Looking down on the ground 垂頭
People say you should always hold your head up high, and that’s very true. After all who wants to look miserable and sad by walking around with their head down facing the ground. That was until I realised how much I had missed by not looking down on the ground.
從小被教導要抬起頭做人，不要垂頭喪氣。 但在日本之旅，發覺原來走路垂頭，會有很多意外驚喜。由大都市東京，京都，名古屋，到著名景點白川鄉，彥根市，至小村莊如古川和近江八幡市，地上寶隨處可見。 原來日本有不少井蓋設計很獨特。 有些可能要當地人或了解日本文化才會懂。 另外有一些是講述地方歷史和風土人情。 除了井蓋，我在彥根市的夢京橋路上，看到不少應該是反映當地事蹟的標誌。 差不多鋪滿了整條街道。平時出門，我們可能都未有留意到這些地上寶。 下次不妨垂頭看看， 說不定你也會有意外發現。
Looking down on the ground at Tokyo
It all started when I was in Tokyo and noticed a big round circle amongst the criss cross tiled ground. It was a manhole cover for the underground water system. I’d never noticed such a beautifully decorated manhole cover before. I wish I knew if it had any special meaning.
Looking down on the ground at Nagoya
Then when I was in Nagoya, visiting the Nagoya Castle, I noticed another one. This one had the Nagoya Castle in the centre which looked very much like the real building. I’m guessing the five surrounding pictures are other landmarks in the city at those bearing, but I don’t know what they are.
The one in the middle might be the Nagoya TV Tower as pretty much every city I went to in Japan had a TV tower. Nagoya is a shipping hub so the one on the right might be the port. There’s an extra ship at the bottom and some squiggly curves which I’m guessing are waves. That would probably be a nod to how important shipping is to Nagoya.
Looking down on the ground at Kyoto
Apart from being the former capital of Japan, Kyoto is the birthplace of geisha culture. Gion is best known as the geish district and many come here in the hope of catching a glimpse of a real geisha. Hanami-koji is the main street in Gion and Hatsune-koji is one of the many side streets. You’ll find many tourists standing around in Gion with the cameras ready waiting for a geisha to appear.
Looking down on the ground at Furukawa 古川
I haven’t written about Furukawa yet, that’s a town deserving of its own post and it will come later. There’s a canal running through the town, and during April to November carps are kept here to keep the water clean. The decorations on these ground covers reflects the unique character of Furukawa.
I would say such a beautiful town is deserving of two photographs in this post. If I remember correctly, this one was inside the railway station. It’s so big that I had to take a step back in order to take a photo that’s why you only see one foot.
The twelve words on the outside are the Chinese words for the old date and time system. And the inside looks like a celebration during one of the many festivals that can you found in Japan. I like this very much as I can literally feel the energy and vibriance from the center picture.
Looking down on the ground at Shirakawago 白川郷
Shirakawago is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its Gassho style houses in the village. Gassho houses have a steep roof and a thatched roof top, similar to the thatched cottages in England. The steep roof resembles buddhists putting their hands together when they pray. Can you envisage what the Gassho houses look like from this manhole?
Looking down on the ground at Omihachiman 近江八幡市
I just wrote about Omihachiman yesterday and its beautiful canal. As I was walking along the canal, I noticed this pretty metal plate on the ground. I don’t think there was anything underneath the plate, just concrete. So I’m not sure of its purpose. The scattered leaves that have fallen around these simple yet decorative flowers, makes a very pretty picture on the ground.
Then a bit futher on I saw this. It had a similar pattern to the previous one, and it was a tree guard. As to why you need a tree guard is beyond me. Maybe it’s to stop the tree growing too large? Maybe to protect it when the canal floods (does it?)? Or maybe Omihachiman thought it would be nice to just decorate the ground with pretty metal plates.
Looking down on the ground at Hikone 彦根市
And finally, Hikone is where it went wild. Remember the charming street I mentioned in my post yesterday? I showed you the machiya houses on both sides of the street. What I didn’t show you was what was on the actual street itself. As I was walking down the street, I saw many of these signs on the ground.
Based on the Chinese characters, I’m guessing they’re about the history of the town. I started taking photos of each one of them. After walking a couple of minutes, I already had 10 photos and I’d only walked about 10% of the street. I looked further down, I couldn’t see where they stopped!
To round off my Looking down on the Ground series, here’s one that got me quite confused. This was also taken in Hikone. The fishes part I get. What about the other? Do you think they look like root vegetables or scarey ghost? I’m still confused. I’d love to know what you think.