height of 250 meters and 341 meters. Two medium-sized elevators, accommodating 30 persons each and running at a speed of 7 meters per second, cover the distance from the bottom of the tower to the highest sphere in 40 seconds.

French Concession Region
The French Concession is the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, consisting of today’s Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Luwan’s Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is also home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for tourists on travel tours to China. Xuhui is also popular for tourists and is home to Shanghai Stadium.
After the Opium War of 1842, Shanghai had been opened up for foreign trade and it soon became home to several foreigners. The colonial French officers then created a district in 1849 for French people. The area expanded in 1900-1914, making it one of the most affluent and the best residential areas in the city. The early residents of the area were mostly French but the Chinese, Russia, American and British also lived in the area later. The area was ruled by French for around a century till 1943.

The French Concession area is called as the Paris of East due to its several Tudor mansions, tree lined avenues, wrought iron fences and stair railings that’s very reminiscent of neighborhoods in France.

Some of the highlights of the area for tour packages to China include Xinle Road and Changle Road, the best places for finding designer stores; The Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling, one of the main attractions which was built in the Xujiahui District where today the area has a small museum which is home to several artifacts related to Chinese politics leading up to the founding of PRC; Fuxing Park, a European style park which was earlier called the French Park and is very popular with the locals, with open spaces, gardens and dotted with clubs and restaurants, the park sees singing groups, tai chi artists, mahjong and card players and dancers in the mornings and visitors can walk along the Fuxing Road to see classical old Chinese-European buildings and enjoy the historical neatness of the road; The Cemetery of Longhua Martyrs, is more of a memorial garden and museum than a graveyard, but the acreage is beautiful and large.

Yuyuan Garden
Yuyuan Garden is a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was first established in Ming dynasty in 1577 by a mandarin named Pan yunduan who used to be the governor of Sichuan and later expanded greatly. The Yuyuan Garden was considered the best garden in southeast China. It enjoyed a history over 400 years since its first establishment by Pan yunduan who had intended to bring happiness and pleasure to his parents and relatives. Yuyuan Garden is a place of peace and comfort in the heart of bustling Shanghai.

It became the headquarters of the dagger association or small-sword group uprising (an uprising in 1853 led by the dagger association, a secret organization, against the foreign imperialists in Shanghai and Xiamen of Fujian province). Now a great number of weapons, home-made coins and announcements used by the dagger association are on display in the spring hall of the garden. A large-scale restoration of the Yuyuan garden was conducted after the establishment of prc and it was opened to the public formally in 1961. It is one of the places visited in all inclusive tours to China.

Upon entering the garden, you will encounter a rockery, which is called the Great Rockery. With a height of 14 meters (about 50 feet), it is the largest as well as the oldest rockery in the southern region of the Yangtze River. On the top of the rockery, visitors who travel to China can get a bird’s eye view of the garden. Cuixiu Hall sits at the foot of the rockery. It is a quiet and elegant place surrounded by old trees and beautiful flowers. The pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters all have unique characteristics. There are six main scenic areas here: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden.

These top 5 places to visit in Shanhai are just a few of the amazing
sites Shanghai has to offer.

Strange Tourist Attractions in Japan
Charge of the fembots 1, Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Charge of the fembots 1, Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Photo credit: gruntzooki / Foter / CC BY-SA

Robot Restaurant
Robot Restaurant is located in a basement in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district. The restaurant sports bikini-clad women staging mock battles using enormous robots. It is more of a performance venue than an eatery; the show will assault your senses in a fun-filled hour of noise, light and kitsch and it is in the heart of the well-known Kabukicho entertainment district, a popular place for Japan tours.

The front entrance is manned by a brontosaurus, a robot, and various costumed attendants and The waiting area and passage down to the theater are littered with glittering mirrors, lights, colours and images. The show itself is a cavalcade of action and frenzy–with robot fights, dancing girls, machines and gadgets, music, special effects and an intermission break that gives the audience a chance to pose with the cast. There are normally 3 shows per night (Tuesdays through Saturdays) at 7, 8:30, and 10pm.

Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani Monkey Park is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.

The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep Jigokudani uncrowded despite it being relatively well-known as part of travel packages to Japan. The park is famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months.

The monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the hotsprings, and return to the security of the forests in the evenings. Since the establishment of Jigokudani Yaen-koen in 1964, it has been a worldwide popular place for Japan tours for watching the bathing monkeys and for ecological observation of researchers or photographers.

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is a museum dedicated to instant noodles and Cup Noodles, as well as its creator and founder, Momofuku Ando.

The museum has an instant ramen workshop allowing visitors on Japan tour packages to make their own “fresh” instant noodles (fresh as in just made). Reservations must be made in advance to enjoy this feature at the museum. There is also a noodle factory where visitors can assemble their own personal Cup Noodles from pre-made ingredients for a small fee of 300 yen.
Just after World War II, before there ever was an instant noodle, the Japanese people were hungry. Recovering from a lost war left the nation with food shortages. Momofuku Ando, later to become founder of Nissin, was struck by something he saw at that time: long lines stretching out in front of ramen shops. It gave him the idea of making ramen available to people, in his words, “anytime, anywhere.”

Just inside the doors of the museum is a glass case filled with medals and letters of recognition, not only from Japanese universities, but from culinary institutions as far away as Los Angeles and Brazil, all commending Ando for having invented the instant noodle. Inside you can see the kind of tools he worked with, the ingredients he used, and even a replica of the sink where he diligently washed his hands.

Walking through the rest of the museum you will find hands-on exhibits of the kind often seen in science museums. There are cranks to turn, doors to slide, draws to be pulled out, automated demonstrations and quizzes.
Then there are the modern additions of computer terminals and electronic games. In an interactive format, they tell the story of the challenges faced and overcome in making instant noodles what they are today.

Yoro Park: The Site of Reversible Destiny
Yoro Park, The Site of Reversible Destiny was opened in October 1995 and is an “experience park” conceived on the theme of encountering the unexpected. By guiding visitors on tours to Japan through various unexpected experiences as they walk through its component areas, the site offers them opportunities to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world. The site consists of a main pavilion, the Critical Resemblance House, the Elliptical Field and the Reversible Destiny Office.

The Reversible Destiny Office was added in April 1997 and houses information about the site, drawings and other works, and screens a documentary about the site’s construction. The site presents itself to the visitor as a carefully considered construction of undulating planes, shifting colors, and disorienting spaces, thus providing a place of purposeful experimentation.

Yoro Park has grown around Yoro Falls, placed among the top 100 waterfalls in Japan and claimed by Emperor Gensyou to not only give silky smooth skin after only one wash, but to cure all diseases as well.

Cat Island
Tashirojima is a small island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan that lies in the Pacific Ocean off the Oshika Peninsula. It is an inhabited by about 100 people, down from around 1000 people in the 1950s and has become known as “Cat Island” due to the large stray cat population that thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune. The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island.

The island is divided into two villages: Oodomari and Nitoda. There is a small cat shrine, known as Neko-jinja, in the middle of the island, roughly situated between the two villages. In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms).

Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island.

Many cat lovers come to the island on packaged tours to Japan.

Shanghai Street Art

 

China, Art, Shanghai

One of the paintings by Shi Zheng appearing on a demolished wall in Shanghai, China

 

Shanghai Street art in China is a rare phenomenon and one that is causing waves in the Jing’an district of Shanghai. This small, traditional neighbourhood  is slowly disappearing, with old buildings being demolished to make way for new developments. On the crumbling remains are poignant works of art, the work of french graffiti artist Julien Malland and Chinese artist Shi Zheng.

The images are nostalgic reminders of old Shanghai and represent the unwillingness of residents to let go of the old neighbourhoods to make way for the relentless economic development sweeping most major cities in China.

The images send a powerful message as they stand amongst the rubble and have been popular with locals and foreigners alike. But with this attention has come action from the authorities, who have authorised the removal of the graffiti.

Jing’an is just one example of local residents coming together to offer a silent and unified demonstration against China’s relentless construction boom. They stand amongst the few remaining shikumen – the narrow townhouses that are an eclectic mix of Western and Chinese architecture – as they are demolished into non-existence.

 

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